The Indian Chief Dark Horse is The Most Dramatic Cruiser You’ll See Today
Cruisers tend to be recipients of a far greater amount of attention than any other genre of motorcycle, in India, but I’ve seldom seen people reach for their phones faster than when they were in the presence of this particular motorcycle. If ever there was an argument against the character-altering power of a paint job, it’s immediately nullified by the Indian Chief Dark Horse. Very little about the Dark Horse is different from the standard Indian Chief, leaving us with very little to complain about, because, make no mistake, the Indian Chief is one of the best full-bodied cruisers you can buy today.
There are many reasons for this, er…chief of which is its distinctly traditional visual language, which is accentuated by the matte black paint. Large, curved fenders lend a very elemental quality to the design, reminiscent of a time when fire and metal were all that were needed to create motorcycling magic. And the magic, possibly dark in nature, is very strong with the Dark Horse, whose new colour scheme adds a foreboding quality to a bike that clearly thrives in the sun. The raw power of the Chief’s 1811cc, V-twin, Thunder Stroke engine makes it a proper seismic event. There’s a vast, unending reserve of torque that just throws this bike forward like an extravagantly designed javelin. Indian Motorcycles have always made unfailingly graceful, well-finished and refined motorcycles, even when they’re so generously endowed with cubic capacity, and that’s what makes the Dark Horse special.
This is essentially a stripped down version of the Indian Chief Vintage, sitting at the bottom of the price range. Although it doesn’t lose anything in terms of mechanical equipment, it is a few kilograms lighter – not that you’ll notice, when you’re trying to weave all 357 kg of it through traffic. Clearly then, it’s not a motorcycle for lightweights, not with that hernia-inducing kerb weight, and certainly not with such enormous power at your disposal. Everything from the metallic clunk of the gear shifts to the heft of the clutch lever tells you this is a proper, tarmac hungry, all-American cruiser.
Time spent on the Chief’s saddle, I reckon, disappears into the same black hole into which a lot of the fuel does. It’s such a remarkably comfortable bike, with so much torque (over 14 kgm of it), that you couldn’t be bothered to check the speedo – the eagerness with which it devours both time and distance makes it feel plenty fast. Even in lower gears, it’s composed, without any hesitation from the gearbox. If you’re concerned about how the weight of the motorcycle reacts to high speeds, don’t be; it’s at its best on wide roads, so you don’t feel the weight, even around corners, where the Dark Horse manages to remain perfectly composed. Sure, this is an expensive motorcycle (Rs 24.39 lakh, on-road Mumbai) but riding one is an unforgettable experience, and that usually come with a steep price tag.
The sound is what you get when you blend a Vin Diesel vs Kodiak bear karaoke-off, with the battle cry of a tribal warlord and a Howitzer’s rattle thrown in for good measure. If that doesn’t win you over, the little details will – the Native American ornament atop the front fender, or the pointy, gun-sight shape on the cowl which automatically ups the masculinity quotient to Charles Bronson levels. In a lot of ways, it’s the consummate cruising motorcycle – it’s gracefully traditional, while being technologically sound enough to be delightful on the road. The stealth-bomber black just adds an understated quality previously unseen on big-bored cruisers, and it’s a look that isn’t going out of vogue anytime soon.