Indian brings us a Chief Bobber in its 100-years-of-Chief celebration

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Indian Motorcycle is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its iconic Chief family line, and part of that party belongs to the new Chief Bobber that’ll bring to mind the gassers of yesteryear. Old school lines join with early performance tinkering to give the Bobber a charm all its own even while it makes connections to models from Indian’s own rich history. The Thunder Stroke engine ties it all together with its faux-flathead construction that turns in a thoroughly modern performance that will serve you well in the urban jungle of your choice.

  • 2022 Indian Chief Bobber
  • Year:
    2022
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    111 cubic inches
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    15999
  • Price:

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Design

  • Mini-ape hangers
  • Relaxed riding position
  • LED lighting
  • Classic bobber styling
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970754
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
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Back before the advent of the aftermarket proper, riders were forced to do what they could to improve performance, and frequently this involved a concerted effort to lighten the bike by removing or paring down anything that doesn’t directly contribute to speed; enter the bobber. The front fender on the Chief Bobber sets the stage with over half of its original size hitting the cutting-room floor and an asymmetrical shape that just screams “shade tree.”

A minimal nacelle closes off the tripletree from casual view behind a classic single round headlight housing that contains more modern tech with LED projectors to ensure that you can see and be seen. I could argue that the beer can fork skirts are superfluous, but the impact they have on the visual weight is necessary to capture the look of the old bikes.

Blackout treatment runs rife to become the dominant color throughout which makes a connection to the old-school custom culture to add to the Bobber’s pedigree. Mini-apes lift your hands and encourage an upright riding position while the forward footboards complete the rider’s triangle and place the rider in a comfortable windsock position.

The stock solo saddle rides at 26 inches off the deck to make it easy to deploy your Lamborfeeties with confidence, even for vertically-challenged riders, and make for easy parking lot maneuvers and the like. Beer can skirts make it onto the rear shocks for another historical throwback that tidies up the rear end by hiding the coil springs with a heavily whacked rear fender that’s chopped down to the limits of functionality. This leaves room for only a narrow LED lightbar for the taillight and displaces the tag off to the left side of the rear end, showbike style.

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Chassis

  • New Chief-exclusive frame
  • Rock-solid tracking
  • ABS option
  • Chrome-spoked wheels
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970753

The new Chief line comes built around a new frame all its own with a drop in the backbone that mimics the look of the bones of old. Even though the factory doesn’t go so far as to make a faux-rigid rear end like Harley-Davidson’s Softail for instance, the angle of the upper frame member is picked up by the rear shocks to leave the Chief Bobber with at least the suggestion of a rigid rear end to boost its classic chops further yet.

Welded steel tubing makes up the main frame with a cast-aluminum subframe to complete the bones and eliminate some weight. The well-visible steering head establishes a rake angle of 29 degrees and lends the front of the frame a bit of a chopper-esque look without any actual stretch in the downtubes. A set of 16-inch hoops round out the rolling chassis with blackout rims and hubs laced up with polished wire spokes. Up front, this factors in with the rake for a rather lengthy trail metric at 5.2-inches long to lend the Chief Bobber some rock-solid tracking in crosswinds and when negotiating the pressure waves from the surrounding traffic at interstate speeds.

The 46 mm front forks come sans adjustments to leave the variable preload in the shocks out back as the lone suspension tweak to be found on this machine. Beefy Pirelli Night Dragon rubber rounds out the rolling chassis with a 130/90 ahead of a 180/65 and are made to look fatter yet by the blackout rims that mount them.

A single front brake operates with a four-piston caliper that binds a 300 mm disc with a like-sized disc and twin-pot anchor out back. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that at 694 pounds soaking wet, this bike is really pushing that single front brake to its limits, and I’d have gone with dual brakes up front if given my ’druthers. That said, the optional ABS feature will let you safely get the most out of the brakes, so there’s that.

Frame: Steel tube weldment with cast aluminum rear sub-frame
Front Suspension/ Travel: Telescopic fork with covers, 46 mm diameter/ 5.2 in (132 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Shrouded dual gas-charged monotube shocks with adjustable preload/ 3.0 in (75mm)
Rake/Trail: 29° / 5.2 in (131.5 mm)
Lean Angle: 28.5°
Brake System: Individual front and rear control with optional ABS
Front Brakes: 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor, Single 4 piston caliper
Rear Brakes: 300 mm Floating Rotor, Single 2 piston caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Black Wire 16" x 3"
Rear Wheel: Black Wire 16" x 5"

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Drivetrain

  • Thunderstroke 111 engine
  • 108 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
  • Cruise control and Ride Modes
  • Commanding roll-on
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970760
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970751
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970762

Power comes from the proven Thunder Stroke 111 plant with a generous 108 pound-feet of torque that tops out at a low 3,200 rpm to help pull the Chief Bobber out of the hole and give it a spirited roll-on just about anywhere in the rev range. Faux cooling fins adorn the rocker box covers to give it a classic flathead look with parallel pushrod tubes to reinforce that illusion. The cooling fins on the jugs, however, are the real McCoy as the 49-degree V-twin is strictly air cooled so there’s no water- or oil-cooler to ugly up the front of the frame.

Bore and stroke mic out at 101 mm and 113 mm respectively for a 1,811 cc total displacement and 9.5-to-1 compression ratio that’s right around the break between 87 octane and 89 octane fuel requirements. Induction control falls to a 54 mm throttle body and electronic fuel-injection system, but that’s just the beginning of the engine electronics. Rear-Cylinder Deactivation kicks in when idling to reduce the heat produced by the engine at stops, and the engine sports a trio of Ride Modes that allow you to dial in the performance curve to suit your mood and/or the prevailing conditions.

A gear-type primary sends engine power to the six-speed, constant-mesh transmission through a standard wet clutch and on to the rear wheel via a tough, low-maintenance belt-and-pulley system. All told, the final drive ratio will get the thing up to right around 115 mph; plenty fast for public roads.

Engine: Thunderstroke 111, Air-Cooled 49° V-twin with Rear Cylinder Deactivation
Displacement: 111 cu in / 1,811 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5 : 1
Peak Torque: 108 lb-ft (146 Nm) @ 3,200 rpm
Lubrication System: Semi-Dry Sump
Fuel System: Closed loop/54 mm bore single throttle body
Exhaust: Dual exhaust with crossover
Primary Drive: Gear drive wet clutch
Transmission: 6-speed/constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Final Drive: Belt drive, 146 tooth

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Price

2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970766
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970749
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970759

The base-model, non-ABS Chief Bobber rolls in Black Metallic for $15,999 or Ruby Metallic, also sans ABS, for $16,499. If you prefer ABS protection, you can get the Bobber in the same colors with ABS for $16,799 or $17,299, respectively.

Standard Features: LED Headlights, LED stop/turn/taillights, Analog Speedometer featuring a
Digital Tachometer & Fuel Level, Cruise Control, 3 Selectable Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition
Colors: Black Metallic, Ruby Metallic
Price: $15,999 (ABS: $16,799), Color: $16,499 (ABS: $17,299)

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Competitors

2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
- image 765107
2022 Indian Chief Bobber
- image 970757

It’s tough to find an import that hits all the pertinent notes for this particular slice of Americana, so it was straight to Harley-Davidson and its Fat Bob 114 for this head-to-head matchup.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

2018 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
- image 970451

Harley-Davidson put together its Fat Bob 114 with an eye toward the old gasser bikes. This manifests itself in the heavily-bobbed fenders both front and rear and the drilled-out exhaust shields. There is no shortage of blackout paint on either bike, so that crucial connection is made to the old-school custom culture. H-D wasn’t quite as slavish to history. Sure, the Softail frame sets the stage with very old-school lines, but the Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin rolls without the faux-flathead details to leave it looking like what it is; a thoroughly-modern engine that has clearly evolved from the early lumps.

The 45-degree V and air cooling does much to channel those earlier engines without resorting to aesthetic manipulation. That’s not to say the Thunder Stroke is a lesser engine, it’s just one for which the factory puts old-school charm on a front burner. At 114 cubic-inches, the H-D M8 is a skosh larger, and this pays off in the power output as it cranks out 118 pounds of grunt against 108 pounds from the Indian plant, but honestly, that difference will hardly be noticeable on even the most tuned heinie-dynos.

Another modern touch is found in the inverted, race-style forks on the Fat Bob, and much to Harley’s credit, the factory opted for dual front brakes and stock ABS protection to manage the 676-pound wet weight for a clear advantage over the Chief Bobber. The King of Paint offers the Fat Bob 114 in a choice of two color packages or the Vivid Black base model, and price is linked with color as the Vivid Black rolls for $18,799 and color packages fetch $19,199. I leave it to you to decide if that double fistful of extra torque is worth the extra Benjamins for the H-D model.

Read our full review of the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114.

He Said

“At a time when H-D is shrinking its cruiser line, Indian is expanding theirs instead. This new Chief platform looks to be the Indian we have been waiting for, even if it bears little resemblance to the original Chief that was actually a frame-tank design in keeping with the standard in the years immediately following the Great War. I mean, you can only go so far when paying homage to historical bikes, particularly with model-families as old as the Chief’s.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Chief is 100 years old and this modern version of the Chioef Bobber is a nice blend of old-school looks and modern tech. It looks the part of post WWI styling and marries that with tech like cruise control, keyless ignition, ride modes, and of course Indian bestowed it with Rear Cylinder Deactivation that reduces the heat washing up over you at a stop light.”

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunderstroke 111, Air-Cooled 49° V-twin with Rear Cylinder Deactivation
Displacement: 111 cu in / 1,811 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5 : 1
Peak Torque: 108 lb-ft (146 Nm) @ 3,200 rpm
Lubrication System: Semi-Dry Sump
Fuel System: Closed loop/54 mm bore single throttle body
Exhaust: Dual exhaust with crossover
Primary Drive: Gear drive wet clutch
Transmission: 6-speed/constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Final Drive: Belt drive, 146 tooth
Chassis:
Frame: Steel tube weldment with cast aluminum rear sub-frame
Front Suspension/ Travel: Telescopic fork with covers, 46 mm diameter/ 5.2 in (132 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Shrouded dual gas-charged monotube shocks with adjustable preload/ 3.0 in (75mm)
Rake/Trail: 29° / 5.2 in (131.5 mm)
Lean Angle: 28.5°
Brake System: Individual front and rear control with optional ABS
Front Brakes: 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor, Single 4 piston caliper
Rear Brakes: 300 mm Floating Rotor, Single 2 piston caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Black Wire 16" x 3"
Rear Wheel: Black Wire 16" x 5"
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 90 in (2286 mm)
Wheelbase: 64 in (1626 mm)
Seat Height: 26 in (662 mm)
Dry Weight: 670 lbs (304 kg)
Wet Weight: 694 lbs (315 kg)
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in (125 mm)
GVWR: 1,160 lbs (526 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 4 gal (15.1 ltr) not including reserve
Details:
Battery: 12 volts / 18 amp/hour, 310 CCA with quick connect charge port
Standard Features: LED Headlights, LED stop/turn/taillights, Analog Speedometer featuring a
Digital Tachometer & Fuel Level, Cruise Control, 3 Selectable Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition
Colors: Black Metallic, Ruby Metallic
Price: $15,999, Color: $16,499

Further Reading

Indian Motorcycle

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TJ Hinton
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 full bio
About the author

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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