We felt like we were racing in a Derby, as we got our hands on ‘one of the lightest’ horses from the Indian Chief stable. So here’s how this Dark Horse won us over…
Does the picture of Antonio Banderas holding a sword, astride a horse in the poster of The Mask of Zorro ring a bell? That was exactly how I felt when I rode the Indian Chief Dark Horse for the first time.
But, to be honest, when Arup told me I’d be getting the Indian Chief Dark Horse to review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Frankly, my calves were still sore from my last experience with the India Chief – well, because the bike is heavy to manoeuvre in the city! My legs may even have been trembling while making a U-turn.
But when the Dark Horse was delivered, my jaw literally dropped! Yes, it was still as big as I had anticipated, but the matte black finish made it look as if it was made for Mr. Bruce Wayne – but only when he was disguised as the Batman. Apart from a few chrome stripes here and there, and the twin exhausts, the bike is covered in a matte black finish – including the engine, wheels, forks… um, pretty much everything. Some may say it’s lacking the bling we’ve come to expect in big cruisers – but that’s exactly the point. I, for one, was drooling over its looks.
The Indian Chief Dark Horse uses the same Thunder Stroke engine that’s found in the other motorcycles of the Indian Chief brand. The engine has a displacement of 111 cubic inches (which is 1,811cc in speak we understand in this part of the world). Indian won’t reveal the power output, but it does have a peak torque of 138.9Nm – which is delivered at just 2,600rpm. Being a v-twin, it has a hum that turns into a growl once you flex your right wrist. The long list of features includes keyless ignition, like the other Indian siblings, ABS, cruise control, and a tank-mounted speedometer displaying dual trip meters, average fuel efficiency, gear position, fuel range, an electronic fuel gauge and a low fuel indicator.
Sitting on the Dark Horse was much more comfortable than I had anticipated. Plus, moving the bike to and fro was much easier than I had anticipated. Maybe this was the effect of the weight loss that this particular Indian Chief has undergone. And although 357kgs of dry weight isn’t light by any standards, it felt much lighter on my thighs and calves than before. Ergonomically, the handlebar is perfectly suited for this machine – just within reach, and easy to turn without having to stretch.
Push the button, and the 1,811cc v-twin motor comes to life with a growl that makes heads turn. And all your worries disappear post that first corner, because you realise that this bike is insanely easy to play with. It’s in the mid-range where the Dark Horse excels – and this also means that overtaking is just a twist away, whatever gear you might be in. The tall gearing means that changing gears isn’t required much – unless you want the growl to be especially audible. The bike, despite being over 370kgs with all the fluids in it, commands you to throw it around corners and leave traffic in your wake. After spending half an hour or more with it, you’ll find it difficult to believe that the folks at Indian have managed to make it so nimble and agile. Just don’t lean too much into those bends though, because by the time you respect the laws of physics it may be too late.
The telescopic forks at the front, and the mono-shock at the rear would have been better if they were slightly firmer – but we can let this pass. The ABS works perfectly in sync with the two 300mm discs at the front and a 300mm disc at the rear. The Dunlop tyres have plenty of grip, and give you tremendous confidence through high-speed sweeping corners.
Yes, the Dark Horse is not for everyone. In fact, it’s a bit like dark chocolates – an acquired taste. For those of you tired of over-the-top bling, this bike is the perfect break from the norm.
This is the horse astride which you ride into the unknown, to explore the world at the end of the road. But to take you to that world, you’ll need to spend a little over Rs. 22 lakhs – not a bad a price to pay for something that can turn you into everything from Zorro, to a Derby racer, or a caped crusader!
- Indian Chief Dark Horse
Engine: 1,811cc / Air-Cooled / V-Twin / Thunder Stroke
Torque: 138.9Nm @ 2,600rpm
Price: Rs. 21.99 lakhs