INDIAN CHIEFTAIN (2014 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Power: 100 bhp
Seat height: Low (26.0 in / 660 mm)
Weight: High (849 lbs / 385 kg)

Prices

New £20,499
Used £14,500 - £20,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Chieftain sits at the top of the Chief range as the fully-specced touring model. Its heritage and imposing styling makes a Harley look almost meek when compared. Churning along, it’s divine; the engine is smooth and refined, issuing the requisite V-twin vibes, damped, balanced and corralled into a pleasing massage rather than the drumming, numbing tedium of its rivals.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The ride quality is acceptable over small and mid-size bumps but with limited suspension travel it progressively becomes less pleasant over big bumps and is increasingly likely to transmit shocks into the chassis.

Hitting bumps with any sort of lean angle means the bike tends to bump steer out of a turn. The Indian has plenty of overtaking stomp, but needs a prod down the gearbox to get drive without a run-up. Pin it from tickover and it sits up on its springs like a startled rhino then clears off. 

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Chieftain’s engine is a 49° American V-twin boasting 1811cc with 118ftlb of torque @ 2500rpm. The Bike revels in the classic short-shift into top gear riding style, and has superb fuelling, free of throttle snatch or hesitation slugging over comfortably at 2500rpm. The motor picks up well, but is not snatchy or jerky. 

For 2019, all of the Chieftain models also get three switchable riding modes to choose between - Tour, Standard and Sport – each with its own throttle map. Tour will be the softest, with a slow throttle response designed for cruising and Sport the most immediate for spirited riding.

What's more, much like a lot of Indian's range, these bikes will also get rear cylinder deactivation, whereby the rear cylinder cuts out while the bike is stationary to keep the bike (and therefore the rider) cooler in traffic. The cylinder reactivates as soon as the throttle is applied, so Indian say.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

In general, the Chieftain's detailing and build quality is high. The filler cap is daft though, the left side cap is a dummy. The cap also isn’t hinged so will inevitably end up rolling around on the garage forecourt. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Chieftain is competitively priced with its Harley Davidson counterparts and you get a lot for your money. Service intervals are every 5000 miles with the bike not needing a major service until 30,000 miles. The Bike has a big tank, holding 20.28 litres with a range that will easily top 200 miles. 2015 models come with a five year warranty.

Although there are no confirmed prices for the 2019 machine as of yet, don’t expect much change from £25,000 if you start ticking all the boxes for extras.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The Chieftain comes with a lot of high quality equipment as standard, including ABS, keyless ignition, hard panniers (with central locking), and a power adjustable screen.

The latest 2019 Chieftain series also retains some of the styling features introduced to the 2017 range, including the 10-spoke, 19-inch front wheel and open fender, which first appeared on the Limited and Elite models.

New luggage

The fairing has been completely restyled with sharper lines and a smaller overall profile, although the height adjustable screen remains. The saddlebags are have harder edges and are slammed tight to the huge silencers.

The new ‘Rogue’ one-piece gunfighter seat furthers the modern look as do the new badges on the tank and saddlebags. Completing the redesign is the iconic illuminated Indian headdress on the front mudguard.

We think the pick of the punch is the contrasting ‘White Smoke’ Chieftain Dark Horse, although if you do prefer the timeless look of the old model, Indian will still produce that as the Chieftain Classic. It’s not just a restyle of course, there’s new tech too.

Updated stereo

Although the Chieftain has always enjoyed an audio system, the 2019 bike has been updated to significantly improve sound quality. This has been made effective by an automatically adjusting equaliser, which will alter each frequency to the optimal level to compensate for road, wind and engine noise. 

Up to 50% louder than the stock unit, riders can also choose from three audio upgrade kits: PowerBand Audio (which is a fairing speaker upgrade), Audio Plus (which is fairing speaker and saddlebag speakers) and Audio Plus with accessory trunk (which as you guessed includes the top box upgrade).

New colours

Alongside the above alterations, the Chieftain Dark Horse lineup will enjoy multiple new colour schemes for 2019, as well as a black ceramic exhaust and gloss black finishes on the features including the valve covers to achieve what Indian are calling a 'blacked-out look.'

Specs

Engine size 1811cc
Engine type Air-cooled, ohv, 4v, 49-degree V-Twin
Frame type Modular cast aluminium, cast alloy subframe
Fuel capacity 20.8 litres
Seat height 660mm
Bike weight 385kg
Front suspension Telescopic 46mm forks
Rear suspension Monoshock with progressive link
Front brake 2 x 300mm discs with four-piston calipers and ABS
Rear brake Single 300mm disc with twin-piston caliper and ABS
Front tyre size 130/90-16
Rear tyre size 180/60-16

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
New price £20,499
Used price £14,500 - £20,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term -

Top speed & performance

Max power 100 bhp
Max torque 119 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 200 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Included as part of the original Indian 'launch' range in 2014.

Other versions

Indian Chief Classic, Indian Chief Vintage and Indian Chief Dark Horse.

Owners' reviews for the INDIAN CHIEFTAIN (2014 - on)

1 owner has reviewed their INDIAN CHIEFTAIN (2014 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your INDIAN CHIEFTAIN (2014 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
5 out of 5 A charging rhino that's also a charming and gentle giant.
22 February 2021 by Peppone

Version: Chief Dark Horse

Year: 2018

Despite it's capacity and willingness to launch itself repeatedly towards the horizon from low speeds it has a pronounced friendly nature. Every ride is an event. Makes the Indian Scout feel like an old Ford Escort by comparison. Brakes are also surprisingly good. Oodles of character, on this bike you will never ride alone as it's with you all the way. Nice.Weight at walking pace off throttle can sometimes be an issue and if you don't change down in time at low revs the torque can make it suddenly surge forwards, never noticed this on any other bike I have ridden, ZX12R and Hayabusa included.I would recommend anybody to ride one.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

This is by far the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, partly assisted by the not inconsiderable weight of course. Wind blast and the usual laid back riding position can awkward though - I like sports bikes and super nakeds and thus not being over the front wheel can be a literal pain, yet below 70 it's a sumptuous armchair. Brakes are fine, unlike my previous Victory Gunner, ground clearance is good and the rear spring has more travel than you might expect.

Engine 5 out of 5

I rode the Triumph Rocket 3 last year, which is the same price and wondered if I would regret having gone down the American path. Whilst the Rocket has enormous torque and never stops accelerating it's not a particularly cultured feeling power unit, vibrations abound and the sound was kinda odd. Stepping back on the Dark Horse at the Triumph dealer I breathed a sigh of relief - the V twin is a real charmer; smooth and just all round nicer to be with. Who would have thought that such a large air-cooled lump could be so good ?There's a huge amount of torque available, although the sheer weight naturally stops it from being fast per se. I had to slow down due to the 'war against speed' culture that has become increasingly more obstructive to simply having a good time but just couldn't face something boring. This bike certainly has enough power to surprise you and probably is the fastest cruiser out there. Huge fun and with the aftermarket pipes it sounds like a warbird. Epic engine.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Mostly very well built, only real irritation is the thin paint around the non lockable filler cap. Some surface rust on exposed empty threads on down frames which will be cured with an oiled rag. Owned for just over a year from new and nothing has gone wrong. Mirrors are a bit cheap.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Not sure that any bike like this is ever cheap to have serviced....Normally once out of warranty I would service it myself, however with a 5 year warranty you need to keep heading to the dealer for a while longer than the competition. For the riding experience and classy styling it's worth every penny.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Oh the looks... Classic vintage Indian. Either you like the looks or you don't but from some angles I fall in love with the beast over and over again. It's simply beautiful to behold.

Buying experience: Looking at this bike I often wonder where all the money went, it's certainly not immediately obvious. Until you get on and ride it, then you discover it's truly a class act. But you don't get much in the way of goodies to justify the high price.

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