When Polaris took over the operations of Indian Motorcycles, they literally revived the brand from the dark shallows of abyss and created a niche for the brand worldwide. Since then, Indian motorcycles seems to have found its stronghold in India and has been swiftly introducing more products to its existing lineup. For its fourth instalment, the Polaris owned manufacturer has launched the 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse, a solo saddle amalgamation of the mechanicals and stature of an Indian Chieftain and the blacked out theme carried from the Indian Chief Darkhorse.

It gets updated with subtle cosmetic changes to give it a stealth outlook while blacking out just about everything apart from the exhaust. It carried around the same panache and poise of the Chieftain, a once flagship motorcycle ( Indian Roadmaster being the new flagship) that leaves no question of having a prominent place in the lineup of this historic brand.

STYLING


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It is huge. No getting around that. Huge handlebar mounted fairings which look like the 50’s steamliner locomotives add to the gigantic stature of this motorcycle. The black matte theme goes on all sides to put things blatantly into perspective. It includes the fairings, teal drop fuel tank and the fenders. Infact, even the headdress forks, rear view mirrors, handlebars and switches, turn signals, tank console, engine and air box cover, lower controls, floorboards and taillight housing are completely finished in black. There are however a few chrome bits to keep the appeal of this bike – the two into one exhaust, fuel cap, saddle bag locks and a couple of other small bits like the single pinstripe on the fenders compliment the dark cruiser really well.

It holds true to its pedigree with its design and makes it its purpose to let you ride in style. It offers a wealth of features to roll as one of the most badass V-twin on the market. Features like the electronically adjustable tinted windshield that rises 9 to 12 inches to cover most riders from the buffeting wind. An explosive Bluetooth and smartphone compatible 100 watt stereo boom box will put to shame any other motorcycle carrying a stereo system. The speakers are flanked beside a neatly tucked in multi-functional displays having a 7 inch touchscreen for GPS and classical analogue trip meters including a fuel gauge.

The dash also includes dual tripmeters with distance and time, instantaneous and average fuel economy, fuel range, real-time clock, ambient air temperature, gear position display, front and rear tire pressure, engine hours of operation, engine oil life percentage, average speed, battery voltage, radio information display, vehicle trouble code readout, heated grip level, 15 LED telltale indicators, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or km/h unit designation. Phew.

Continuing towards the tank, you get additional switches to operate the top-loading saddlebags and to set yourself a heated handgrip. The saddlebags themselves will carry 10 kg each and can be unmounted with a quick-release lever. Talking of comfort, you can even lock and unlock the bags with a remote which also acts as a keyless ignition. An automatic trunk release for you and a start stop button. Fancy stuff.

Finally, there is nothing better than having a lit up War Bonnet leading the way for you. It can sure take your breath away. Like, representing a phenomena.

Overall Dimension

Length2571mm
Width1000mm
Height1388mm
Wheelbase1668mm
Seat height660mm
Wet weight630kg

POWERTRAIN

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Indian has kept the old school charm for this engine layout with its valvetrain geometry, head construction and valve-cover design. But don’t get fooled because the inside story is a whole new world. The Thunder Stroke 111 engine used in the Chieftain makes way here too with its 1811cc 490 V-Twin capable of belting out 73bhp of power and 160Nm of torque. Enough torque to tear apart the tarmac. It is both oil and air cooled and operates pretty smooth compared to the heavy throbbers around.

The engine breathes through a 54 mm throttle body and transmits power to a 6-speed gearbox through cable-actuated clutch having a relatively light pull. Power, like in all Indians, is always on tap and is delivered to the rear wheel via a belt-driven system. Unlike other floorboard operators, the forward foot controls give way for heel/toe shifter. You can even notice the downward firing exhaust outlets of the Six-Shooter that makes the Dark Horse roar like the God of Thunder.

Engine Specification

Capacity cc1811
Bore/ Stroke mm101/113
Output73 bhp (Est)
Torque160Nm@3000rpm
TypeAir and Oil-cooled, 4-stroke, 49° V-Twin cylinder, Three-OHC
Valves per cylinder4
Clutch typeWet- Multiplate
Transmission6-speed

RIDE AND HANDLING

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Known for cruising comforts, the Chieftain gets a well-supported solo saddle which will give you enough cushioning to ride on forever and not break your back. The seat is also positioned lower than many cruisers to accommodate shorter riders and make them feel like stars. Handlebar position is quite upright and the floorboard will provide you with enough room to rest your feet the way you like to. The low slung stance can call for scraping the underbelly every time though.

The Dark Horse just falls into easy turns but hairpins and u-turns can be quite tricky for those not used to the bike’s size or weight. 630 kg of meat this one. The steering geometry is engineered in such a way to deliver responsive handling in any situation. The cast aluminium frame is lightweight yet exceptionally strong and provides the rider excellent low speed handling and confidence inspiring stability on the highways.

Suspension leverages are carried out by large 46 mm forks float the front end having 119 mm of travel, and the single rear pneumatic shock can be adjusted for load or preference with 114 mm of travel. To halt this 630kg monster, you need heavy performers and hence dual four-pot callipers bind the front 300mm brake discs, and a twin-pot calliper binds the rear 300mm disc. ABS will come as standard, knowing which you can brake under control in any situation.

16-inch cast wheels running on 180/60R16 80H at the front and 130/90B16 73H at the rear will give you precise feedback or rather no feedback. You will glide on these. Cruise control comes as a standard feature too.

Chassis Specifications

Suspension / Front46 mm Telescopic fork – 119 mm travel
Suspension / RearSingle Shock with Air adjust 114 mm travel
Brakes / FrontDual, 300mm Floating Rotor, 4 Piston Caliper
Brakes / RearSingle 300 mm Floating Rotor, 2 Piston Caliper
Tyres / Front180/60R16 80H – Dunlop Elite 3
Tyres / Rear130/90B16 73H – Dunlop Elite 3

PRICE

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Hold your breath and take a seat people. You will need one perhaps after reading this though. It will be priced at ? 31.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The Dark Horse comes with Thunder Black Smoke, a deep black with a matte finish that throws subtle highlights as light plays across the curves with no hotspots like you get with a glossy finish.

Ofcourse, Indian will give you a plethora of accessories to make it your own deal and the list includes 300 different fitments to your Dark Horse.

COMPETITION

Where else do we go for this other than the other American’s stable – Harley Davidson. We are specifically talking about the Street Glide Special. It is H-D’s full cruiser created as part of their Project Rushmore.

Harley Davidson Street Glide Special

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This classic American cruiser is powered by a 1.7-litre V-Twin engine that churns out close to 65 bhp of power and 134 Nm of torque. This mill comes mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox, while the power is sent to the rear wheel via a belt drive. An integrated oil cooler helps protect the oil, and hence the engine, when conditions and circumstances turn the heat up.

VERDICT

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In a world where the likes of the Harley brand has domination of the custom bagger arena, this Chieftain Dark Horse exudes quality, and as a result poses the most serious threat and comes out as a winner of a battle. Polaris has once again got a pat on its back with an excellent job on this Indian. If you don’t wish to have a stellar black machine and want some colour on it, you might as well go for the classic Chieftain. And no one will judge you for that. But this Black Horse is for Dark Horsemen who ride solo.

It is an epitome of luxury with everything on the face of the planet packed between two wheels. The decidedly retro looks will seamlessly fit into the lookout of a niche clientele wanting to splurge on something of a personified saga.