04 September 2020

Chieftain Dark Horse earns its spurs

Paul Browne saddles up Indian’s Chieftain Dark Horse and finds the bagger is a real thoroughbred, offering  little that riders could bridle at.

Since its debut in 2013, the Chieftain has consistently been a pleasant surprise in the handling, power and comfort stakes.

The recently redesigned Chieftain Dark Horse now features a more streamlined, aggressive styling that, whilst very American, performs in a way we can happily live with here in Europe.

All presence and correct

The bike has a whole lot of character and details such as its iconic balanced front fender make it stand out from the crowd. I just love that ten spoke, 19-inch contrast-cut front wheel too. It gives the machine a certain presence when parked up and, once rolling, it looks really fantastic.

The lines on the restyled fairing and saddlebags are sharper with harder edges that give the Chieftain Dark Horse a commanding presence and more streamlined look. Meanwhile the fairing is slimmer and, married with new fork guards, the bike’s front end looks the part.

The new saddlebags give the bike that custom bagger look.

A new set of badges on those saddlebags and the tank, along with the iconic Indian headdress on the front mudguard, completes the package.

Luxury package

Throwing a leg over the Chieftain Dark Horse and settling in to the new Rogue gunfighter seat, you realise that the look of luxury is now complemented by the feel.

The keyless ignition is a nice touch and the big PC style power button is hard to miss. Switch it on and the technology hidden behind the classic styling is obvious.

As the bike does a self check, the screen entertains the rider by playing a rolling wave scene to show off its depth of colour. This is a machine that promises a high end experience.

The sound quality from the speed sensitive stereo is also exceptional.

All this new ride-enhancing technology offers increased performance, customisation and comfort.

I can now choose between three ride modes, Tour, Standard or Sport. The throttle map for each is very different, making it really feel like you can ride not one, but three bikes, such are the differences in performance in each one.

Horsing around town

When riding across the city in stop-start traffic I was more than impressed with the rear cylinder deactivation. When the bike is stationary it switches off the back half of the engine so that the inside of the rider’s legs don’t melt.

The Chieftain Dark Horse on test was finished with the company’s Bronze Smoke body work. This is complimented by a premium black ceramic exhaust and gloss black finishes on the primary cover, valve covers, push-rod tubes, cam cover, and saddlebag hinges. That custom blacked-out styling looks mean!

But the biggest surprise is how well the bike rides. High in torque, it pulls from low in the rev range and, for such a large machine, is surprisingly dynamic in twisty stuff.

Prices start at a little over €30,000 and depend on how you spec up the bike. For more info, give any of the Indian Motorcycle Ireland team at Franklin Motorcycles a call on 015385005.

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