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2015 Indian Chieftain Review

We get to spend a day on board the big and bulky Indian Chieftain and find out if it's all the motorcycle you need. For more details, specifications and pricing of the Indian Chieftain log on to
2015 Indian Chieftain
Its 6 am in the morning with the speakers blasting ‘Highway to Hell’ I am off for a shoot. A regular day at work, if you will. But this time round, it ain’t some fancy car. It’s a motorcycle, the Indian Chieftain.
Now, cruisers ain’t really my calling mainly for the weight that it comes with and they aren’t exactly easy to ride. More importantly, the higher displacement cruisers aren’t fit for Indian conditions, and this I can say having ridden quite a few American cruisers. That said, since the time the Indian Motorcycle brand has come to our shores, a lot of fellow journalists have been gabbing about how different in character it is. So here I was, all geared up with the key of this mean machine in my hands, to find out whether the Indian Chieftain lives up to the build up that I had got.
Indian Chieftain front three-quarter
The Indian Chieftain is a very smartly executed motorcycle. For starters it shares a lot of its parts with the cheaper Indian Chief Classic and the Indian Chief Vintage, but at the same time doesn’t lose out on its individuality. The massive front fascia with those large skirted curvy fenders gives it a distinct styling character that is typical of the Indian brand. It is the first Indian motorcycle with a hard fairing and hard saddle bags and it sure does look good? Other impressive elements on the bike include those fat front forks, the LED turn indicators, a computer-like ignition on switch and of course the chrome engine and twin exhausts.
Indian Chieftain rear
The true charm of the Indian Chieftain though is in its bulk and the detailing. We had the bike for an entire day and I just couldn’t help but drool over the minutiae details like the glowing mascot on the front fender, the rivets and white stitching on the leather seats, the list is endless. With the Chieftain, Indian Motorcycle has stayed true to its DNA but at the same time ensured that it is far ahead of its time.
Indian Chieftain Features
For a bike that comes with a heavy price tag, one would expect it to come loaded with features, and in that regard the Indian Chieftain doesn’t disappoint. From a satellite navigation system, electronically adjustable windshield to 100 watt Stereo system with AM/FM, Bluetooth and USB compatibility and instantaneous and average fuel economy gauge, the Chieftain has it all. With regards to safety, it comes fitted with Anti-lock Braking system, low tyre pressure indicator, low oil indicator and more. On the instrument cluster, there are two trip meters, fuel gauge with odometer, real-time clock, air temperature indicator and a lot more. The fact that the console provides so much information and is yet extremely legible and neatly laid out.
Indian Chieftain engine
Engine and Performance: 
Aside from its sheer size and the long list of features, the Thunderstroke 111 engine too doesn’t fail to impress either. And it is quite commendable considering that it is the first motor built by Indian Motorcycle in 70 years. The 1,811cc unit makes an insane peak power 101PS and max torque of 139Nm both of which come around the 2,600rpm marker. The powerplant is much unlike any of the cruiser we’ve ever ridden. It feels absolutely refined and thanks to the availability of oodles of torque, it pulls with utmost ease. In fact, even at higher speeds there is hardly any vibration on the pegs or on the handle bars and that is praiseworthy considering that it is a V-twin construction. While it isn’t like any other cruiser in terms of vibrations, it does Heat up quite a bit considering that there is a massive motor between your legs. And if you are unfortunately stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, be prepared to get your legs toasted.
Indian Chieftain in action
Like all the other motorcycles in its range, the Indian Chieftain too comes mated to a 6-speed transmission which is a little clunky for our liking. In fact, shifting between the first and second gears at low speeds also takes a bit of effort. We also didn’t like the clutch which felt a bit too hard especially for riding in stop-and-go traffic.

Indian Chieftain seat and handle bar
Ride, Handling and Braking: 
The first thing that you observe when you hop on to the saddle is how comfortable it really is. The riding position is just right and you feel one with the bike. Moreover, the large fairing forms a nice cocoon to make you feel at home. A lot of the comfort also comes due to the fact that the handle bars, switch gear as well as the pedals are well within reach and you don’t have to stretch far out. Also the large foot board ensures that you can place your feet as per your liking when cruising at constant speeds. The large electronically adjustable wind shield also ensures that you can go on for hours without feeling fatigued. That said, the chrome on the tank reflects on the wind shield which tends to get a little distracting.
And then of course, there is cruise control. As far as the ride quality is concerned the Chieftain can take a fair bit of bumps and ride over rough roads with ease. Having said that, at 140mm the ground clearance is less and the underbelly scrapes over large bumps.
Indian Chieftain ride and handling
At over 370kg, the Indian Chieftain is quite a heavy bike, like any other cruiser. And the weight is felt especially when you have to push the bike around - in and out of parking. Once in motion though, the Chieftain reveals a different character altogether. It is absolutely easy to ride and even lean into corners. Yes, swift changes in direction are surely not its forte but by cruiser standards its handling is relatively exciting.  
For a bike as heavy as the Chieftain and as bulky, the braking prowess need to be equally impressive too. The four-piston 300mm disc up front and an equal sized disc with 2-piston calliper at the back does the job fairly decently. Now the brakes don’t really have the feedback that a naked or supersport with the same setup might give, but you can be rest assured that even under heavy braking the Chieftain won’t really lose its line.
Indian Chieftain badge
Fuel Efficiency and Pricing: 
Well, let’s face it, a bike that has a 1,800cc V-twin isn’t going to come with a fill it, shut it, forget it attitude. While Indian Motorcycle hasn’t made any claims as far as efficiency is concerned we expect it to return around 10-15kmpl overall. And with a 20.8 litre tank it has an overall range of 200km.
At a starting price of Rs 32 lakh the Indian Chieftain isn’t by any means a cheap offering. Moreover its brand awareness and the dealer network is something Polaris need to work on. And that, especially given the fact that its arch rival Harley Davidson is already well established in the Indian market.
Indian Chieftain rear three-quarter
The Indian Chief is one exceptional motorcycle, apart from the heavy clutch and the Heat that dissipates from the engine there are hardly any faults to find. It is just the kind of high displacement cruiser that you would love to own for weekend rides. In fact, it even manages to gain over its competition in more than one aspect. It is a stunning looking motorcycle, has a good engine and ride, and lot of features going for it too. And then if smooth tarmac and great riding dynamics aren’t enough to make your ride a memorable one, well there are the speakers that get you grooving in joy. 


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