Hands up, feet forward, spineerect; these are some of the traits that define a biker riding a cruiser. It a segment of bikes that no global bike maker has been able to give a miss as long distance touring is something bikers like to do world over. When it comes to powerful setof wheels that provide plenty of low-end torque there’s nothing really beats the Indian Chief range of bikes. The iconic American bike maker has been in India for a couple of years now and recently expanded its range of cruisers by introducing the Chief dark horse to the Indian consumer. For a company that went bankrupt in the 1950s it’s been quite a journey. There may be new owners and new headquarters, but the legacy lives on.
The Dark Horse is based on the Chief Classic but there are a lot of visible differences. The bike is painted in flat black, and therefore has a unique identity when compared to the chrome laden bikes in the company’s portfolio in India. The bike is more than two and a half meters long and has a long wheelbase of 1730 mm. And astonishingly its more than 1 meter wide. Some noticeable features include a tank mounted electronic speedometer that has dual trip meters,a digital tachometer and the console givesinformation like fuel range, average fuel economy, battery voltage, gear position display,and a heated grip level. In addition to this the bike has 9 LED telltale indicators which include cruise control enabled, cruise control set, ABS, check engine, and MPH or km/h unit designation. A keyless push button start is also a novel feature and the in terms of design the fenders and the headlight cowl just stand out.
The Dark Horse is based on the Chief Classic but there are a lot of visible differences. The bike is painted in flat black, and therefore has a unique identity when compared to the chrome laden bikes in the company’s portfolio in India.
The massive 1800 cc V twin engine is of course there but the real star here is the torque. At 111 Nm it just cannot get better and when the peak torque is achieved at just about 2,500 rpm, you know you’re on the right sort of cruiser. The gearshift is smooth and effortless and there’s adequate torque available in every single gear and there’s never a lag. No matter which gear you’re riding in, the bike responds very well. Reduction of certain materials also makes it the lightest bike in the lineup. The 13 kg reduction to be precise means that this one is also the fastest amongst its cousins, and if the company is to be believed most fuel economical too. A fuel tank capacity of 20.8 litres will aid in longer non-stop rides.
Ride & Handling
Massive dimensions with a weight of over 350 Kgs can be quite a handful but once the Dark Horse is on the move it’s extremely agile and wonderfully relaxing to handle. Sure this isn’t the bike for tight corners and urban chaos but once you’re on the wide open roads, the Dark Horse just comes into its own. Adding to the joyous ride is a very comfortable and wide rider seat and even the pillion seat is good on comfort. The ride position with respect to the handlebar is just perfect and that just means the however long the ride is, as long as the road is supportive, the riders will just not get tired.The big wide footpegs are also placed just right. For a cruiser that weighs so much and goes considerably fast good brakes are really important, and in this department too the Dark Horse does not disappoint as it comes with ABS.Finally, a monoshock on the rear also helps in taking to the bad roads with considerable ease.
My long ride on the Dark Horse on the Yamuna expressway was amongst the finest I’ve had. The bikes from the Indian chief family are the near perfect cruisers that give power, muscle and comfort. The Dark Horse just gives you further exclusivity when it comes to looks and design. Being on this bike will give you an unmatched feel and experience, but one word of caution, the price is unmatched too. It may be most affordable set of wheels in the Chief family but it still will set you back by Rs. 22 lakh(ex-showroom). The bike also comes with a few customization tools like 16” Ape hanger handlebar kit, Black exhaust shields & a slip on exhaust and a thunder stroke high flow black air cleaner. So if you love black, love cruising and love being exclusive, the Dark horse is made just for you.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars.