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Throttle Jockey: Indian’s blacked-out Dark Horse cruiser is a bargain

Late last year, I rode the new Indian Chief Vintage from Los Angeles to the Bay Area and found the big bike to be polished, powerful and a joy to ride. Not so joyful: a price tag a ducat short of $21,000. Still, for what you get, that’s actually a fairly reasonable number, but still a big chunk of change.

Now, Indian has introduced the Chief Dark Horse, a stripped-down, murdered-out version of their basic bike, the Indian Chief Classic. But if you think this $16,999 “budget bike” is going to leave you wanting, think again.

Basically a blank black canvas upon which you can draw your own version of the perfect cruiser (or tourer), the Dark Horse comes in any color you like as long as you like matte black, or Thunder Black Smoke as they call it – which is actually a fairly accurate description of the finish, truth be told.

While all the other Indian models fairly swim in chrome and polish, the Dark Horse blacks out the engine, bars and other bits for a too-cool-for-school back-street custom look. A shiny dual-exit exhaust system is about the only reflective element on the machine.

From there, Indian kept it pretty basic: no driving lights, cast instead of spoke wheels, single seat, a tiny smattering of brightwork bits and that’s about it. But keep in mind, it still comes with a very long list of features and if you want to kit it out, Indian offers a long list of options from heated grips to fishtails to numerous trim bits and seat options.

So what does the Dark Horse include? First of all, the motive power comes from their excellent fuel-injected 111-cubic inch Thunder Stroke V-twin, the same lump that powers all their big bikes, and I do mean powers. This is an engine that makes power and torque everywhere, is buttery smooth and is coupled to a slick-shifting 6 speed box.

The fully valanced fenders are retained as is the light-up War Bonnet on the front fender. The instrument pod features a LCD panel that includes numerous info bits including range, mpg, time and more. And thankfully, Indian has left their excellent cruise control in the mix – every open road cruiser should have one. This one does as stock. Triple disc brakes with ABS are also standard. That price is looking pretty good now, no?

You can read my full review of the Indian Chief Vintage here, but suffice to say the Dark Horse is one nice bike, no matter what color it is.

Photos courtesy of Indian Motorcycles

Bill Roberson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Please reach out to The Manual editorial staff with any questions or comments about Bill’s work.
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