A chat with a Harley Davidson Owner
I had a chance to talk shop with a long time Harley owner after I gave him a dose of the 2015 Indian Chieftain. He had never ridden any of the Indian products and literally jumped at the idea when I offered him the keys to the Chieftain that I had been riding for a few weeks.
We went out for a ride. I chased him on his Harley while he rode the Indian. After we logged some miles in neighborhoods, on the busier byways, and then on the highway, we pulled back into my buddy's driveway to wax poetic about what he thought of the new Indian Chieftain. This is the result and these are his words:
The suspension is like riding on a smooth wave the whole time. It just glides. You feel a little more confident to just throw it into a corner. The power band is a nice power band. The Harley has a little more bottom end, whereas the Indian has a little more up top. The more you crack it, the more it goes, the more you crack it, the more it goes.
The braking felt really good because it lends itself to the suspension really well. When going into a corner with a little brake on, I didn't feel like the back end was going to wash out. It just leaned into the turn very naturally and balanced, then it came back up. Having never ridden on it before, I felt very confident on the first ride.
Not a fan of the gargantuan switches for the handle bar switching, and they are chrome, so that is cool. You do get a lot more features with the Chieftain, so you need a lot more control space, so I get that.
The windshield being able to articulate up for on the highway and then down for riding around town was a really neat feature. I am 5'9" and didn't get any head buffetting at speed. I raised it just to see and it quieted it, but I didn't feel any discomfort or experience any head buffetting. (The Chieftain was equipped with the short shield from the Indian catalog)
Overall, just a very pleasant, easy to ride motorcycle. I could see how it would be very comfortable on the long hauls. The seat and the handlebars, the way they pull back lends itself to a very comfortable and natural riding position.
As for the foot controls, I prefer a heel shifter as opposed to just the toe selector. We, my wife and I, prefer foot boards over just the rear foot pegs, but I am sure that is something that they will come out with in the future if they don't already have it. Those are the biggest complaints that I have. HAHA! (Later, I installed a Heel Shifter from Aeromach)
My wife and I took our Road King Classic up PCH from San Francisco up to Humbolt, which is a couple hundred mile stretch, and I think that this bike (Chieftain) would be more suited for that trip just because this bike is more comfortable. The weekend trip, weekend getaway, a couple hundred miles? Oh, absolutely! I could totally see putting 400, 500 miles on this bike in a day. It could go those long distances just based on the comfort, and you don't have that vibration at idle, and there is less vibration going down the road and that reduces the fatigue. The Harley is going to contribute to that fatigue just based on those vibrations (coming from the engine).
As far as styling goes, I ride the Road King Classic, so I would be more in the niche for the Chief, and this bike is more pointed at the Road Glide or the Street Glide. I do like the styling. I like the paint. Like you said, it is not from a modern color palette so it is more old school. I think that lends itself to some of the design features of the bike aesthetically, like the engine. It's modern, ya know, it's fuel injected, and runs like a scalded ape right out of the box. However, if you look at it, it kind of has that old flat head look to it, the old push rod look. It has those engine elements that I do like.
I am more of a soft bag, and less of a hard fairing kind of a guy, but I like it. I guess it is because it is something new, something different. Harley has been the only game in town for so long, that it is nice to see something that looks to me, true to form. True to the original Indian roots, which is going to be one of it's biggest selling points against Harley. It is an Indian that is true to it's roots, and not like what they came out with in the early 2000's with the S&S motor and maybe a scalloped fender. It is a good looking bike. Absolutely.
If this bike had been out when I was looking at buying my bike, I would have had to look at this one very seriously because aesthetics aren't everything. I don't really have any brand loyalty. I just want a good machine at a fair price that is going to last me so I don't care what the badge reads.
The seat and the riding position was very comfortable. It just fit. If I would have to sum it up with two words, I would use refinement and fit. You know, everything seemed to fit right. I am 5'9" 180 pounds, so I don't know what other guys would feel like on here, but it just fit. The clutch was nice and smooth. I would guess that it is a hydraulic clutch if I didn't know any better. It is smoother than my Harley. Easy to pull in. The throttle seemed like it had a little more roll. Every time I added more power, there was more there to be had. You weren't just putting more fuel in, it was actually doing something when you added it. The Harley really goes initially, but up to a point, it is, ya know, you are done because of the torque curve. The Indian has more to give on the top end and that might really appeal to some. I personally like a little more bottom end, but it is still a very nice, user friendly power band.
If you talk about the differences between power, suspension, aesthetics. I like the Harley because of my aesthetics. Power band, they are both comparable and more about what you like. It's the suspension that is really what hit it home for me.
At $22,999, that price point wouldn't scare me away. You are getting a lot of features. That fairing is a lot of extra money, the sound system, the USB capability, and when you are dealing with hard shell bags with that kind of convenience and ease of operation, that costs money. It is a bigger engine, I don't know what the difference in weights are, but again, it rode really nice for the money. After riding it, I wouldn't think it was expensive.
Thanks again to Mike for the chat and most especially the ride! We need to do that again brother!