There are distinct, often contrarian subcultures inside the motorcycle scene. The traditionally denim and bandana clad touring and cruiser riders don’t usually hang out with or enjoy the company of leather-wrapped sport or street bike racers.
They embrace two very distinct, deliberately different approaches to riding — even while both classes enjoy the experience of flying through the open air on the back of a bike. The sport motorcycle riders are all about speed and short hall performance on smaller bikes built for power, handling and balance with less regard for comfort. The cruisers go for larger, slower cycles built for more comfort and often equipped with technology to suit longer trips.
While all of the above are welcome at the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, it’s the cruisers and touring bikes that rule the week. With their upright ergonomics, big engines and decked out bags, these are motorcycles built to offer as much comfort and convenience as possible – while preserving some aspect of that two-wheeled, ass in the wind motorcycle experience as possible.
So, it was into that touring bike loving atmosphere that Indian Motorcycles introduced its 2015 Roadmaster – the new, $27,000, top of the line ride for the Minnesota-based builder.
The Roadmaster is intended to serve solely as a long distance touring motorcycle. So, it’s throughly equipped with features to make its rider more comfortable. Its $26,999 sticker is a starting point, and tweaks and add-ons can run the actual cost north of $30,000.
The end result of a kitted out Roadmaster plenty of chrome, AM/FM/Satellite stereo, USB connectivity, power windshield, heated seats, heated grips, hard saddlebags and full trunk storage.
Since so much of Indian’s appeal is the aesthetics and retro look of its motorcycles, the Roadmaster doesn’t sacrifice throwback artistry for all of that comfort consideration.
With its tapered lines, classic fenders and classic Chief head accent light, the Roadmaster is undoubtedly an Indian. When you’re on the back of it, people notice this big Indian Motorcycle whether they’re bikers or not. Its presence is undeniable.
I had a chance to ride the new Indian Motorcycles Roadmaster at Sturgis 2014, cruising through the Black Hills of South Dakota out to Deadwood and back again to the rally. The overall ride experience if smooth, but heavy. While its seat and rider position are comfortable for both the captain and the passenger, the extra equipment onboard to make the travelers’ lives easier add considerable weight to the bike. Once it’s moving, its Thunder Stroke 111 engine keeps the power flowing throughout the gears. But, when it’s time to slow down, stop, turn, etc., the rider needs ample strength to do his or her part.
The end appeal of the Roadmaster depends entirely on the would-be buyer and what style of riding he or she prefers. If you like that knee-down, sprinting rip of a sport bike, keep shopping. But, if you like the beefy, rumbling presence of a big touring bike built for comfort, this new Indian will do the job while turning heads.