The current motorcycle market is booming with small capacity motorcycles. After reviewing plenty of them, I was looking for something with substance. Indian happened to launch the new Chieftain Dark Horse this year, so I figured that will be a splendid option. Picking the bike up from their Melrose Arch shop is never easy. There is so much in there to entice you, so come prepared.
Looking splendid in its matt black paint finish, the Dark Horse stood out among the lesser Indians. There is no beating around the bush, this is a big bike. It does not have any pretentious weight saving regime. The fenders are metal and clutch and brake levers look completely over engineered. The quality of the finish is also top notch and it just underscores the fact that the Indian is a premium product. That 111 cubic inch V-twin has enough torque to lug the 380kg Chieftain and whoever was perched on the seat around.
The Chieftain is styled as a bagger. It means that it is a one-up machine with a steeply raked backend. The seat is low and plush. Two lockable side cases complete the look. They are deceptively small, but for a weekend away, they should be sufficient. One of the bags has a 12v outlet built in, should you need to charge something while on the move.
I rode the Chieftain through Sandton and quickly realised that this bike is not made for city riding, so I took it out on the N4 towards Dullstroom. The Indian reveled in these conditions. Big open spaces and straight roads is what this bike is made for. I was surprised at how nimble the large American was negotiating the pothole-infested road that leads to Dullstroom.
Indian now has a massive touchscreen right in front of you that houses a wealth of information. The screen has three pages worth of information that you can customise to your hearts content. The two analog dials on either side of it, though elegant, are almost redundant. The left dial shows the available range and that is about as far as I looked at that dial. Flanking the dials are the speakers that can deliver your favorite tracks to you clearly, even at speed.
The Chieftain is an extremely capable tour bike. The large footplates, plush seat, cruise control and a very effective fairing makes for relaxed long distance travel. So if you need something that can take you from Sandton to Cape Town and back without breaking a sweat, any Chieftain will do. In Dark Horse trim, you will attract a bit more attention.
Words and Pictures – Brian Cheyne