It’s that time of year again and Indian Motorcycles® have just released their lineup of new and improved models for next year. It’s an interesting mix of revamped stalwarts from the stable but at the upper end, the big thing is the new Ride Command ™ Infotainment system which is grabbing the headlines.
We’ll review the full 2017 lineup in a couple of days when we’ve checked the models out ourselves but we think we should give some details on the infotainment system right now as it’s a real heads-up (about the only thing it doesn’t have – Indian designers please note).
Ride Command® is by far the biggest and the bestest infotainment system available on a motorcycle anywhere. Okay, it’s not available just yet – and it’s (so far) only available on the Roadmaster and Chieftain but you sure get plenty of bangs for your bucks. Okay, the features are terrific but you know the best bit about it? You can use it with your gloves on! Apple, please, please do this.
Now, I don’t know about you but using my iPhnode (sorry, always call it that – no, I dunno why either) on the move is a pain. Using the iPad is easier cos it’s bigger – but you still gotta shed the glove and in the middle of a Nebraska winter you run the risk of your hand breaking off. This built-in system renders these devices all but obsolete and with the ‘base’ version having so much incorporated already, expect more features over the next few years. Just think, via the Internet of Things, one day you’ll be able to turn on your microwave oven from your motorcycle console so dinner’s ready when you park up in the garage.
Ride Command Features
Okay, dreaming aside, here’s the blast on Ride Command. The screen on this thing is 7 inches (about 18 cm) across and has a fair resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. Not Retina® capabilities but good enough and with the split-screen feature, you don’t have to keep jumping between your preferred options. So, you can have your map open with the route running and on the other half of the display, your iPod songs on shuffle with full control of each individual display. Whatever screen you’re on, you’ll always have the time, temperature, fuel range and compass direction showing at the top of the display.
It boots faster than Windows, taking just 10 seconds to rev up from initial key activation and, when it’s on, it’s got a really bright screen which anyone who’s used their laptop or tablet outdoors on a sunny day will realize is a fundamental necessity! There are 5 large short-cut buttons under the screen which make it easier to switch modes and if you’re in ‘phone, music or radio mode, you get the full benefit of the audio system with 100 watts available to the Chieftain and 200 with the Roadmaster. If you’re in navigation mode (the far-right button on the Ride Command console), you’ve got a set of programmable on-screen buttons which can be used to take you to your nearest whatever (Walmart? Nah.). The map will give you the route and using the standard two-finger pinch, you can zoom in and out – with your gloves on! Woohoo! Watch the video on the navigation feature here
With your premium sound system, you can hook up any stations, your iPod and rock your way down the road. The Bluetooth feature hooks your ‘phone or any other Bluetooth-enabled device, like your headset, so you have it surrounding you with no effort. Once your ‘phone is paired up, you get all the usual features that your ‘phone gives you including voice-activated calling, scrolling contact list, incoming text alert, etc.
The buttons on the Ride Command console give you full control of whatever device you’re using but if that’s too difficult, there are buttons on your bars to control audio (volume, change station, song, etc) and a toggle switch that lets you scroll thru the screens, control the navigation system, accept or reject calls.
The Ride Command readouts for the motorcycle itself are pretty cool and you may never need a tire-pressure gauge or an oil-dipstick again. You can get an instant view of tire pressures, engine running hours, voltage and oil change time as well as speed, tank range, revs and gear. There are the familar two trip meters giving, for each one, average mpg, avergae speed, tank range, miles covered and instantaneous mpg.
More than anything else, the Ride Command system is going to alter the way we use our motorcycles. And for the better.