The Elite Is Loaded With Premium Features You Didn’t Know You Had To Have

Indian Motorcycle has flourished under the Polaris umbrella to the point that the factory put together another top-shelf bagger, the Chieftain Elite. The “CE” ramps the factory-custom bracket up to the Nth degree with a metric ton of the more popular custom components under a hand-laid paint job along with the Thunder Stroke 111 engine. Billet bits and custom upholstery wrap up the looks with all the electronic wizardry the factory has to offer to make this numbered line special indeed.

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Design

Hand-sprayed and hand-marbled finish takes 25 hours to produce.

The Chieftain Elite rocks the popular bagger look that has long been a fixture of American custom boulevard bruiser culture. Basically, it takes “your grandpa’s Harley” and turns it into a ride that is cooler than the other side of the pillow by taking out the top case/tourpak, whacking the windshield and adding enough chrome bling that you have to wear eclipse glasses to look at it under direct sunlight.

It leads off with a full-length front fender that borrows from the old-school Indian sheet metal, but the sides are cut out to leave an unimpeded view of that flashy front rim. Too bad the iconic war bonnet didn’t make the cut, but oh well.

Chrome fork sliders hide their tops under little tabs on the front fairing, but I gotta say it’d look better with a set of good old-fashioned beercan skirts instead. Still, they protect the swept area of the inner fork tube, and that is the point of the whole exercise.

Pathfinder LED projectors split the night with a cyclops high/low-beam dead center and a pair of passing lamps recessed into the fairing for a cleaner installation than you get from the old whisker-bar arrangement. Also tucked away within the visage are the turn signals, and up top, the cut-down windshield comes with a flare that makes it a tad more effective at punching a hole in the weather than its size might suggest and it is push-button adjustable.

Behind the screen, a pair of analog gauges and handful of idiot lights join the seven-inch touchscreen that acts as an interface for Indian’s proprietary infotainment feature, the Ride Command system. Navigation joins the virtual jukebox, and the system networks with your smartphone so you can field (or ignore) phone calls under way. A 200 Watt sound system delivers the goods with a pair of bag-lid drivers in addition to the inner fairing speakers so you definitely have enough to share with the class whether they want it or not.

The pullback handlebar puts the pilot’s hands close to their midsection to enable a comfortable, upright riding posture with tiller-steering so you have plenty of leverage to counter the windage of the fairing and the mass that the CE brings to the table. A 5.5-gallon fuel tank sports that classic Indianhead graphic, but the real treat is all that hand-laid marble that makes each unit unique.

White stitching contrasts the black leather seat cover, and the saddle cups and cradles your butt with a wide p-pad and fold-up footpegs if you want to share the fun with a friend. Hard-side, color-matched bags provide dry, secure storage and can be locked/unlocked remotely via the key fob for ease of use. LEDs finish off the rearward lighting for visibility/safety with a stylish cathedral taillight that’s okay looking, but I think a classic tombstone light would look better, me.

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Chassis

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite
- image 834982
A total lean angle of 31-degrees to each side is pretty deep for a bike this size, and should put it on the same level as the celebrated Honda Gold Wing as far as cornering is concerned.

The framework keeps to tradition with a double-downtube/double-cradle arrangement that fully supports the engine rather than using it as a stressed unit, and you can go ahead pencil me in as a fan ’cause that’s as it should be. Rwu 46 mm forks float the front end with 25 degrees of rake that delivers a total lean angle of 31-degrees to each side – if you have the nerve for it. Gotta say, that’s pretty deep for a bike this size, and should put it on the same level as the celebrated Honda Gold Wing as far as cornering is concerned.

The front forks are pure-D vanilla with fixed damper and preload values, but at least the rear shock is of the air-adjustable variety to give it a plush ride out back with 4.7 inches and 4.5 inches of travel at the front and rear, respectively. Cast rims round out the rolling chassis with Dunlop hoops to make the connection to the tarmac in a 130/60-19 followed by a 180/60-16.

As for the brakes, the CE rocks a pair of four-piston calipers that bite dual 300 mm front discs to do the bulk of the work (up to 70-percent of the overall stopping power) with another 300 mm disc and two-pot anchor out back, all under the protection of a stock ABS feature.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25°
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 3.5 in

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Drivetrain

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite
- image 834984
Probably the smoothest and one of the most powerful cruisers on the market.

No doubt about it, even with all the above delightfulness, the engine is still the pièce de résistance. For those of you unfamiliar with the evolution of American powerplants, the overall look hails back to the old side-valve/flathead engines that preceded the OHV designs that would go on to become the dominant configuration.

The look starts out in earnest with the heads than mimic the look of the old flatties complete with faux cooling fins on the rocker boxes and extra fins on the exhaust ports where the headers mate up. A quartet of parallel pushrod tubes reinforce the look, and the fact that it runs with a nosecone-style cam compartment rather than the old peanut cover does nothing to diminish the overall panache.

As for the innards, a 101 mm bore and 113 mm stroke plus combustion chambers add up to a grand total of 1,811 cc (111 cubic-inches), hence the clever Thunder Stroke 111 moniker, and it delivers a whopping 119 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. That’s right, this lump will loaf along at a relaxed pace with power-cruiser grunt just waiting to be unleashed and a roll-on that’ll stretch your arms when you grab a fistful of throttle.

Electronic fuel injection and a 54 mm throttle body manages the induction, but without any fandanglery such as traction control or rider modes to complicate the equation. A wet clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmixxer, and a carbon-reinforced belt carries the power to the rear wheel. As for the top speed, the CE is governed at 119 mph, but if you’re worried about that metric then you’re probably looking at the wrong bike y’all; just sayin’.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: (1st)9.403 : 1, (2nd): 6.411 : 1, (3rd)4.763 : 1, (4th)3.796 : 1, (5th)3.243 : 1, (6th)2.789 : 1
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Pricing

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite
- image 834990
The exclusive finish and premium features add up to a $31.5k price tag.

The 2018 Chieftain Elite starts at $31,499, and comes shot in Black Hills Silver with marbled accent stripes. It’s a numbered model with only 350 units total, which adds to the envy factor and curb appeal.

Gauges: Fairing mounted instrument cluster featuring analog speedometer and tachometer, with fuel gauge, range, odometer and current gear. 15 LED telltale indicators; cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or Km/H unit designation
Infotainment: 7" Touchscreen including realtime clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; vehicle trouble code readout; Vehicle Status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change); Vehicle Info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); Dual Trip Meters (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed); Ride Data (heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); Bluetooth connectivity for phone and headset; Map/Navigation
Lights: Pathfinder LED Lights (headlight, driving lights, turn signals, and tail light)
Standard Equipment: LED Lighting, Pinnacle Mirrors, Aluminum Billet Driver & Passenger Floorboards; Adjustable Passenger Floorboards; ABS; Cast Aluminum Frame with Integrated Air-Box; Cruise Control; LED Driving Lights; Highway Bar; Keyless Start; Tinted, Flare Power Windshield; Genuine Leather Seats; Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags; Tire Pressure Monitoring; 200 Watt Audio with Saddlebag Speakers, AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Color / Graphics: Black Hills Silver w/ Marble Accents
Price: $31,499

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Competitors

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
- image 792151
2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite
- image 834986
That power difference between the two won't register on even the best tuned heinie-dynos out there, but price may be the deal-breaker.

Since the demise of Victory Motorcycles Street Glide from Indian’s old domestic foe to go up against the Chieftain Elite.

Much like the CE, the SG touches on classic design elements with custom tidbits to spice it up. The H-D is somewhat understated with generous blackout touches instead of chrome and a choice between a trio of color packages on the sheet metal whereas the Chieftain Elite only comes in one colorway, but what a colorway it is.

A cyclops headlight bundles all the forward projectors together with no stock pimp lights to be had, but there’s always the accessories catalog for that and Harley has its own infotainment system to break even with Indian on that front. Each machine hits design points from their own storied histories, and to mine eyes, both have an aesthetic quality all their own.

Like the CE, the SG rides on non-adjustable front forks, but Showa’s dual bending-valve forks deliver a superior ride to the straight vanilla stems to give H-D a leg up in the suspension area. Harley doesn’t pull any tricks to make the engine look like a classic; the 45-degree V-Twin DNA ties in with historical engines, just in a more subtle way.

The Milwaukee-Eight 117 displaces a whopping 1,923 cc (117 cubic-inches), and it generates 125 pounds o’ grunt at 3,500 rpm to top the CE by a meager six pound-feet. That power difference won’t register on even the best tuned heinie-dynos out there, and it’s safe to say both mills deliver ample power for this kind of chassis. Indian manages to score bigtime at the checkout against the $40,889 sticker on the H-D, and I gotta’ say that kind of price offset has the potential to buy Indian quite a bit of new brand loyalty.

He Said

“Since the demise of Victory, Polaris focused its American-made energies solely on Indian, and it shows. Baggers are hot right now. They’re popular with commuters, light tourers and clubbers, and the latter speaks to their utility and comfort overall. One thing is for sure; if Indian keeps undercutting Harley’s prices, I definitely see hard times a’comin’ for the MoCo.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Whether you love it or hate it, you cannot ignore the Chieftain Elite in the Black Hills Silver finish. Honestly, you need welder’s goggles to look at it in the sunshine. The finish is immaculate and just a beautiful piece of artwork. The bike itself is a pleasure to ride. Throttle response and power delivery is smooth. It’s a very elegant machine.”

2018 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Elite Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: (1st)9.403 : 1, (2nd): 6.411 : 1, (3rd)4.763 : 1, (4th)3.796 : 1, (5th)3.243 : 1, (6th)2.789 : 1
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25°
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 3.5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in (142 mm)
GVWR: 1,385 lb (628 kg)
Overall Height: 57 in (145 cm)
Overall Length: 98.7 in (2,506 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (660 mm)
Trail: 5.9 in (150.0 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 823 lbs / 855 lbs (373 kg / 388 kg)
Wheelbase: 65.7 in (1,669 mm)
Top Speed: 119 mph (governed)
Details:
Gauges: Fairing mounted instrument cluster featuring analog speedometer and tachometer, with fuel gauge, range, odometer and current gear. 15 LED telltale indicators; cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or Km/H unit designation
Infotainment: 7" Touchscreen including realtime clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; vehicle trouble code readout; Vehicle Status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change); Vehicle Info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); Dual Trip Meters (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed); Ride Data (heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); Bluetooth connectivity for phone and headset; Map/Navigation
Lights: Pathfinder LED Lights (headlight, driving lights, turn signals, and tail light)
Standard Equipment: LED Lighting, Pinnacle Mirrors, Aluminum Billet Driver & Passenger Floorboards; Adjustable Passenger Floorboards; ABS; Cast Aluminum Frame with Integrated Air-Box; Cruise Control; LED Driving Lights; Highway Bar; Keyless Start; Tinted, Flare Power Windshield; Genuine Leather Seats; Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags; Tire Pressure Monitoring; 200 Watt Audio with Saddlebag Speakers, AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Color / Graphics: Black Hills Silver w/ Marble Accents
Price: $31,499

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

2019 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
- image 792149

See our review of the Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide.

Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour

2018 - 2019 Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour
- image 795379

See our review of the Honda Gold Wing / Gold Wing Tour.

Indian Motorcycle

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
- image 794320

Read more Indian Motorcycle news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: indianmotorcycle.com, harley-davidson.com, honda.com

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