2019 Indian Heavyweights: Modest Updates to the Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster
Cylinder deactivation, a better stock stereo, and ride modes highlight this 2019 big cruiser lineup.
Year, Make, Model: 2019 Indian Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster
Topline: Indian’s heavyweight cruisers get a few small but nice updates for 2019, improving performance, comfort, and aesthetics.
What's New: The excellent Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin engine that powers these bikes gets a nice new feature for 2019: Cylinder deactivation. It's pretty common on cars but rarely seen on motorcycles. In order to reduce engine heat and improve rider comfort, the engine’s rear cylinder will deactivate at idle when the engine is up to operating temperature and the ambient temperature is over 59 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a clever way to keep your butt from getting hot in stand-still traffic and should save some fuel. As soon as you’re back on the throttle, the rear cylinder lights up again.
To inject a little more life into these bikes and make them more satisfying to a wider range of riders, there are now three selectable ride modes. Tour mode is for when you want to kick back and cruise, providing a smoother throttle response. Standard mode gives you a nice balance of crisp power delivery and predictable handling. Sport mode is the most aggressive profile, allowing you to fully enjoy the strong performance of the Thunder Stroke 111.
An enhanced stock audio system should make your music sound better at all volumes. Indian has separated the tweeters from the mid-range speakers for a clearer sound, also adding a customizable equalizer that compensates for speed and highway noise.
On the fully-dressed Roadmaster, the lower fairings have been redesigned to optimize air flow. Indian claims these vents, which you can open for more airflow or close to protect you from weather, have been modified for better rider comfort and can be retrofitted to older Roadmasters.
Also, there are some new paint options including a glossy black for the Dark Horse models and a new “White Smoke” colorway for the Springfield Dark Horse which is a moody black-and-white paint job. It lightens up the Springfield Dark Horse while still giving it a mean look.
Starting prices are unchanged for all models except the Chief Dark Horse and Springfield Dark Horse which, like the Scout Bobber, both get a $500 increase for 2019.
Quotable: “These enhancements for 2019 showcase our commitment to listening to riders and continuously improving their experience with our products,” said Steve Menneto, President, Indian Motorcycle in a press release. “We are laser-focused on delivering a best-in-class riding experience, and these new technologies represent a focus on quality that will continue long into the future of Indian Motorcycle.”
What You Need to Know: Indian Motorcycle has been taking the fight directly to its big Milwaukee-based competitor, and it's doing a nice job of offering worthy alternatives in the American cruiser market. Enhancements like these might be minor, but they add up to a riding experience that’s different from the competition. It’s a sign that Indian Motorcycle is focusing on good products, not just heritage, to attract riders. If you’re in the market for a big American V-twin, don’t forget that there’s more than one brand out there to choose from.