It’s just been a few years that iconic American bike maker Indian entered India, but if you look at the portfolio of bikes they have in the market, it seems they’ve been here much longer. The range starts with mid-sixed bikes like the Scout and Scout sixty and proceeds to cruisers like Chief range. Taking the cruiser to a higher level are baggers where the latest addition is the Chieftain Dark Horse. The bike was introduced globally just last year and has made its way to India pretty soon. Essentially the Chieftain Dark Horse is a mix of the Chieftain and the Chief Dark Horse and if you’ve seen or ridden either of these two bikes you’ll know what we mean. In simple terms a bagger is a bike meant for touring with extensive luggage space. It may not necessarily be a cruiser but for a very long time cruisers have been the preferred choice of riders who love to do long distance touring.
Now the first thing that attracts you towards the Chieftain Dark Horse is its humongous dimensions. Sample this; the bike is 2571 mm long, 1000 mm wide and has a wheelbase of 1668 mm. Naturally it is almost difficult to find a set of two wheels that has a better road presence than this one. The big fairing on the front is a looker and has instrument cluster mounted inside it. There’s a windshield housed in the fairing that can be adjusted for height at a press of a button. The seats are big and come with backrests and then of course there are 2 hard saddle bags that can take luggage upto 25 kgs. They can be unlocked at a press of a button on the remote key which is pretty neat. The start stop button is conveniently mounted atop the fuel tank which itself has two openings for filling fuel. In all, the bike can take almost 21 liters of fuel so that means less frequent stops at the fuel pump. And then of course the Thunder black smoke colour theme gives the bike a lot of uniqueness.
The feature list on this one is long and if you do not know that we’re talking about a bike you may very well think it is a car. The instrument cluster gives you a lot of information like dual tripmeters with distance and time, instantaneous and average fuel economy; fuel range; real-time clock; ambient air temperature; gear position display; front and rear tire pressure; engine hours of operation; engine oil life percentage; average speed; battery voltage. In addition there are 15 LED telltale indicators which inform you about activation of features like cruise control, ABS, low tire pressure, low fuel, security system, low engine oil pressure and MPH or km/h unit designation. The bike has 100 watt speakers mounted inside the fairing so you can enjoy music on the go. You can play radio, connect your phone through Bluetooth or insert a USB stick!! Featured accessories on the bike include a mid rise handlebar, a premium concert saddle bag audio kit and a blacked out premium performance version.
It’s a tried and tested engine on the Chieftain Dark Horse, one that we’ve seen on other bikes from the brand as well. These big engines are known to give amazing low end torque and that is a boon in both city and highway conditions. Before you know you’re in the top gear and you can stay there on speeds as low as 65 kmph. And any possible quick overtake is just one downshift away. That is because the peak torque kicks in as low as 1000 rpm and then a pulling a weight of 400 kgs isn’t a problem at all. You also expect smooth engines on cruisers and the 1811 cc v-twin engine is exactly that. 73 bhp of power might not really mean that the bike is high on power but it is the massive torque of 138 Nm that does all the magic. And you can also improve your power off the line, with Stage 2 Performance Cams which promise 13% more power and 7% more torque.
Ride & Handling
Just like the Dark Horse and the Chieftain this one also handles the bad roads pretty well. Most of the broken patches and bumps you encounter are taken care of pretty well. The air-adjustable single rear shock does its duty with a lot of efficiency and of course the cushy seats do the rest to provide the most contented of ride experiences. In heavy city traffic yes there is there is a problem is changing lanes or more so in taking a u-turn but even then you don’t really feel the weight. But what will bring a big smile on your face is the long open highway or a long, sweeping corner. The bagger has a ground clearance of 142 mm so you don’t have to worry about the odd obstacle on the road. ABS and twin discs on the front ensure a safe ride as well.
The Chieftain Dark Horse costs over Rs. 32 lakh, which makes it beyond the reach of most buyers even in the premium segment. But having said that, it is very hard to find a cruiser that gives so much exclusivity. Be it design, features or color theme this bike is as unique as it gets even within the range of a niche brand like Indian.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars