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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse

All new from the ground up, but with the classic styling we expect

Indian completely reworked its Chief Dark Horse ahead of MY2022 with a ground-up build that actually has little in common with its predecessor. A new frame carries a larger engine and comes clad with minimal bodywork in contrast to the outgoing model. Custom fenders and blackout paint makes the connection to the U.S. custom culture with ride-safety electronics under the hood to finish off the package.

  • 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
  • Year:
    2022
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    1890 cc
  • Price:
    16999
  • Price:

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Design

  • Abundant blackout treatment
  • Color TFT display
  • LED lighting
  • Ride Command infotainment
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
- image 994650
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
- image 994651
The new Chief comes built on an all-new frame that channels the geometry of the old post-war machines.

The outgoing Chief Dark Horse was named as such in 2020, but was rebranded as the Vintage Dark Horse ahead of this major shakeup in the Chief category. Unlike that previous model, the new Chief comes built on an all-new frame that is meant to set the stage while channeling the geometry of the old post-war machines. An open-air steering head imparts a bit of a chopper look as it kinda’ mimics the look of a stretched custom frame, and the sheet metal is pared down to the Nth degree with minimal fenders, front and rear.

The custom chops continue into the paint with liberal blackout treatment that covers just about everything but the fenders, tank, and polished cooling-fin edges on the jugs. Cast wheels break the immersion just a skosh though. I can’t help but wonder if laced wheels wouldn’t have been a better choice, but the factory didn’t call to ask my opinion on the subject, so here we are.

The four-gallon fuel tank sports a classic teardrop shape in profile that gently stoops to the stock solo saddle that slings the rider’s butt at a mere 26 inches off the deck. That kind of saddle height tends to improve confidence at stops, even for riders at the shorter end of the spectrum, and should make it easy to pad around the parking lot.

In keeping with the classic look, the Chief Dark Horse comes with a cyclops headlight and single instrument housing, both round, and both stuffed with modern tech. The headlight rocks LED tech to split the night, and that single round instrument dial comes with a color TFT display. The TFT acts as the interface for the Ride Command infotainment feature that brings real-time weather and traffic info along with hands-free phone calls via Bluetooth connectivity.

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Chassis

  • Steel welded tube frame
  • Vanilla suspension
  • Compact wheel base
  • Stock-equipped ABS
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
- image 994665
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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As with the new Chief lineup, the Dark Horse is stable in a crosswind and has solid tracking at speed.

Welded steel tubing on the Chief Dark Horse makes up the main frame section in double-downtube/double-cradle arrangement that completely supports the engine rather than using the lump as part of the overall structure. The cast aluminum rear subframe section keeps the weight somewhat centralized, as it is in the wheels to limit unsprung weight at both axles.

Pirelli Night Dragon hoops make the connection to the tarmac in a 130/60-19 ahead of a fat, 180/65-16 out back. The wheels come shot in blackout paint but rock polished feet on the spokes as one of the few examples of bling to be found on this bike.

Wet weight comes in at 670 pounds, so it’s somewhat surprising to see only a single front disc brake. Sure, it comes with 300 mm discs at both ends with a four-bore caliper up front and twin-piston anchor out back, and it rocks stock ABS protection, but I think dual front brakes would not have been such a bad idea.

Rwu, 46 mm front forks ride with blackout sliders on 5.2 inches of travel, but have nothing in the way of adjustability so you get what you get and that’s it. Dual rear shocks turn in 3 inches of travel and come gas-charged as an anti-foaming measure to prevent shock fade and its associated loss of functionality. The obligatory spring-preload adjuster out back represents the only ride-quality tweak, so at least you can set up for changing passenger and cargo loads.

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 Brakes: 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: 300mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Machine Highlighted Cast Black 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Machine Highlighted Cast Black 16 in x 5 in

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Drivetrain

  • 1,890 cc Thunder Stroke 116 V-twin
  • 120 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm
  • Ride Modes
  • Cruise control
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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Aesthetics aside, the biggest improvement between the new CDH and the old version lies with the engine.

Out with the Thunder Stroke 111 and in with its 116 cubic-inch big brother for this new Chief Dark Horse. The Thunder Stroke 116 rocks the same fauxflathead look due to the cooling fins on the valve covers and parallel pushrod tubes though the latter is made rather inconspicuous by its blackout treatment that makes them disappear into the black hole under the fuel tank.

Induction control falls to the single, 54 mm throttle body. Rider demand passes through the Ride Modes feature that comes with a trio of power-delivery profiles from which to choose to allow you to dial in the powerplant’s personality on demand. What kind of power? Well, this larger “TS” mill cranks out a staggering 120 pound-feet of torque that maxes out at a remarkably low 2,900 rpm with approximately 79 ponies at the top end, but who cares about horsepower. Did I mention 120 pounds of grunt?

Bore and stroke mic out at 103.2 mm and 113 mm respectively to give the mill its 1,890 cc displacement and medium-hot 11-to-1 compression ratio. A wet clutch couples engine power to the six-speed transmission and heads to the rear wheel via a tough, low-maintenance belt-type final drive.

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
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Price

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
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Much like “the other” American motorcycle brand, price and color are inextricably linked. It starts out at $16,999 for the satin Black Smoke finish that makes the base model a truly dark machine. If you fancy the greenish Alumina Jade Smoke or Stealth Gray package, you can expect to shell out 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
Color: Black Smoke, Alumina Jade Smoke, Stealth Gray
Price: $16,999, Color: $17,499

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse Competitors

2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse
- image 994656
2017 - 2020 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
- image 774361

Post-war designs are as popular as ever, perhaps even more so as the modern manufacturers look to capitalize on the current retro fever gripping a large chunk of the buyer base. I could have gone straight to Harley-Davidson for a competitor, but that’s a little too predictable, so I went across the pond to U.K. giant Triumph Motorcycles and its retro-tastic Bonneville Bobber.

Triumph Bonneville Bobber

2017 - 2020 Triumph Bonneville Bobber
- image 774573
The Bobber's look channels old-school classic styling right down to the throttle bodies disguised to look like the old mechanical-slide carburetors.

The Bobber’s look comes straight out of the history books. Its faux-rigid rear end, old-school frame geometry, tapered teardrop fuel tank, and post-style solo seat combine in the usual sort of attempt to capture the look of yesteryear. But, credit where it’s due, Trumpet took the extra step of disguising its throttle bodies to look like the old mechanical-slide carburetors from back in the day, and you can go ahead and pencil me in as a fan. Bigly.

Even the 1,200 cc engine plays its part with a vertical-twin arrangement that emulates the engines of old, at least outwardly, but runs a 270-degree firing order to give it a lope at idle not entirely unlike a V-twin. Triumph claims 76.9 horsepower, which is close enough to the Indian, but the torque falls off significantly due to the lower displacement with only 78.2 pounds o’ grunt on tap against 79/120.

The Bonnie weighs in at 553 pounds, so the engine doesn’t have quite as much work to do, and I expect that to mitigate some of the advantage Indian seems to have on paper. That said, you’ll know you’ve got a hold of something when you grab the throttle and give it a twist.

Naturally the displacement offset leads to a price differential that has the Bonneville Bobber starting at $13,150 to leave quite a bit of cheese on the table, so it comes down to a question of how much power you want to have at your command.

Read our full review of the Triumph Bonneville Bobber.

He Said

“Gotta’ admit that I love what Indian has going on over there with its new Chief line in general. The factory truly captures that old-school custom flavor with the Dark Horse variant. I especially like the laid-over rear shocks that pick up the lines of the frame’s backbone to leave viewers with the suggestion of the old rigid frame without going as far as Harley-Davidson with its Softail rear end or the above-mentioned Bobber with its triangular swing-cage feature.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The new Chief Dark Horse is really meant to cruise. Cruise down the highway, cruise down the back lanes, just cruise wherever life takes you. Get out of the city and follow a ribbon of asphalt. The Chief Dark Horse has three ride modes, and if you want a thrill, put that Thunder Stroke 116 into Sport mode, but be ready to hang on when you do. Fit-and-finish is stellar. The new Chief Dark Horse is a well put-together bike.

2022 Indian Chief 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
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
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 Brakes: 300 mm Semi-Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: 300mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: Pirelli® Night Dragon 180/65 B16 81H
Front Wheel: Machine Highlighted Cast Black 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Machine Highlighted Cast Black 16 in x 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Height: 49.3 in (1,253 mm)
Overall Length: 90 in (2,286 mm)
Overall Width: 36.3 in (922 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (662 mm)
Dry Weight: 647 lbs (294 kg)
Curb Weight: 670 lbs (304 kg)
Wheelbase: 64.0 in (1,626 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 4.0 gal (15.1 L)
Ground Clearance: 4.9 in (125 mm)
GVWR: 1,160 lb (522 kg)
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
Color: Black Smoke, Alumina Jade Smoke, Stealth Gray
Price: $16,999, Color: $17,499

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, triumphmotorcycles.com

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