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Indian gets real techy on its 2019 Chiefs, Springfields and Roadmasters

The heavy cruiser lineup gets ride modes and cylinder deactivation to help bring the class out of the 1950s and into the future.


In the world of motorcycling, the American V-twin cruiser is hardly a bastion of advanced technology. In fact, in many ways, this segment resists the flow of new tech and tries to stay as firmly rooted in the past as it possibly can. That might be changing now though, thanks to Indian and its 2019 lineup of heavyweight touring machines, which it announced this week. These long, low and loud cruisers are bristling with tech that would put some cars to shame.

To begin with, Indian's Chief, Springfield and Roadmaster get selectable ride modes. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is. While the big Indian twin-cylinder lump may not put out all the power in the world, it does make a ridiculous amount of torque, and being able to tame that slightly and slow down the throttle response in inclement weather is a huge bonus. Picking up a motorcycle that you've crashed sucks, and these cruisers aren't exactly featherweights.

The 2019 Indian Chief Dark Horse still radiates tons of retro cool while being one of the most technologically advanced cruisers on the market.


Next, Indian has equipped its big bikes with rear-cylinder deactivation. That's wild. Cylinder deactivation on motorcycles is something that Honda fooled with in MotoGP for awhile, but it's not something that we see in production bikes. Indian's reasons for equipping its Thunder Stroke 111 engine with this tech are many. First, sitting on a motorcycle with an engine that's 111 cubic inches is a hot proposition, as in your lower half starts to cook pretty quickly. Cutting off one of the engine's cylinders halves the amount of heat being pumped out.

The bike will allow the engine to shut the cylinder down when the engine reaches normal operating temperature and the ambient air temperature exceeds 59 degrees Fahrenheit, if the bike isn't moving. One thing that Indian had to make sure was perfect was the way that the cylinder came back online when the throttle was applied. Smooth delivery of power is critical on a motorcycle for maintaining traction, particularly on wet or otherwise slippery roads.

The new Roadmaster is Indian's top-of-the-line bike and gets improved lower fairings that allow more cooling air to hit the rider's lower half.


The 2019 Roadmaster also gets an update to its lower fairings. Protection from the wind on a motorcycle is nice, particularly when you're traveling great distances at speed, as is the wont of most cruiser owners. Things become less than ideal when you have too much protection from the wind and you find yourself getting too hot while riding. This was precisely the complaint that owners of previous Roadmasters had. Indian has reshaped the lower fairings to allow more air to hit the rider and keep them cool.

Finally, many cruiser owners are interested in having a ragin' sound system on their bikes. As someone that rides on an almost daily basis, my whole deal is trying to make the experience less tough on my ears, but hey, to each their own. To that end, Indian added a number of enhancements to its stock on-bike system. It separated the tweeters from the midrange speakers, and then it added a dynamic equalizer so your dad can set his levels just where he likes them for Boston's greatest hits CD. The equalizer will also adjust for speed and wind noise, meaning that no matter how fast he's going, he gets to jam out to More Than A Feeling with perfect clarity.

Pricing for the 2019 Indian Chief lineup starts with the Dark Horse and begins at $17,999 while the Chief Vintage is available starting at $19,999. Pricing for Springfield begins at $20,999 and the Springfield Dark Horse begins at $21,499. The top-of-the-line Roadmaster will start at $28,999 before things like accessories and farkles, so yeah, that's a lot but you're finally getting more than chrome for your money.