Indian adds big, sleek infotainment system for 2017 Chieftan and Roadmaster

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The Indian Motorcycles Ride Command infotainment system offers a plethora of audio, navigation and on-screen features

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Since the laws of physics eventually dictate that there's only so much engine displacement you can embed on two wheels, motorcycle manufacturers have begun to raise the bar on the infotainment systems they're offering on their high-end models. Case in point is the Ride Command system Indian Motorcycle just announced today to compete directly with the Boom!Box system Harley Davidson revealed in 2014.

Available as a standard feature on their top-of-the-line 2017 Indian Roadmaster and the Indian Chieftan, Ride Command offers a slew of features that were once found only on luxury automobiles.

The display consists of a 7-inch high-resolution screen with 800 x 480 pixel resolution that Indian says is twice as bright as most smartphones and is ready to reveal a plethora of information within 10 seconds of turning on the ignition.

Indian is offering Ride Command with two different sound systems: the 50 watt per channel (100 watts total) version available on the Chieftan and 100 watts per channel (200 watts total) for the Roadmaster. Audio source choices include AM/FM/Weatherband, and USB flash drive with song shuffle.

Five large buttons control the various modes and shortcuts, and the screen incorporates two-finger pinch-to-zoom functionality that is claimed to be glove friendly.

Ride Command also offers Bluetooth pairing with smartphones or headsets, and a long list of phone features that let you download your phonebook, receive incoming call notifications with name display, get incoming text notifications, and make voice-activated calls.

Various buttons below the screen and on the handlebar let you adjust the audio, accept or decline phone calls and navigate through the eight different screen options.

The latter includes a speedometer and tachometer plus tire pressure, voltage, and engine hour displays, as well as two different trip meters offering more than just distance traveled; there's also ride data like direction and altitude.

A built-in map/GPS navigation system offers turn-by-turn maps, points of interest and a compass, eliminating the need to buy a separate device. Map updates will be free for the first three years of ownership and for the time being are confined to the United States, though Indian said it is planning on providing turn-by-turn directions for other countries and in multiple languages at some point in the future.

By comparison, Harley Davidson offers its Boom!Box system in three different versions, but they each feature a smaller 6.5 inch screen and less audio output at 25 watts per channel for the low-end version and 75 watts per channel for the higher-end option, which also requires the installation of a separate amplifier.

Unfortunately, Indian buyers who would like to add Ride Command to an existing Roadmaster or Chieftan are out of luck and will need to trade up to a 2017 model. The 2017 Roadmaster will list at US$28,999 and the Chieftan at $23,999.

We'll have an opportunity to see for ourselves how Ride Command works at the Sturgis Rally in August.

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