The Indian requires a noticeably stronger pull than the others to disengage its clutch. And that leads us to the somewhat contradictory ergonomics of the Chieftain. In
some ways it is set up for a big rider. The clutch effort, large grips and long reach to some of the handlebar switches (particularly cruise-control buttons), and ultra-wide (37
inches) handlebar suggest the Chieftain was built with lanky riders in mind. However, the seat crowds you forward, forcing a somewhat close-coupled
riding position for average (5-foot-10) and taller riders, who also have to fold up their right leg to cover the brake pedal. Our shortest rider said it was just about perfect, however.
(Indian offers alternate seats, but they all push you even closer to the bar.) That wide handlebar is awkward for anyone making a full-lock turn, too, because the outside
grip is far away, and the inside end crowds you. In its favor, the Chieftain’s fringe-trimmed seat is wide and well padded with a wide support ridge across the back. The saddle
(and it is the most saddle-like of the bunch) goes a long way toward making the Indian comfortable on lengthy rides, especially when combined with the best wind protection in this trio.
The Chieftain is the only bike here with an adjustable windshield. Operated by a switch on the left handlebar cluster, the shield has 3.5 inches of vertical travel. At the low end,
it was below sight level for all testers and didn’t interfere with our view of the road. When fully extended, it exposes a vent at the bottom that eliminates that low pressure
area behind the windshield that can push the rider forward. Whether up or down, this windshield (the largest in the group) and fairing gave the most effective wind protection.
Passing air is effectively deflected away from the rider from below the knees to above the helmet, and even your shoulders are barely brushed. There is no turbulence or buffeting
except in very strong crosswinds. Despite the somewhat awkward riding position, the seat and wind protection actually make the Chieftain a pretty agreeable all-day traveler.
No one felt crowded on the Cross Country. In fact, shorter riders felt a bit stretched. Even though it has the same wheelbase as the Chieftain, the Cross Country is much roomier,
with a longer saddle and more wiggle room than the others. Taller riders will almost certainly be significantly more-comfortable and less crowded on the Victory. Less rangy
riders had to reach a bit for the controls, but average and tall testers liked the riding position and most preferred it because of the seat’s flexibility. You can move forward and
backward to change your position on long rides. Unfortunately, the Cross Country has the softest saddle, and it tends to compress after a couple of hours aboard, which
creates mild pressure points on long stints. No one had issues with the foot controls, though our shortest rider found the almost tiller-like pullback of the handlebar a bit awkward, especially at low speeds. The Cross Country also has the least effective wind protection, with a low windscreen that leaves even a short rider’s head largely unprotected from wind and buffeting. (Victory’s optional tall windscreen would presumably address that.) Overall, it is the most comfortable for tall riders, but at the end of an all-day ride, the Cross Country leaves most riders wishing for more wind protection and a slightly firmer saddle.