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Saturday, May 8, 2021

2020 chieftain Elite: Long-Distance itinerant Review

In years past, I’ve had the chance to ride and review many North Star opposition. products, leading to revealed articles concerning each triumph and Indian motorcycles. Having one thing of a record with North Star, I once more approached Indian Motorcycles within the spring of 2020 a couple of bike loan for moving and take a look at articles. once some discussion, North Star offered a top-of-the-line Chieftain Elite that may be offered in Julyi used to be mirthfully stunned and in real time united.

Having planned a brand new England tour for the summer, I approached Indian with the thought of mixing the tour and therefore the motorbike loan, and once more Indian cooperated magnificently by agreeing to deliver the bike to New Hampshire.

I would conjointly ride the bike back to my aim Southwest Everglade State, giving Pine Tree State the chance to guage the bike on a long-distance route through the middle of the Appalachian Mountains, with stops for riding days in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

With all the items in situ, I flew to New Hampshire on July eleventh and picked up the 2020 Chieftain Elite at MOMS Indian business organisation in Manchester, N.H., with 2211 miles on the milometer.

Initial Impressions: Styling, Fit, and Finish

Any means you consider the Chieftain Elite, it’s a rolling work of art; a muscular machine with swish flowing lines and everything in correct proportion with nothing showing supplementary on or out of place. It turns a great deal of heads.

The Chieftain’s overall length is ninety eight.7 inches, with a 65.7-inch distancecreating it slightly additional compact than others in its category. The ten-spoke forged wheels and abbreviated fenders (as opposition Indian’s signature valanced fenders) contribute to a lighter, additional nimble look that belies the Chieftain’s size.

That impression contrasts with the large 116 C.I. engine, incorporating various chrome and suave detail work, with color-matching red anodized pushrod tubes on the engine right aspect that sets the bike off.

The Chieftain encompasses a “visually balanced” look with a chrome pipe below every bagand therefore the Indian front fender ornament and company brand featured all over on the bike. Color is restricted to what Indian calls its Thunder Black and Vivid Crystal Red two-tone colour scheme, a hand-painted metal-flake black and deep cranberry red, and match and end square measure typically first-rate.

At $34,999, the bike encompasses a hefty tagcreating possession one thing of associate degree exclusive club. A premium motorbike, the Chieftain Elite’s commonplace instrumentation includes the to-be-expected antilock brakes and control, a high-powered windscreen adjustable over four inches, and self-canceling flip signals (excellent!). The fob conjointly has pushbuttons to lock and unlock the 22-pound capability saddlebags (with a further lock put on the fuel tank), and therefore the bike is disabled once the fob is over eight feet away.

The rider’s seat was determinedhowever all-day comfy with sensible lower back support thanks tothe increase to the traveler perch at the rear of the seat. It ne’er felt uncomfortable, either on interstates or backroad twisties over several long riding days in time period. This haul enclosed one 11-hour interstate ride from Georgia to my targetSunshine State. I full-fledged zero discomforts whereas riding or muscle soreness following day.Grammar Check

The large saddlebags command everything from a motorbike cowl and rain gear to a laptop pc, a DSLR camera and lenses, a try of sneakers, and different various things. The saddlebags area unit of spare size for many days of travel.

The fuel tank holds five.5 gallons, giving the bike an extended 250 mile-plus vary on a containerfuland that i averaged a decent forty one.18 mpg on the ride from New Hampshire to Florida. This enclosed interstate riding and a four-day loop ride cardinal compass point into the gorgeous geographic area Mountain roads of western North geographical region, Tennessee, and Georgia. All of this contributes terribly favourably to long-distance traveling.

The Rider’s Compartment.

The dashboard options 2 giant analog displays for mph (or kph) and measuring systemassociatecrystal rectifier or show|LCD|digital display|alphanumeric display} display functions that embrace an electronic fuel indicator and vary to empty, gear position, neutral lightweight, and control “on” and “set.” The bar reach is comfy and natural, with a perfect rider’s triangle for many riders.

The shift and rear brake foot controls ar positioned forward, however the 16-inch floorboards create finding a snug foot position, from below the knees to extended road vogue, a bypast conclusion.

Function buttons and switches placed on the hand controls arusuallyprofessional forma, with further switches that interface with premium bike options. The front brake lever incorporates a rotating adjustment for distance from the appendage. The throttle facet controls house the engine-start switch, windscreen position management, and control operation.

The clutch aspect controls embody the horn, the intense light-weight switch, the trafficator switch, and 2 buttons that access the premium “Infotainment” system at the dash center. The audio management four-way button is employed for volume management (up-down), mute perform (press on-off) and to pick songs or radio stations (right-left).

This is a required practicality to stay rider attention faraway from the bit screen whereas riding. at once to the correct of the audio management is AN up-down button that controls screen show functions and conjointly zooms in-out once mistreatment the GPS. Among different functions, a button on the rear of every appendage permits the rider page through bit screen choices (throttle side) or back out of choices (clutch side).

The Indian’s premium film system options a seven-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth propertyperform and knowledge options include:

  • GPS with route setup
  • Two resettable trip odometers
  • Ride mode choice (Tour, Standard, and Sport)
  • Tire pressure observation
  • Audio supply
  • Volume-tone management

The system conjointly options each vital engine, travel, and in operation parameter conceivablehowever mistreatment menus and sub-menu isn’t perpetually intuitive. there’s heaps within the system to become aware ofthat takes some “studying up” before choices become habit.

Above the touchscreen may be a little compartment with a USB port. The port will be accustomed integrate a cellular phone or to play MP3s hold on on a thumb drive (I found this technique to be the simplest quality audio source) on the bike’s 200-watt four-speaker system.

I spent a while changing into at the start aware of the system and pairing it to my phone and Sena telephone receiver. It needs a touch patience to dovetail the tribal chief and item Bluetooth pairing procedures. Still, the method was typically straight-forward, and once completed, things remained paired, requiring solely a one-touch reactivation when a paired item had been turned of

Engine and Transmission
The Chieftain Elite options Indian’s Thunder Stroke 116 air-oil cooled high output engine, that has Associate in Nursing 11:1 compression quantitative relation (up from nine.5:1 for the 111) that needs a minimum of ninety onehydrocarbonpetrol.

The Chieftain uses “ride by wire” for throttle, and a cable-actuated clutch. with regard to the clutch, pull effort is moderate to sturdyhowever with sleek engagement. though the 5500 revolutions per minutesingle outis comparable for each Indian’s 111 engine and therefore the 116 engine, the 116 is a lot ofreception in higher revolutions per minute ranges.

The power is present, and linear power is instantly on faucet all the high to single out territory, however like most V-Twins, the engine feels most reception at between 2500 to 3000 revolutions per minute. Even with the additional displacement and high compression, the vibration was stripped-down and barely noticeable at any engine speed except throughoutlaborious acceleration. Passing another vehicle ne’erneededquite ample distance and a twist of the carpus.

Engaging low gear elicits Indian’s customary serious “thunk,” and shifting was a small amount stiff till the bike warm up, most likelybecause ofthe novelty of the bike. Once at operational temperature, the six-speed transmission shifted swimmingly. Gears ar excellently spaced for the ability band of the engine. Sixth gear is Associate in Nursing overdrive and unbroken the engine in an exceedingly relaxed 2000-2500 revolutions per minutevary at seventy to seventy five mph, creatingroute traveling a coffeerevolutions per minute, relaxed expertise.

Suspension and Handling
At 830 pounds, the Chieftain Elite may be a heavyweight. whereas it leaves little questionon its heft, the Chieftain handled predictably even in slow-speed maneuvers. The 26-inch seat height puts feet firmly on the bottom for nearly all riders and bodyweight well down into the bike’s center of gravity.

While the Chieftain may be a “bagger” and not a full-fledged road bike, its rated Gross Vehicle Weight of 1260 pounds leaves 430 pounds (Indian specs say 410), that is actually enough for 2 averaged sized riders and equipment for a weekend.

Adjusting the rear shock is accomplished by victimisationAssociate in Nursingenclosedvacuum pumpAssociate in Nursingd attaching it to an atmospheric pressure valve behind a panel forward of the left bag. The pump incorporates each a gauge and pressure unleash valve to regulate the shock by total weight carried on the bike, as determined by a chart within the owner’s manual. the straightforward system eliminates the employment of tools or wrenches and permits the operator to quickly regulate the rear suspension to accommodate the packed weight and/or a traveller.

Over four weeks, my travels took Maine from rural roads and mountain twisties to highways and interstates from geographical region to Everglade Statewhereas riding through New Hampshire and therefore thechain of mountains, I by choicewanted out difficult roads.

These enclosed the Kankamagus route in New Hampshire, Old North State 276 through the Pisgah National Forest, Deal’s Gap and therefore the Cherahola route in Tennessee, and therefore the “Georgia Triangle” which incorporates GA60, a hundred and eighty and 129, still as Georgia’s pretty Hwy. 52. I had no downside keeping a spirited pace through mountain roads.

While the Chieftain needs purposeful bar input to initiate lean angle, finding an honest line through tight mountain switchbacks and ’S’ curves was intuitive and inspired spirited riding, eliciting many “woo hoos” from a traveller on a ride in North Georgia.

With 5.5 inches of ground clearance and “very-good-for-a-cruiser” 31-degree lean angle, the floorboards ne’er came near to touching down, even with a traveller on board. The Chieftain handles alright for a machine of its size and was continuouslypredictable , with the chassis well-planted, balanced, and confidence-inspiring.

As Always, Some Nits to select
While the Chieftain Elite may be a stellar bikethere have beenmanythings that i’dsupply as issues for improvement.

Foot Controls Position: The brake management is positioned just about 1/2 in.more forward than the shift management from the front of their individual floorboards. With the uneven reach, my foot slipped off the brake managementmany times within the1st few days riding the bike. The Chieftain doesn’t feature foot controls position adjustment. placement controls for even distance ought to be thought-about, and adjustability would be welcome.

Abrupt Throttle Response at Slow Speeds: despite riding mode, throttle response at slow speeds was terribly abrupt and not linear, and achieving sleek throttle transition was tough. Intermittent revolutions per minute fluctuation at idle was conjointlyold. Chieftain take a look at videos (primarily on YouTube) conjointly mention these problemsthus attention to throttle mapping is alsorequired here. Like conclusion and Indian models I had antecedently tested, the clutch pull is borderline serious. A clutch assist of some kind, as a suggestion instead of a required improvement, would be welcome.

Kickstand Accessibility: A usually minor however annoying downside was the flexibilityto increase and retract the kickstand. it’stough to access from its plicate position and had a pivot purpose that was well forward on the bike. As a shorter stature rider, I had problem extending it while notplacement my foot and virtually “kicking” it bent on its finish position. Also, once retracting the kickstand, it had been too so much forward to succeed inwellthe matter is combined in wet weather once surfaces ar slippery. i’d expect that any rider below 5’8” tall would expertisean identicaldownside. A metal tab positioned at the middle of the kickstand would enablea neater extension and retraction purpose for all riders.

Windshield and Wind Management: As equipped, the Chieftain windscreen had a snakelike wind device at the highest edge. whereasit had beenterribly effective directional wind over the rider, within the low position, the road of sight goes through the deflector’s snakelikespace, distorting the read. This was particularly distracting once riding curves on mountain roads. this can beconjointly a perform of rider height, as a taller rider would probably not expertise this downside. However, windscreenchoicesarobtainable through Indian, and a prospective owner ought tochoose one wherever vision isn’tobstructed. As a secondary issue, wind came in below the fairing, inflictingextended wind noise at route speeds. If road is on the agenda, adding fork lowers would be a urgedchoice.

Passenger Seat: The stock traveller seat got some negative reviews from a riding companion whenAssociate in Nursing approximate three-hour ride. Her complaints enclosed seat artefact that was too firm, and therefore the seat angle’s slight downward slope at the rear, giving a but secure feeling whereas riding (especially once accelerating). This was exacerbated by a too-long traveller grab strap awkwardly placed at seat center that contributed to the leaned-back instead of forward riding position. If a travellerare going to bea locality of the combination, a prospective owner would needto feature Indian’s ex gratiatravellerback or explore aftermarket seat choices designed for highertraveller accommodations.

Infotainment Touchscreen Issues:

Difficulty in grips screen button operation: there’s ample space for touchscreen buttons to be created larger. once riding most the smoothest road surfaces, qualitybecause ofAssociate in Nursing unsteady hand usuallyneededmanymakes an attempt to activate touchscreen buttons. Obviously, whereas riding distractions ought to be avoided, touchscreen choicesarprogressing to be used. Larger buttons and touchscreen activation areas would create the button press a lot ofcorrectand fewer distracting.
Consider simplification? Associate in Nursing example here would be the touchscreen-only audio nine-band graphic equalizer. The question is also asked, howeverhelpfulmay be a nine-band equalizer on a motorcycle? Here, the solechoice to set audio frequencies is from the touchscreen, and audio levels set whereas stopped don’t seem to beprobably to be satisfactory once riding. Again, this invitations distraction, particularly given the dearth of touchscreen button sensitivity, as antecedentlyrepresenteda straightforward bass, midrange, and treble management would be quiteadequate here, and creating audio tone functions accessible from the bar audio management would play less distracting practicality.
Vibration of the edgeencompassing the touchscreen: There’s a comprehensible buzz at the highest center of the edge was gift at 2000 revolutions per minutewithin the prime cruising vary of the engine. My temporary answer was to slipa neighborhood of coffee-stirring stick between the edgeand therefore the screen. A moisteningloop of some kindhas to be additionalround theedge.
No handle or Seat Heater on a Premium Motorcycle: On a rainy riding day on Tennessee’s Cherahola route, temperatures born to borderline uncomfortable, and heaters would are welcome. These arobtainable as choicesexcept fora motorbike at this worthpurpose, heated grips and/or seat ought to be enclosed as commonplaceinstrumentality. The handgrips conjointly lacked artefact, and whereas engine vibration was stripped-downit had been felt within the handgrips. comfyartefact would isolate hands from vibration and contribute to a a lot of premium bike feel.

Additional Lighting: The diodeheadlamp and bright lightweightsupplywonderful illumination. The suggestion here isn’tone amongaccumulated lighting, however of accumulated visibility. the only front lamp uses the curved higherhalf the front lamp for beam (a “half moon,” because it were) and each halves once the beamis employed. The bike begs for diode running lights incorporated within the front fairing for higher visibility in street traffic.


Having a chanceto check a top-of-the-line bike on a ride through the geographical areachain of mountains was a welcomeexpertisewithin the four weeks riding the chieftain Elite, the bike rose to all or any challenges. Indian has builta superbbike, and few approach the amount of refinement and amenities found on the Chieftain Elite. A special because of Bianca Salter and Billy Tinnell at Indian packaging, and MOMS Motorcycles in Manchester, N.H., for obtaining the bike prepared for the 4000-plus mile take a look at ride!

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