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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse

Channeling the spirit of the post-war motorcycle scene

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Indian subjects its new Chief platform to the homegrown-custom treatment to turn out the new Chief Bobber Dark Horse. Liberal blackout treatment adds another spice to the already custom-flavored Bobber as it seeks to connect to the homejob bikes of old. In spite of its attempt to channel the antique, the factory packs in lots of the modern with its Thunder Stroke 116 engine and under-the-hood electronic wizardry that promise to help you keep the thing dirty-side down.

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Design

  • LED lighting with DRL
  • Abundant blackout treatment
  • Color TFT display
  • Classic post-war styling
2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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Step back to take it all in and you'll find the post-war motorcycle scene looking back at you.

Like the rest of the new Chief lineup, the Bobber Dark Horse is built to channel the spirit of the post-war motorcycle scene, but it takes that look in a decidedly homegrown direction with its heavily chopped-down fenders, fat blackout laced wheels, and mini-ape handlebar. Take a step back for a better look and you’ll find the Forties looking back at you in the fat front end complete with beercan fork skirts that make it look fatter yet.

Let your eyes play down the fall in the backbone to where it meets the rear shocks that also rock beercan covers, much like the earliest coil-over shock units, but that’s not the end of it. While the bike has a proper yoke-style swingarm, the angle of the rear shocks leaves the BDH with a look that suggests the old rigid rear ends without going whole-hog like Triumph with its own Bobber from the Bonneville lineup or Harley-Davidson’s Softail. Sure, it’s a cheap visual trick, but I love it all the same.

In keeping with its old-school chops, the CBDH runs with a round cyclops headlight housing ahead of a single round instrument housing, but that doesn’t tell the whole tale. LED projectors modernize the headlight along with stock DRL emitters for 24-hour visibility. Instrumentation is bundled behind a color TFT touchscreen display with Indian’s Ride Command infotainment system.

High-rise hand positions join with forward controls and a 26-inch high solo saddle to put the rider in a comfortable windsock position under way with plenty of leverage at stops, even for short riders. LED lighting continues into the rear end, and in one final custom effort, the tagholder is offset low to the left side, showbike style, so as not to clutter up that chopped rear sheet metal.

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Chassis

  • Model-family-specific tubular-steel frame
  • Stability and tracking at speed
  • Wire wheels and Pirelli Night Dragon tires
  • All-around ABS
2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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Tubular-steel members make up the model family-specific frame that sets the stage for the Chief Bobber Dark Horse with geometry and an open steering head that gives the impression that the frame could have been raked and stretched just a skosh for yet another connection to old-school custom culture. The 29-degree angle of rake reinforces this illusion and couples with 5.2 inches of trail over a 64-inch wheelbase to give this machine stability and tracking in a crosswind.

A set of 46 mm rwu forks float the front end on fixed values with 5.2 inches of travel, while out back, dual covered shocks support the rear end and dampen the swingarm motion with 3 inches of travel and adjustable preload as the only adjustment to be had. Wire wheels round out the rolling chassis, all in blackout paint of course, and they come lined with Pirelli Night Dragon hoops in a 130/90 ahead of a 180/65, both in a 16-inch diameter for a nice fat contact patch front and rear.

At 694 pounds wet, this is a lot of bike to keep under control, so it’s a bit surprising, disappointing even, that it rolls with a single front brake. To be fair, the 300 mm discs front and rear are close to the biggest available, and the four-bore front caliper handles the hard work up front with all-around ABS protection as part of the stock equipment package, but I can’t help but feel that dual binders would have been a better way to go. \`Front Suspension/ Travel:| 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 5.2 in (132 mm)|

Rear Suspension/ Travel: Dual Shocks w/adjustable preload/ 3.0 in (75 mm)
Rake/Trail: 29° / 5.2 in (131.5 mm)
Lean Angle: 28.5°
Front Brake: Single / 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brake: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Wire Spoke 16 in x 3 in
Rear Wheel: Wire Spoke 16 in x 5 in

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Drivetrain

  • 1,890 cc Thunder Stroke 116 engine
  • 120 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm
  • Three ride modes: Tour, Standard, and Sport
  • Rear Cylinder Deactivation
2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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The Thunder Stroke 116 produces a whopping 120 pounds o' grunt at a low 2,900 rpm to give it one of the deepest torque wells available from a production engine.

The real star of the show is absolutely found in the engine area, the Thunder Stroke 116 powerplant. First, let’s look at the visuals. Like its forebear, the TS 116 runs in a classic V-twin arrangement and channels the look of the old flatties with parallel pushrod tube pairs and faux cooling fins molded into the rocker box covers. It’s impossible to overstate just how much this arrangement adds to the overall panache, and credit where it’s due, the factory undoubtedly spent lots of time and resources to achieve this effect.

A long-stroke layout sees a 103.2 mm bore with a 113 mm stroke to give it a displacement of 116 cubic-inches (1,890 cc) with an 11-to-1 compression ratio that will demand a steady diet of no less than high-octane road champagne to prevent knock/ping/run-on. Dual exhaust pipes are connected by a crossover tube for the pulse-sharing action that helps lower restriction in the exhaust while still preventing exhaust-gas reversion, so you can count on smooth and efficient operation.

A single 54 mm throttle body manages the induction for both jugs, but the final power delivery is modified by the Ride Modes feature that lets you dial in the power to suit the prevailing conditions. As one final comfort feature, the factory chucks on its Rear Cylinder Deactivation system that kills the rear jug when idling at a stop to reduce the heat wash felt by the pilot.

A gear-type primary drive sends power to the six-speed transmission through a standard wet clutch pack with a whopping 120 pounds o’ grunt on tap at a low 2,900 rpm to give it one of the deepest torque wells available from a production engine. Top speed is in the neighborhood of 115 mph; plenty fast for public travel.

Engine: Thunderstroke 116
Displacement: 116 cu in (1,890 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Dual Exhaust w/ Crossover
Gear Ratio: 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Peak Torque: 120 lb-ft (162 Nm) @ 2,900 rpm
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Price

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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MSRP is $19k for the base Black Smoke colorway.

Price and color are inextricably linked. If you like your bikes like I like my coffee – black and strong – the base model Black Smoke may be for you with its $18,999 starting price. If you prefer your sheet metal in the gray Titanium Smoke or green Sagebrush Smoke, you can expect to cough up another five Benjamins.

Gauges: Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer, fuel gauge, compass, ambient temperature, Gear indicator
Infotainment: 4" Round Ride Command® Display with connected services such as real time traffic weather and traffic overlay included for a complementary 1-year trial for connected features from the vehicle sales date (after which, fees apply). Touchscreen display includes real-time clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; map/navigation with real-time traffic and weather; Bluetooth status for phone and headset; vehicle status (voltage, engine hours, oil change); vehicle info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); current ride data (distance, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); trip meters; ride mode selection; screen brightness; and vehicle trouble code readout.
Lights: LED Headlight, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signals
Standard Equipment: ABS, Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition, USB charge port, 12V Charge Port, Rear Cylinder Deactivation
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Black Smoke, Sagebrush Smoke, Titanium Smoke
Price: $18,999, Color: $19,499

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Competitors

2018 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
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2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse
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There’s no way around it. An American-style machine such as this demands a domestic competitor, so I went straight to the other U.S. motorcycle maker – Harley-Davidson – for its Fat Bob 114.

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114

2018 - 2021 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob
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The Fat Bob carries a post-war look that springs from its own deep historical roots with a faux hardtail rear end that delivers a modern ride.

Like the Indian mount, the Fat Bob carries a post-war look that springs from its own deep historical roots with a faux hardtail rear end that delivers a modern ride for riders of this second-generation Softail. The sheet metal is cut down to the limits of functionality, just like a bobber of old, along with fat donuts fore and aft that reinforce the look. Too bad the MoCo opted for cast wheels on a model that clearly calls for laced rims.

Milwaukee spared little from its own blackout finish to make the Fat Bob nearly as dark as its Indian counterpart, save for the exhaust that rocks bronzed-and-drilled heat shields and brushed-metal silencers. H-D powers its entry with the 118 pound-foot, 1,868 cc Milwaukee-Eight 114 that falls just a hair short of the grunt put out by the Indian. ABS is a constant across the board, but that’s the limit of the Harley’s electronic goodies to leave H-D with no answer for Indian’s Ride Command and Ride Modes feature.

If you were expecting price to be a selling point, think again. The Fat Bob 114 starts at $18,799 in Vivid Black with a $19,199 sticker on its color-option models.

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

He Said

Since power, looks, and price are more or less locked in dead heat, I reckon brand loyalty becomes the dominant force when choosing between the new CBDH and the H-D Fat Bob. That said, I gotta’ admit that Indian is really coming on strong since it was acquired by Polaris, mainly due to having access to a deep purse for R&D work. It paid off here, and I expect Indian to ramp up pressure on H-D sooner rather than later.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “I like the looks of the Chief Bobber Dark Horse, both for its Dark Horse features and for its bobber-ness. I don’t really feel like it’s a good city bike because the pull on the brake and clutch levers just wears me out, but someone with stronger (and younger) hands and forearms may disagree. Outside of city traffic, however, the Chief Bobber is a nice cruiser and Sport mode on the Thunder Stroke 116 makes for quite a thrilling ride.“

2022 Indian Chief Bobber Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunderstroke 116
Displacement: 116 cu in (1,890 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Dual Exhaust w/ Crossover
Gear Ratio: 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Peak Torque: 120 lb-ft (162 Nm) @ 2,900 rpm
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Dual Shocks w/adjustable preload/ 3.0 in (75 mm)
Rake/Trail: 29° / 5.2 in (131.5 mm)
Lean Angle: 28.5°
Front Brake: Single / 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brake: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/90B16 67H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Wire Spoke 16 in x 3 in
Rear Wheel: Wire Spoke 16 in x 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Height: 53.1 in (1,349 mm)
Overall Length: 90 in (2,286 mm)
Overall Width: 36 in (915 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (662 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal (15.1 L)
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in (125 mm)
GVWR: 1,160 lb (522 kg)
Dry Weight: 670 lbs (304 kg)
Curb Weight: 694 lbs (315 kg)
Wheelbase: 64.0 in (1,626 mm)
Details:
Gauges: Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer, fuel gauge, compass, ambient temperature, Gear indicator
Infotainment: 4" Round Ride Command® Display with connected services such as real time traffic weather and traffic overlay included for a complementary 1-year trial for connected features from the vehicle sales date (after which, fees apply). Touchscreen display includes real-time clock; ambient air temperature; heading; audio information display; map/navigation with real-time traffic and weather; Bluetooth status for phone and headset; vehicle status (voltage, engine hours, oil change); vehicle info (speed, fuel range, RPM, gear position); current ride data (distance, moving time, stop time, altitude, altitude change); trip meters; ride mode selection; screen brightness; and vehicle trouble code readout.
Lights: LED Headlight, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signals
Standard Equipment: ABS, Ride Modes, Keyless Ignition, USB charge port, 12V Charge Port, Rear Cylinder Deactivation
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Black Smoke, Sagebrush Smoke, Titanium Smoke
Price: $18,999, Color: $19,499

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
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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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