As the highway stretches into the distance, hot gusts of wind sweep its length. Unbothered, I sit behind the large windscreen of Indian’s new Roadmaster, and look forward to the journey ahead. To make things even more agreeable, the motor does not give a hint of vibration from the bars, pegs or seat, even at 120kph. The Roadmaster is, in American speak, a full dresser. That is, it’s dressed up with all the kit to go touring. This type of oversized and overweight motorcycle isn’t ideal for touring in India, but as I experienced, it has a flavour that’s just hard to ignore.
Apart from the extremely relaxed highway-style handlebars and wide, comfortable rider’s seat, the bike gets massive storage options. These include hard panniers on either side and a gargantuan trunk at the back. And the best part is that all three of these boxes are remote lockable. All combined, you’re looking at about 140 litres of weather-proof luggage capacity. The trunk also doubles up as an immense backrest for the pillion, and the luxurious rear seat also gets arm rests. The enormous electrically adjustable windshield on the front fairing rounds out the package.
The sheer bulk of the Roadmaster is something that really draws a lot of eyeballs on the road. But that’s not to say that its monstrosity sacrifices aesthetics. Its design is pure retro and features the company’s traditional front fender with the illuminated Warbonnet. But even though it is extraordinarily heavy at 421kg, it’s just shocking how light it feels once you pick it off the stand.
This is down to the well-balanced chassis, steering and suspension setup this bike has. The bike turns in very easily, precisely and with a lot of confidence. Making your way through traffic or even around corners is no problem at all. The bike despatches big bumps rather well and the ride is very pliant and only feels harsh over sharp bumps. For bringing all that mass to a halt, the ABS-equipped brakes feature twin 300mm front discs and a single 300mm rear disc, providing a surprising amounts of stopping power.
Another important reason why the Roadmaster feels so good to ride is its lovely motor. The 1,811cc air-cooled V-twin makes 138.9Nm of torque and an unspecified amount of horsepower. But the highlight of the engine is just how unbelievably refined it is. It’s nearly vibe-free with bountiful torque spread across the rev range. The bike accelerates very smoothly without any drama apart from a lovely rumble from its twin exhausts. The six-speed gearbox, although a little hard to operate, never mis-shifts.
The Indian Roadmaster is an incredible experience. It wows you with pretty much every aspect and is jam-packed with features which will give most cars an inferiority complex. The bike makes short work of the longest highways and keeps you, and a pillion, thoroughly entertained. But the biggest chink in its armour is the fact that most Indian roads don’t resemble American highways. That, and of course, its price – a whopping Rs 38 lakh! But whatever its shortcomings, one ride and it’s impossible to not fall totally and utterly in love with this machine.