Indian Motorcycle Unveils 2016 Chieftain Dark Horse

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Cross over to the dark side

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.

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.

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

2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse Specifications

Engine TypeAir/Oil-cooled, 49° V-Twin
Displacement111 cu. in. (1811cc)
Bore and Stroke101mm x 113mm
Compression Ratio9.5:1
Torque (Tested – Chieftain)102.8 lb-ft @ 3,100 rpm
Horsepower (Tested – Chieftain)74.5 hp @ 4,500 rpm
ClutchWet, multi-plate
Final DriveBelt
FrameCast aluminum
Front SuspensionTelescopic fork, 46mm diameter, 4.7 in. travel
Rear SuspensionSingle shock 4.5 in. travel, air adjustable
Front BrakeDual 300 mm oating rotor with 4-piston calipers, ABS
Rear BrakeSingle 300 mm oating rotor with 2-piston caliper, ABS
Front WheelCast 16.0 in. x 3.5 in.
Rear WheelCast 16.o in. x 5.0 in.
Front TireDunlop Elite 3, 130/90B16 73H
Rear TireDunlop Elite 3 180/60R16 80H
Rake/Trail25° / 5.9 in.
Wheelbase65.7 in.
Seat Height26.0
Curb Weight (Calculated)Approximately 848 lbs.
Fuel Capacity5.5 gal.
Warranty2-year, unlimited miles
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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