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Indian Roadmaster Classic: MD Ride Review, Part 1 (with video)

Just finished a quick 80 miles on MD’s Indian Roadmaster Classic test bike. Very impressed so far. Like other Indians we have tested, the Roadmaster Classic has a refined, powerful nature, and handles well for its class of motorcycle.

Of course, the reason this bike exists is a rider’s desire for touring comfort and convenience. I can already tell the seat has plenty of support, and found no comfort issues during the initial ride. The saddlebags and top case offer huge carrying capacity (I confirmed the top case will hold two extra-large, full-face helmets).

This is an expensive motorcycle with an MSRP starting at $26,999.  Nevertheless, this is definitely a full-dress tourer with gorgeous leather covering the saddlebags and top case for a vintage look. Touring amenities include heated grips and seat, together with a power windshield, and Indian’s big, 7″ “Ride Command System” that gives you a legible, easy-to-navigate screen up front and center with plenty of information (we will detail that later), including an excellent stereo.

We are looking forward to putting some serious mileage on the Roadmaster Classic.  We will even put a passenger on that inviting seat (with backrest). Stay tuned.


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108 Comments

  1. Fivespeed302 says:

    That was a video? More like a commercial, and not even a good one.

  2. Bubba Blue says:

    No matter how you spin it, it’s still form over function. And that’s fine, if that’s right for you. I’m pretty much done with form over function and frankly I’d prefer a Bandit 1250.

    If it’s to be all about form, Indian’s Bread and Circuses still aren’t a match for Harley’s. The dealerships aren’t fun and filled and welcoming like Harley’s, they’re lonely and hoping for customers, they don’t have the parties and poker rides and there aren’t many Indian riders clubs, just the same lonely faces. And despite the branding misdirection, they’re really Polaris.

    • Gary says:

      Sounds like you are a Harley man regardless what others come with. If Indian was around half as long (the new Indian) as Harley, there would be most if not all those things too. When they have sufficient numbers (and there are more all the time), then events with them will be more numerous.

      • Gary says:

        And by the way, Polaris did what I and many others think was a great job in researching and designs the first Indians from them to carry on what the original Indian would have been if they never ceased production all those years ago, so give credit where credit is due. With the Scout and I’m sure future models, they will bring the brand even further updates like the liquid cooling etc, that Harley is so afraid the “faithful” will scorn. But even Harley will have to face the fact that liquid cooling is inevitable, and has already started with the V Rod (for several years) and now the new street series of bikes.

    • Mr.Mike says:

      The last thing in the world I want to do is go hang out wither other motorcyclists, so having to walk through the dealer-turned-social-club to buy a part is a big negative for me, and don’t get me started about poker runs. They are a sure way to turn a pleasant ride into a terrible time.

    • Clumseyfingers says:

      Some Harley dealerships aren’t so pleasant. I left an “other brands” dealership which was a fun, happy place to the Harley store. Complete opposite. Sexed-up ignorant chicks, snarky ego-pumped staff bickering and barking at each other.
      And some riders are comfortable enough with themselves that they don’t need to run in packs.

      • paul246 says:

        “And some riders are comfortable enough with themselves that they don’t need to run in packs.”

        Amen.

  3. Hot Dog says:

    Think they’ll offer it in hi viz day glow super rare flat black?

  4. Mr.Mike says:

    As a public service I looked up the origin of fringes and according to Wikipedia “Buckskins are often trimmed with a fringe – originally a functional detail, to allow the garment to shed rain, and to dry faster when wet because the fringe acted as a series of wicks to disperse the water”, so apparently there is an actual reason for them which presumably applies to the bags on this bike too. I always thought fringes were a ridiculous, unnecessary affectation – but apparently not. Live and learn.

  5. Rocky says:

    Nothing says “meet me at the glory hole, big boy” like all those studs and tassles. Better start growing out a big droopy moustache and dust off the chaps if you are going to buy that.

  6. mickey says:

    You used to have to wait in line and pay MSRP plus for a Harley, I just read today that Harley is offering $1000 rebates to clear out excess in entory. They blamed it on aging demographics ( but never mentioned that Indian was taking away sales) . Interesting, NO?

  7. cinderbob says:

    Sorry, Indian, but although I can afford to do so, I simply will never be able to bring myself to spend a minimum of $27,000 on a motorcycle.

    No, wait! You mean to tell me it’s only $26,999! Now, that’s a different matter entirely.

    Nuts!

    • Gary says:

      Have you priced any top of the line Harleys, or the Honda Goldwings lately. They are all in that ballpark of more. Indians as of yet are still not produced in the volume that some other makes are, so they may be a couple thousand more than others just for that reason.

      • todd says:

        But why? “Just because” is not an answer. There is no reason why the most mass-produced motorcycles should also be the most expensive.

  8. Peter says:

    Now that they killed Victory, they need to stick this engine in a lighter less valenced bike, and sell it for a reasonable price.

    Well, they need to do a lot of things. Like stick the Scout engine in a more standard frame with mid controls and a seat height of no less than 28″.

    • My2cents says:

      Harley-Davidson tried that with the XR 1200 and the American public cried out why they only sold those in Europe and denied the glorious American market of such a great motorcycle. Once sold on the home shores they sat like rocks on a beach because although folks say they will spend the money if you bring it they seldom do. The Honda GB 500 would be my best example of this all talk no action sales flop.

      • mickey says:

        Trouble for me was the XR 1200 was a barge both physically and from a visual standpoint compared to a light weight sporty flat tracker. Everything about it looked heavy, very blocky, even the exhaust looked heavy. A standard Sportster looked lighter and more sporty. Look at the Indian Flatracker next to an XR 1200. One looks like it weighs 350 pounds the other looks like it weighs 650 pounds.

        I told Honda to bring the CB1100 to the USA and I would buy, and I ended up buying 2 of them. Not everyone is all talk and no action. I’m needing a new sport tourer and would love to see Indian produce one. Make it right, upright seating, wind protection, bags, about 100 hp less than 600 pounds and I am a buyer.

        • Doc says:

          I told Honda the same thing. But I only bought one. What I was hoping for was both the one I have now and the other concept model shown in Tokyo in ’07, the ’70’s looking sport bike. Told my wife I would buy one or both if brought here. Everything you’re describing sounds like a Motus. Except add about 60 more hp. Did you ever consider one? Pricey I know but it seems every body who rides one, loves it. Leno did a story on it. I won’t even mention what I just bought. Not an Indian, but most on here don’t like em.

          • mickey says:

            Doc I love the concept of the Motus but not the $34K. Not that I couldn’t afford it, but my ST1300 does everything I need it to do in great style, at 1/2 the price, which leaves about $14K for gas, tires and hotels,(or another bike) and it has shaft drive. Mine has close to 100K on it now and Honda isn’t making any new ones. Ideally if they did it would weigh 150 pounds less. I’m not getting any younger. If Honda did make a new one I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another. Great bike.

            But the same concept in a narrow, belt drive, hydraulic valve, V twin might be nice, and should certainly be doable, if HD or Indian would get off their rumps.

      • CrazyJoe says:

        There’s some video review with one of those massive test rides. Indian was showing off, not for public use, something not sure if it was meant to be a scrambler. It had gold shocks and fork. It looked pretty good but would a hipster by it?

  9. Grover says:

    Not my cup of tea, but let’s hope they sell enough of these things so they’ll have enough revenue to branch out and build a bike that is the polar opposite of this bike. Probably will never happen.

  10. Neil says:

    In person they are very nice and when you sit on one and easily take it off the stand, you’ll get it. They are very nice in person and 2D photos cannot do them justice. Stop by a dealer if you have one nearby. The motors are really works of art as well.

    • Tim C says:

      There’s a similar model that parks near my job. Yeah, it’s kind of nice (though not as nice as expected) in person, but still no difference in my opinion between pictures and in person. Seat looks more like it should be on a horse for instance (which is probably what they’re going for, admittedly)….

  11. Vrooom says:

    Who knew they were putting wheels on barcaloungers? You’ve got your couch, you’ve got your cruiser, it’s two things in one.

  12. Gham says:

    These type bikes are big,heavy,and sometimes behemoths to handle in tight quarters.Be interesting to see how they do just getting to the “open road” 2-up and loaded with gear.I know it was an eye-opener for me.

  13. steve says:

    How about a rocket 3 touring for $10k less

    • WSHart says:

      Good choice but should have cruise control by now. And it doesn’t. Too bad. It’s a great ride.

    • Bart says:

      +10,000 to your suggestion!

      They are 150 lb-ft of hoot to roll on!

      • mickey says:

        Careful, don’t want to get Teelee fired up lol

        • teelee says:

          Hey Mickey, i am still here. Just waiting for the next Triumph to comment on. Hate Triumph’s and despise the Newnan Ga. employees of Triumph headquarters.

    • Gary says:

      Nice bike, but the Rocket 3 (not tourer) I test rode sure threw a lot of heat off of the right side.

      • teelee says:

        I rode my brothers Rocket 3 down thru town at about 35 mph for about 6 miles my right leg was well done. Could not get off this 65000 btu heater quick enough. Many better choices to buy.

  14. PN says:

    Glad to see what Polaris was able to do with Indian because Harleys are like belly buttons–everyone has one. Hey, where are my conches?

  15. Doc says:

    That fairing reminds me of a vintage locomotive but I can’t seem remember which one. While I don’t care for fringe, changing the color of the leather would help this bike alot.

  16. Wendy says:

    The fringe is just a pure “ugh” for me. I would go with a plastic saddlebag look if I was even slightly tempted by the Indian marque.

  17. paquo says:

    nice bike , yosemete sam rides one i’m sure

  18. CrazyJoe says:

    Baggers look so much better without bags. Big brown western themed bags seem a bit over the top. They get dirty looking after awhile and those seats look like lazy boys on two wheels. I’m not an artist and as someone pointed out they are rolling works but I wonder how much the big indians could be stripped down to look like an original classic. Something built around a Brooks saddle with springs.

  19. Mick says:

    I guy could read the nonsense here and never know that Honda and BMW are well situated in the touring market.

    For my part. I would like to see something other than all retro all the time from the US. Motus is interesting. I hope they succeed. I am also watching Alta Motors very closely. I am relocating just now. So I am unsure that an Alta would suit my future local riding get venues. I will buy one if the riding areas work.

    • carl says:

      That’s because if it doesn’t have a v-twin, its junk 😉

      • Tim C says:

        Yeah the current R1200s are total crap

      • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

        and goldwings have sucked for decades…

        • carl says:

          Honda could update it someday, basically same bike for last 16 years.

        • McClain says:

          Nonetheless, I’ll be keeping my ’84 GL1200 Standard, which is maybe just a little cooler than this

          • austin zzr 1200 says:

            Much cooler and probably more technologically advanced, faster and more reliable

          • My2cents says:

            The GL standards were pretty cool although I preferred the 1983 over the last standard you own. That being said the level of comfort and entertainment supplied from the Indian would seriously impact your long distance travel.

    • My2cents says:

      Honda perhaps is well situated in the touring market BMW is busy with the adventure market can’t even begin to compete with the GL 1800 on the segment of touring. Harley-Davidson, Indian, and BMW all have good touring platforms, the Honda GL 1800 has a great touring platform. A able rider on a GL 1800 can tear up a twisty road like a sportbike and still cruise 100 miles for dinner after. Over the years Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki tried to enter the heavyweight touring market and failed with Yamaha taking the biggest hit.

      I laugh that anyone would find fault in the Honda GoldWing concerning the ability to tour, they are somewhat bland in styling and personality but that doesn’t count if the question is covering large distance in comfort.

      • carl says:

        The honda engine is a locomotive, I got rid of my 07 GL1800 for a Victory CCT. I have owned many sportbikes including my recently sold ZX14, so i’m a where of performance as well as comfort. I’m not a fan of V-twins because the lack of performance and did miss the goldwing engine but if you want comfort try a Cross country tour or a Vision. I do a fair number of 12-14 hour days on the saddle so take my word for it.

  20. Artem says:

    I do not know what to say.
    If the helicopter pilot indian girl from “Bones” serial will say it is ok.
    Then, that is it.

  21. Kirk Lazarus says:

    FYI, the luggage is hard and it locks (keyless release on the fob)

    • Auphliam says:

      I believe the keyless locks are only on the regular hard bags versions. These leather ones don’t lock.

      • Dave says:

        A friend of mine sells Indian motorcycles and he assured me the leather fringed bags don’t lock. I wasn’t buying one anyway but I thought it was interesting that they don’t.

      • Texinohio says:

        Correct. Also you will be missing the rest audio as well. Front lowers are gone too.

  22. Stuki Moi says:

    Indians are beautiful bikes. But hey, I even looooved the look of the Kawasaki version I bought for around 5K back in the day….. I do hope Indian makes a killing on them at these prices, or they’ll be terribly exposed if people start getting a bit less free spending in their ways.

    Although Japanese cruisers seem to be a bit “out” these days, I’d love to see Kawi do a rerun of their version. It was a really cool bike, even though I’m not typically a “cruiser” rider. Kawi could probably bring it in for half of what this one costs; hence appeal to a much younger crowd. One that has “outgrown” the Bolt and Vulcan S, but don’t yet have the home equity for one of these 30K thingys. Or, Kawi could go all out with a “Rivermark” version. Supercharged V-Twin and H2-grade paint and detailing…… And no doubt price 🙁

    • Geoffrey Hill says:

      Do not like fake bikes. Wanted the first Vmax that came out till I read about fake air scoops. Indian makes fake flatheads. My 42 tank shift harley was a real flathead. Got to the point where I can’t kick start bikes anymore,so I like fuel injection and electric start. Like the new Triumph bikes, but what is with the fake Amal looking carbs. I had 2 I hated having to Tickle to make run, then baby motor till it would almost idle, Don’t like fake. Don’t even mention PlastiChrome.

      • Tim C says:

        VERY good points – I friggin hate fake anything and you are right on about this (and the Triumphs etc) trying to do fake styling stuff. (I remember when Subaru was doing non-functional air scoops on their hoods, and when asked, someone said “They have a function. The function is styling.” BONK BONK BONK BONK)

      • Mr.Mike says:

        I agree. Don’t get me started on Disney’s Epcot mess.

      • Pacer says:

        I agree about fake covers etc, but dont throw the baby out with the bath water. There are a lot of good bikes, some you mentioned, that still deserve to be ridden. Would you ditch the girl of your dreams because she has fake eyelashes? 🙂

        • Geoffrey Hill says:

          Fake styling sucks. Took me about 2 years to notice the color of my wife’s eyes. My attention was elsewhere.

    • steveinsandiego says:

      SM,

      omg, except for the riders on the kawi vulcan forum, i’ve never read/heard anyone speak endearingly of kawi cruisers.

      i bought a new 1600 in 2005, threw on a rifle windshield and lowers, and a set of leatherlyke bags. i kept it for 6 years and about 66k miles.

      it’s most wonderful attributes? shaft drive and hydraulic valves – maintenance consisted of brake pads, oil/filter, coolant, and shaft oil. gosh, a non-wrench like me who could take care of his bike – imagine!

      but back to the indian. they’re gorgeous imho fwiw. i’ve ogled’m up close, sat on’m – never ridden cuz they’e too freaking heavy for me, despite the low seat height.

      more LOL: i’m trying to get ride of a 2015 v-strom 650. in my waning years it’s becoming too awkward to git on’n off, and manipulate it around the garage. i can only imagine an indian the garage…yikes.

      • Stuki Moi says:

        If you like the ‘Strom but want more of a “cruiser” with many of the same attributes in a less tall, easier on/off package, look at the Kawi Vulcan S. Pretty much no engine on earth is going to be as plain awesome as the Suzuki 650 V-Twin; but objectively, the Kawi parallel twin is very similar. And that little Vulcan handles and goes like nobody’s business.

        In LA, if you use your bike as daily transport, park it on the beach, or outside a Hollywood bar (’cause you had a few more than you feel comfortable riding home on) overnight etc., the two classes of bike you don’t want, is a Japanese sportbike and an American cruiser. They just get stolen.

        I one morning walked back to a brand new, 15K BMW parked unlocked in Venice, and was greeted by a seriously bummed out guy, whose 10 year old CBR 600 had been stolen overnight, right next to mine. Despite a big lock and all that jazz….. And Harleys are the same way. Basically a rolling pile of greenbacks for bike thieves. While Japanese cruisers have traditionally been spared the attention from those guys.

        • mickey says:

          You never have to lock a Honda ST 1300 … it’s too heavy to lift or roll very far by hand, and nobody knows what it is anyway.. They think it’s either a BMW or some oversized scooter

          • Stuki Moi says:

            Yup.

            It seems almost all the theft, is of Japanese sportbikes and Harleys. Perhaps Indians as well, nowadays. They weren’t around when I was paying attention. Maybe Goldwings, I really don’t know. I’ve been told dirtbikes get stolen all the time as well, but have no experience with that.

            But big STs, Adv bikes, metric cruisers… Noone seemed to bother stealing them.

      • My2cents says:

        The DL 650 has a high center of gravity and therefore is a bit tippy to push about. The low CG on the Indian versus the increased weight likely makes it no worse than your current ride for that task. When you test ride the Indian (more so with the Chieftain) the first thing you should notice is how much lighter it feels than that DL 650.

  23. WSHart says:

    America doesn’t “need” a solid sport bike or nudist bike because there are plenty from which to choose. Besides, most of those that buy those types of bikes will remain with the Asian Persuasion and why not? The Japanese make what these folks want. Indian, like Harley-Davidson, makes what a great many other riders want.

    And if they can convince those buyers they’re in it for the long ride, then having built it, perhaps they will not only come and look, but buy and ride. I don’t see many buyers rushing to buy the new HD Street Rod and why not?

    It is what they’ve been whining for but as usual they return to what they are familiar with and there is nothing wrong with that. The Japanese make great sport bikes and nudist bikes. Indian and HD make superb touring rigs. Harley makes great Harleys and Indian makes great Indians. In a similar manner, Moto Guzzi makes great Moto Guzzis.

    The only group that makes cruisers are the big four of Japan. Above that, the Japanese make excellent sport bikes and nudist bikes. So too, does Ducati. Fantastico.

    I await the usual peanut gallery’s vainglorious retorts with great anticipation.

    • marloweluke says:

      You have a point. The bikes I want to ride are not made by HD or Indian. However being a Canadian I am patriotic enough that I would love to ride a “North American” alternative to the bikes I like to ride, such as a sportbike or sport tourer. I can’t afford a Motus. So no options for me except Japanese or European.

    • Provologna says:

      I suspect there is vainglory in your conflating of “nudist bike” with “naked bike.” “Nudist” is a noun. “Naked” is an adjective. “Nudist bike” is akin to “motor tire.”

      I hope your riding skills exceed your failed attempt to invent new motorcycle pejorative.

    • Bill N says:

      I looked into the HD Street Rod but the testers said they were cramped at 5’9″ and I’m 6’3″.

    • Buzz says:

      You knocked it out of the park dude.

      “Know your niche” is an important part of any business.

      • mickey says:

        lol…up until 1969 Honda’s “niche” was small motorcycles, toys if you will. The British and Harley were not afraid of Honda’s invading their market place because ‘they only build little bikes, not serious road bikes”. Niche’s can be expanded with a little thought and effort.

        • Buzz W says:

          Just because you make a lot of different motorcycles doesn’t mean you sell a lot of different motorcycles.

          Honda makes lots of floor anchors these days.

          • mickey says:

            At least they try different things.. If they hadn’t we wouldn’t have had the 750/4. the Goldwing, the VFR series etc etc. I believe they sold a ton of all those…and the CBX while not a big seller was a mechanical show de force.

          • Tim C says:

            Well (@Mickey, not sure where this will show up), that was when Honda was trying things that worked (either S. Honda was still in charge or at least his vision still ruled the roost).

          • mickey says:

            Yea fun guessing where anwers will show up around here.

            Tim the point being made was just because you are good at building one thing ( your niche? ) ..Cruisers for Indian/ or small bikes for Honda ( pre 1968) doesn’t mean you have to stay in that niche and good things may happen if you don’t.

            Snowmobiles for Polaris would be another example.. That was their ” niche” but I’m guessing they sell more ATVs than snowmobiles these days.

    • VLJ says:

      “I don’t see many buyers rushing to buy the new HD Street Rod and why not?”

      Because it’s a steaming pile of meh that can’t compete on any functional level with its Japanese and European counterparts.

    • Tim says:

      Maybe it’s not about “need” but “want.” This IS the USA, after all. Nobody NEEDS any kind of motorcycle, for the most part. We have them – many of us multiple bikes – because we want them.
      I want a naked standard or even an ADV made in the US. Like others, I was suckered in (for a short time) by the Project 156. I didn’t think Victory was going to go into full production mode of bikes exactly like that one but still hoped that it signaled a willingness to produce something other than cruisers.
      But, I get it. The market for anything else in this country has been judged too thin by the folks who make such decisions to invest the dollars in. I don’t expect any company to invest in something that they don’t foresee any meaningful return out of.
      As to this Indian, I’m not a fan of the styling but I’m not really in the demographic they’re likely targeting with it – I’m only 55. I will say, though, that I’ve ridden most all of the other big Indians (the demo trailer was at my local dealer when the Scout first came out but the line to ride the 2 Scouts there was long while nobody was waiting to ride some of the others so I gave them a go) and was very impressed with the ride and handling. These are premium motorcycles out of the box. FOX Racing suspension bits that offer a very comfortable ride yet without the expected wallowing in the corners.

  24. Gil Anderson says:

    America still needs a solid sport bike and naked sport bike. I’m so disappointed Victory is going away. I lo=iked the name, logo, and attitude it projected. I had hopes that the company would build its own heritage instead of buying and rebuilding someone else’s. The Indian bikes are fine, but I’ll never own one. I’m all about function, even with new technology added (i.e. BMW and Ducati). I believe that retro is a fad that will go away eventually. The companies that build with an eye on the future instead of the past will probably be the ones that survive long term. Even Harley has the V-Rod, patented and built that one-off reverse trike, and has threatened us with that cool looking electric bike. Where does Indian fit into all of that?

    • Max says:

      I hope retro doesn’t go away. I was at a dealer today and saw the Yami MT10. All that went thru my head was “only a mother could love that?”
      Black paint hides a lot of ugly. Maybe that’s why so many are “murdered out” these days.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I believe that retro is a fad that will go away…”

      it’s dug in like an Alabama tick. (says Jesse anyway)

  25. VFRMarc says:

    Too big and heavy for me, but it is FINE looking (to each his own, marloweluke, TimC) and nothing compares in the Hardly line.

  26. Tim C says:

    This is “when the dog throws up on the carpet” in motorcycle form.

    • Scott says:

      Normally, I refrain from being critical of the motorcycles presented here, because everyone has different tastes. So I will say nothing.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me…

  27. Butch says:

    A rolling work of art.
    Just don’t get caught in the rain.

  28. My2cents says:

    The blending of Roadmaster and Chief is unusual both to the eye and the sensible touring rider. Hard bags that don’t lock isn’t a deal killer just something to consider. But the Indian is still sexy retro and a great handling 900+ lb touring platform.

  29. Bill N says:

    I prefer hard lockable luggage myself but it looks like a nice package.

  30. Dino says:

    Good looking cruiser… Looks like it is massive enough to give an economy car a run for its money in a collision!

    Should come with airbags, and a roof.

  31. mickey says:

    Pretty bike as bikes like that go. If I was a cruiser guy I would have a look at it. It said heated grips but didn’t mention cruise control, something a touring bike should definitely have. Can’t believe they can put so much thought an effort into yet another cruiser and not one moments thought or effort into a standard or sport tourer. just baffles me.

    Video was kind of useless.

    • Dino says:

      Standard or Sport Touring versions… That SHOULD have been the role for Victory, but that ship has sailed (sunk?).

      The video was just an audition tape for whatever band was playing…

    • Stuki Moi says:

      I’m somewhere between pretty and 100% sure it has cruise control.

    • redbirds says:

      All Indians other than the Scouts have cruise control.

  32. Falcodoug says:

    The airstream of bikes.

  33. marloweluke says:

    Wow, that is one big piece of bling. Terribly ugly IMHO no matter how nicely finished it is.