2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic Review | Showing Some Fringe
The true test of a fully dressed touring bike is its ability to take you from coast-to-coast. Without a doubt, the new 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic achieves that goal with flying colors. In fact, it passes with fringe flying, too—as the leather accoutrements are what turn the established Roadmaster into a Classic.Indian doubled the size of its touring line with the Roadmaster Classic via a change of bags and seat. Rather than locking hardbags and a vinyl seat, the Roadmaster Classic gets leather all around, with a touch of fringe for good measure.
If you’re familiar with the ride of the Roadmaster, nothing changes on the Roadmaster Classic. The muscular Thunder Stroke 111 motor is the same, as is the chassis.Given the transcontinental capabilities of the standard Roadmaster, Indian was content to continue with a successful established platform. Still, putting some miles on the Roadmaster Classic reminds us that this is a quality touring motorcycle.The beating heart of the Roadmaster Classic is, of course, its magnificent undersquare 49-degree V-twin powerplant. Air- and oil-cooled, with triple cams, pushrods and overhead valves, the 111 cubic inch motor is fed by a flawless fuel injection system sporting a 54mm throttle body.Power builds gradually from the Thunder Stroke 111, with massive torque never far from available. Indian gives the motor a soft hit off the bottom, which is a wise choice when 119 ft/lbs of torque are created at just 3000 rpm. Finagling the Roadmaster Classic in a parking lot reminds you why you don’t want a strong hit off idle with a motor producing this much grunt.With so much torque down so low, passing vehicles on the highway simply doesn’t require downshifting, even on hills. Just roll on the throttle and away you go. Even at higher revs, the Thunder Stroke 111 is never a fast revver. However, the power building is undeniable and unstoppable—perfect for interstate touring.A full dresser, the Roadmaster Classic does have one visual aspect to it that doesn’t fit the Classic mold, but is essential for many who demand luxury on the road—the Ride Command infotainment system.Nestled between two traditional analog gauges—speedo on the left, tach on the right—is a seven-inch full color LCD screen that presents the rider with a vast array of customizable information displays.If you’re not using the GPS-sourced navigation screen, you have many choices to make about what you want to see. The seven-inch touchscreen can be split, so you’ll be able to monitor a wide variety of information at a glance.You can also thumb through the screens easily with the five-position switch on the left handlebar. Beyond that main control button array, you have volume control for the stereo system. The stereo itself sounds decent with a full-face helmet on, though the two-speaker system is not overwhelming by today’s standards.In the meantime, Ride Command is as good as it gets on a motorcycle, but still has plenty of room for improvement. An Indian representative revealed to us in a one-on-one conversation that the company is aware of the interface deficiencies and we may be seeing a big upgrade as soon as 2018.One thing about the Indian Motorcycle Roadmaster Classic, it is so easy to ride that you will have plenty of opportunities to appreciate the nuances of the Ride Command system. With cruise control, a 65.7-inch wheelbase, fat Dunlop Elite 3 rubber, and a curb weight north of 900 pounds, the Roadmaster Classic is a stable tourer on the open highway.What might surprise you is how agile it is for a big dresser when it comes time for tight roads in the hills. For example, taking old Route 66 into Oatman, Ariz. from the east is a challenge on any motorcycle. The road is narrow, the corners can be constricted, and the penalty for an error at the wrong place is catastrophic.The weight and power of the Roadmaster Classic could make the Indian a handful on such a road. Instead, the ride is a pleasure. You don’t need excessive arm input or body English to change direction—just lean and go. The Roadmaster Classic chassis responds in a predictable, consistent, and intuitive way.You obviously have enough power for any road, and the combination of the sticky Dunlop Elite 3 tires and a pair of 300mm rotors up front gets the important job of stopping done without drama. The brake actuation isn’t linked—something that works well when done right—but ABS is standard. The ABS isn’t overly intrusive, yet works when needed.That heated leather seat feels as good as it looks. There’s plenty of room to move around, plus the lower back support is greatly appreciated. With the just-right positioning of the floorboards and heated grips, this is a motorcycle that you can put 1000 miles on the odometer in a day with the electronically adjustable windshield exactly where you want it. The vibes from the Thunder Stroke 111 are a perfect accompaniment, and the exhaust tone is pleasantly subdued.One compromise that comes with the leather bags is the lack of a locking mechanism for any of the three compartments. You can put a pair of full-face helmets in the trunk, but you will have to keep an eye on the bike if you’re in the wrong neighborhood. Keyless fob ignition is convenient, and makes it unlikely the bike will be ridden off against its will.A stylish companion to the standard Roadmaster, the Roadmaster Classic loses nothing in the translation to leather-based traditionalism. For fans of brown cowhide, plenty of accessories are available, from leather-wrapped highway bars, to leather armrests for the passenger, to fringe dangling from every possible mounting point. There is a choice of two-tone color combinations—both look fantastic in person—plus classic black.The 2017 Indian Roadmaster Classic is a difficult motorcycle to keep in the garage. It beckons the rider to roll it out, hit the start button, and ride somewhere you’ve never been before—and arrive in style.Photography by Barry HathawayRiding Style
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.