We had an amazing 2015 summer, riding the Indian Chieftain and Victory Magnum on The Worlds Longest Motorcycle Demo Ride. We have been asked from the day we picked up the bikes what we thought of them; below we give our Final Review on Indian Chieftain & Victory Magnum. Cycle Works of Alberta gave us these 2 iconic motorcycles to put them to the test and that is exactly what we did!
Indian Chieftain Review
Brand loyalty, a predominant statement I have thought, exercised and I probably have been the all forgiving poster boy and devout believer in a singular American manufacture. Hook line and sinker, they had me from the start, T-shirts, coffee cups, wallets, patches, eventually bikes and yes thousands of miles rolling through the landscapes of North America, memories that could fill a few hard drives and I have rode with some of the nicest, craziest hardest working and riding folks on the planet all; doing exactly the same as I.
Indian Motorcycle is here to stay
You see I was preparing for the World’s Longest Motorcycle Demo Ride and I was unsure how to react as I departed on a 25,000km ride on a motorcycle I knew almost nothing about, never ridden and certainly could not previously afford. Of course I was aware that it may be the oldest production motorcycle company in North America and I was definitely aware of the bankruptcies and the ill faded problems of the past of this historic motorcycle company they call Indian Motorcycles.
Leaving Dealership Territory
As we pulled into Cycle Works Motorsports of Calgary Alberta, I watched Vince Aeillo, the general manager ride the new Indian Chieftain out of the showroom and into my outstretched arms. I instantly started to compare it to my Harley Davidson Street Glide, which has guided me effortlessly, and reliably over thousands of miles. My immediate thought was “what will happen if this new Indian breaks down in the middle of Newfoundland where there just happens to be no dealer within 1600km’s.
Thankfully I never found out.
Indian Badging and Branding
The Indian Chieftain is a sight to behold and not long into the demo ride I realized I would be doing a lot of talking. The iconic Indian badge on both sides of the bike engaged people at almost every stop. From the scalloped and valanced fenders to the old school finned heads I found myself talking and explaining the idiosyncrasy of the newly reborn iconic motorcycle to all who asked. Brought out of the ashes by the hugely successful Polaris industries, this motorcycle and the Indian Motorcycle Company are a force to be reckoned with.
111 Cubic Inch Thunderstroke
The first few thousand miles kept us close to home as I took some time getting up-close and personal with the new Chieftain. I immediately fell in love with the motor and transmission combination. The 111ci Thunderstroke is a counter balanced V-Twin torque monster and matched to the silky smooth 6-speed transmission makes for a great highway cruiser at any speed. The suspension allows enough travel over North America’s sometimes-rough roads and the rear adjustable suspension was easily adjusted with the supplied hand pump. This allowed for a much better ride considering the amount of weight I was to carry.
Touring on the Chieftain
The Chieftain I was supplied with had a quick detach backrest and luggage rack, which was critical as I was carrying two large T-bags. With one bag full of electronics, one for 8 weeks of clothes and amenities for both Angela and myself. Both bags strapped easily to the bike, the backrest and to each other. The saddlebags did provide ample space for all other necessary items for the long journey including rain gear, tool kit, and a first aid kit. It is worth mentioning here this chieftain was also equipped with the optional speakers mounted in the front half of the saddlebags. While this did provide for good acoustics it did seem to take up a too little much room for my liking; especially when over packing the saddle bag and then trying to close them, not to mention every spare bungee cord I had stowed away somehow always attached itself to the speaker magnet.
Let’s talk about the faring and the windshield
The fork-mounted faring provided more than adequate protection through varied weather conditions and I did not experience excessive buffeting. The electric windshield is a fantastic new feature for any North America made bike and it allows a 4-inch rise that is easily controlled with a flick of a switch on your left hand. I believe this will appeal to multiples of riders. I do believe the windshield should be a little shorter direct from the factory. I am 6’2″ and at the lowest setting it is the right height for me, I believe it will be a little tall for a shorter rider.
Dash, controls and where is the GPS?
Speaking of the faring and the inner dash; you will find almost every amenity you would require on a touring motorcycle except for a navigation system. Will a GPS be coming in the future? I sure hope so. It took me quite a while to figure out all the controls and found myself referring to the owner’s manual many times. The basic controls including the signal light switch, the horn, the cruise control switch and the stereo controls are all easy to operate and within my thumb and finger reach. I did find the digital dash lighting sometimes hard to see during certain times of the day and sun positions. The Speedometer and tach are quite big and I found the speedometer numbers hard to read over the 120km marker. Must be my aging eyes. I did like the electronic tire pressure gauge in the dash and all the different trip and mileage calculator’s in the menus.
USB Charger is handy
As with most new touring bikes there is a USB port on the Chieftain. The interesting story behind this is I never knew about it until about three quarters of the way through the trip. (Earlier reading of the manual perhaps) There is a small compartment on the inner right hand fairing that has room for a phone or similar device. I found it cumbersome and a pain to use. I would hope Indian would put the connection in one of the saddlebags in the future.
The seat and its position
I am quite tall and although I found the seat comfortable I found myself a little cramped and a little to close to the handlebars. I do understand all riders have different seating position preferences and if I would buy this motorcycle I would seek out a different seat from their catalog that allowed me to be pushed back an inch or two. I did have some highway pegs on the engine guard and between resting my outstretched feet on them or riding with my feet on the huge floorboards, I could ride all day long with no ill affects.
I was a little worried at the gas mileage after the first 5000 kms or so; I was only getting around 34 to 36 mpg. I though this was quite low and the motor seemed to be well broken it. By the end of the trip and now having put over 27,000km on the Indian Chieftain I am getting 45mpg, quite remarkable considering the huge 111ci Thunder stroke engine and rolling down the highway at well over 850lbs. I was equally happy with the choice of tires, the Dunlop Elite 3 stuck well to the pavement through all weather conditions including some snow. I changed the rear tire at 14,000km and the front at 22,000km. It is quite respectable considering the types of roads we were riding on and the weight I was carrying.
My thoughts after riding this motorcycle over 27,000 km on the Worlds Longest Motorcycle Demo Ride have not changed a whole lot from the earlier reviews. I love this bike. I like the power, the look, the reliability and the Indian brand badging is unmistakable. Yes there are a few things I would hope the Indian engineers would look at changing now that they have the time and also the resources.
I believe the Indian Motorcycle Company and their new offering in the Chieftain have set a new standard for Brand loyalty, they certainly now have mine.
Victory Magnum Review
From the day I picked up the Victory Magnum from Cycle Works Calgary back in April 2015, I have put on over 25000 km riding across Canada and the Northern USA.
What a great opportunity, not mention a ton of fun, to get to “Demo” the Victory Magnum, below is my honest opinion of this motorcycle.
21” Front Tire
I love the look of the 21″ front tire, the way it handles the twists and turns, the rim is cool looking and easy to check the air pressure and add air if required. With the Magnum being a new motorcycle model, when it came time to change my front tire in Halifax Nova Scotia, they were unable to get me a tire. The service Manager said they have sold Magnums before but no one has put on enough miles to warrant a change, they placed an order and now have them in stock!
This is a yeah or a neah for some people, and it the most common question I got asked, “Do you like the Faring”? The front end of the Magnum is very similar to the Cross Country so it wasn’t a huge shock to get used to. I have never had a motorcycle with a faring, so for me there were a lot of things to get used not just the look. Things I had to get used to with the faring was when I pulled up close behind Troy, I was unable to see if his blinker was on or not, Yes I know I shouldn’t be THAT close, but in a city we ride tight. A couple of times pulling up for fuel, I had to look twice as to where the concrete base was, the lack of visibility could also be because I am shorter in the saddle! I like having the faring as it protects my hands from the wind, rain, snow or stones, also if I have my heated grips on, the tips of my fingers do not get cold. I have liked the look of the faring from the beginning, the head light is super bright even on dim. The thing about the look of the faring is you know it is a Victory, it is a cool unique look that stands out, that is why everyone asks me about it!!
I am a big fan of the dash, from the gadgets, the gauges, to the information displayed. It is bright, easy to see/read, not just the gauges but the digital screen is very visible too. On the left hand control there is a button that you can access as your are riding down the highway to change information displayed. Trip A, Trip B, Hours Riding, Fuel Mileage, Fuel Remaining and quite a few other tid-bits of information, this button is also used to set the clock, change from KM/H to MPH when you cross the border.
What a personal preference a windshield is eh? I prefer to be able to just look over the windshield, in conjunction with a shorter torso, it was hard to find one to that without cutting it down. I wonder if the Magnum had a wind screen that went up or down like the Chieftain would it work for someone as short as me??!! We ended up cutting a stock windshield down to the right height for me.
I didn’t think I would use the stereo as much as I did, but am I ever glad I had it! I thought I would the cruise a lot more than I did, not having cruise on my Soft tail, I used to always say “I wish I had cruise”. Well obviously as I barley used it, now it could have been since we were riding in a group most of the time I didn’t for safety reasons but mainly because I forgot I had cruise… ooops! It was nice to use on the roads that were slower speed and highly monitored that is for sure!
USB Connections in Saddle Bag:
How can something so small be such a big part of the bike??? There are not many of us that do not have a smart phone anymore, the battery life is crappy from the get go, this feature is HUGE!
It also is great that if you are unable to find a radio station where you are riding, you can listen to your playlist from your phone! The location in the saddle bag is really handy too!
This topic I could talk all day long about, it is what attracts me most to the Magnum! I love not having to gear down to pass someone or climb a hill! This machine loves to run in the red line and has no problem keeping up to any other cruiser out there. In fact I have proof of beating Troy’s Indian Chieftain, on the Sturgis Drag Strip this past summer at the 75th Anniversary, beating him off the line and over the finish line!! I put the Magnum on the Dyno Machine at Lloydz Motorworkz in Pine Bush NY, the results were 108ft of torque and 78 hp, the 106 cubic inch motor kicks ass on all accounts!
After my last review I was getting 40-41 Miles/gallon, once the break in period was over, which was around 5000kms, it improved and by the end of the trip I averaged 51 miles/gallon. The Magnum has a 22 L or 6 Gallon tank, which means on average I could ride for 450km or 300 miles before needing to fuel up. That is a huge benefit when you have a long day of riding to do, I would much rather ride longer & stop less!!
There are no 2 bodies who are a like so it is a good thing to have options for seats, the stock seat is definitely designed for a man or taller women. The seat I had installed was from the Victory Accessory Catalogue, once installed it is lowered an inch, moved forward an inch and is more narrow, which made me at 5’2 ½” flat footed on this beast!! I feel very comfortable and confident on a bike when I am flat footed, so I am very thankful there are different seat options out there.
Not only do the bags look sexy they are multi purpose as they can hold a lot of “stuff”! If I was going on a 2 week trip I wouldn’t need any other bags attached to the bike, there is lots of room for your chaps, heated gear, your clothes and whatever else you pack. Granted I am a light packer but you don’t need much if you are riding all the time!!
Drive Belt: Nothing worse than cruising down the road being all cool with your bike is squeaking, UGH!!! If it is not adjusted properly at your 1st service you will have an issue forever!! On your 1st service leave it over night, get the mechanic to adjust it when the bike is totally cold. If you don’t do that be prepared to carry a bar of ivory soap with you, or get an adjustment every time you take your bike in for a service.
Key, where’s my key: Even after 25000km I still forget I have a key not a FOB! The worst is forgetting the key in the bike, walking away from the bike, going into a place to eat and 2 mins after sitting down I panic and run out to my bike to get the key! I do believe the amount of money one spends on a Magnum and the technology that is out there a FOB would be a standard item. I am sure there are after market ones but it should be included.
Heated Gear Plug-in: I am not sure if it is standard to have the heated gear connection so far away from the rider, mine is at the front of the bike and makes it unsafe to plug in. Currently I am using the 12volt adapter with a plugin to my jacket.
Fueling the Bike: With the shape of the fuel tank, the handle bars positioning and my lack of height, I find it awkward to fuel up. I don’t think changing the handle bars would make a difference but they are easier to change than my height!!
Luggage Rack: This bike does not come with any places to strap a bag too, there are accessories to have quick detach accessories added, I do think it takes away from the look so not sure I would add this option
Loud Pipes: I do miss my loud Short Shot Stagger Vance & Hines pipes, but after being in Sturgis I heard and seen many Victory Bikes that were just as loud and proud as my Soft tail, so that is no longer a concern.
Wind: I do find there is more wind coming from underneath the faring, I used to wear a purse pouch attached to my belt loops, the wind comes up and blows my purse straight up in the air, I now stow it in the saddle bag.
I found the bike big at first, worried I wouldn’t’ be able to handle it, turn corners or stop and start easily, of course the first few rides I looked very inexperienced but practice makes permanent. The bike weighs around 850lbs, there is no way I am picking this bike up by myself, in fact I am very careful where I park.
I would make a couple little changes to the bike; personal preference only, I would change out the handle bars to mini apes, I would add wind deflectors off the faring, move where the heated gear plug-in is, figure out a way to attach a tour bag to the bike without losing that sexy back end and of course put loud pipes on her!!
I would buy the Victory Magnum in a heart beat as well as recommend it to anyone of any height and age! But don’t just take my word for it go to your local dealership and take one for a spin (bring your cheque book for the deposit).