2014 Indian Chieftain | Doin’ Time

Getting acquainted with Indian’s hard bagger

By Art Friedman, Photography by Kevin Wing

WRIST: Art Friedman
MSRP (2014): $22,999
Miles: 6,808
MPG: 38
Mods: None

I'm still quite pleased with my choice of Indian models. I originally chose the Chieftain mostly for its hard saddlebags. Saddlebags of any sort are handy for carrying those nice-to-have items you want on the road—a change of gloves or faceshield, a rag and cleaner, sunglasses, maps, an extra clothing layer, etc. They also make a motorcycle useful for fetch-it errands.

The bags on the Chieftain are big enough to swallow a couple of sacks of groceries and will hold three if I pack carefully. The leather bags on the Vintage model don't hold as much, don't offer as much weather protection, and they certainly don't offer the security or convenience of locking bags. The one-button-locking feature of the Chieftain, where you can lock or unlock the bags by pushing a button on the tank console or key fob, increases convenience. Because of this utility and convenience, I use the motorcycle more. If my dog were willing to ride with me, I'd probably never use my car. And I'm often surprised at how many people strike up a conversation when they see you loading groceries into a motorcycle.

The fairing of the Chieftain was a bit of a surprise. I am impressed at how thoroughly it eliminates wind noise, even with the power windshield set at its lowest position, where I always set it when riding the bike. Even if I partially open my faceshield, wind noise is minimal. The electronic windshield has served mostly to impress people who are checking out the bike. So far, I haven't found any reason to ride with it raised even a little. Although you can't detach the Chieftain's fairing as you can the windshield on the Vintage, I'd rarely want to ride without it.

The fairing also brings numerous additional features that a mere windshield can't. The most significant is the 100-watt audio system with most of the now-standard amenities, including Bluetooth and plug-in connectivity as well as automatic volume control. There is also the large (approximately 2 inches by 3 inches) red LCD display made possible by the voluminous dashboard real estate. The display provides numerous bits of information about time, distance, fuel consumption, temperature, and motorcycle condition on top of the 15 LED indicators. The fairing also brings built-in spotlights and large LED front turn signals to make you more visible.

Overall, the Chieftain easily justifies the extra $2,000 it fetches over the Vintage. Next step? I've ordered seats from Corbin and Mustang to try on future trips.

By Art Friedman
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