Founded in 1901 in Springfield, Mass., Indian is America’s first motorcycle manufacturer, never mind a decades-long dormancy from 1953 until our century, when the brand began firing on all two cylinders again. Today, those cylinders of the Thunder Stroke 116—Indian’s biggest engine—are gigantic, pumping 116 cubic inches (1,890 cc) of air and making sounds that distinguish a big-bore V-twin from any other in the motorcycle kingdom. That 49-degree, air-cooled twin is the heart of the new 2020 Roadmaster Elite model.
The Elite name alludes to this Roadmaster’s special status, limited to 225 examples and described by Indian as the brand’s “ultra-premium touring machine.” At 919 pounds dry, the Roadmaster Elite is a motorcycle of substance, built for long, comfortable rides, solo or with a companion.
Paired with the bike’s engine is a six-speed transmission and a smooth, clean-running final-drive belt. Riders can select from three ride modes, including Tour, Standard and Sport, adjusting throttle response to fit preferences and create a bike with three distinct personalities.
Indian’s iconic valanced front fender, shaped like a Roman gladiator helmet in profile, is unmistakable and makes it easy to tell the cruiser from the competition. The Thunder Black Vivid Crystal-over-Gunmetal Flake paint work of the Roadmaster Elite takes more than 30 hours to finish by hand, and features artisanal red pinstriping, badging and even red pushrod tubes that embellish the enormous finned cylinders. Ten-spoke, 19-inch machined wheels add a touch of bling to complement other brightwork, especially the long exhaust pipes and engine-case side covers.
Delivering 126 ft lbs of torque from a down-low 2,900 rpm lets the Roadmaster Elite pull like a two-wheeled freight train all day long while packed for the long haul. A genuine luxury motorcycle, the Roadmaster Elite features leather, heated two-up seating with passenger backrest and armrest, heated handgrips and a power-adjustable flare windscreen. Remote-locking saddlebags and a spacious trunk accommodate two full-face helmets and more than 37 gallons of storage space.
On the technical front, ABS brakes, full LED lighting with driving lights and Indian Motorcycle’s Ride Command system with a seven-inch, glove-compatible touchscreen presents navigation, weather, traffic and key vehicle information—all accessible remotely via Bluetooth.
And Its engine isn’t the only sonic delight: an upgraded 600-Watt PowerBand Audio Plus sound system plays through fairing-, trunk- and saddlebag-mounted speakers with 50 percent greater volume output than the standard system. A nine-band equalizer optimizes frequencies to compensate for vehicle speed and noise from the road and engine. Starting at $38,999, Indian’s Roadmaster Elite combines classic style with modern amenities—the true definition of grand turismo on two wheels.