The classic good-looks in the blackout styling we love and the performance we demand

Indian Motorcycle brings its own vast experience with old-school, American-style cruisers to bear with the custom blackout 2021 Vintage Dark Horse. Set up for cruising or even some light touring, the Vintage Dark Horse comes with stock storage and a fairly robust electronic rider-aid package for the Thunder Stroke 111 engine. A wide range of options include the new ClimaCommand saddle that delivers extra comfort for riding under extreme conditions.

  • 2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1811 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    19499
  • Price:

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Design

  • Custom-bike looks
  • Premium genuine leather saddle and saddlebags
  • Classic IMC styling
  • Satin finish black-out colorway
2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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Indian’s deep roots are on full display throughout the Vintage Dark Horse design. A classic skirted front fender leads the way with the blacked-out version of the timeless war bonnet figurehead perched on top. That is just the beginning of the dark-side treatment. The blackout finish extends to nearly every surface, including the exhaust and engine cases. The only real exception to that rule are the polished cooling-fin edges that adorn the jugs and accentuate the shape of the V-Twin plant.

An old-school nacelle encloses the cyclops headlight and beercan-style fork skirts join it to hide all the usual unsightly business up front. It seems that the only chrome to survive the blackout drive is found on the leather bits. Chrome studs decorate both the saddle and soft bags, and the saddle also sports chrome conchos and buckles.

The sheet metal is shot with Thunder Black Smoke, which is best described as a satin-finish black as opposed to the somewhat-shinier blackout paint. Even the tank-mount console gets the monochromatic treatment along with the instrumentation. Seat height is well within the comfort zone for many of us at 26 inches off the deck and the saddle itself bears a very comfortable shape that cups and cradles the butt with a narrow front end that won’t bite your inner thighs like some seats have a tendency to do.

Full-length, forward-control footboards let you stretch your stems out with plenty of legroom. The handlebar has quite a bit of pullback to it and is laid down in the tiller-steer position, but if you are into apehangers, this model looks great with a little vertical rise to the uprights. Since it comes with a solo seat the rear fender is left exposed and ready for use as an auxiliary cargo platform – just add bungees – resulting in a clean look that is very low to the ground overall.

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Chassis

  • Tracking stability
  • Eager in the corners
  • ABS
  • Optional heated handgrips and ClimaCommand saddle
2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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A cast-aluminum frame serves as the main structure of the Vintage Dark Horse and contributes to the overall weight-reduction effort though this is still considered a heavy sled at 786 pounds soaking wet. The forks ride with a rake angle of 25 degrees, and the 17-inch front wheel factors in to deliver 5.2 inches of trail for a workable blend of stability and agility. In its stock setup, the Vintage Dark Horse can lean up to 31 degrees to either side before it starts to make sparks; not bad for a heavy cruiser/light tourer, and likely to be challenged only by the famously-nimble Honda Gold Wing in that regard.

As with the front, the rear wheel is cast alloy in a blacked-out finish. Metzeler Cruisetec hoops make the connection to the concrete in a 130/80-17 and 180/60-16 on the front and rear, respectively. This is a hefty bike, no doubt, but the factory gives it plenty of brakeage with dual four-pot calipers up front, a twin-piston anchor out back and 300 mm discs all the way around. Plus, ABS is part of the standard electronics suite, so you can count on safely getting the most out of the binders, even in inclement weather.

A set of 46 mm, right-way-up forks float the front end on fixed damping values and 4.7 inches of travel. Out back, a single air shock supports the rear end with 4.5 inches of travel and all the preload adjustability you’d expect. Overall, this gives the Vintage Dark Horse a fairly plush ride that is comfortable even on long runs. If winter riding is your thing, the optional heated handgrips and ClimaCommand saddle ought to be on your shopping list.

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: Metzeler Cruisetec 130/80B17 65H
Rear Tires: Metzeler Cruisetec 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: 17 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: 16 x 5.0 in

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Drivetrain

  • Thunderstroke ®111 engine
  • 119 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm
  • Three Selectable Ride Modes
  • Cruise control and keyless ignition
2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 has been around long enough to have proven itself as a successful design and reliable engine, and it brings all that to the table along with a grunty nature that churns out 119 pound-feet of torque at a low 3,000 rpm in the Vintage Dark Horse. At the top end you can expect to unleash up to 92 ponies. Power flows through a gear-type primary and wet clutch ahead of a six-speed transmission that turns in a top speed around 125 mph.

Power is good and fine, but American-style bike fans demand a good-looking engine too, and Indian delivers in spades. The engine carries rocker-box covers that sport faux cooling fins with parallel pushrod tubes below, both of which tie into the look of the old sidevalve/flathead plants. Induction is managed by a 54 mm throttle body that serves both jugs. Indian packed in some electronics as well with a trio of Selectable Ride Modes that let you dial in the bike’s personality plus cruise control and keyless ignition to round out the suite.

Engine: Thunderstroke ®111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Horsepower: 92 hp
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate, Assist
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
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Price

2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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The 2021 Vintage Dark Horse comes in any color you want, as long as you want the satin-finish Thunder Black Smoke. ABS is likewise non-negotiable and part of the standard equipment package that rolls for $19,499 MSRP.

Standard Equipment: Black Genuine Leather Seat and Leather Saddlebags with Fringe, ABS, Cruise Control, Selectable Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition, Indian® Headdress Tank Badge; Indian® Headdress Fender Ornament
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Color: Thunder Black Smoke
Price: $19,499

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Competitors

2021 Indian Vintage Dark Horse
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2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary
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It seems only fitting that I pit America’s first brand against America’s longest-running marque, and Harley-Davidson obliges with an old-school blackout custom of its own in the Fat Boy 114 Anniversary model.

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 30th Anniversary

2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary
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The design is a mixed bag by comparison. The beercan fork skirts are a constant across the board, as is the headlight nacelle even though the Harley version is somewhat slimmed down and modernized. Blackout is the order of the day as both of these bikes roll with a dearth of bling, at least bling of the chrome sort anyway.

The Fat Boy carries a hardtail-like frame that lends it an old-school air, though the Milwaukee-Eight engine itself makes no effort to cultivate any sort of antique look. That said, the jug arrangement and all-in-one, single-cam valvetrain are certainly in keeping with factory standard for Big Twin plants throughout the decades. Harley-Davidson’s Mil-8 114 matches the Indian’s mill with 119 pound-feet of torque on tap at three grand across the board, but unfortunately for the MoCo, the electronic rider aids are limited to a lone ABS feature so Indian definitely gains an edge in the gizmo department.

Color selection is a strong point in Harley’s favor as the King-of-Paint offers no less than 9 color packages. I will leave it to you to decide if color selection is enough to offset the lack of stock storage, though I’d offer that the Harley does come set up so you can share the fun with a friend. If you want color, though, you aren’t buying a Dark Horse, so take that with a grain of salt.

As for pricing, the Fat Boy 114 Anniversary rolls for $20,599 to leave Indian with a slim advantage at the checkout.

Read our full review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 30th Anniversary.

He Said

“Yeah, I’m digging it. The Polaris umbrella has been good for Indian, and it’s good to see the marque stay somewhat true to its roots. Like it or not, the features of the Vintage Dark Horse do hit some important high points such as the valenced front fender, headlight nacelle, and concho bags. I expect this model to ramp up the pressure on Harley to progress its engine electronics at the very least.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Chief Vintage was dropped from the lineup and now enter the Vintage for 2021. Okay, so what’s in a name? Dropping an old identifier that maybe doesn’t carry the same cultural benignity nowadays as it once did isn’t a bad thing. The Vintage Dark Horse has that classic good-looks in the blackout styling we love and the performance we demand. It’s just a really nice bike all around.”

Indian Vintage Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain
Engine: Thunderstroke ®111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Horsepower: 92 HP
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate, Assist
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
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: Metzeler Cruisetec 130/80B17 65H
Rear Tires: Metzeler Cruisetec 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: 17 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: 16 x 5.0 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in (142 mm)
GVWR: 1,385 lb (628 kg)
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): 754 lbs / 786 lbs (342 kg / 357 kg)
Wheelbase: 67.0 in (1,701 mm)
Electrics:
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; tank-mounted electronic fuel gauge with low fuel LED indicator
Infotainment: N/A
Lights: Halogen Headlamp/Driving, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signal
Standard Equipment: Black Genuine Leather Seat and Leather Saddlebags with Fringe, ABS, Cruise Control, Selectable Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition, Indian® Headdress Tank Badge; Indian® Headdress Fender Ornament
Details:
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Color: Thunder Black Smoke
Price: $19,499

Further Reading

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TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
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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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