2018 Indian Chieftain Elite | First Look Review

2018 Indian Chieftain Elite
The “ultra-premium” Indian Chieftain Elite bagger returns for 2018 with a hand-finished, high-flake Black Hills Silver paint job with marbled graphics.

Last year Indian rolled out two high-end, factory-custom versions of its hard faired bagger, the Chieftain Elite and Chieftain Limited. They featured custom paint, larger front wheels and block-rockin’ audio systems.

Read our 2017 Indian Chieftain Elite and Chieftain Limited first ride review

For 2018, the “ultra-premium” Chieftain Elite bagger returns with a one-of-a-kind, hand-finished paint job and a wish list of amenities. The focal point of the new Chieftain Elite is its high-flake Black Hills Silver paint and marbled graphics.

2018 Indian Chieftain Elite
Indian says the labor-intensive, hand-finished paint job takes 25 hours and no two Chieftain Elite baggers will look the same.

As the name suggests, this paint was inspired by the silver mines in the Black Hills of South Dakota, which is near Indian Motorcycle’s custom paint facility in Spearfish. A team of Indian Motorcycle experts mask the bodywork, lay the graphics and hand-spray each Chieftain Elite. Each bike takes nearly 25 hours due to the time-intensive, painstaking processes that are completed by hand. No two bikes will look the same due to the level of human touch involved.

“Whether cruising around the city or touring the country back roads, the 2018 Chieftain Elite delivers on its promise of being the best bagger that money can buy,” said Reid Wilson, Senior Director–Marketing and Product Planning for Indian Motorcycle. “This bike was born to turn heads and provide an unmatched riding experience with all of the premium amenities included.”

2018 Indian Chieftain Elite
Hiyo, Silver! From the high-flake silver paint to the many chromed surfaces, the new Chieftain Elite makes a bold, bright statement.

The 2018 Chieftain Elite rolls on a 19-inch, 10-spoke, contrast-cut front wheel and marbled graphics package and is equipped with a 200-watt premium audio system, Pathfinder LED headlight and driving lights, a push-button power flare windshield, billet aluminum rider and passenger floorboards and genuine leather seats. New for this year’s Chieftain Elite are pinnacle mirrors and updated, smaller hand controls for improved ergonomics. A host of other features come standard, including the Ride Command infotainment system, ABS, cruise control, tire pressure monitoring, remote-locking saddlebags and keyless ignition.

2018 Indian Chieftain Elite
The Ride Command infotainment system with full-color, 7-inch touchscreen comes standard on all Chieftain and Roadmaster models. The Chieftain Elite gets new pinnacle mirrors and smaller, more ergonomic hand controls.

Powering the Chieftain Elite is the Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin that belts out a claimed 119 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a 6-speed transmission. For those wanted more grunt, the accessory Thunder Stroke 116 ci Stage 3 Big Bore Kit adds 20 percent more horsepower and 15 percent more torque. Color-matched accessories are also available, including a quick-release trunk, hard lower fairings and a valanced front fender.

Available in limited quantities, the 2018 Indian Chieftain Elite starts at $31,499 and will be in dealerships starting in March.

Check out more new bikes in Rider’s guide to new/updated 2018 motorcycles




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