December 02, 2021 By C! Magazine Staff Words by Maki Aganon Photos by Randy R. Silva-Netto

Bike Review: 100th Year Anniversary Indian Chief Dark Horse

Smart and Iconic

Chief means leader of a tribe or clan, and to be called ‘the Chief’ is an honor denied to many but to a select few. The title suggests authority, significance and a principal manifestation of power and respect. Riding an Indian Chief somehow feels the same way.

The Indian Motorcycle company is a purveyor of American motorcycle’s traditional styling, a company with over 100-year-old legacy, history of pioneering the US, leading the charge in growing motorcycle production, innovation and foundational leadership.

In short, America’s first motorcycle company.

Brand

Over years of existence, the company displayed extraordinary resilience, withstanding two World Wars, contribution to war efforts and significant military usage to a cataclysmic global conflict. It is also the company that built the first, now-iconic V-twin used as a racing engine, also introduced as a consumer model.

Today, Indian Motorcycles has been revitalized with the acquisition of Polaris Industries by still offering iconic models such as the Scout and Chief. The company has also embraced new technology, better partnerships and new lineup expansion.

 

Design

After 100 years, since 1921, the Indian Motorcycle Chief is reborn, retaining its iconic novelty now equipped with modern technology. It retains its timeless design, commanding stance, steel frame, 64-inch wheelbase and neck-breaking aura that shout’s “Hey! I’m here”.

Motor

In 2013, Indian Motorcycle unveiled a massive 111-cubic inch motor called the Thunderstroke. It pumps 115 foot-pounds of torque that set a land speed record in the Salt Flats dubbed as “The World’s Fastest Indian.”

In this 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse, it is equipped with 116 Thunderstroke, air-cooled, with heart-pumping 120 ft-lbs torque that leaves everything behind in the breakaway. 

Handling

Surprisingly, the Indian Chief Dark Horse is not a man-handler. It is very responsive on corners, good balance and can be quick in the corners. The suspension performance is well behaved on straight line touring performance, and “not a pain-in-the-ass” on sudden bumps. It can glide smoothly on corners without any worry that the footpegs might scrape, thanks to the mid-mount foot controls. The drag bars give the rider a forward and more aggressive riding posture. The clutch is butter-soft, wet multi-plate.

Here’s the thing, the brute weighs about 650 lbs, 5.33 feet wheelbase, 19’s in front and 180 at the back. The cruiser spells 18.5-degrees lean angle that mind-blows anyone, why the heck is this bike flickable at 1890cc engine?

Call it science and clever engineering.

Equipment

It’s a 100 year old geek. First, it has LED H/T. Standard equipped with ABS, USB charge port, and rear cylinder deactivation. Then it has a Touchscreen display called Ride Command, a 4-inch round display that shows navigation, real time traffic and weather, time, ambient temperature, heading, audio info display, vehicle status, vehicle info, ride trip meter, distance, ride mode selector (Tour, Standard & Sport), screen brightness and vehicle trouble code. It basically has everything that you need to familiarize yourself with.

The Ride Command is a canned technology that comes unnoticed in plain view. it allows you to control your screen without taking your hands off the handlebars. It has a joystick that allows you to manipulate your riding experience, visuals and navigation that will surely enhance your riding pleasure. It has selectable day and night mode, answer and decline calls and connect via Bluetooth to select your tunes on the road.

Value

If you’re in the market for an iconic conversational bike that has an undeniable history of records and legends of the old, then this is one that you should consider. A true American bike that retains its proud pioneering looks, commanding stance and minimalist looks.

Not to mention, it is equipped with all the latest technology that any owner can personalize his/her riding experience, then this is for you. If you enjoy long, scenic views owning the power within your handlebars, I’m sure any long distance highway trip is attainable with ease, and is also capable of any twisty road you might encounter.

Actual Usage

Unplanned rides turn out to be one of the best ones. A trip to Lobo was not really a pretty bad idea, but it was worth a shot since I haven’t been there. It was exciting and nerve racking at the same time. First, I haven’t been there. Second, I’m riding a 650lbs, 1890cc cruiser, so what could go wrong on a hard-pack offroad? As expected, the Indian Chief Dark Horse is all-power in the straights. You can’t even maximize up to 6th gear. At 4th, I’m already within my speed limits. It feels like authority.

Like a power-conserving master that has a lot of energy to spend for the real battle. I’m literally caught off-guard on how well the bike corners like any standard. I have very little expectations to play catch up riding a cruiser, but this is entirely different. The mid-rise pegs don’t scrape, it handles well and the wheelbase and tire size combo is perfectly complementing. I’d bet on any skilled rider for them to try the bike and say it’s one of the better handling cruisers in the market today.

Lobo loop with a cruiser is such an amazing experience. It did not fail mechanically, bouncing on big rocks. The clutch and gearing system works as commanded, thanks to it’s low seat height, I was able to balance the bike when you need it most. It was uncomfortable but it was also really satisfying.

The Indian Chief Dark Horse is not in it’s comfort zone, but it brings out the best in any bike. At least, we all know. If the Chief can come in, it definitely can make it out. Happiness is not just about you and your bike, it is how well man and machine can carry it through and call it a good day. One for the books, indeed.

 

Verdict

If only they can upgrade it into a double disc brake, then that would be the cherry on top. The amount of torque output should compliment the stopping power as well. The exhaust sound is a bit…nice, I’m looking for a more bad-arse tune to complement its style. Spoked wheels could also help shed some weight off the bike, to make it more flickable.

Overall

I would recommend this to anyone who is a long distance traveller that also seeks twisty road fun and loves to play around with modern technology. You can’t go wrong with massive power, simple and iconic styling equipped with the latest tech. The bike has a strong branding foundation, like a tribe that keeps it true and adapting to the changes of time.


Specifications:

Engine: Thunderstroke 116; fuel-injected, air-cooled, V-twin, 4 stroke, 4 valves

Displacement: 1890cc

Max Power: 79 hp 

Max Torque: 120 lb-ft @ 2900 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed

Seat Height: 662mm

Fuel Capacity: 15.1 Liters

Tire, Front: 130/60-19

Tire, Rear: 180/65-16

Brakes, Front/ Rear: Disc/Disc ABS

Curb Weight: 304 kg. (with oil and full tank)

Top speed: 201 Km/h 

Price: PhP 1,285,000 (Stealth Gray), PhP 1,250,000 (Black Smoke and Alumina Jade Smoke)

+: Light on its feet, stable and predictable handling, superb build quality, attention to details.

-: Another disc at the front would be nice, and a louder exhaust system.

C! Rating: 9 / 10

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