The first of three bikes in Indian’s “cruiser” category, the Chief Dark Horse wraps the company’s flagship Thunder Stroke 111ci, air-cooled V-twin in a landscape of matte black. Quite literally, Thunder Black Smoke paint covers everything from the tip of the heavily valanced front fender to the 16-inch wheels, handlebar and controls, bodywork, and right back to the rear fender tip. Essentially, only the edges of the cylinder fins were spared the black-out treatment.
Sharing its profile and engineering with the Chief and Chief Classic, the Chief Dark Horse marries Indian’s design heritage with modern technology. For instance, the Thunder Stroke 111 engine was designed with downward-facing exhaust ports that, quite purposefully, allow the exhaust headers to point nearly straight down—a nod to the company’s 1940s Power Plus engine. And the motor’s “undersquare” dimensions (wherein the piston stroke is longer than the bore diameter) mean the engine is built for torque. Keyless ignition, fuel injection, cruise control, and dual front disc brakes with four-piston calipers and ABS help bring the Chief up to date.
Likes: No motor company does nostalgia better than Indian.
Dislikes: Where is it written that big cruisers have to weigh the same as a Boeing 777? Because coincidentally, the Chief Dark Horse weighs a claimed 777 pounds wet—i.e., chunky!
Verdict: The Chief Dark Horse is one part bad hombre, one part nostalgia.