Indian Roadmaster Review
It was a lovely early October day with bright warm sunshine. More like summer than early autumn. A perfect day to test a motorcycle. The bike in question was the Indian Roadmaster, loaned to me by fantastic people of Prime Factors Motorcycles of Redhill Surrey. I had just ridden the Indian Scout, my test of which you can find here. I hadn’t intended to ride the Roadmaster, but a test ride was offered, so it would have been rude to refuse.
As I approached the bike I began to realise just how big it is. There is a lot of bike there.
From the front the wide fairing looks a little like a 1950’s flying saucer coming straight at you. Thanks to the V-twin layout the bike is not as wide where you are sitting than it is at the front, but that 1811cc or 111 cubic inch Thunderstroke engine dominates the show.
Swing a leg over and the first thing you are faced with is the large LCD Ride command screen. Here you can see and control a large range of the bikes parameters ranging from tyre pressures to the built-in sat nav. It’s really clear and once learned simple to use. Josh from Prime Factors runs through the basic functions in the short video here.
The bike has keyless ignition, so once you have pushed the large “on” button and the bike has completed its switch on tests the engine is ready to start. Thumb the starter and the engine has a lovely deep rumble a bit reminiscent of an old V8 muscle car. No cam belt or transmission whine here, just a beautiful light clicking sound from the valve pushrod mechanism like a well-oiled sewing machine.
The next thing is to lift it off the side stand. Here for the first time you feel the weight. I must confess that this is the heaviest bike I have ridden to date and at 900 pounds or so it is quite heavy. Combine that with the weight of my pillion and when you lift it off the side stand you become very aware of how much mass there is. Once balanced on the wheels it’s fine, but you are always aware when stationary or at very low speeds that the weight is there, and should you make a mess of that low speed u turn, that off camber junction or have your foot slip on that patch of gravel – You are going down! Thankfully, Indian realise this and the bike has substantial engine bars that would stop it going all the way down. Still I wouldn’t fancy trying to pick it up or indeed dropping it in the first place. Just imagine the embarrassment!
So with a little trepidation I found first gear and eased out the surprisingly light clutch.
A good thing about having this massive engine is that it has so much torque, even at idle that it’s very difficult to stall, which does give some protection against the above if you’re a bit of a newbie, but to be honest this is not really a newbie bike.
Once moving at anything more than walking pace the weight seems to disappear. Sure you know it’s a big bike but it rides and handles beautifully. The more speed you give it the better it gets. It’s not exactly nimble but changes direction smoothly and gracefully like a figure skater. The engine has amazing torque and is totally tractable, pulling strongly at all revs in all gears. Overtakes are handled with ease and no real need to change down unless you feel a little sporty! I found the Roadmaster a joy to ride and I personally preferred it to the Scout. It takes no time to feel confident and familiar with the bike and it has a certain road presence which will bring a smile to your face and to the faces of people who see it. Car drivers seeing it in their mirror almost always move over to let you pass just to get a look at the thing. Their kids in the back with faces pressed against the window in awe as you serenely cruise past.
The riding position is very comfortable and although you do have your feet forwards in cruiser style, with this bike it feels right. There is so much mass here that balancing your weight on the footrests is pointless. Just sit well into the plush seat and let the bike’s weight and suspension smooth out the road. Your passenger is well catered for with what amounts to a small armchair to relax in. Both seats are of course heated and have built-in speakers connected to an impressive stereo system that automatically adjusts volume and eq compensating for road speed and engine noise levels. Connect your phone by Bluetooth and create your own soundtrack to accompany you on your journeys.
A fair bit of heat comes off the rear cylinder and warms up your legs when stationary. However, Indian have thought of this and incorporated rear cylinder deactivation which shuts down the rear cylinder on warm days and standstill. Very neat!
The electrically adjustable front screen works really well and once adjusted deflects the air so that you can easily wear an open face helmet.
This is not at all a town or commuting bike, but if you want to eat up miles across a country or continent then the Roadmaster will do this all day long and you will arrive comfortable and relaxed.
There is plenty of storage space in the rear top box and side panniers which also have 12 volt power points in them.
Both, myself and my pillion, thoroughly enjoyed the bike and if I had a spare £24K it would be on my list of long distance motorcycles. Sure, a Goldwing is certainly more refined, but personally I don’t think a smooth 6 cylinder can compete for character with this huge V-twin.
Engine & Drivetrain
Bore x Stroke 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Displacement 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Drive/Driven ClutchWet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection SystemClosed Loop Fuel Injection / 54 mm Bore
Engine Type. Air Cooled Thunderstroke V-Twin
ExhaustSplit Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Horsepower 74 HP (55.1 kW)
Peak Torque 119 ft-lbs (161.6 Nm)
Peak Torque RPM 3,000 rpm
Transmission/Primary DriveGear Drive Wet Clutch
Fuel Capacity 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance 5.5 in (140 mm)
Lean Angle 31°
Overall Height 58.7 in (1.491 mm)
Overall Length 104.6 in (2656 mm)
Overall Width 39.4 in (1000 mm)
Seat Height 26.5 in (673 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel) 888 lb (403 kg) / 920 lb (418kg)
Wheelbase 65.7 in (1,668 mm)