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First Look: Indian resurrects historic Roadmaster cruiser

Harley-Davidson Inc.
The classic Indian Roadmaster is back -- after 61 years off the market.
Indian says the "luxury touring motorcycle" will retail at $26,999.
Who's buying luxury cruisers like the Roadmaster? Couples in their 50s, Indian says.

Indian Motorcycles has added another bike to its growing stable of big American machines -- and it's a classic.

The Polaris Industries-owned company has unveiled the 2015 Roadmaster, a resurrection of the historic touring bike that dominated its class during its 1947-1953 production era.

The new Roadmaster uses the 111 cubic inch Thunderstroke engine the company introduced with its 2014 Chieftain, Chief Vintage and Chief Classic motorcycles.

Like its three brothers, the Roadmaster combines classic American cruiser lines with modern American motorcycle technology. But the Roadmaster steps up dramatically in bells, whistles, amenities and price.

The "luxury touring model," to be debuted this week at the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, is decked out with modern features like anti-lock brakes, keyless ignition, electronic cruise control, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a state of the art "infotainment" system for music, navigation, telephone, and more.

It also offers 38 gallons worth of waterproof storage area -- two hard side bags and a large trunk bag -- plus heated seats, and heated grips.

The new machine will hit showrooms in September and retail at $26,999 -- the top of the Indian MSRP pile, and $4000 more than the company's Chieftain.

But that's well below the cost of a comparable Harley-Davidson, according to Steve Menneto, Polaris' vice president of motorcycles, who is not shy about stacking Indians next to Harleys.

"You have to go up to a CVO Limited (Harley) to get similar engine size and comparable appointments," Menneto said. "That MSRP is $38,999."

Menneto said the Roadmaster is targeting a slightly older, more affluent rider -- or pair of riders, since people who invest in a large-size luxury touring bike are usually couples who are shopping together and making a lifestyle choice.

"The average bagger owner is around 47," Menneto said. "The agerage touring rider is 52 to 54. And a lot of them are husbands and wives, doing two-up riding."

Menneto said the company has spent considerable energy making sure the touring bike experience is as good for the passenger as for the rider.

"It can't be just that the husband is happy and the wife just gets what she gets," he said. "The styling and comfort are as important for the passenger as for the rider."

Follow me on Twitter: @misterfleming

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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