INDIAN CHIEFTAIN (2014 - on) Review


  • Full-spec touring version of Chief
  • Thumping V-twin engine
  • Loads of kit as standard

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £220
Power: 100 bhp
Seat height: Low (26.0 in / 660 mm)
Weight: High (849 lbs / 385 kg)


New £20,499
Used £10,500 - £15,300

Overall rating

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

The Indian 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.

It received a major update in 2019, with cleaner lines and a smaller overall profile. The panniers have harder edges and sit tight against the huge silencers, and new badging on the tank and panniers further cleaned up the look. Furthermore, all of the Chieftain models also got three switchable riding modes to choose between - Tour, Standard and Sport – each with its own throttle map.

Tour is the softest, with a slow throttle response designed for cruising and Sport the most immediate for spirited riding. Plus, 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.

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.

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. 

Riding the 2019 Indian Chieftain

Ground clearance becomes the limiting factor, but the hinged footboards give you a margin of grace, and with such an impressive balance between the 46mm fork and air-adjustable rear monoshock, bumps and swells mid-corner give no cause for concern. The fact that you can actually feel what the front tyre is doing through that fat and heavily weighted fork is another confidence-boosting surprise. There’s no significant pitching on the brakes, nor any see-sawing if you’re constantly switching from hard braking to full-throttle. 


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

The 1811cc Thunder Stroke III engine gives plenty of encouragement to get a shift on, too. Drive is punchy but linear throughout the short rev range, and it pulls with super-smooth glitch-free delivery throughout.

There’s nothing particularly impressive about its 91.5bhp, while it arrives at an accessible 4500rpm, but the surfeit of torque (99.6ftlb at a near-tickover 2100rpm) means dancing on the gear lever is only ever a matter of choice, not necessity. And that’s helped by the big V’s elastic flexibility. While some gargantuan V-twins run into an invisible wall at the top of their rev range like a cheap turbo diesel, the Thunder Stroke III revs out cleanly as you pull another gear, and that flexibility means that from near tickover to the redline, you’ve got drive at your behest.

2019 Indian Chieftain engine

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. 

Our Indian Chieftain owners' reviews show nothing too concerning other than a bit of rust around some areas of the bike. 

The 2019 Indian Chieftain gets new luggage

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.

2019 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse


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 for 2019 Indian Chieftain

The paniers on the 2019 Indian Chieftain

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

New stereo on the 2019 Indian Chieftain

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.'


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 £101
Annual service cost £220
New price £20,499
Used price £10,500 - £15,300
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.
  • Updated in 2017
  • Updated in 2019

Other versions

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

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

4 owners have 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: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Engine: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Equipment: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Annual servicing cost: £220
5 out of 5 Possibly the Best Indian Motorcycle
03 January 2023 by Tony Marsland

Version: Ltd

Year: 2018

An outstanding bagger, suitable for touring or short journeys

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

On long journeys 300 miles is a dream depending on roads and conditions, cruise control and comfort on M Ways make more Miles possible, back or minor roads are covered with ease with an adjustable suspension.

Engine 5 out of 5

Air cooled twin 1800cc provides plenty of power when required, but also travels well at low speeds.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Excellent build quality, no corrosion and original paintwork still in top condition

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Depending on miles undertaken Costs might be higher, also tyres depending on make and use normally require a change every two years

Equipment 5 out of 5

Adjustable windscreen, Indian Ride Command including Sat Nav, Radio and bike diagnostics. I use Avon Cobra Tyres and find them excellent in a variety of conditions, storage panniers (bags) are solid and lockable (central locking) also fitted front and rear engine crash bars (recommend)

Buying experience: Bought as part exchange from an Indian dealership

5 out of 5 The Indian expeirence
01 October 2021 by Chill n Grillpp

Version: Chief vintage

Year: 2016

Annual servicing cost: £225

Loved this bike at first site I just wanted one, I am a cruiser enthusiast, have owned three Goldwings from new have riden a huge selection of Harleys New & used, The Indian has the classic looks but is a more up to date tech than a Harley for me, Don’t regret my choice 👍

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Bike rides very well for its weight & size

Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Indian Dealers not spread evenly through UK

Equipment 4 out of 5

Buying experience: First class from freedom motor cycles

5 out of 5 A real mile muncher
16 July 2021 by Fridge

Year: 2014

I've had my 2014 Chieftain for 3 years and it is the best bike I have ever owned, in fact I've just put a deposit down on a new Chieftain Limited as, in my opinion, there is nothing out there in the market that can top in the faired, heavyweight touring market. I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend. I used to keep a large tourer for two up touring, a Harley Dyna for blatting about and a winter hack but I sold the Harley as the Indian just did everything I needed.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Obviously this is a heavy weight bike but it has high end suspension components (fox racing air shock) so it handles it's bulk well, particularly with the shorter rake compared to the Chief. Genuinely good fun on an alpine pass and, with the power screen and cruise control, great at just covering the motorway miles when you need to. Standard seat is good for a factory seat but improvement is possible (Ultimate, Mustang etc). No issue riding all day though.

Engine 5 out of 5

An ocean of torque. Shifts well enough for the type of bike. Nothing else to say here really, does what a large capacity air/oil cooled twin should.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

I've put 15k on mine over the last few years and it's never missed a beat. I have some minor corrosion on the front mudguard (a common issue on the full fendered models), one spot of wrinkle black has lifted on the rear cylinder that I had to touch up and I've just taken off and repainted the reg/reg which was looking tatty but like many cruisers it's in an exposed position.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I'm a former tech so I've self serviced mine as it was almost out of warranty when I bought it. Simple to do if you are a half decent home mechanic. I have bought a service plan for the new one I've just bought. £850 for the 500, 2500, 5000 and 10000 mile services instead of circa £1200 retail which is not bad.

Equipment 4 out of 5

Stereo is good on boring motorway miles, as is the cruise. Power adjustable screen is brilliant going from a nice breeze on you face to fully protected from the elements in seconds (I have a taller freedom performance screen fitted as I'm 6'6"). TPMS has started to drop signal occasionally at motorway speeds but it's 7 years old so probably needs new sensors. Accessories are limited compared to Harley and genuine accessories are a rip off (£1100 for a sissy bar/rack!!). Engine sounds great with slip ons, the mid rise bars give big/tall riders some more room.

Buying experience: Bought privately. Prices on all bikes seem to be very strong at the moment, still worth what I paid for it 3 years ago!

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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