For 2020, Choose Between The Thunder Stroke 111 Or The New Thunder Stroke 116

Indian Motorcycle brushed up its Chieftain line for 2020 with a lean, slammed look, and a choice between its proven Thunder Stroke 111 and the new, more powerful Thunder Stroke 116. As always, the Chieftain brings classic bagger style to the table, and of course, Indian’s top-shelf infotainment system comes stock to keep it competitive against the other top baggers around the world. No matter which engine you choose, you can count on 100-plus pounds of grunt that make the Chieftains perform as well as they look.

  • 2020 Indian Chieftain
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Thunder Stroke
  • Displacement:
    111 cc
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • Price:
    21999
  • Price:

2020 Indian Chieftain Design

2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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Indian hits all the classic design high points to make the Chieftain a true American motorcycle, and it adds a number of tidbits from its own storied history to polish off the package.

Indian hits all the classic design high points to make the Chieftain a true American motorcycle, and it adds a number of tidbits from its own storied history to polish off the package. It starts with the iconic war bonnet ornament on the front fender that ties in all the way back to the early 20th century. It rides on a full-length fender that maintains a bit of old-school swoop at the trailing edge but unlike the old full-valence, skirted fenders, these sides are cut way back to leave much of the blackout front rim visible.

Chrome fork sliders and beercan fork skirts add a bit of bling for a nice contrast against all that blackout, plus, the skirts play into the historical aspect as they have been around since the earliest hydraulic forks. The batwing-style front fairing drops some of its bulk in favor of a sleeker look that eliminates the passing lamps and relocates the turn signals to a pair of external bullet housings to leave only the cyclops halogen headlight within the fairing itself. One thing I’m glad to see is that the factory also abandoned the gaudy chrome trim in favor of a cleaner visage.

A pair of vents pull air from the entry and shunts it behind the power-adjustable windscreen to reduce the wearisome head-buffet effect, though in truth that’s more of an issue on models with taller windshields, but it does serve to freshen the air in the wind pocket behind the fairing. Inside the fairing the Chieftain sports an analog speedo and tach, and nestled in-between is the seven-inch, color TFT touchscreen that acts as an interface for the Ride Command infotainment feature. The Ride Command bundles real-time weather and traffic info together with a Bluetooth that networks with your smartphone to deliver a virtual jukebox and hands-free phone calls along with detailed engine information such as TPMS and remaining fuel range. A pair of speakers in the inner tips of the “wings” deliver 100 Watts of sound with a dynamic equalizer that reacts to changes in speed and the associated wind and engine noise.

The flyline strikes an old-school pose with a 5.5-gallon fuel tank and deep-scoop seat that hints at the geometry of the old hardtails and earliest swingarm frames. Seat height is slammed at 25.6 inches off the ground, and that will be a comfort to riders both short and tall as it provides a lot of leverage and confidence at stops and during walking-speed/parking-lot maneuvers. Stretched, hard-side bags provide secure dry storage, and the lack of a top case leaves the rear-end nice, clean, and entirely bagger-tastic. LED lights wrap it up and ensure that you are visible to rearward traffic.

2020 Indian Chieftain Chassis

2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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For handling, you can expect a balance between eagerness in the corners and solid tracking in a crosswind.

A cast-aluminum frame sets the stage and gives the Chieftain its classic lines, though at a wet weight of 821 pounds, I doubt it does much to reduce the overall heft. The steering geometry is set to provide a lithe riding experience with a 25-degree rake angle and 5.9 inches of trail over a 65.7-inch wheelbase, and this allows for a lean angle of 31-degrees to either side for a balance between eagerness in the corners and solid tracking in a crosswind.

Fat, 46 mm forks float the front end on 4.7 inches of travel, but as far as adjustments go are plain vanilla with fixed damping and preload values. Out back, an air-adjustable monoshock takes care of business with a wide range of air-preload adjustments but nothing in the way of damping adjustments, and it delivers 4.5 inches of travel that makes for a pretty plush ride.

Cast wheels round out the rolling chassis with Dunlop Elite hoops in a 130/60-19 up front opposite a 180/60-16 to give the wheels a custom-style size offset. The anchors are serious business with dual four-pot calipers that bite 300 mm front discs and a twin-piston caliper that grabs another 300 mm disc out back. ABS protection comes with the stock package.

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° / 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

2020 Indian Chieftain Drivetrain

2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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You can run with the proven Thunder Stroke 111, or new this year, you can opt for the punched out Thunder Stroke 116.

Indian offers a choice when it comes to the engine; you can run with the proven Thunder Stroke 111, or alternately, this year you can opt for the punched out 116 cubic-inch version. What’s the difference? Well, both have a 113 mm stroke, but the 111 has a 101 mm bore with a 9.5-to-1 compression ratio while the 116 is wallowed out to 103.2 mm with an 11-to-1 ratio. Among other things, this makes a difference between mid-grade for the smaller mill and top-hook gas for the larger. As you would expect, power output is affected as the 111 produces 119 pound-feet of torque while the 116 churns out a stump-pulling 126 pounds o’ grunt.

As for the similarities, both are fed by a single, 54 mm throttle body with a selectable Ride Modes feature that lets you dial in the power delivery. Rear Cylinder Deactivation also makes it onto both mills in a bid to combat heat wash felt by the rider by killing the rear jug when idling at a stop. Another constant is the old-school look afforded by the faux cooling fins on the rocker boxes and the parallel pushrod tubes that mimic the look of the old side-valve/flathead engines that were so common through the middle of the 20th century. While it certainly isn’t fooling anyone, it’s still a nice touch that pairs well with the other dated elements the Chieftain brings to the table.

No matter which engine you choose, you can count on a six-speed transmission to keep you in the usable rpm range, and the overall gearing turns in a top speed that is governed at 115 mph.

Engine Thunder Stroke® 111 Thunder Stroke 116
Displacement: 111 cu in 116 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm) 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1 11:1
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (138.9 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm 126 lb-ft (168 Nm) @ 2,900 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2020 Indian Chieftain Pricing

2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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2020 Indian Chieftain
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MSRP for the Thunder Stroke 111 in black is $22k. The 116 in gray is $2k more.

Price, color, and displacement all go hand-in-hand. The Thunder Black model rolls with the Thunder Stroke 111 for a base MSRP of $21,999, while the Thunder Stroke 116 comes wrapped in Titanium Smoke for $23,999. Ride Command with connected services is included as a complimentary two-year trial, After the trial period, a monthly subscription is required to keep it.

Engine Thunder Stroke® 111 Thunder Stroke 116
Standard Equipment: 7" Touchscreen Display; Power Windshield; Vinyl Rogue Seat; 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 7" Touchscreen Display; Power Windshield; Vinyl Rogue Seat; 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
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black Titanium Smoke
Price: $21,999 $23,999

2020 Indian Chieftain Competitors

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide / Street Glide Special
- image 731501
2020 Indian Chieftain
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Harley doesn't offer any kind of ride-quality controls with the stock package, but for $995 extra, you can get the Reflex Defensive Rider System package that bundles traction control, ride modes, and cornering ABS for which Indian has no answer....yet.

While there are several marques abroad that try to mimic the American style of baggering, none of them can match a true U.S.-made machine, so I feel like I have little choice but to go to Indian’s main domestic competitor; the Harley-Davidson Motor Company for my Chieftain competitor. Harley’s Street Glide is my Huckleberry with its pared-down front fairing, visually-heavy front end, and clean rear end that comes complete with lockable, hard-side saddlebags. Like Indian, the MoCo has its own deep roots to draw from for an air of authenticity that’s impossible to fake. The Street Glide’s front fender is full-length with shortened sides much like the Chieftain’s, but is completely devoid of ornamentation to leave it looking clean and trim.

Indian’s adjustable windshield has no match on the H-D, so Indian gains a potential edge in comfort. Harley’s infotainment system matches Indian’s Ride Command system point for point across the board, and this is another example of the American builders’ superiority over the imported baggers.

The front forks are non-adjustable across the board, but H-D uses Showa Dual Bending Valve stems that deliver a superior ride to plain vanilla, and the emulsion-type rear shocks are arguably better than air shocks as they offer greater damping performance. The brakes are a wash as both marques send their rides out with stock ABS.

As far as electronics go, it’s a mixed bag. Harley doesn’t offer any kind of ride-quality controls with the stock package against Indian’s Rear Cylinder Deactivation and Ride Modes features, but for $995 extra, you can get the Reflex Defensive Rider System package that bundles traction control, ride modes, and cornering ABS to swing the pendulum hard the other way.

H-D powers the Street Glide with the Milwaukee-Eight 107 plant that cranks out 111 pound-feet of torque to leave the MoCo at a bit of a power deficit no matter which of the available Indian engines you choose. Sure, it’s a slight difference, but an advantage for Indian all the same.

Neither marque is known for using price as a selling point, quite the contrary actually, so it’s no surprise that the Street Glide fetches between $21,999 and $23,199 depending on which color package you choose, so price won’t be a deciding factor either way.

He Said

“Gotta’ hand it to Indian; the brand has really rebounded under the Polaris umbrella, and it is emerging as a very real threat to the established H-D dominance. To be fair, the factory has its work cut out for it in order to answer Harley’s RDRS bundle, but I imagine that efforts are already underway on that front. If I had to pick a negative on the Chieftain, I’d say it’s the price tag, because as far as the bike-per-buck ratio is concerned, the imports are putting pressure on both.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Chieftain is a beautiful bike, no doubt about it. The ride is plush and power delivery is smooth no matter which engine you choose. Prior to 2020, the 116 was available as a Big-Bore kit, so it’s not new new. It’s just new as a production engine. The Thunder Stroke is a nice-looking engine with gobs of torque and roll-on no matter where you are in the rev range. If you want a thrill, definitely try either one in ’Sport’ mode.”

2020 Indian Chieftain Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111 – Thunder Stroke 116
Displacement: 111 cu in – 116 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm) – 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1 – 11:1
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (138.9 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm – 126 lb-ft (168 Nm) @ 2,900 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, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
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° / 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)
Overall Height: 54.5 in (1,385 mm)
Overall Length: 98.7 in (2,506 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 25.6 in (650 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 789 lbs / 821 lbs (358 kg / 372 kg)
Wheelbase: 65.7 in (1,668 mm)
Electric:
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; map/navigation with real-time traffic and weather; Bluetooth status for phone and headset; vehicle status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change); vehicle info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); current ride data (distance, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); trip meters; ride mode selection; screen brightness; vehicle trouble code readout.
Lights: Halogen Headlamp, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signal
Details:
Standard Equipment: 7" Touchscreen Display; Power Windshield; Vinyl Rogue Seat; 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
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black, Titanium Smoke
Price: Thunder Black: $21,999, Titanium Smoke: $23,999

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Street Glide

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Glide / Street Glide Special
- image 731491

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

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

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