In 2014 Indian released the Chieftain, and at that stage of Polaris’ reclaiming of the Indian brand, the focus was still very much on the heritage of the name. The styling was clearly inspired by Indians of the past, but great pains were taken to make the Chieftain a modern motorcycle through the inclusion of modern technology. However, the Indian brand has grown to include more modern motorcycles, like the Scout and the Scout Sixty, preparing the public for Indian to be a manufacturer with a clear vision of its past while still looking towards the future.

2014 Indian Chieftain Review

The 2016 Chieftain Dark Horse merges the past and the present by wrapping the classic lines of the Chieftain in a thoroughly modern blacked-out style. The Dark Horse doesn’t come with just any old black paint. The flat black allows light to wrap around the bike’s curves, showing off its sultry lines. Of course, the counterpoint to all that darkness is a smattering of chrome. The exhaust system proudly wears chrome – though a black version is available in the accessory catalog. The engine’s cooling fins are polished, and the pushrod tunnels are chromed. Chrome trim graces the deeply skirted fenders and the saddlebags. However, some items that were chrome on the standard Chieftain now wear black, most notably the trim around the headlight and the engine cases.

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

Black is beautiful.

The Dark Horse rider will benefit from the same premium features available to the Chieftain owner, such as keyless ignition. Touring features like cruise control and a 100W stereo combine with the lockable, keyless, waterproof bags to make for a formidable long-distance mount.

In our close perusal of the press photos, the only functional differences we can find between the Chieftain and the Chieftain Dark Horse are a shorter windscreen (though it is electrically adjustable and could just be in the lower position for the photos) and the absence of crash bars on the Dark Horse. Otherwise, the blacked-out riding experience should be exactly the same as on the Chieftain. The Thunder Stroke 111 49-degree V-Twin should pump out the same 102.8 lb-ft at 3100 rpm with about 75% available at 1000 rpm that we measured on the last time we strapped on on the dyno. The ride-by-wire throttle stokes the engine to a peak of 74.5 hp, a number lower than one might expect, but it has never felt underpowered in our testing.

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

Note how the trim around the headlight is matte black and not chrome as on the original Chieftain.

Since we will be riding the Chieftain Dark Horse tomorrow, we will be able to deliver a first ride report on Friday. Until then, take a gander at the photos that Indian has provided us with for the time being

2016 Indian Scout Sixty First Ride Review

2015 Indian Scout First Ride Review

Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse Specifications
MSRP $21,999
Engine Type Air/Oil-cooled, 49° V-Twin
Displacement 111 cu. in. (1811cc)
Bore and Stroke 101mm x 113mm
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Torque (Tested – Chieftain) 102.8 lb-ft @ 3,100 rpm
Horsepower (Tested – Chieftain) 74.5 hp @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Final Drive Belt
Frame Cast aluminum
Front Suspension Telescopic fork, 46mm diameter, 4.7 in. travel
Rear Suspension Single shock 4.5 in. travel, air adjustable
Front Brake Dual 300 mm oating rotor with 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear Brake Single 300 mm oating rotor with 2-piston caliper, ABS
Front Wheel Cast 16.0 in. x 3.5 in.
Rear Wheel Cast 16.o in. x 5.0 in.
Front Tire Dunlop Elite 3, 130/90B16 73H
Rear Tire Dunlop Elite 3 180/60R16 80H
Rake/Trail 25° / 5.9 in.
Wheelbase 65.7 in.
Seat Height 26.0
Curb Weight (Calculated) Approximately 848 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 5.5 gal.
Warranty 2-year, unlimited miles

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  • TheMarvelous1310

    I don’t know about you, but I’m holding out for the Springfield Dark Horse. Not that this one isn’t awesome, I’m just not interested in the fairing.

    Also, FIRST!

  • Old MOron

    So cruisers have BNG, too? Black New Graphics?

    • Evans Brasfield

      In the case of the Dark Horse, it could be Bold Non-Graphics. Still, I’m looking forward to riding it tomorrow.

  • Douglas

    Accident investigators will tell you that the easiest vehicles (cages or bikes) to see are white, yellow, dayglo, etc, and darker colors, i.e., black, dk reds, greens, blues, browns etc. not so much. I have a black Vulcan Nomad, a dk red ElectraGlide and a metalflake fire engine red SuperGlide. The 3 parked together in a parking lot is telling…..the SGlide, tho’ it has a lot less bodywork, stands out much more. All 3 have gobs of chrome, so that helps, and after sundown, the lighting is the thing. I know black is hip/cool/badass (unfortunately that seems to go for riding gear/helmets, too), but being easily seen seems to trump that, n’cest-pas?

    • Bmwclay

      I am waiting for the ‘Hi -Viz -Lime’ Chieftain to come out. That’ll be cool. And much safer.

      • Douglas

        Well, if such a model does appear, we’ll expect you to snap one up macht schnell and after a couple months of motoring around, issue a report on public reactions (to include how many “waves” you get) and how much room you’re given by the “inch-into-your-lane” crowd…..

    • Dark bikes are bad news at night. My first bike was a black KZ1000 and one night some guy came out of a parking lot and almost t-boned me. Between the black bike, jacket and helmet, he didn’t see me. I cut to the right and he just nipped my left foot. No real damage done, but the lesson remained. I never owned a black bike again.

  • Starmag

    To each their own and all, but I don’t get the full on flat black thing at all. It makes an otherwise beautifully styled cruiser bland, not “bad ass”. But hey, I don’t get do-rags either.

  • Auphliam

    Chieftain is a great bike…painting one flat black hardly warrants it’s own press release though

    • Evans Brasfield

      Then you’ll really be perplexed when I publish my First Ride Review of it tomorrow.

      • Someone has to do it.

      • Auphliam

        That’s okay, as I get older I find myself perplexed more often than not

  • I just don’t understand the matte paint craze.

  • 12er

    That fairing screams R1200CL to me. Just needs another headlight…