Modern Twist On A Classic Style

Indian Motorcycle brushed up its baggers ahead of the 2019 model year, and the Chieftain Limited is one of the models that benefits from the revamp. It’s a multi-pronged effort that starts with a sleek new look meant to convey the impression of great performance. Custom touches lend it something of a homegrown air with plenty of classic references that show off the marque’s deep roots, but the factory gives due consideration to progression with some new ride-quality electronics. The infotainment system is upgraded, as well, with increased audial performance and a few adjustments to improve sound quality along with the volume. This is as good as it gets in Indian’s bagger lineup, and should make a dandy competitor for Harley-Davidson’s own Street Glide Special, so let’s go ahead and delve right into this special ride and see how Indian is coming along under the Polaris umbrella.

Continue reading for my review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited.

  • 2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Thunder Stroke® 111
  • Torque @ RPM:
    119 @ 3000
  • Displacement:
    111 cubic inches
  • Price:
    25999
  • Price:

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Design

2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
- image 799738
The new look is a mixed bag of custom elements, classic components, and contemporary performance.

The new look is a mixed bag of custom elements, classic components, and contemporary performance. Indian’s iconic war bonnet rides on the full-length front fender, but the sides of said fender are cut away to reveal the large front wheel for a dose of custom flavor right off the bat. Chrome fork sliders and beercan skirts beef up the front end with some extra bling, and that’s a thread that continues throughout the design with chromium treatment from the fender badge back to the tips of the dual exhaust.

If you think the front fairing looks a bit different this year, you’d be right; Indian chopped out the passing-lamp area to make a sleeker structure and leave the fairing looking more like Harley’s Batwing than the dome-shaped barndoor from the previous generation Limited (and the current Chieftain Classic). Better penetration, sleeker looks and reduced drag; what’s not to love?

Lighting at both ends is upgraded with new winkers all around and LED tech that helps you to see and be seen, and the speakers in the inner fairing rock a split arrangement with separate tweeters and cones for crisper, cleaner sound. The stock audio system now pumps out 100 Watts of power so you’ve definitely got enough to share with a friend and a speed-sensitive volume control keeps you from being “that guy” at every stop. Indian’s Ride Command feature gives you control over your music, navigation and communications via a seven-inch color touchscreen display that works even with gloved hands and in wet conditions, and a brace of round analog clocks display speed and tach info, each with its own LED screen and indicator lights to cover the remaining metrics.

The 5.5-gallon, teardrop fuel tank defines the flyline with a gentle slope down to the scooped saddle that slings your butt at a low 25.6-inches off the ground, so you can count on an easy reach to the ground in spite of the width at the middle of the machine. Body panels close off the rear half of the chassis for even more of that classic Indian architecture that clearly sets it apart from the competition with a full rear fender and LED taillights to finish it off.

The hard bags were on the receiving end of the factory’s push to emphasize performance, so like the front fairing, they adopt a more windtunnel-friendly overall shape. Don’t take my word for it; Indian’s Senior Director, Reid Wilson, had this to say: “As we continue to evolve the Indian Motorcycle brand, we want to expand our lineup with more aggressive style options, while still maintaining the availability of our more classic style options. What’s most important to us is developing motorcycles that meet a wide variety of customer style preferences, and Chieftain’s new look does just that.”

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Chassis

2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
- image 799740
Steering geometry is set for stability and tracking at speed, but apparently, a certain willingness in the corners evidenced by the 31-degree maximum lean angle.

A cast-aluminum frame provides the support for the whole rig, though I doubt it really cuts out much of the overall mass much since curb weight clocks in at 827 pounds, soaking wet. The steering head is set at 25-degrees with a 5.9-inch trail for stability and tracking at speed, but apparently, a certain willingness in the corners evidenced by the (claimed) 31-degree maximum lean angle.

Said forks are of the cartridge variety and rock a massive 46 mm tube diameter for plenty of strength, but unfortunately, nothing in the way of adjustability. Out back, an air-adjustable monoshock floats the rear end with the kind of ride you can only get from an air shock, but like the front, fails to deliver any kind of damping tweaks. Suspension travel is pretty decent, though, at 4.7-inches up front and 4.5-inches out back, so you can count on a certain amount of comfort, even on less-than-stellar surfaces.

Dunlop provides the hoops that line the cast rims giving the Chieftain Limited a certain custom flair with a 130/60-19 leading the way and a 180/60-16 to bring up the rear that provides a nice visual offset. Protip: a 21-inch hoop up front would look even better.

All-around 300 mm rotors work with dual, four-pot anchors up front to provide the bulk of the stopping power and a twin-piston caliper to slow the rear wheel, and it all comes with ABS protection as part of the stock package, no matter which color package you choose.

Front Suspension/Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork - Cartridge Type/4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.9 in (150 mm)
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 5 in

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Drivetrain

2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
- image 799729
Ride Modes and Rear Cylinder Deactivation are new this year and greatly enhance performance.

As always, the Thunder Stroke 111 is the real showpiece here. It brings an interesting blend of classic design elements borrowed from the old side-valve engines, but performance and size are strictly contemporary. Each jug contains almost a liter with a 101 mm bore and 113 mm stroke that add up to a total displacement of 1,811 cc (111 cubic-inches, hence the ingeniously clever name). That’s quite a lot of reciprocating and rotating mass thrashing around down there, and that shows up in the torque numbers with a claimed 119 pound-feet of stump-pulling grunt that maxes out at a low 3,000 rpm.

Electronic fuel injection delivers the juice, and in a first for American-made baggers, Indian offers the Chieftain Limited with its new Ride Mode feature that comes with a Standard, Tour, and Sport modes that lets you tailor your power curve to suit conditions and taste. Tour mode is the old performance map, so you can expect a thrilling ride in Sport. An additional plus for this year, Indian introduces Rear Cylinder Deactivation that shuts off the rear cylinder when idling and fires it back up with seamless operation when you twist the throttle. This reduces the amount of heat that washes up over you and your passenger when stopped or in sluggish traffic.

Rather than use a chain-type primary drive, the Thunder Stroke mill comes with a gear-drive primary to carry power from the crankpin through the wet standard clutch and to the six-speed transmixxer before heading down the quiet belt-type final drive. As for the aesthetics; the stylized rocker covers are reminiscent of the cooling fins on the old flatties, and the parallel pushrod tubes mimic the geometry of same for an overall look that pays suitable tribute to the days of old.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Displacement: 111 ci (1,811 cc)
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
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Pricing

2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
- image 799737
Price depends on color, between $26k and $26.7k.

Price depends on color. Indian offers its 2019 Chieftain Limited in Thunder Black Pearl for $25,999. If you want something other than glossy black you can opt for the rich Dark Walnut hue or the vibrant Ruby Metallic for $26,749. Gotta’ say I’m not a fan of the last; the red is a little bit bright/loud for my taste, and I think it would look smashing with the good old Indian Red finish.

Standard Equipment: 7" Ride Command® Touchscreen Display with Navigation; Power Windshield; Highway Bars; Vinyl Gunfighter Seat; Tire Pressure Monitoring; Remote-locking Hard Saddlebags; Selectable Ride Modes; Rear Cylinder Deactivation; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; 100 Watt Audio System with AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Colors: Thunder Black Pearl, Ruby Metallic, Dark Walnut
Price: $25,999, Color: $26,749

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Competitors

2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
- image 795511
2019 Indian Chieftain Limited
- image 799741
At a glance, these two could be brothers-from-another-mother, but price gives the Chieftain Limited an advantage in an otherwise fairly close race.

Indian’s longtime domestic foe Harley-Davidson provides the only real competition for the Chieftain Limited, and it looks to me like the Street Glide Special is going to be my Huckleberry. The “Special” takes a similar design tack with a bagger-tastic layout similar to the Chieftain Limited, up to and including an abbreviated front fairing, high-side front fender and large-diameter front wheel.

Harley takes the custom vibe a step further with prominent blackout treatment throughout the design and a few bits of bling around the engine. The Special runs hard bags with a bit of stretch to the trailing corners for even more custom yummy-goodness and a similarly clean rear end, so at a glance, these two could be brothers-from-another-mother.

The MoCo brings some pain to Indian in the chassis in the form of the Showa DBV forks that deliver a plusher ride than you get from standard forks, but still, both fall short of a proper adjustable system. ABS is constant across the board, but Indian gains an edge in engine-control electronics with its Ride Mode feature for which Harley has no counter. (True, traction control is coming down the pipe in Milwaukee, but it ain’t here yet.)

The Street Glide Special packs a 1,868 cc mill with a whopping 122 pound-feet of torque versus 119-pounds from the Limited for a razor thin advantage that probably won’t even register on the heinie-dyno. Ya know what will register? The price difference. Harley is a bit prouder of its machine with a $27,089 sticker on the Vivid Black model and up to $29,189 for the two-tone package, and that certainly gives the Limited an advantage in an otherwise fairly close race.

He Said

“I’m digging the remodel. I like the new look and I love the Ride Mode feature that finally brings some higher electronics to the American-made field. I just hope Indian doesn’t try to take the design characteristics too far; after all, that’s a large part of what killed Victory Motorcycle.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Polaris canned Victory, but is quietly infusing some of the popular design elements into these redesigned Indians and you can see that plainly in the new Chieftain lineup. The classic look is still available in the Chieftain Classic, but the others look sleeker with more beveled edges.

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Limited Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Displacement: 111 ci (1,811 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Horsepower: N/A
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 - Cartridge Type/4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.9 in (150 mm)
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 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance: 5.1 in (130 mm)
GVWR: 1,385 lb (628 kg)
Overall Height: 54.5 in (1,385 mm)
Overall Length: 98.7 in (2,506 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Wheelbase: 65.7 in (1,668 mm)
Seat Height: 25.6 in (650 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 795 lb (361 kg) / 827 lb (375 kg)
Electricals:
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 MHP or km/h unit designation.
Infotainment: 7" Ride Command® touchscreen display with real-time 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 Status for phone and headset; Ride Mode Selection; Map/Navigation
Lights: LED
Details:
Standard Equipment: 7" Ride Command® Touchscreen Display with Navigation; Power Windshield; Highway Bars; Vinyl Gunfighter Seat; Tire Pressure Monitoring; Remote-locking Hard Saddlebags; Selectable Ride Modes; Rear Cylinder Deactivation; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; 100 Watt Audio System with AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Colors: Thunder Black Pearl, Ruby Metallic, Dark Walnut
Price: $25,999, Color: $26,749

Further Reading

Indian Chieftain

2019 Indian Chieftain
- image 794497

See our review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain.

Indian Chieftain Classic

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Classic
- image 795418

See our review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Classic.

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
- image 795510

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

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- 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

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