2015 Indian Roadmaster Passenger Review

October 22, 2014
Bryan Harley
By Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it’s chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to ‘Merican, he rides ‘em all.
We’re as guilty as the rest as sometimes overlooking a vital part when reviewing a touring motorcycle – the viewpoint from a passenger’s perspective. We’re not always privy to someone who’s spent enough time riding along on the back of different bikes to provide a valid assessment, on other occasions it’s time constraints. Maybe it’s hubris and the reluctance to give up control and climb on back while another journalist rides us around. Any way you look at it, we admit our guilt.So this time we wanted to provide a review of the 2015 Indian Roadmaster exclusively from the vantage point of the passenger. After all, this bike is built for two-up touring. Just look at that luxurious seat and backrest. For this review, I enlisted the services of my wife, Angie, who’s been privy to tagging along on the back of many bikes in my eight years as a motojournalist, from a Gold Wing to an Ultra Classic to hanging on for dear life from the tiny passenger pad of a VMax. She also rides, giving her experience as both passenger and rider.

With little surprise, the plush seat gets a big thumbs up. It’s ultra-comfortable with plenty of room side-to-side and front-to-back. After a couple hundred miles she experienced no saddle-soreness, comparing comfort levels to “riding in a car.” For her, the floorboards are positioned ideally and she didn’t notice any vibrations. Likewise, the backrest was equally comfortable and supported her back properly. She noted that on some motorcycles the armrests are so far forward it makes her feel trapped, but the ones on the Roadmaster wrap around just enough to rest her elbows without feeling enveloped by the bike. While some tourers she’s ridden passenger on have hollow spots because of speaker location, this wasn’t the case on the Roadmaster which supported her back fully. She also said the tan, leather seat was “beautiful.”

Between the front fairing, adjustable windscreen and lower leg fairings, the 2015 Indian Roadmaster provides a fantastic buffer from the wind. Of course, she’s getting the added shelter of me in front of her. In relation to the rider, she said she can’t see over my head on straightaways but could in corners and side-to-side, but that’s in part because I’m six-feet-tall and she’s five-foot-five. As for ambient noise, she didn’t notice anything out of the norm. I thought the pipes might be a little loud from the passenger seat but it wasn’t an issue. When rockin’ the 200-watt stereo system, the sound comes up from underneath so “it sounds like it’s in your helmet” and is clear unless I’m really on the pipe. The fact that volume increases automatically when you rev up helps in this regard.

One of our rides took us up to higher elevations which saw temperatures drop to 48-degrees and quickly made her a fan of the heated seats. Having her own control was a bonus because she adjusted it several times while riding. On high setting she did say it gets pretty hot, especially since she was in jeans and chaps. But she liked to turn it on high first to get the seat heated up quickly, then turn it down to low where it’s constantly comfortable. She would also tuck her hands behind me and grasp the strap between us and use the heated seat to warm her hands as well.

On smooth highways, the stock settings of the rear suspension worked fine two-up. When we started to hustle up the mountain on rough roads with tight turns though, it didn’t take long before we were bottoming out and hopping around. Inside the left side cover is a chart with recommended allowances for load, but our test bike didn’t come with a pump so we couldn’t adjust it and rode it as is. Any low pressure air pump can be used to adjust the shock but we were in the boonies, far from the nearest gas station.

Beyond that, my wife said riding on the 2015 Indian Chieftain is one of the most comfortable, enjoyable experiences she’s had as a motorcycle passenger.