The Chief Dark Horsre Now Shares The Chassis With Springfield And Springfield Dark Horse

Indian Motorcycle spruced up its Chief Dark Horse ahead of MY2020 with an agile frame that delivers lighter handling than before to give this boulevard bruiser a sporty new element. Historical references abound throughout the design, as do old-school custom touches, but power comes from a modern V-twin to the tune of over 100 pound-feet of torque for upscale performance.

  • 2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
  • Year:
    2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Thunder Stroke 111
  • Displacement:
    111 cubic inches
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • Price:
    18499
  • Price:

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Design

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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Indian shows off both its own deep historical roots and its contribution to the American custom bike scene through this new Chief Dark Horse.

Indian shows off both its own deep historical roots and its contribution to the American custom bike scene through this new Chief Dark Horse. The monochromatic treatment dominates right from the get-go with blackout rims, forks, and old-school headlight nacelle, and like the originals, the beer-can style upper fork skirts protect the inner fork tubes from grit and debris.

A cyclops halogen headlight handles all the forward white light, and as for the front blinkers, a couple of LED lights ride in blackened, bullet-style housings to take care of business. Behind the headlight on the tank console, a single round gauge delivers electronic speed and tach info with an LCD screen and nine LED idiot lights to complete the instrumentation.

The 5.5-gallon, teardrop-style fuel tank follows the drop of the frame to the rear to compliment the frame geometry and give it the suggestion of the 1940s when you could find rigid rear ends with “juice” (hydraulic) front forks. The stock Chief Dark Horse rolls with a solo saddle, but if you’re into sharing the fun with a friend, the fender comes with the extra threaded insert you’ll need to mount a p-pad.

Like the fully-skirted front fender and its iconic war bonnet adornment, the rear end panels hail from yesteryear in the skirted rear fender and under-seat enclosure that hides most of the rear wheel and all of the rear suspension from sight. I’m a tad disappointed that Indian didn’t finish off with a cool tombstone taillight or some other classic custom bit, but oh well, aftermarket-parts-makers’ kids need to eat, too.

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Chassis

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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The biggest upgrade on the Chief Dark Horse is the frame straight off the Springfield for impressive lean for a non-sportbike and steering geometry that gives it the agility to take full advantage.

The biggest upgrade on the Chief Dark Horse is mostly hidden in plain view. It’s the frame. Cast-aluminum is the material of choice for the main structure, and it comes in a traditional double-downtube/double-cradle arrangement that fully supports the engine and protects the bottom of the case. The steering head sets a rake angle of 25 degrees with 5.2 inches of trail that lets the Chief Dark Horse lean up to 31-degrees to a side. That is a pretty impressive lean for a non-sportbike and steering geometry gives it the agility to take full advantage.

In spite of all the aluminum components, the Chief Dark Horse is still fairly heavy at 768 pounds wet. With that in mind, the factory threw on all-around 300 mm discs with dual four-pot calipers to slow the front wheel and a twin-piston anchor to bite the back, and to keep you from overdoing it at either brake lever, ABS protection comes with the stock equipment package.

A set of 46 mm forks float the front end on fixed damping values while the rear shock is of the air-adjustable variety, and travel is generous at 4.7-inches and 4.5-inches on the front and rear, respectively. That’ll give a plush ride without every bump felt in the seat.

Blackout cast-aluminum rims mount Dunlop Elite hoops in a 130/80-17 up front opposite a 180/60-16, and as for stops and dead-slow maneuvering, the 26-inch seat height puts your butt close to the ground for plenty of stability when you deploy your training wheels.

Front Suspension/Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm, Floating Rotor, 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 300 mm, Floating Rotor, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 130/80B17 65H
Rear Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 17 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 5 in

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Drivetrain

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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The Thunder Stroke 111 has 119 pound-feet of torque on tap at three grand to give you thrilling hole-shots and decisive roll-on.

Indian powers the Chief Dark Horse with its proven Thunder Stroke 111 engine. The engineers went to great lengths to make this engine look like something from the history books between the sidevalve-looking heads that come complete with faux cooling fins on the rocker-box covers and parallel pushrod tubes that hail back to the first third of the last century.

Twin 101 mm cylinders and a 113 mm stroke give the mill its 1,819 cc displacement and 9.5-to-1 compression ratio. This is an essential kind of ride with little in the way of bells and whistles, so the engine comes sans any kind of ride-quality controls. Power flows through a gear-type primary and wet clutch ahead of the six-speed transmission that’ll top out at 115 mph when it bumps up against the rev limiter.

As always, the Thunder Stroke 111 has 119 pound-feet of torque on tap at three grand for some stump-pulling torque to give you thrilling hole shots and decisive roll-on. The final drive is of the carbon-reinforced belt variety that is both quiet and easy to maintain.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
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, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Pricing

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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MSRP for 2020 comes in at $18.5k in Thunder Black Smoke paint.

The 2020 Chief Dark Horse comes only in the Thunder Black Smoke sheet metal over blackout, and it rolls for a starting MSRP of $18,499. Indian has you covered with a two-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

Standard Equipment: ABS, Cruise Control, Keyless Ignition
Warranty: 2-Year Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black Smoke
Price: $18,499

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Competitors

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Bob
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2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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Both bikes hit the nostalgic high points but Harley wins at the checkout counter even when you add the optional ABS.

Harley-Davidson was my go-to builder to find a competitor for the Chief Dark Horse, and I think the Street Bob may fit the bill nicely. Yeah, I know the Chief looks more like a Road King, but since the Road King comes with stock bags, I decided to back up to the slick-sided Softail.

The MoCo tries to induce some of the same nostalgia with cut-down fenders and liberal blackout treatment along with mini-apehangers and fork bellows that take us right back to an earlier time. Wire wheels reinforce the dated look, and of course, since it’s a Softail, the rear end mimics the look of the old rigid frames to deepen the old-school panache. Harley’s suspension in vanilla all around, so neither bike gains an edge here, but on the Street Bob, ABS is a $795 option, so don’t forget to add that onto the tally.

Power comes from a Milwaukee-Eight 107 that churns out 110 pound-feet of torque to fall just a hair shy of the Thunder Stroke’s stump-pulling grunt. Ever the King of Paint, Harley offers the Street Bob in five different color packages with tiered pricing that runs from $14,599 through $15,349, so H-D hits the checkout with a solid lead in the price department.

He Said

“Indian pays attention to its own history, and it really shows on bikes like the Chief Dark Horse. The entire front end looks like it could have rolled about the same time we were finishing up in Europe, and the rest of the machine displays the genetic markers of years past. As always, the Thunder Stroke is a particular delight for its flathead looks and torquey performance.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Chief Dark Horse is so very comfortable, delivers a smooth ride, sounds good, looks good...what else could you want in a cruiser, other than some color options. Bringing the Springfield frame over to the Chief gives it a sportiness that adds a thrill to what was just a cruiser.”

2020 Indian Chief Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
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, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lb (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual 300 mm, Floating Rotor, 4-Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 300 mm, Floating Rotor, 2-Piston Caliper
Front Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 130/80B17 65H
Rear Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 17 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: 5.6 in (142 mm)
Overall Height: 46.3 in (1,176 mm)
Overall Length: 101.7 in (2,583 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (660 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 736 lbs / 768 lbs (334 kg / 348 kg)
Wheelbase: 67.0 in (1,701 mm)
Electric:
Gauges: Tank-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer; dual tripmeters; digital tachometer; ambient air temperature; fuel range; average fuel economy; battery voltage; gear position display; real-time clock; vehicle trouble code readout; heated grip level (if heated grips installed); low engine oil pressure; and 9 LED telltale indicators: cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, and mph or km/h unit designation
Infotainment: N/A
Lights: Halogen Headlamp, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signal
Details:
Standard Equipment: ABS, Cruise Control, Keyless Ignition
Warranty: 2-Year Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black Smoke
Price: $18,499

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Street Bob

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Street Bob
- image 834133

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Street Bob.

Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
- image 831979

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special.

Indian Springfield

2019 Indian Springfield
- image 838732

See our review of the Indian Springfield.

Indian Motorcycle

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-davidsom.com

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