- 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse ($16,999-$19,499)
- As tested price: $19,499
- Pro: Retro-style and monster power
- Con: The throttle feel is a bit vague
Our 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse review unit took a straight shot at our nostalgia. The simple lines, big v-twin powerplant, and low-slung riding position almost immediately make any fan of V-twins itch to hop on.
The same nostalgia driving classic motorcycle prices right now is the same force driving so many OEMs to design retro-themed bikes like the Ducati Scrambler or the BMW R-18. While new motorcycles are safer, more reliable, and generally considered “better” by many, there is simply no replacement for the feeling you get when riding a vintage machine. For this reason, the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse is a special motorcycle that can both let you rest in the warm bosom of nostalgia and rattle your heart out of your chest (in a nice way.)
What is the difference between the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse and the 2022 Indian Chief?
The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse is essentially the Indian Chief but with a more classic look and an extra chunk of power. The Chief has a 111ci (1,811cc) V-twin pulling 108 lbs-ft of torque. The Chief Dark Horse is powered by the Thunderstroke 116ci (1,890cc) V-twin, making 120 lbs-ft of torque.
Aside from the engines, the Dark Horse also gets Bluetooth compatibility and a retro-styled aesthetic package, basically powered coating everything chrome in a pretty mixture of gloss and matte black. The Chief Dark Horse also comes in a moodier color palette. These differences make the Dark Horse trim start at $16,999, whereas the regular Indian Chief starts at $14,499.
Does the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse pass the vibe check?
I will be blunt with y’all; when I saw photos of the new Chief Dark Horse, I didn’t love it. I just couldn’t see anything that seemed all that special. But, once my 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse review unit showed up on my street and I took a few laps around the city, I quickly realized that I felt cool. I was pleased to pass people in traffic and see other bikers wave and look in adoration of the beefy, retro cruiser.
From the first day forward, the looks of the Dark Horse have only continued to grow. Although my initial thought has changed, I shouldn’t be surprised by the good looks because it was designed by the living legend, Ola Stenegärd, the father of the BMW RnineT line.
There is only really one aesthetic touch that has yet to grow on me. The main thing that really hurts the look of the Chief Dark Horse is the comically huge twin mufflers. These look more like oversized handrails at a middle school than pipes. They also rob so much sound from the aptly-named, Thunderstroke 116.
Is the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse comfortable?
At first glance, the Indian Chief Dark Horse isn’t really the most inviting bike I’ve ever seen. The saddle looks a bit small, the engine is massive, and the handlebars are low. However, the seat really isn’t all that small. In fact, it is supportive, comfy, and with the handlebars, it allows for a commanding riding position.
Overall, this big American V-twin doesn’t feel all that big. It is a rather friendly motorcycle, all things considered.
Does the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse have any tech features?
Indian has worked hard to create a fresh-feeling line of motorcycles that pays tribute to the nostalgia of the company’s history while also keeping up with the modern rider’s expectations. According to Indian, the Indian Chief Dark Horse may be the stripped-down, hot-rod version of the Chief, but it still has plenty of tech.
The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse review unit boasts its new ride command system as soon as it powers up. This system includes navigation and connected services, speedometer, tachometer, odometer, fuel gauge, compass, ambient temperature, gear indicator.
While the Dark Horse is a simpler verison of the Chief, it does have Bluetooth capabilities where the regular Chief doesn’t. It also has LED lighting, keyless ignition, fuel level indication, ride modes, cruise control, 12V charge port, ABS, and cylinder deactivation. While the Dark Horse covers up its 21st-century tech well, the only new feature that breaks the nostalgic spell is the pointless keyless ignition. Call me a grumpy old man, but using a key isn’t hard, and I find myself missing the *click* every time I fire it up.
Is the Indian Chief Dark Horse good in the corners?
The Indian Chief Dark Horse is a big American Cruiser through and through. If you want a bike to carve up the twisties, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for. That being said, for such a large and heavy bike (curb weight: 670 lbs), there has yet to be a time where a quick shift in my weight and a little dancing hasn’t encouraged the big retro classic to shuck and jive as needed.
This same suspension that makes sharp cornering possible, also makes the ride a bit tough. You will surely feel every bump in the road, which can get taxing after a while. Also, at slow speeds, you’ll be made plenty aware of the fact that you are sitting on a giant motor with wheels attached. Still, with any decent flowing roads, the big cruiser sits low and bears down on the road in a surprisingly low, planted squat that inspires a great deal of confidence often left out of the cruiser conversation.
How fast is the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse?
The belt drive, fuel-injected 116ci-engine in the Chief Dark Horse is nothing to mess with. Granted, for a bike with 75 hp and a top speed of 115 mph, there doesn’t seem to be to brag about. Bikes with half the displacement can double both of those figures. However, the Dark Horse trades top-speed numbers for an endless well of sweet, sweet torque.
I went riding with a fellow journalist on a Kawasaki ZX10. I thought his experience as a rider and clearly quicker bike would leave me in the dust, but thanks to the brutal torque of the Dark Horse, I could hang on most short sprints, at least until some real riding chops were needed, where I then happily took my spot in second place. I ran through all six gears quickly, but I’m not complaining. The point is, the Dark Horse is no slouch. I may not be fast, but you might not ever know it.
What safety tech does the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse have?
There is only so much they can do to keep us knuckleheads – who insist on riding motorcycles – safe. However, Indian is trying pretty hard. The Dark Horse has various driving modes that can limit and decrease power delivery according to the riding conditions. The most common and useable modes are Tour and Standard. A mostly unusable Sport mode turns all that lovely torque against you, making the throttle jumpier than a frog at Kris Kross show. But there is also a Rain mode that decreases throttle response to keep from spinning the rear wheel.
The only major safety feature the Chief Dark Horse is missing is traction control.
Are Indian motorcycles reliable?
The Indian name is once again becoming known for its quality and reliability. With Polaris behind the company, the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse and the 2021 FTR 1200 Rally have an overwhelming feeling of intention and quality.
But even if you do find yourself in a pickle within the first two years (and unlimited miles during that time), Indian’s warranty will take care of you.
Riding the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse makes it hard to not feel cool
Admittedly, I am not the best judge of motorcycles. I have ridden many bikes in my time, and my takeaway from almost every motorcycle I ride tends to be that I just like riding motorcycles. I know, not very journalistic of me, but it’s true. Riding motorcycles makes me happy, whether they are good or bad.
That being said, the big cruisers aren’t exactly my personal flavor, yet I still look forward to riding this bike every day that it’s in my care. The Indian Chief Dark Horse makes me feel cool. Sure, the suspension could be a little nicer on the ol’ caboose, and the oversized mufflers feel like putting a bumper guard on a Lamborghini, but none of that matters when you’re on it. The issues are all an afterthought.
MotorBiscuit gives the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse an expert rating of 8.1/10
Indian has yet again offered an objectively good American motorcycle. It does everything it is meant to do with few slip-ups. The few things I didn’t love are small and fleeting in the big picture. Overall, most riders wanting a big American V-twin cruiser should find little to dislike about the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse.