2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic

Editor Score: 80.75%
Engine 15.0/20
Suspension/Handling 12.75/15
Transmission/Clutch 7.5/10
Brakes 8.25/10
Instruments/Controls4.5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.25/10
Appearance/Quality 9.0/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 6.0/10
Overall Score80.75/100

First introduced by Indian in 2015, the Roadmaster built on the Chieftain platform, adding additional touring and luxury features. Now, the company is releasing a Roadmaster variant, the 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic. If the Roadmaster was a Chieftain with a trunk, the Classic is a Roadmaster for fans of leather.

2015 Indian Roadmaster – First Ride Review

2014 Indian Chieftain Review

Full-grain American leather is what the Classic is all about. The Roadmaster’s seat already had it as a defining attribute, but the Classic has new hard bags that are covered with the fade-resistant skin. Adding to the vintage look, the saddlebags also feature fringe on their lower, outboard seams. The closures, though they look like traditional metal buckles, feature easy-to-unhook plastic buckles hidden underneath the leather straps. This serves two purposes. First, the straps are easy to undo and make opening the three on each saddlebag much less fiddly. Also, since the metal buckles never get unclasped, the exterior finish on the straps will age much more gracefully. The stiff, plastic inner lining of the bags helps them to maintain their shape regardless of the amount of cargo contained within them.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic bags

If you look closely on the saddlebag, you can see the quick-release fasteners tucked away under the straps.

The trunk interior is large enough to hold two full-face helmets. The trunk’s lid also has a zip-open compartment that allows for smaller items to be stored in a more easy-to-reach location. Finally, the forward-facing side of the trunk has a built-in backrest for the passenger. All-in-all, it is a tidy setup that totals 32 gallons of storage.

However, we need to pause for a moment and consider the elephant in the garage: These leather-covered saddlebags and trunk offer neither locks nor weather protection. This characteristic limits the Roadmaster Classic’s functionality as a touring bike. While Indian (or an aftermarket vendor) could manufacture some weatherproof saddlebag liners that would keep the rider’s and passenger’s clothing dry, it would do nothing to prevent even the most inept criminal from unhooking a few clips and disappearing with the bag contents.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic action

The open road beckons though the lack of weather-protecting lowers (when compared to the Roadmaster) is obvious from this angle.

The simplicity of the trunk, however, makes it possible to remove it from the bike with minimal effort in those times the rider doesn’t need the extra carrying capacity. No wiring harness needs to be disconnected. (So, there is no 12V port on the interior of the trunk as on the Roadmaster.) Shorn of its trunk, the Roadmaster Classic looks every bit the vintage-inspired bagger as the Chief Vintage but with the Chieftain/Roadmaster’s batwing fairing and stereo.

Ride Command Touchscreen System For 2017 Roadmaster And Chieftain

Contained within this batwing fairing, the new for 2017 Ride Command touchscreen stereo system will be included in all Chieftains and Roadmasters this model year. The 7-inch screen features a 800 x 480 pixel resolution, which Indian claims is the highest in the industry. The screen is bright enough to easily be read in daylight, and it is ready to operate just ten seconds after the ignition is turned on. Pairing to a smartphone can be done in a matter of seconds, allowing call information and media to be played directly from the phone.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic backrest

Passengers will like the backrest provided by the trunk. Accessory arms are available for an even more lounge-chair-like ride.

Normally, I’m not one to listen to much music from fairing-mounted speakers, preferring to use Bluetooth headphones instead. Since I wanted to test the Ride Command’s 100W stereo, however, I eschewed the headphones for the external speakers. The Roadmaster’s wind protection is good enough to provide a relatively large envelope of turbulence-free air. Consequently, the music has less wind noise to combat at speed. The volume and clarity of the Ride Command system ranks with the best of the stereos on other bikes I’ve tested (the most recent being in our Baggers Brawl).

Baggers Brawl

The feature I like the most about the Ride Command system is the customizability of the data screens. I could select the contents of the split screens to suit my taste – not those imposed by an engineer. Also, as the ride progressed, I found that I liked to be able to switch what was displayed alongside the GPS’ map. Sometimes I wanted to see the Trip 1 readout: fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy, time, average speed. Others times, I chose the Ride Data: heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change. The display is a very tidy setup. The screen is responsive even with gloves on, and though I didn’t have to program the GPS destinations (Indian reps had done that prior to the ride), the unit was easy to understand even from the first time using it.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic beauty

The Roadmaster is a good handling motorcycle, and the Classic is no different – which should come as no surprise since they are essentially the same motorcycles only with less weight on the back, thanks to the lighter bags. Once underway, the Classic’s roughly 900 lbs melt away, giving a balanced ride. However, without a direct comparison, I could not point out any handling differences between the Roadmaster and the Classic. As with the Chieftain and the Roadmaster, the Roadmaster Classic’s chassis dimensions feature a 25-degree rake with 5.9 in. trail. Having those numbers pair with a 65.7 in. wheelbase means the Classic is quite stable at speed. Still, when asked, it’ll hustle through a series of corners, provided you give the wide bar enough input.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic
+ Highs

  • Impressive Ride Command infotainment system
  • Torque and then more torque
  • Easily removable trunk
– Sighs

  • Bags and trunk are not weatherproof
  • Bags and trunk don’t lock
  • Fringe not removable like on the Chief Vintage

The Thunder Stroke 111 49-degree V-Twin is a torque machine. Past tests of the engine have revealed a torque peak of 102.8 ft-lb at 3100 rpm with an impressive 75 percent of that available at 1000 rpm. The slow revving engine won’t blow your socks off with peak power of only 74.5 hp, though. Still, it just cranks out the torque when you twist the throttle. The fuel metering provided by the drive-by-wire connection is first rate.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic tank badge

The Indian Roadmaster Classic wears a new tank badge.

So, if what the Roadmaster offered in previous years really appealed to you but you held off because you wanted a touring bike that looked more like the Chief Vintage, 2017 will be your year. The Indian Roadmaster Classic has everything the Roadmaster has – only with more of that sexy Indian leather. Yes, you’ll have to give up locks and weatherproofness in exchange, but if you’ve got this look in mind, you already knew that.

The 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic will be available in Thunder Black for $26,999. Choosing either Willow Green over Ivory Cream or Indian Motorcycle Red over Ivory Cream adds $1,000 to the MSRP. The Roadmaster Classic will be available this spring at your local Indian dealer.

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic action

2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic Specifications
Engine Type Thunder Stroke 111,air-cooled 49-degree V-Twin
Engine Capacity 1811 cc
Bore x Stroke 101 mm x 113 mm
Compression 9.5 : 1
Fuel System Closed loop fuel injection, 54 mm throttle body
Transmission 6-speed
Final Drive Belt
Front Suspension 46 mm telescopic fork, 4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock with air-adjustable preload, 4.5 in. travel
Front Brakes Dual floating 300mm discs, four-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brakes Single floating 300mm disc, two-piston caliper, ABS
Front Tire Dunlop Elite 3, 130/90B16 73H
Rear Tire Dunlop Elite 3, 180/60R16 80H
Seat Height 26.5”
Curb Weight 900 lbs. (calculated)
Wheelbase 68.1”
Fuel Capacity 5.5 gal.
Storage Capacity 32 gal. total
Colors Thunder Black, Willow Green / Ivory Cream, Indian Motorcycle Red / Ivory Cream
Warranty Five years coverage that includes both a one year limited warranty and an extended service contract. Unlimited miles.
MSRP $26,999 Black, $27,999 Willow Green/Cream or Red/Cream

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  • Starmag

    Just for comparison, 70 years ago my dad’s 1947 Chief weighed 570 lbs., had 40 hp, and cost $800 new.

    • Doug Herbert

      $800 in 1947 is worth $8711.71 in today’s money. These bigger touring motorcycles used to be within the reach of a lot more people.

      A $26k bike with a 60 month loan is going to run about $450 / month, that is crazy expensive for what is essentially a toy.

      • TheMarvelous1310

        Chroming and all-metal manufacture are a lot more expensive than they were back then.

  • Auphliam

    So, the trunk denotes Roadmaster then? I thought it was the package – Trunk and Lowers – added to a Chieftain that made it a Roadmaster…but this one has no Lowers…just a trunk…a fat leather trunk. But it too is a Roadmaster and not a Chieftain Classic. So confusing.

    I can’t wait to see the two new Chieftains. Any guesses (beyond a new tank badge) on what oddities they might’ve bolted to a Chieftain to create them?

    Those of you holding your breath waiting for Indian to finally pursue their “performance roots” now that they’ve been unshackled from Victory…yeah, you can exhale now.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      They have to sell a lot of the bikes they already have to make enough money to develop totally new bikes. Adding trunks and saddlebags and fringes is a lot cheaper than creating entirely new platforms.

  • Old MOron

    Oh look, a leather fringed garbage wagon.
    We could be reading about midnight MOronic adventures on a Saddlesore 1000!

  • DickRuble

    “Curb Weight 900 lbs. (calculated)” — show me the spreadsheet.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Damn, and I thought Harleys were overpriced.

  • JMDGT

    It’s not a track day bike but some people like them. I can see the appeal. A friend has some kind of Harley Custom. It weighs in at 900 lbs. I guess it is great on the freeway. I don’t know. Half again as much as my RT. He doesn’t have the Corinthian leather though. All you need to know is what you like.

    • Old MOron

      That’s a fine perspective, JMD. Took the rant right out of my sails. Don’t do it too often, okay? 🙂

      • JMDGT

        We are all in the brotherhood of the bike. People like what they like. Who am I to blow against the wind. Some guys just like heavy bikes that are hard to stop hard to turn and have no power. Go figure.

        • Born to Ride

          I really enjoy riding my dads T-Bird commander. Maybe I’ll buy myself a slow, ill handling, badly stopping hunk of rolling iron as a 4th or fifth bike one day.

          • JMDGT

            I wouldn’t rule out a Moto Guzzi California for the collection. I plan on keeping everything I buy going forward.

          • Born to Ride

            That’s exactly the bike I had in mind. The T-Bird and the California are my two favorite cruisers.

  • Donald Silvernail

    The padded passenger back rest is nice but what is that pad (saddle?) on top of the trunk for? Is this motorcycle history? Is this the first motorcycle capable of carrying three people without a side car?

    • Evans Brasfield

      That is a zippered container for smaller things, like a wallet or cell phone.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Also if you take off the trunk, the passenger backrest goes with it.

  • Buzz

    A bit over the top for my tastes but Harley sold plenty of those Heritage Springer models back in the day.

  • Max Wellian

    Your posture is just too correct for this bike. Your vertebra OTOH thank you.

    • Evans Brasfield

      It’s funny how those core muscles perk up when a camera is pointed in their direction.

  • Gruf Rude

    A Mazda MX-5 (Miata) costs about the same and weighs just a bit more – and the trunk locks.
    Can you order this thing with powered hydraulic jacks if the side stand sinks into a hot asphalt parking lot?

  • Paragon Lost

    The three sighs are deal breakers to me. Not sure what Indian was thinking.

    • Larry Kahn

      Just the fact that it has an “infotainment” screen or whatever it’s called breaks it for me.

      • Auphliam

        Yeah, I really don’t like the look of the dash now with that big screen stuck in the middle.

        • Ronald Machisen

          Look up Alberto on Futurama. It looks just like the dash. I know it’s not the most attractive, but it works really really well.

  • spiff

    Heard coming from the designer’s office a couple of month before he shared his vision: “it puts the lotion on it’s skin…”

  • spiff

    At this level the gear should be weather proof.

    • Old MOron

      LOL, c’mon Spiff, this thing is meant for a quick ride to the Starschmuck’s on a sunny day. Maybe a ride to happy hour, too, if it’s a warm night.

      • spiff

        So it’s a big ass “unlockable” helmet bag? 🙂

        In fairness to the bike, I have ridden a couple of these things and if you are into big cruisers they are pretty good. That said it rains. Oh, also people are know to go through stuff that is unlocked. How can you enjoy lunch with your bike out of visual.

  • spiff

    Okay, one last thought, and this isn’t just for Indian. Paying extra for a specific color is crap. Maybe a limited edition, or something along those lines, but just a different pigment? It better have gold flakes.

    • Andre Capitao Melo

      It’s understandable that a two-tone paint scheme costs more.

      • Sayyed Bashir

        Also the lower volume. Mass produced paint schemes are cheaper

  • Craig Hoffman

    Such a trivially fringed, festooned and ponderous conveyance – the MC equivalent of a ’74 Lincoln Continental. I guess I am just a KTM 1290 Superduke GT kinda guy…

  • GodWhomIsMike

    The biggest flaw is that none of the cargo is lockable. The big trunk bag hold two helmet, and if you can afford $26K for this bike, I am sure you have expensive helmets with the latest Sena handsfree, etc… You might stop at a diner on the road, and come out to find the helmets are stolen, along with your luggage.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      If you can afford $26K for the bike, you can afford to put aftermarket locks on the luggage.

  • Larry Kahn

    I’ve had a few Harley dressers (still a thing?) in my day. But like the song says “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/59a56cb1459473ac85e8bbc7747f2985f02b979bf4bd8fa4ef07369b04135efc.jpg

  • Ron Hayes

    I demo drove the Roadmaster last year with a passenger and it weighs every bit of that 900 pounds in traffic:-) The bags with the hidden clips were done before on the Victory Cross Roads with the leather bags.These were adaptable with locks sold by an outside manufacturer unfortunately. Nice ride though.

  • TheMarvelous1310

    Nice to see Indian deliver on the promise of more performance!

  • Wally

    How is this a new model? It’s another Roadmaster/Chieftain. They changed the luggage… does that make it new?
    Is the frame new? No. The engine? No. The transmission? No. The fork? No. The brakes? No.
    Nothing ride or performance wise has been changed. No “first ride” was necessary. A description of the luggage would have covered it.

    • Sayyed Bashir

      And the luggage is not waterproof or lockable as it is on the Chieftain so in a way it is a downgrade. Thieves will be sure to keep an eye out for these bikes.