The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Redefines the Cruiser Class

I have ridden a lot of motorcycles. And, I can admit that I’m not the greatest judge of these things. I just like them too much. From the goofiest, ugliest, slowest, rattiest bikes to the most beautiful, performance-focused, and thoughtfully designed motorcycles, I love them all. That being said, The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse’s objective greatness is pretty hard to deny. Could this signal a resurgence of the domination of Indian?

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse | Indian

What’s the Difference between the regular Indian Chief and the Dark Horse trim? 

The 2022 Indian Chief is the first major update to the heavyweight v-twin lineup in nearly a decade, and it shows. The Chief Dark Horse trim is essentially a “what if” bike designed by the great Ola Stenegärd. The idea was to question what if Indian had survived into the ‘60s and could have gone toe to toe with the other major brands as the custom chopper world began to take off. So, the Dark Horse takes the standard Indian Chief and chops fenders cover most metal in matte or gloss black and wear darker paint. The result is a leaner, more agressive retro-style motorcycle with a massive air-cooled v-twin.

Is the 2022 Indian Chief a good motorcycle? 

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse is a top-tier cruiser
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse | Indian

What makes the Chief stand out amongst the other monster v-twins is how simple and easy the bike is to ride. This may sound silly, but as a rule, 116ci engines can be a handful. Indian has managed to take this massive, torquey powerplant and give it some poise. 

I have spent the past week thumping around NYC and into the Hudson Valley, and this heavy and powerful motorcycle quickly felt light and easy to maneuver through the sea of yellow cabs swarming like bees around the city. Indian has taken all the power and thump of the big v-twin, stripped it of its girth and clumsiness, and replaced it with agility and snap. 

Cycle World references an interview with Rich Christoph, lead Industrial Designer at Indian, saying, “When you do a classic American cruiser, one this simple and this clean, honoring the Indian name, I always fall back to Ola’s and my knowledge about the customer, what they’re going to want to do with it, and what makes a motorcycle stand the test of time,” Christoph says. “You have to be a rider. You have to be involved.” 

Is the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse fast? 

Indian Chief Dark Horse is a top-tier cruiser
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse | Indian

The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse is faster than greased lightning. How could it not be with its Thunderstroke 116 (1890cc) making 79 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque? This power can feel a little jumpy at lower speeds due to the massive torque and slightly vague throttle feel. Even still, for a large and powerful bike, it never really shows its beefiness or overpowered nature, even in traffic. But, once you get moving, all that weight and power work together to make a cruiser that hits every high note you’d expect from a cruiser but with nearly none of the annoyances. 

The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse has a top speed of 115 mph. While this isn’t the best top speed, it really isn’t the point of the Chief. The fun is the ferocity in which it gets to its top speed. 

The Dark Horse is pretty luxurious 

Even though the silhouette is simple and clean, this bike is home to plenty of tech. All within the confines of the four-in ride command center screen, there is navigation, a gear indicator, speedometer and tachometer, music through Bluetooth, caller ID, and more. Best of all, when the bike is off, it doesn’t look like a big, ugly screen; it’s just a normal, classic round gauge. 

Lastly, the standard solo seat is suprisingly comfortable considering how small it is. The smaller seat does well to maintain the sleek bobber look that the 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse wears so well. 

How much does the 2022 Chief Dark Horse cost? 

The Dark Horse trim starts at $14,499, which is killer for that much motorcycle. As tested, the bike can run up to $16,999. Considering that starting price can barely get you a Harley-Davidson Sportster these days, I’d say the Dark Horse is one of the best buys you could make in the heavyweight cruiser class. 

The 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse is a legend in training. The cruiser world could stand for a little shakeup, and maybe Indian can do now what they weren’t able to in the ‘60s.

RELATED: Hail To the Indian Chief: The 100th Anniversary Brings New Looks and Tech