ROAD TEST: 2020 Indian Roadmaster Elite

The bike for that long trip

Story by Ray Seidel

The Indian Roadmaster Elite is at the top of the food chain for Indian Motorcycle; and since it is their TOURING bike, rather than take it out for day rides from time to time for a review, I figured let’s actually USE it as a touring bike for a number of days and see how it performs.

I loaded up the hard bags and just part of the trunk to allow some extra room if needed. Indian says that’s 37+ gallons of cargo space. The Elite’s hard bags have speakers in them too, so one has to navigate their gear to clear those when loading.

The trunk comes with a luggage rack on top too, which I did not use. Another rider I met noted it would be a good idea for the front lip of the rack to be a bit higher, as in his experience luggage tends to spill forward and rub on the paint.

The Elite comes with everything in the Indian parts bin it seems, except for a backrest. Being a touring bike, better grab one of those if doing hours in the saddle as I did. For the passenger it’s all good with swing-out arm rests, and the padded trunk to lean back on.

The 2020 model has the Thunderstroke 116 engine, featuring premium red design details, and producing 126 ft-lb of torque that gives a good pull when you hit the throttle, but oddly the engine on this bike would ping when climbing hills on the Interstate. This may be an isolated case, as none of the 111 engines I’ve experienced in the past have had this issue.

Improved this year is an easier-to-shift transmission. Prior to now a cold tranny could be difficult to shift from 1st to 2nd for a few minutes until warmed up, and I’ve always recommended adding the heel shift attachment. Not really needed any longer, but the heel shift attachment is still a good idea for quicker, reliable upshifts.

This bike has a 5.5 gallon fuel capacity, but I counted FIVE gauges that tell you how much fuel is onboard, and what your remaining range is. If you drop below fifty miles left on your range, the Ride Command screen will pop up a warning that it’s time to gas up, and would you like to know where there’s a gas station coming up? Folks, if you run out of fuel on this motorcycle, you’re just not paying attention!

When you DO fill up, be aware you’re holding up 951 pounds. That can take some effort until you get your sea legs and become accustomed to it. Once you’re underway it’s easy-breezy.

I liked being able to lower and raise the windshield with the easy reach button. You can stop it anywhere you like, or double tap the button for full up or down.

Vents by the highway bars open or close for warm/cool air on your legs. For more comfort there are separate rider/passenger heat controls to warm your rear, which I understand can be set to what you like (not simply ON or OFF). Didn’t use them myself; the saddle was perfectly comfortable as-is.

This model has a 600 watt audio system, again with speakers up front and forward facing on the hard bags.

The Ride Command is just SLIGHTLY different from the 2020 Challenger; if you ride one of those, you’ll just find the information in a different spot. Ride Command also has three ride modes for Tour, Standard, and Sport, similar to other Indian models. Riding several hours a day over new territory, I felt really at ease with all the information the Ride Command provided.

The list of features is too long to print here, so check it out at the Indian Motorcycle website, I mention only a few I found useful. I’ll mention one more thing I appreciated – when riding day and night, the Ride Command screen will automatically change from black on white to white on black so the lettering is SO much easier to read.

Only 225 of this limited run Elite will be made. For that multi-state travel to Sturgis or other favorite destinations, this bike has all the comfort, carrying capacity, and amenities you’re likely to ever want, so give it serious thought for your next touring bike! And it’s also beautiful, with new Thunder Black Vivid Crystal over Gunmetal Flake paint with off-set red pinstripes. All of which was covered with bugs after the thousands of miles I put on it.

So yeah, It does the job. Long trip? This might be for you.

–Visit www.indianmotorcycle.com/en-us/roadmaster-elite/ for more information.