Indian Chieftain Limited Trial


The bagger is updated with aesthetic and mechanical evolutions

V2, 1811 cm3, 84 hp at 5000 rpm, 150 Nm at 2100 rpm, 364 kilos dry, from € 28,850

With the revival of Indian, the luxury brand of the Polaris group played both on a history with older roots (Indian, that’s 1901, Harley, 1903) and more modern motorcycles in their design.. But the historic Milwaukee competitor reacted, with the generation of Milwaukee-Eight engines and the revival of the entire Touring range (fall 2016), followed by that of the Softail, reviews from floor to ceiling in the fall of 2017..

Indian could not therefore stand still: if the motorcycles evolve little, the engine has gained power and torque for 2018. We therefore took the opportunity to test one again, to gauge the differences..

Indian Chieftain Limited test


It doesn’t seem like much (I don’t know if you, like me, rarely go to the Indian site and their configurator), but the range is expanding with a multitude of versions. Take the Chieftain, for example: this bagger was tested on Le Repaire as soon as it was released in 2014, with the icing on the cake via a big 8,000 km roadtrip through the American West! When we try, it’s not just for fun! But since then, there has been a Classic version (with single-seater saddle, at € 26,900), a Classic version (two-seater saddle, 16-inch front wheel at € 28,450), a Dark Horse version at the same price (all black, with front wheel). 19-inch) and our Limited trial version and its sparkling finish, at € 28,850. But that’s not all: those who want even more can turn to the Elite finish with its pearly and glitter paint, at € 34,900, which is a bit the equivalent of CVO at Harley-Davidson (but there, the high-end finish is usually accompanied by an even larger engine than the rest of the range, as we saw in the recent test of a Road Glide CVO 117). It makes a lot of choice !

Indian Chieftain Limited Fairing

For the rest, apart from the arrival of the Ride Command multimedia system, the bike is consistent with what we already knew. Note the quality of presentation, finish, the depth of the paintings, despite some slightly plastic covers. The rear light has an air of old to stay in the tone but is in LED to integrate modernity.

Indian Chieftain Limited rear

In the saddle

Please note: the machine is heavy and bulky. With 364 kilos dry, we will pay attention during maneuvers, to better realize then, the incredible balance of this machine which has a beautiful self-stability at low speed and which can be handled in an astonishing agility, once that we have understood and assimilated the rules to properly drive a big cruiser. We insist on agility because with this type of template, the Indian is one of the most agile in the category, thanks in particular to a saddle a little lower than the average which allows to have the feet flat for a 1.70m pilot.

Indian Chieftain Limited cockpit

Before that, we will have familiarized ourselves with the dashboard. Ride Command is still today the most complete, modern, fastest and most intuitive to use infotainment system on an American motorcycle. Yes, it turns a bit like a succession of compliments, but you just have to try it to be convinced. And at least we don’t have a GPS wheel from ten years ago to handle.

Instrumentation from Indian Chieftain Limited

Another interesting point: on the 2018 vintage, the commodos have been redesigned and are now more intuitive, with a joystick on the left while the electric bubble control and cruise control are on the right. Electric bubble? Well yes: because unlike its favorite rival, the Harley-Davidson Street Glide which sacrifices protection on the altar of the look, the Chieftain can show off in the city, low bubble and offer better protection on the road, high bubble.

Engine and transmission

Is a good engine necessarily a good engine? It is probable, at least the Indian pleads for this theory! Because and this is especially true on the right side, this engine is a sculpture. A work of art. A mechanical cathedral. Look at the chiselling of the cylinder heads, the strength of the rocker arms, look at those generous shapes and those oversized foundries.

Indian Chieftain Limited V-Twin

Certainly, but the best is inside: for 2018, Indian therefore claims 15 more horsepower and 15 Nm better, too, as well as a deeper sound. What they did in it to get there seems pretty secretive and neither the dealers nor the press kit speak to it with any precision. Nevertheless: the result is there, with a velvety smooth at low speed and a strength at mid-range which are really impressive. At idle, at 800 rpm, the V2 gurgles with accents that are halfway between the good old tumbled V8 and the Riva boat. We can, the comparison seems obvious, not help imagining it facing a 107 Harley unit: it seems smoother, smoother, more lively..

Indian Chieftain Limited engine

On the other hand, it is mated to a 6 box which we can criticize for not offering a double branch selector, while that is part of the pleasure of driving these big US road cars..

In the city

As often, we are quickly amazed, once past the first fears in front of the size and the weight of the beast, to see how this type of machine is finally quite handy. And this is of course the case with this Chieftain Limited which, if it will never be the queen of the rue de Rivoli on a Friday evening, still manages to come out with the honors of urban escapades, despite its width (1 meter) . However, we note that the turning radius, during maneuvers, seems to me less than that of a Street Glide. On the other hand, maneuvers at very low speed are easier than the Street Glide..

Indian Chieftain Limited road test

On highways and main roads

Here is the Chieftain Limited in its element. Unlike a Street Glide, the electric bubble allows you to gain a few centimeters of additional protection and it is always taken on motorways and main roads. The big V2 turns a bit above 3000 rpm at the legal 130 km / h (it’s a few tens of turns more than opposite), the suitcases of twice 32 liters full of small things, we install the cruise control and we’re fine, Tintin, we’re aiming for the horizon. The saddle is comfortable, the suspensions too, everything is fine. A telephone plugged into the small cavity above the dashboard allows you to listen to your music. In short, it’s bathed in oil.

The Indian Chieftain Limited on a curve

On departmental

As soon as they arrived on the market, the Indian "new gen" seduced by their very modern chassis: the aluminum structure allows great stability (basically, the bike does not waddle around its steering column when entering a curve. ) and the ground clearance, without being exceptional, is however a tad better than that opposite. This does not make her a sportswoman, but a machine that remains healthy, as long as it is handled with the respect due to its style. Basically: sacrifice the entry into the curve, always keep a little margin in the event of a turn that tightens and let go of the big torque at the exit of the curve. There, the Indian unveils a second facet of its engine revised for 2018: a good punch between 3 and 5000 rpm, matched with a soundtrack that goes really well. !

The Indian Chieftain Limited in a bend


The 2018 modifications did not affect the chassis: we therefore find ourselves, as before and it is very well thus, with a large telescopic fork deflecting on 119 mm and a rear shock absorber which works on 114 mm. The tires are entrusted to Dunlops, 180/60 x 16 at the rear and 130/60 x 19 at the front (note that the Chieftain Classic is based on a 16-inch wheel at the front). No piloted suspensions or very complicated stuff: it’s effective like that, that’s it.

Laborer with the Indian Chieftain Limited


300mm discs are found everywhere, logically pinched by a two-piston caliper at the rear and two 4-piston calipers at the front. The whole is satisfactory, both in its power and in its dosage, given the performance and purpose of the machine..

Indian Chieftain Limited Saddle

Comfort and duo

The Chieftain Limited is very comfortable and it even surpasses here, largely, moreover, its historic competitor from Milwaukee: the saddle is better, the suspensions too, the small electric bubble is a plus, in short, it definitely does. At this price level, however, we would appreciate standard heated grips.

Consumption / autonomy

With 20.5 liters in the tank, a fuel gauge and a range indicator, the Chieftain Limited lets you see ahead. At a minimum, count 300 kilometers of autonomy, which is a bit lower than a Street Glide.

Indian Chieftain Limited Tank


If, throughout this test, the comparison with a Street Glide was the common thread, it is obvious: the two American brands are waging a merciless war and the Chieftain Limited is an answer to the bagger of Milwaukee, which is, it will be recalled, the brand’s best-selling worldwide. This shows the issue facing this Indian. If the Limited is a little more expensive, the two motorcycles are also at the same price in their "basic" version: € 26,890 for the Harley, € 26,900 for the Indian. It is not the price that will make it possible to decide between them, but the crush or the attraction and loyalty to one brand rather than another.

From our side, it’s hard not to admit that the Indian’s 2018 “111” engine is a pure success. Supple, smooth, sound as it should but not too much, full and lively at half speed, it is a constant delight. In addition, the Indian is better equipped, more comfortable, more modern (with a GPS that activates in just a few seconds) and holds the road a little better. In short, from a rational point of view, the case is folded. But we are in a motorcycle segment where emotion and affection still play a big part. And this is very well so…

Indian Chieftain Limited on the road

Strong points

  • Neat look
  • Complete and modern equipment
  • Electric screen, central locking…
  • High level of comfort
  • Fantastic engine
  • Safe handling

Weak points

  • Some finishing details (cheap taillight)
  • No dual branch selector

The Indian Chieftain technical sheet

Indian Chieftain video essay

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: a week of testing with daily life in Paris and a stroll in the Morvan on Sunday
  • Motorcycle mileage: 1700 km
  • Problem encountered: none

Competition: Harley-Davidson Street Glide, Moto Guzzi MGX-21

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4 thoughts on “Indian Chieftain Limited Trial

  1. I confirm to have taken it, the low saddle option is at 760. it facilitates access on board and maneuverability at a standstill for the little ones but in this case it requires handlebar risers which do not exist at BM suddenly you have to go to Wunderlich.

    She’s really nice to take along, it’s true, maybe a bit too easy, so I find her a bit like piloting: but what efficiency !!!

  2. I confirm to have taken it, the low saddle option is at 760. it facilitates access on board and maneuverability at a standstill for the little ones but in this case it requires handlebar risers which do not exist at BM suddenly you have to go to Wunderlich.

    She’s really nice to take along, it’s true, maybe a bit too easy, so I find her a bit like piloting: but what efficiency !!!

  3. Hello, low saddle at 760mm. A bike this machine, yes except when maneuvering at a standstill. It is much more flexible than the 1200 and not the shiftcam it is not marketing but techno. And of course it is expensive when optioned, but no mystery is a BMW.

  4. Hello, low saddle at 760mm. A bike this machine, yes except when maneuvering at a standstill. It is much more flexible than the 1200 and not the shiftcam it is not marketing but techno. And of course it is expensive when optioned, but no mystery is a BMW.

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