2017 Indian Chieftain and Roadmaster Get Infotainment

For 2017, Indian's Chieftain bagger and Roadmaster tourer get an integrated infotainment package called the Ride Command System. (Photos by Barry Hathaway)
For 2017, Indian’s Chieftain bagger and Roadmaster tourer get an integrated infotainment package called the Ride Command System. (Photos by Barry Hathaway)

Since being relaunched by Polaris, Indian has roared out of the gate with two engine platforms and nine models in its first three years. For 2017, its Chieftain bagger and Roadmaster touring models, both of which are powered by the air-cooled, 1,811cc Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin and have a handlebar-mounted fairing, get an all-new, integrated infotainment package called the Ride Command System (RCS). Clearly designed to outdo Harley-Davidson’s BOOM! Box 6.5T infotainment system on some of its Touring models, Indian claims its RCS has the largest display (7 inches), highest resolution, brightest screen and fastest response time.

Ride Command System navigation display
The Ride Command System’s navigation display.

Designed to be as user-friendly as a smartphone, the RCS has a two-finger capacitive touchscreen that allows swiping and pinch-to-zoom while wearing gloves, multiple screen modes and shortcuts, large pushbuttons (to quickly access vehicle info, music, navigation and pairing) and Bluetooth capability (for pairing a smartphone and/or headset). It’s also customizable, with eight screen options that can be used in any combination. Atop the dash is a small storage compartment with a USB cable for connecting a smartphone, iPod or flash drive.

Detailed vehicle info and ride data are available.
Detailed vehicle info and ride data are available.

Last June, Indian invited us to spend a couple days riding a 2017 Roadmaster in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Pairing my iPhone 6S and Sena SMH10 Bluetooth headset was simple, navigating the RCS’s various screens and modes was intuitive, and the large, bright screen and crisp graphics were easy to read at a glance, especially since the display is front-and-center on the dash. In addition to the full-screen displays, I customized the split-screen displays to show Navigation and Music, Vehicle Info and Ride Data, and Trip 1 and Trip 2, and easily swiped between from one to the next.

The Ride Command System has customizable split screens.
The Ride Command System has customizable split screens.

The Chieftain and Roadmaster also get new solid and two-tone color options and pricing (MSRPs are $23,999-$25,199 for the Chieftain and $28,999-$30,399 for the Roadmaster), but are otherwise unchanged. As Indian’s top-of-the-line touring model, the Roadmaster spoils the rider and passenger with plush seating, generous wind protection (including an electric windscreen and removable fairing lowers with vents), anti-lock brakes, heated grips and seats, cruise control, adjustable passenger floorboards, remote locks for the spacious saddlebags and trunk (total luggage capacity is 142 liters), three power outlets and a tire-pressure monitoring system. And let’s not overlook the classic styling, with lots of chrome, that illuminated war bonnet on the front fender and first-class fit and finish. The Thunder Stroke 111 rumbles just-so and churns out gobs of torque (107 lb-ft at 2,700 rpm at the rear wheel, during our test of the 2015 model), though the air-cooled V-twin radiates a lot of heat, especially so on hot, humid days like we had in North Carolina.

Thunder Black over Ivory Cream is one of several new solid and two-tone color options.
Thunder Black over Ivory Cream is one of several new solid and two-tone color options.
The Ride Command System's large, 7-inch display is positioned front-and-center for easy viewing.
The Ride Command System’s large, 7-inch display is positioned front-and-center for easy viewing.

Wet weight for the last Roadmaster we tested was 931 pounds, which is a lot of mass to lift off the sidestand and move around. But its stout aluminum chassis, 25-degree rake and well-calibrated suspension allow the bike to seemingly shed many of those pounds when carving around corners—and there’s plenty of cornering clearance to do so.

During our last luxury touring comparison test, the Indian Roadmaster held its own against the Honda Gold Wing and Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited in terms of wind protection, comfort, load capacity and standard features. With the new Ride Command System, the Roadmaster (and the Chieftain) has climbed a few rungs higher on the luxury touring scale.

Read our 2015 luxury touring comparison:
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited vs Honda Gold Wing vs Indian Roadmaster

Read about the rest of the 2017 lineup from Indian Motorcycle




    • This is what I hate about Harleys. The owner’s.
      The stigma that comes with it. They think they are now a real man cause they own one. Tjey join gangs that get into drinking. Drugs nude girls at parties. So they bash every other bike to soothe their insecurities. I simply love to ride. I dont require a harley to be a man. I spend time riding with my wife or boys. I dont need pinup girls or need to watch other women because my wife is actually pretty. And didnt need a harley to get her. However. Your harley did attract you to a bunch of old pot belly men you grop over…HA…HA

      • Just love riding, not a fan of over paying for Harleys and their outrageous parts and repair costs. I think I will soon pull the trigger on the 17 Roadmaster once they offer a lil incentive. I love the look, the display system, and all that it comes with. Currently rid a 14 Stratoliner, wish yamaha would make a full out bagger with the works. Since they don’t and won’t, the Roadmaster is my next bike here in a few months.

    • I think you are right, no satellite radio feature is apparent on the Indian website. Their site is all videos of the panel displays instead of specification lists where it would be noticeable right away, but from its absence where I’d expect to see it – no satellite. Bwah ha ha. Pooched that.

  1. Good old Polaris can come up with a chinese checker dash but can’t fix their clacking 111s motors.
    Keep in mind you might get a CLACKER with your 30 thousand dollar 2017 Roadmaster. Three years and no fix.

    • I think it’s funny that you pun the Indian motor as a “Clacker.” Harley’s have been plagued by numerous engine design faults that the consumer has had to bear the cost of. You can only modify a Harley’s 1913 engine design so much before finally scrapping the design. Their new Milwaukee motor is a positive step in the right direction. But they have only cooled the cylinder head to be able to keep up with the competition and pass EPA regulations.

      • And yet another person who mentions Harley on a Polaris review. You will be hard pressed to find a review without this strange phenomenon happening.

  2. “First class fit and finish” Y’all’s definition, and mine must differ is all I can say. The Roadmaster looks like a bunch of JC Whitney parts cobbled together. There is no flow between the fairing, lowers, bags, and the tour pack. The hard bags fit and finish are poor for such an expensive motorcycle with the Advance Auto looking chrome strips, and the way the lids lap over. At least they replaced those hideous rear passenger pegs that were on the Chieftain.
    Was wondering about the heat, as one tester said on another article; “It’s like riding a lit Weber grill down the road. Hopefully the ’18s will get tidied up, and cooled down a bit.
    Looking forward to seeing a comparison of the Roadmaster, and the ’17 Road Glide Ultra.


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