2014 Indian Chieftain | DOIN' TIME

Calling out the details at the 11K mile mark.

WRIST: Art Friedman

MSRP (2014): $23,499

MILES: 11,189

MPG: 36

MODS: None

The Chieftain required its first clutch adjustment at about 11,000 miles, which is remarkable considering how hard I am on clutches. I have enough miles to say that the Metzeler ME888 tires do shimmy in rain grooves and follow pavement seams slightly more than the stock Dunlops. However, I still prefer the Metzelers to the Dunlops for their smoother ride and greater traction. I’m not going to be able to determine which offer better mileage since the Dunlops had some use (perhaps quite hard) before I got the bike and came off before they were out of tread.

Some other points, then. This is the first bike I’ve really used with keyless ignition. I love it. However, I see a couple of potential pitfalls because the bike will ride away from the proximity fob without stopping. If the fob is near the bike when you start it, you could ride away then be unable to start again when you reached your destination. A thief could start the bike and ride away if you are nearby with the key in your pocket.

Indian isn’t the only offender, but I find it amazing that a $24,000 bike doesn’t include a basic toolkit. It’s made more aggravating because the mostly well-explained maintenance procedures in the manual don’t mention wrench sizes. If you don’t already own metric tools, assembling a toolkit is going to be a bit hit and miss. The only tools included are a pump/gauge for the air suspension at the rear, and a special tool for removing the oil filler cap (which my bike didn’t include). Incidentally, I think styling an oil cap to the point where is needs a special tool is overkill.

The multi-function display on the panel offers lots of useful info, but it’s difficult to read in bright sun. Some electrics lag. The gear display delays about a second—annoying when trying to find neutral. When braking to a stop and downshifting rapidly, I can be in first gear while it’s still showing sixth. The headlight also has a deliberate delay when you switch beams. It immediately illuminates the beam you’re switching to, but the one you switched from doesn’t turn off for about a second. This blinds oncoming drivers longer.

If you bend aggressively into a corner on the cruise control, it rolls off the throttle slightly, tightening your line. I’ve learned to compensate. Another weird throttle override keeps you from accelerating hard if you’re dragging either brake. This has frustrated me a few times, especially with the stock seat, which crowded me against the footboards, sometimes making it hard to get my boot off the brake pedal completely while still covering it.

One cool little detail: Once you have turned on the power, just tap the starter button. Release the button, and the starter cranks until the engine starts. People do a double take if you step away from the bike while it’s still cranking.