Hail To the Indian Chief: The 100th Anniversary Brings New Looks and Tech
Vintage-inspired designs are found in every corner of the motorcycle world. That’s especially true for many of the cruisers Harley-Davidson and Indian offer. However, even historic models evolved over their lifetimes—why should their modern versions be any different? That’s why, for the 100th anniversary of the Chief, Indian is giving it a redesign. And it’s more than skin deep.
For its 100th birthday, the 2022 Indian Chief ditches the deco and goes minimalist retro
In 1922, Indian already had the original Scout, but it needed a ‘big’ motorcycle, Silodrome reports. Not necessarily for spirited riding, but for long-distance, comfortable touring, maybe with a sidecar. The result was the original Indian Chief.
Indian upgraded the Chief over the years, giving it bigger engines, better suspension, and a stronger frame, Bonhams reports. It also got different styling, with flowing fenders over the wheels and more chrome. When Indian folded in 1953, that was the last look the Chief had.
So, when Polaris resurrected the Indian Chief in 2014, that was the design the company tried to ape, Bennetts explains. And in terms of dynamics, the new Chief has been well-received. It won Cycle World’s Best Cruiser Award in 2014 and 2015. However, Cycle World reports that for some, the bike’s “slavish devotion to period forms” has been getting stale. The nameplate’s upcoming 100th anniversary seemed like a perfect time, then, for a rethink.
To be fair, Indian isn’t abandoning the 1940s/1950s aesthetic completely. The Vintage and Vintage Dark Horse, for example, still have the wheel fenders and flowing tassels. And those models aren’t going away. It’s just that the 2022 Indian Chief is pulling from an even older, more minimalist aesthetic, RideApart and Motorcycle Cruiser report.
Pick your 2022 Indian Chief flavor: base, Bobber, and Super Chief
Mechanically, what all of this means is in addition to its leaner looks, the 2022 Indian Chief has a new steel trellis frame and bopped (chopped-down) rear fender, MCN reports. It also has a shorter wheelbase, as well as new handlebars and mid-mount controls. Plus, with the new frame and less sheet metal, the 2022 Chief weighs 670 pounds fully-fueled. The previous entry-level model, the 2020 Chief Dark Horse, is almost 100 pounds heavier.
The powertrain is a carry-over: a 1811cc air-cooled V-twin with a 6-speed transmission, Roadshow reports. However, it does come with rear-cylinder deactivation, like the 2022 FTR, for less heat and better fuel economy. As of this writing, Indian hasn’t released official horsepower figures. However, we do know the V-twin is rated at 108 lb-ft.
For 2022, the Indian Chief is available in three forms: base, Bobber, and Super Chief. The Chief Bobber has “mini-ape handlebars” as well as more forward foot controls, Ultimate Motorcycling reports, spoked wheels, covered fork tubes and shocks, and different tires. Plus, it has more chrome and a different headlight.
If you’re more into long-distance rides, the 2022 Super Chief will likely be more your style. It comes with a quick-release windscreen, leather saddlebags, floorboards, wider handlebars, and a two-person seat. But it shares the Bobber’s covered suspension components, spoked wheels, and headlight.
The Dark Horse and Limited offer more tech and more engine
All 2022 Indian Chief models come standard with adjustable rear shocks, cruise control, LED lights, keyless ignition, and multiple riding modes, Jalopnik reports. But if you want more standard features, you can move up to the Chief and Bobber Dark Horse or the Super Chief Limited.
These models have standard ABS, which is optional on the base bikes. They also swap the analog gauge for a 4” TFT one that Indian claims is an “industry-first.” It connects to your phone via Bluetooth or USB, RideApart reports, and features music and call control, as well as turn-by-turn navigation.
Also, choosing a 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse or Super Chief Limited model gets you a larger engine. These bikes have a 1890cc air-cooled V-twin with a claimed 120 lb-ft. The larger engine also has rear-cylinder deactivation, as well as throttle-by-wire, Cycle World reports.
Pricing and availability
You don’t necessarily have to step up to the higher models to get some of these features on your 2022 Indian Chief. The accessory catalog includes things like windshields, saddlebags, and passenger add-ons, Motorcycle Cruiser reports. That includes performance air and exhaust modifications for both engines, as well as a big-bore kit for the smaller V-twin.
The 2022 Indian Chief lineup should hit dealers in April, Roadshow reports. The base model starts at $14,499; ABS is an $800 option. Topping the range is the 2022 Super Chief Limited, which starts at $20,999.
Here’s to you, Chief—happy centenary.
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