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Indian Chieftain Dark Horse review: A highway cruiser with luxury and performance

Are highways your calling? Well, then you definitely need to know more about the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse.

autos Updated: May 01, 2017 13:06 IST
Sherman Nazareth
Sherman Nazareth
Autocar India
Indian Chieftain Dark Horse,Indian bikes,Chieftain dark horse review
Are highways your calling? Then Indian chieftain is a ride for you.(Autocar India photo)

There’s a certain charm that big, fully dressed up cruisers, or baggers, exude that makes you want to throw on a leather jacket and hit the open road. Wishful daydreams aside, Indian has added yet another model to its bagger series, the Chieftain Dark Horse, which makes wanderlust so real. But is riding it as meditative an experience as other motorcycles from the Indian stable?

Spotting the Chieftain Dark Horse in the distance may make you question why there’s a land boat approaching you. It sits almost 8.5 feet long and weighs a behemoth 377kg! Starting at the front, you get this sleek, solid-looking front mudguard with the signature illuminated Native American Indian chief’s head. Atop the front wheel sits a positively bulbous fairing that ensures your upper body is completely free of any stray windblast. To ensure even further wind protection, there is a height-adjustable, electronically controlled windscreen.

The simple, elegant tank gets a central strip that has a large start-stop power button. It gets a supremely comfortable single seat, with the backrest and pillion seat available as add-ons. The solid, chiseled, rear fender looks rather regal too.

The seating position is authoritative and relaxed at the same time. You have what appears to be a dashboard in front of you. Although this Chieftain Dark Horse version misses out on the 7.0-inch TFT screen found on the 2017 Chieftain and Roadmaster, you get a fair amount of goodies to keep you well engaged, such as the two 100W fairing speakers and a Bluetooth and smartphone-compatible music system that also picks up FM/AM radio stations.

The 1,811cc V-Twin motor is an absolute gem. Even though this isn’t a new engine by any means, it simply steals the show with its refinement. It makes 138.9Nm of pulling power that is nicely spread over the rev range, it’s nearly vibration-free and there’s ample thrust available in each gear. The bike accelerates smoothly off the line, and with the amount of grunt on tap, you can pull away easily from speed bumps in as high as third gear. To top things off, there’s that lovely, muffled rumble from its twin exhausts.

So yes, riding the Chieftain Dark Horse is simply a meditative experience. This stems from a well-balanced chassis, steering and suspension setup. Speaking of steering, the Chieftain Dark Horse feels nimble even when it has all the weight of that massive front fairing over it. The bike turns in very easily, precisely and with a lot of confidence.

Even the ride quality is great. The 46mm front forks and air-adjustable monoshock at the back handle big bumps rather well and the ride is very pliant for the most part. The 142mm ground clearance means you don’t have to worry too much about those long, chromed-out silencer tubes scraping over large speed bumps either. And for bringing that 377kg mass to a halt, the ABS-equipped twin 300mm front discs and a single 300mm rear disc provide more than sufficient stopping power.

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse factfile
  • Engine 1,811cc, V-Twin, air-cooled
  • Power 74hp at 5,075rpm
  • Torque 138.9Nm at 2,600Nm
  • Gearbox 6-speed:1-down, 5-up
  • Kerb weight 377kg (dry)
  • Ground clearance 142mm
  • Seat height 660mm
  • Fuel tank capacity 20.8 litres
  • Price Rs 32.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)

Although this is a cheap bike by no means, Indian has ensured that its high levels of refinement and riding pleasure shine through on the Chieftain Dark Horse. Moreover, the Thunder Black Smoke paint scheme lends the bike a regal yet mildly sinister character. And there’s a mindboggling amount of customisation options available for it. So, if you’re in the market for a high-end, long-distance cruiser, you should definitely consider this one.

(In partnership with Autocar India)

First Published: May 01, 2017 11:44 IST