Here's some excerpts from the Indian Dark Horse Test in Heavy Duty Magazine:
The Indian Dark Horse spoke to me. Loudly.
This is a bike that I rode simply for the sake of riding it and for just how damn good it made me feel while I was doing it.
Any excuse, or no excuse, I was out and about and taking the longest way home. Every chance I could.
I like the way it performed, its brakes, its handling and I liked its ‘ornate minimalism’. Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but the bike is ornate and Heritage-styled of old, indeed. Heavily valanced guards, bathtub enclosure and massive war bonnet headlight nacelle - but it’s also unencumbered by the fairings, farkles and upper bodywork that adorn many a modern motorcycle.
It’s still a ‘nekkid’ and part of what it shouted to me was about ‘essence’ and bugs in the teeth of the cheese-eating grin that worked its way across my dial every time I so much as looked at the bike. It spoke of a connection with the past - delivered in a modern-tech wrapper.
There is an underlying excellence in the new Indian’s engineering. The technology - like the no-fuss cruise control, self-cancelling indicators, keyless (security fob) starting and trip computers are well integrated and don’t interfere with the style.
Some has been pared away from the previous models of Indian Chief Classic too. About 14kgs of mass and $2,000 in up front cost to be exact.
The ‘missing’ 14kg also provided a preview of the 2016 Classic, which will likewise be delivered sans oil cooler and the associated weight reduction that brings. The Dark horse also has been weighed-in sporting a solo saddle and without any passenger accommodation at all.
This was the only grievance uttered about ‘Shouting Horse’ in time I had it. The co-pilot is also an Indian enthusiast now and she got a bit ‘over’ me disappearing into all hours of the day and night without her. A quick visit to the accessory catalogue would fix all that, but as tested the Dark Horse was a purely solo affair with a luggage rack where the significant other would normally fit.
The weight reduction is quite noticeable in the manners of the bike when compared to previous incarnations.
As it was the back-rack provided good protection for the rear guard and bodywork as the back-pack full of camera equipment I slung over my shoulder on just about every ride hung low from the weight of all the kit I was carrying. It’s such a photogenic bike that I couldn’t resist the challenge of trying to capture its light absorbing matte-blackness by both day and night. Its lines captivated me and as such it needed the full swag.
But there is much more to the bike than its looks. I found chucking it around quite captivating too - and then there was listening to it.
The rake is a reasonably steep at 29 degrees, and the 16” wheels front and rear are shod with Dunlop Elite rubber; 180 section on the rear and 130 on the front. Both have quite a tall/thick profile.
Hammering it, cranked over, using all of the very good cornering clearance and most of its near 140nm of torque is pure delight. Side to sides are the same. The 46mm cartridge forks with dual rate springs are good and I had the mechanically adjustable pre-load dialled most of the way up to max on the single shock rear. I didn’t use all of its 94mm of travel over the course of the test. No bottoming out or any hints of vagueness at all. For a machine weighing in at 341kg it is light and effortless and balanced once you get your feet on the footboards. Even at low speeds.
The test bike was fitted with Indian’s stage one exhausts and fishtail extensions. I probably would go for the black chrome finish if it was mine, but that’s a matter of taste. What was beyond argument was exactly how good they sound. If you like the way the bike looks, the sound from the stage one system fitted to the Thunderstoke 111 cube engine matches perfectly.
Apart from that oil filter the engine appears unchanged from previous models – if a little more refined. Although even with the stage one pipes fitted it still benefits from short-shifting and using the big torque hammer to hustle it along, rather that tapping it out looking for peak horsepower. A heavy breather like that fitted to the Running Bull project bike might be in order here too.
At $26,995 (ride away) the Dark Horse hits a spot in the market that will make for a great start as a custom project - or one that you can ride the wheels off, as-is.
I enjoyed the bike primarily as a Cruiser and as an around town and day rider. It’s narrow enough to lane split and deal with heavy traffic and the engine is tractable and relaxed enough to do it comfortably.
It’s also comfortable enough to spend long hours in the saddle and with a few goodies from the Indian accessories catalogue it has enough suspension travel and sweet handling to make a good long distance machine as well. Coupled with its great looks it’s a terrific all-rounder.
Amongst the many things the bike shouted at me were: style, enjoyment, aesthetic, heritage and a dose of downright cool.
It’s well worth a listen.
Model Dark Horse
DRY WEIGHT 341 KG
Carburetion CLOSED LOOP FUEL INJECION /54MM BORE
PEAK TORQUE 138.9 N M
PEAK TORQUE RPM 3000 RPM/2600 RPM
Type 6 speed
Primary drive Gear
Rear drive Belt
WHEELS & TYRES
F rim CAST 16" X 3.5"
R rim CAST 16" X 5"
F tyre DUNLOP® ELITE 3 130/90B16 73H
R tyre DUNLOP® AMERICAN ELITE 180/65B16 81H
F brake DUAL / FLOATING ROTOR / 4 PISTON CALIPER DUAL FRONT / 300MM WITH ANTI-LOCK BRAKES
R brake SINGLE / FLOATING ROTOR / 2 PISTON CALIPER / 300MM WITH ANTI-LOCK BRAKES
FRAME CAST ALUMINUM FRAME WITH INTEGRATED AIR-BOX;
Front TELESCOPIC FORK / 119 MM - 46MM CARTRIDGE FORKS WITH DUAL RATE SPRINGS
Rear SINGLE SHOCK / 94 MM MECHANICAL PRELOAD
GUARDS & TINWORK
PAINT & FINISH
FUEL CAPACITY (LITRES) 20.8 LITRES
GROUND CLEARANCE 140 MM
OVERALL HEIGHT (IN./MM.) 1176 MM
OVERALL WIDTH (IN./MM.) 1025 MM
SEAT HEIGHT 660 MM
WHEELBASE 1730 MM
OVERALL LENGTH (IN./MM.) 2630 MM
GVWR 573 KGS
TRAIL 155.0 MM