2022 Indian Chief Line First Look
You look good for 100
One hundred years ago, in 1921, Indian Motorcycle launched the Indian Chief. At the time, nobody could have imagined what a cultural – and motoring – icon that bike would turn out to be. A century on and a lot has changed since then, including the rise and fall and rise again of the Indian Motorcycle company. But today marks an important day, as Indian celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Chief with a complete revamp and three new models: the Chief, Chief Bobber, and the Super Chief.
Ola Stenegard, Director of Industrial Design for Indian says the goal for the new Chief line was to “capture a timeless look that never goes out of style and looks beautiful whether naked or fully dressed.” It’s this simplistic design element that would lay the foundation for all three motorcycles, as three themes became the driving force behind the design: Power, Minimalism, and Attitude.
To find inspiration for this three-pronged design, Indian designers looked back in history to the post-war V-twins of the day. Then, like now, a steel-tube frame laid the foundation but never sought the limelight. In keeping with the simple, timeless design, all three Chief models let the muscle of the Thunderstroke engine do the talking. The fairings keep modest proportions, the bars aren’t crazy and wild, and the blacked-out frame and exhaust force the eye to look where it matters – at the engine. Common among all the models is the 64-inch wheelbase, 26-inch seat height, 46mm fork with 5.2 inches of travel, and 28.5-degree lean angle.
Just because the Chief is inspired by the past doesn’t mean Indian is shucking the present – just the opposite. All Chiefs come standard with some modern-day amenities like keyless ignition, ride modes, cruise control(!), rear cylinder deactivation, and LED lighting. Opt for the Dark Horse or Limited models (more on those in a moment), and you get Indian’s Ride Command connectivity all through the 4-inch round display that, at first glance, looks like a traditional, old-school single-bezel gauge cluster. When in fact it’s a highly advanced interconnected TFT display.
Starting with the Chief, the idea of a modern cruiser stripped down to its basic elements really takes hold. There are no gimmicks. The Thunderstroke 111 engine with mixed black/chrome accents sits proudly in the middle. A low (26 in.) solo seat is there to greet you, the mid-mount foot controls put your feet and legs in a neutral position, and the drag bars put your hands exactly where you expect them to be.
The standard Chief is distinguished by its 19-inch cast front wheel, exposed shocks, and slim headlight bucket. Starting at $14,499, the Chief is available in Black Metallic, Ruby Smoke, and White Smoke.
As the name implies, the Chief Bobber gets its Bobber look thanks to mini-ape hanger bars that raise your hands and arms up a little bit, but aren’t crazy offensive. Paired with the bars are forward foot controls, putting the rider in a slightly more upright riding position. The Bobber also gets 16-inch wire wheels and covers for the fork and shock. The Thunderstroke 111 engine sits in the middle once again. Starting at $15,999, the Chief Bobber comes in Black Metallic and Ruby Metallic.
For the more touring-oriented Chief rider comes the Super Chief. You’ll notice this one quickly because of its quick-release windscreen, black saddlebags, flatter, broader seat, and the addition of a passenger pad. You also get floorboards instead of pegs and more upswept bars. The same 16-inch wire wheels from the Bobber are back on the Super Chief, and other distinguishing features include the fork cover and chrome exhaust, unlike the black exhaust the other models use. Once again, the Super Chief is powered by the air-cooled Thunderstroke 111 engine. This one starts at $18,499 and comes in either Black Metallic or Pearl White.
Chief Dark Horse
Things start to get spicy now with the Chief Dark Horse. First, foremost, and most importantly, power for the Chief Dark Horse comes from the Powerstroke 116 (not 111) V-twin, delivering 120 lb-ft of torque. The blacked-out motif from the cast wheels, frame, engine accents, and exhaust remain. Apart from the bigger engine, the other defining feature of the Dark Horse is the 4-inch round display with Ride Command connectivity. With it you have access to turn-by-turn navigation and Bluetooth connectivity to a mobile device so you can listen to music, answer calls, and much more. The Chief Dark Horse starts at $16,999 and comes in Black Smoke, Alumina Jade Smoke, and Stealth Gray.
Chief Bobber Dark Horse
By now you’re probably noticing where this is going, right? The Bobber Dark Horse keeps all the same styling cues as the standard Dark Horse but comes packed with the bigger Thunderstroke 116 engine and 4-inch round display with Ride Command. The blacked-out theme and 16-inch wire wheels remain, but when done up in the Black Smoke, Titanium Smoke, or Sagebrush Smoke colorways, it just seems way more menacing to us. The Chief Bobber Dark Horse starts at $18,999.
Super Chief Limited
On the opposite end of the Chief spectrum is the Super Chief Limited. Ditching the blacked-out treatment, the SCL proudly wears its Thunderstroke 116 engine in full chrome, including the chrome exhaust and floorboards. Adding to the striking appearance is the metallic paint options that make the Super Chief Limited really pop in the sunlight. Those colors include Black Metallic, Blue Slate Metallic, or Maroon Metallic. Once again, there’s the round display and Ride Command, quick-release windscreen, saddlebags, and 16-inch wire wheels. The Super Chief Limited starts at $20,999.
What’s a cruiser without available accessories, right? Don’t worry, as you’d expect, the Chiefs have a ton of options, only some of which we’ll get to here. From a performance aspect, you have Stage 1 exhaust kits and high-performance air filters, as well as Stage 2 camshaft kits for both Powerstroke engines. If you really felt ambitious, there’s a big-bore kit available for the 111 engine, though something tells us if you go down this path then you probably should have bought the T-Stroke 116 engine to begin with.
If you want to add more comfort to the Chief line, you can add a windscreen in low, mid, or tall heights. Luggage racks, bags, and optional saddlebags will help you or your plus-one load up for a long trip, while sissy bars and backrests add to the comfort. Optional heated grips will keep your mitts warm and LED lights from Pathfinder will really brighten up the road ahead.
Happy Birthday, Chief
Indian is coming out swinging for the Chief’s 100th birthday by keeping things simple while honoring the original. That’s no easy thing to do from a design standpoint. Nonetheless, the new Chief family nicely fills out Indian’s product lineup to suit practically any rider looking at any end of the cruiser-riding spectrum. We can’t wait to throw a leg over the new Chiefs, and when we do, we’ll be sure to tell you exactly what they’re like to ride.
2022 Indian Chief Specifications
|Colors/MSRP||Chief/Chief Dark Horse:Black Metallic – $14,499White Smoke – $14,999Ruby Smoke – $15,799Black Smoke (Dark Horse) – $16,999Alumina Jade Smoke (Dark Horse) – $17,499Stealth Gray (Dark Horse) – $17,499|
Chief Bobber/Chief Bobber Dark Horse:Black Metallic – $15,999Ruby Metallic – $16,499Black Smoke (Dark Horse) – $18,999Titanium Smoke (Dark Horse) – $19,499Sagebrush Smoke (Dark Horse) – $19,499
Super Chief/Super Chief Limited:Black Metallic – $18,499Pearl White – $19,799Black Metallic (Dark Horse) – $20,999Maroon Metallic (Dark Horse) – $21,499Blue Slate Metallic (Dark Horse) – $21,499
|Engine Type||Thunderstroke 111 Air-Cooled V-Twin (Powerstroke 116 for Dark Horse and Limited models); 4 valves/cylinder with rear cylinder deactivation|
|Battery||12 volts / 18 amp/hour, 310 CCA with quick connect charge port|
|Bore x Stroke||3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm), Dark Horse and Limited: 4.063 in x 4.449 in (103 mm x 113 mm)|
|Displacement||111 cu in / 1811 cc (116 cu in/1890cc for Dark Horse and Limited models)|
|Compression Ratio||9.5:1 (11.0:1 for Powerstroke 116)|
|Exhaust||Dual exhaust with crossover|
|Final Drive||Belt drive, 146 tooth|
|Fuel System||Electronic fuel injection, closed loop/54 mm bore single throttle body|
|Fuel Capacity||4 gallons (15.1 liters) Not including reserve|
|Primary Drive||Gear drive wet clutch|
|Torque||108 lb-ft at 3200 rpm, claimed|
|Chassis Type||Steel tube weldment with cast aluminum rear subframe|
|Rake/Trail||29º/5.2 in (131.5 mm)|
|Front Suspension||Telescopic fork, 46 mm diameter, 5.2 in (132 mm) travel|
|Rear Suspension||Dual gas-charged shocks, 3.0 in (75 mm) travel, preload adjustable|
|Front Brake||Single 300 mm semi-floating rotor with single 4-piston caliper, ABS optional|
|Rear Brake||Single 300 mm floating rotor with single 2-piston caliper, ABS optional|
|Front Tire||Pirelli Night Dragon, 130/60B19 (130/90B16 for Bobber and Super Chief)|
|Rear Tire||Pirelli Night Dragon, 180/65B16|
|Front Wheel||Cast 19″ x 3.5″ (Wire 16″ x 3″ for Bobber and Super Chief)|
|Rear Wheel||Cast 16″ x 5.0″ (Wire 16″ x 5″ for Bobber and Super Chief)|
|Wet Weight (claimed)||Chief/Chief Dark Horse: 670 lbs|
Chief Bobber/Chief Bobber Dark Horse: 694 lbs
Super Chief/Super Chief Limited: 739 lbs
|Ground Clearance||4.9 in (125 mm)|
|GVWR||1,160 lbs (526 kg)|
|Length||90.0 in (2286 mm)|
|Seat Height||26.5 in (672 mm)|
|Wheelbase||64.0 in (1626 mm)|
More by Troy Siahaan