New Styling, New Tech, New Experience

Indian revamped its Chieftain lineup ahead of the 2019 model year, and that includes an extensive rebuild of the Chieftain Dark Horse. Sleeker components meet the eye in a clear bid to lend the “CDH” a performance-minded look to match its potential, and the factory added to the paint packages for a total of three colorways from which to choose. The factory enhanced comfort- and safety-related equipment this year — as well as the infotainment system — to make this newest iteration an almost all-new machine. As always, it comes down to the details as much as the broad strokes, so let’s dive right in and see what else Polaris has going on over there.

Continue reading for my review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse.

  • 2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    111 cubic inches
  • Price:
    25999
  • Price:

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Design

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
- image 796501
The blackout treatment gives the bike its achromatic moniker, and it's meant to make a connection to the home-job customs of yesteryear.

It’s hard to miss the change up front; the fairing takes on a shape not unlike Harley-Davidson’s Batwing fairing in that it provides plenty of hand protection, but the coverage wanes quickly as the lower lines converge on the center in order to strike a balance between protection and penetration. A cyclops headlight peers out from its recess with a scripted badge and a ventilation port just above as the only interruptions to the newly-redesigned fairing. Up top, a power-adjustable windshield can be raised up to extend the wind pocket for the rider, or lowered for more of a boulevard-bruiser kind of look and a shorter pocket that will put your head up into the slipstream where your helmet vents can breathe.

A pair of round analog gauges ride in the inner fairing, and they display speed and rpm with a pair of LED screens and handful of indicator lights to take care of the rest. Nestled in between the gauges is the real pièce de résistance of the instrumentation; the Ride Command infotainment system. A seven-inch color touchscreen display lets you pinch, drag and swipe through the music, navigation and communication menus, even with gloves on. The audio system was buffed this year, as well, with separate tweeters and cones for clearer sound plus a 100 music-pumping Watts to drive them. As much fun as it can be to subject everyone around you to your own personal taste in music, the system keeps you from being “that guy” by modulating the volume according to speed. Bluetooth connectivity integrates your helmet into the network, so you don’t even have to worry about having a clunky old wire to tether you to the bike.

The saddle picks up the downward-sloping upper line of the tank with a short rise to the pillion pad to define the pilot’s scoop and sling your butt at a low 25.6 inches off the ground. Forward footboards and pullback bars place the rider in the typical upright-windsock position that is comfortable for long periods of time, and not entirely unlike the fully dressed tourbikes. Hard bags provide enough storage for short highway trips and grocery-getting missions with a streamlined shape that is meant to accentuate the drag-tastic look Indian is going for this year.

The other major component of the CDH’s panache lies in the blackout treatment that gives the bike its achromatic moniker, and it’s meant to make a connection to the home-job customs of yesteryear. Rims, forks and pipes, even the war bonnet on the front fender rocks the dark look that blends in with the Thunder Black Smoke paint, and stands in contrast with the Bronze Smoke and the White Smoke finishes.

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Chassis

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
- image 796500
This is a ride that is quite stable in the straights, even at speed, with an eagerness in the corners that belies its visual weight.

A cast-aluminum frame provides the main structure in an effort to eliminate some weight, though honestly, it’s still quite a chunk at 827-pounds wet. The steering head angle is relatively short at 25-degrees, but the 5.9-inch trail indicates a ride that is quite stable in the straights, even at speed, with an eagerness in the corners that belies its visual weight. The front wheel looks to garner even more of that custom vibe with a large, 19-inch front hoop opposite a fat, 16-inch wheel out back, and that offset brings even more custom flavor to the mix.

The brakes reflect the weight and performance envelope with all-around, 300 mm discs and dual, four-pot calipers up front. A twin-piston caliper bites the rear, and it all comes under the watchful eye of the stock ABS feature so you can count on safely getting the max out of the system.

Non-adjustable, 46 mm forks float the front on 4.7 inches of travel, and the rear rides on a single air-shock that delivers 4.5 inches of travel and a minutely adjustable preload feature so you can dial in for changing passenger/cargo loads.

Front Suspension/Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork - Cartridge Type/4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.9 in (150 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Wheelbase: 65.7 in (1,668 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 5 in

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Drivetrain

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
- image 796498
This year the engine controls include a Ride Modes feature and Rear Cylinder Deactivation.

Even the engine embraces the dark side with glossy black valve covers, cam cover and assorted bits, but rocks polished cooling-fin edges so the mill clearly stands out amidst all that midnight. I’ve always been a fan of this plant; the faux cooling fins and parallel pushrod tubes evoke images of the old flathead/sidevalve engines, but the innards and performance are all modern.

This is one very large V-twin, folks. It runs a pair of 101 mm bores with a 113 mm stroke to give the engine a total displacement of 1,811 cc (111 cubic-inches) and a compression ratio of 9.5-to-1 that will accept mid-grade push-oline with no problem. An electronic throttle body/fuel injection manages the induction, and in a first for Indian, the engine controls include a Ride Modes feature that lets you dial in your power delivery according to taste/conditions. Additionally, the factory seeks to give urban commuters who might become stuck in stop-and-go traffic a break with its Rear Cylinder Deactivation feature that kills the rear jug when you are stopped and idling in a bid to reduce the heat that washes up from the air-cooled powerplant.

As for the power figures, well, the CDH knocks it out of the park with a claimed 119 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at a low 3,000 rpm; plenty to push it well into the “power crusier” category. A gear-type primary drive carries power to the standard wet clutch and through the six-speed transmission before heading to the rear wheel via a carbon-reinforced belt drive.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Displacement: 111 ci (1,811 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Pricing

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
- image 796499
Not one to use price as a selling point, Indian asks $26k for its all-black 2019 Chieftain Dark Horse

Not one to use price as a selling point, Indian asks $25,999 for its all-black 2019 Chieftain Dark Horse, and uses a tiered pricing schedule similar to H-D that sees the price jump up to $26,749 for the Bronze- and White-Smoke packages.

Standard Equipment: 7" Ride Command® Touchscreen Display with Navigation; Power Windshield; Highway Bars; Vinyl Gunfighter Seat; Tire Pressure Monitoring; Remote-locking Hard Saddlebags; Selectable Ride Modes; Rear Cylinder Deactivation; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; 100 Watt Audio System with AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Colors: Thunder Black Smoke, White Smoke, Bronze Smoke
Price: $25,999, Color: $26,749

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Competitors

2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
- image 795511
2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse
- image 795501
These two could be brothers-from-another-mother with abbreviated front fairings, tricked out saddlebags and copious amounts of blackout treatment.

Speaking of Harley-Davidson, I think it’s only fair to pick from its stable since it represents Indian’s oldest foe and its only real domestic competition. So, I went with the Street Glide Special for my head-to-head because of its similar layout and market appeal. Seriously, these two could be brothers-from-another-mother with abbreviated front fairings, tricked out saddlebags and copious amounts of blackout treatment.

Harley’s infotainment system also rivals Indian’s, even if the corner-to-corner measurement of the new Boom! Box GTS touchscreen is half-an-inch shorter than Indian’s Ride Command interface. One minor detail that Harley really got right was the mirrors that come tucked away in the tips of the Batwing fairing rather than having them perched on bar-mounted stems.

Both machines run with ABS, but only Indian has any sort of higher engine-control system with its Ride Mode feature. I imagine H-D will be spreading its traction control throughout the range soon enough, but for now, Indian holds a clear advantage in safety electronics. Power figures are about as similar as everything else with H-D claiming a total of 122 pound-feet of torque against 119 pounds o’ grunt from the Indian mill. Harley comes off looking a bit prouder with a $27,089 tag on its Vivid Black base model that goes as high as $29,189 for the two-tone paint schemes.

He Said

“Paint selection aside, the Chieftain Dark Horse has something to offer over its Harley counterpart with Ride Modes and updated electronics as two of the main selling points. Of course, the price difference with the CDH doesn’t hurt either, and I gotta’ say that I’m feeling the new look Indian brings to the table this year. I never was a fan of the old front fairing, to be honest.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The ’classic’ Chieftain is still available in the Chieftain Classic, but a lot of this newly redesigned Chieftain is Polaris sliding some of the popular Victory styling and features over from that defunct line. Overall, the Chieftain lines are sleeker with beveled edges, and the Dark Horse has some nice contrast features with the light paint and dark features. The seat is new and has, imo, a more comfortable shape, and while the fairing looks new from the front, a lot looks the same from the back. Not a bad thing; it just is.”

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Displacement: 111 ci (1,811 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Horsepower: N/A
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio: (1st) 9.403 : 1, (2nd) 6.411 : 1, (3rd) 4.763 : 1, (4th) 3.796 : 1, (5th) 3.243 : 1, (6th) 2.789 : 1
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork - Cartridge Type/4.7 in (120 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.9 in (150 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Wheelbase: 65.7 in (1,668 mm)
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance: 5.1 in (130 mm)
GVWR: 1,385 lb (628 kg)
Overall Height: 54.5 in (1,385 mm)
Overall Length: 98.7 in (2,506 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 25.6 in (650 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 795 lb (361 kg) / 827 lb (375 kg)
Electricals:
Gauges: Fairing-mounted instrument cluster featuring analog speedometer and tachometer with fuel gauge, range, odometer and current gear. 15 LED telltale indicators; cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, low tire pressure, battery, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MHP or km/h unit designation.
Infotainment: 7" Ride Command® touchscreen display with real-time clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; vehicle trouble code readout; Vehicle Status (tire pressure, voltage, engine hours, oil change); Vehicle Info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); Dual Trip Meters (fuel range, miles, average fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy time, average speed); Ride Data (heading, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); Bluetooth Status for phone and headset; Ride Mode Selection; Map/Navigation
Lights: LED
Details:
Standard Equipment: 7" Ride Command® Touchscreen Display with Navigation; Power Windshield; Highway Bars; Vinyl Gunfighter Seat; Tire Pressure Monitoring; Remote-locking Hard Saddlebags; Selectable Ride Modes; Rear Cylinder Deactivation; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition; 100 Watt Audio System with AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, Smartphone Compatible Input, and Weatherband
Colors: Thunder Black Smoke, White Smoke, Bronze Smoke
Price: $25,999, Color: $26,749

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special

2019 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special
- image 795510

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Glidie Special.

Indian Motorcycle Chieftain

2019 Indian Chieftain
- image 794477

See our review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain.

Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Classic

2019 Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Classic
- image 794478

See our review of the Indian Motorcycle Chieftain Classic.

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
- image 794320

Read more Indian Motorcycle news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: indianmotorcycle.com, harley-davidson.com

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