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Indian Chief Dark Horse: Least Expensive Chief Is Lightest



Indian Motorcycles has introduced its first 2016 model, the matte black Indian Chief Dark Horse. Priced $2,000 below the Chief Classic at $16,999, the Chief Dark Horse  is delivered sans the Classic’s oil cooler, analogue fuel gauge,driving lights and passenger seat. These changes, together with a switch to cast wheels, allows the Dark Horse to weigh 27lbs. less than its more expensive sibling. Indian says the Chief Dark Horse will be in dealers this month and will be available to demo at Daytona Bike Week next month. Here is the announcement from Indian:


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — February 13, 2015 Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today announced the newest and edgiest member of the Indian Chief line-up and the first 2016 model — the Indian® Chief Dark Horse®.


The Indian Chief Dark Horse is a cruiser built upon the successful and award-winning Indian Chief platform. Unlike other bikes in the Indian Motorcycle line-up, it is understated with only a flash of chrome and adds a healthy dose of matte black paint to create one of the most confident silhouettes on the market. By all but eliminating chrome from the motorcycle and swapping to cast wheels, the Dark Horse conveys an aggressive pose, and being the lightest in the series, is the quickest model in the Chief family.



Striking an ideal balance of attitude and features, the 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse delivers the style, quality and power expected from an Indian Motorcycle, and starts at just $16,999. The Dark Horse conveys a bold attitude that demands attention for all the right reasons.


Blacked-out from end to end, the Indian Chief Dark Horse does not lack features. Powered by the highly rated Thunder Stroke® 111 engine and wrapped in the same chassis and suspension of the Indian Chief Classic, the Dark Horse also maintains ABS, a remote key fob for keyless ignition, electronic cruise control, and features a two-year unlimited mileage factory warranty.



Built to be an aggressive solo ride, the Dark Horse loses the oil cooler, analogue fuel gauge and driving lights of Chief Classic. A passenger seat plus either passenger foot-pegs or floor boards are available as part of the Genuine Indian Motorcycle Accessory line-up for those who want to ride two-up.


The Indian Chief Dark Horse is an ideal motorcycle for those seeking to customize their rides. With 40 available accessories rolling out during the spring and early summer, riders can add components to black-out their ride even more. Items such as ape hanger handlebars, accessory air cleaners, fender struts, slip-on exhaust with black heat shields and exhaust tips, and black fender trim help create the fully blacked-out look.



“The Indian Chief Dark Horse is unlike anything else currently available from Indian Motorcycle,” said Indian Motorcycle Sr. Product Manager, Ben Lindaman. “While it shares the best traits with other models in the Chief platform, its signature matte black paint and minimalist profile give it an attitude unlike any other Indian motorcycle. We’re excited to unveil this new bike at an aggressive price point for a full-size cruiser.”


The 2016 Indian Chief Dark Horse will be available in dealers starting mid-February and will be a featured demo bike at the annual Daytona Bike Week from March 7th – 14th. For more information, log on to


  1. infadel macgee says:

    Check out the Roland Sands Indian board tracker . THAT’S what i’m talkin bout Willis .

  2. Nate says:

    Nothing says “idiot” like ape hangers.

    • Bob says:

      Making a gross generalization about people with ape hangers says it better.

      • Nate says:

        Lets see… a gross generalization… about a very small subset of a subset of motorcycle riders… who happen to all have one thing in common… they put inherently unstable and unsafe bars on their bikes in the name of looking cool.

        Doing something grossly unsafe for the sake of looking cool is idiotic hoss. Anyway you cut it.

  3. Kent says:

    I’m not in the cruiser market, but have no hate for Indian. I think their designs are generally good (although the skirted front fender could go away).

    For this one, I’m not sure why I think it’s so ugly; possibly the paint color? The first picture in the article is just awful.

    • Nate says:

      its the ape hangers. They are inherently offensive to anyone with an IQ over 65.

      • Francois says:

        Ape hangers? You got no idea what ape hangers are. Ape hangers are handle bars of which the grips is above shoulder height. And yes, they do look stupid and is extremely unsafe.

        Why can’t the Americans build a modern bike?

    • Provologna says:

      The paint finish looks like gloss black layered with dirt, dust, exhaust, and road grime as results from riding hundreds of miles on pavement after a horrific snow storm. The paint looks like a gray, sad, depressing, burial day of one’s beloved life long friend. In a word, it’s awful.

      If anyone doubted the existence of too much flat black, behold exhibit one, this bike.

      The Scout may be a winner. This bike, less so. Me thinks blowout prices two years hence. Buy one if you desire the two wheeled modern Edsel.

    • infadel macgee says:

      Yeah those apehangers in the first pic look retarded . Something only a complete douche would want . Indian needs to use that same engine in a minimalist frame , lose the hideous giant flared fenders and build a boardtrack style bike .

  4. Mike says:

    Are you one of the many here seldom happy with any new bike design? (Exception of course….bikes you currently or have owned)

    If so….. I have a challenge for you: Top 10 whiners and complainers form a group and design a motorcycle and have Dirck post it here for all of us to see!!!

    How: I can provide the contact info for an amazing motorcycle digital design illustrator ….cost $500 or so which equates to $50 each

    Rule 1: If your design is panned…….each of you must cut your predictable negative comments on other bikes featured here by 50% for one year and yes this does include chain guard decal design criticism!!!

    Rule 2: There is no rule 2

    • mariner says:

      Ha redesign necessary …..on current models, just drop the weight 200pounds add a drive shaft and a beak and Bingo!

    • mickey says:

      Ha ha ha you think you could get 10 here to agree on a design? That may be the funniest thing I’ve ever read here.

      • Mike says:

        Not so fast……

        I think each person on the top 10 whinerw/complainers list that are seldom happy with any new bike design would agree on the following:

        They do not deserve to be on the list…..but the other 9 do!!!


        Granted and to your point…..this is only 9 of 10 agreeing…. and not all 10 as you stated!!!

    • Provologna says:

      Is whining about whining better than whining about bikes?

      I doubt Dirck cares about our whining. We’re here. We have eyes, looking at ads. In fact, I bought WSBK video because of this site.

  5. Thom says:

    Went to the dealer today to see the Indian collection–pretty impressive. The fender skirts look plastic on this matt black bike, but they’re not.

  6. Craig Jackman says:

    Yawn. Next!

  7. Bob says:

    So the darkest Chief is the lightest Chief. It’s always darkest just before the dawn. Maybe there’s a new dawn coming for Indian.

  8. kjazz says:

    …I’m pretty sure it will still show up on radar…or at least FLIR.

    BTW, how long before somebody starts complaining about the use of the word “Indian” for a product such as this, especially since the image of the Native American profile with headdress is front and center and the association is clear…..?? Twenty years ago, nobody would have ever dreamed the “Washington Redskins” as a sports team name would be considered derogatory and an affront to the native population.

  9. Gary says:

    Boy, what a bunch of yammering! Indian is diversifying their lineup quite rapidly for a newly re-launched brand. Whether some of you agree or not, cruisers seem to sell the best… still. So this would be a likely next step for Indian to make. The Darth Vader look seems to be doing well in different circles including now- side by sides. Is this a look I like- not so much in motorcycles, but I understand the move here. The Scout was in my opinion a radical departure for Indian with the water-cooled engine, and I wouldn’t be suprised there is more of that down the line. Personally, I look forward to the day that Indian will have a full line-up including a line of Warrior dirt bikes. I think Indian is doing quite well thank you with their calculated release of different, even if some is sligtly, models to fill their line-up.

    • mickey says:

      Been around here a few years now and this crowd is not particularly fond of cruisers to begin with so take their complaints with that in mind. They also don’t like beaks, chains, insect looking bikes, motorcycles with under 120 horsepower ( and they prefer more) bike that weigh over 500 pounds, forward footpegs, saddlebags that won’t hold a xxl full face helmet, single disc front brakes… Should I go on? Lol

    • halfbaked says:

      and something they refer to as a beak…they really hate those

  10. Auphliam says:

    It’s the Eight-ball Indian

    I really would’ve much rather seen them do something like the Cannonball bike…you know, something actually somewhat new…instead of just giving the Chief the rattle can treatment.

    Good thing its “Striking an ideal balance of attitude and features…”, or some might call this launch a giant MEH!

  11. Lenz says:

    Nastiest looking piece of retro rubbish ever

  12. Warren Hall says:

    ugly looking bike

  13. Bob says:

    I’d like to see the Indian Thunder Stroke 111 motor in a bike like the Victory Highball. Less sheet metal and a more attractive motor.

  14. mariner says:

    At 751pounds I don’t understand why everyone is raving about this new (lightweight) ?? machine…To me this is just another cruiser… slow..heavy…minimal ground clearance..Just can’t get excited….I’ll pass….

    • todd says:

      At first I thought you were quoting GVWR so I had to look it up. Sure enough, that’s the weight without fuel – or how heavy it is when you run out of gas and have to push it for a mile to the next station…

    • Wayne B says:

      Where does it say this is lightweight? It only says it is the lightest of the Chiefs.

  15. bob says:

    Not bad, I would like to see a chopped front fender to complete the “lighter” look
    (without the chief head). Handle bars need some attention, the angle is just too flat in my opinion. This ruins the line at this key part of the side view.

  16. Pete says:

    I’d paint the skirts to look like a kilt

  17. Jeremy in TX says:

    The ape hangers look utterly ridiculous. Why some people think that looks cool, I will never understand.

    As for the normal bar version, put me in the minority of those who like this derivative.

    • Hot Dog says:

      Do those “apes” rotate down into a “drag bar position”?

      A couple of rides in rain and the black finish will have a tan road grime coating all over it. Of course, most people who buy this type of machine won’t ride it in the rain.

  18. James says:

    I’d like to see Rust as a paint job.

  19. Fuzzyson1 says:

    W-h-a-a-a-a-t! Kawasaki is building another fake looking Indian? Oh no, wait, that’s a “real” Indian made to look like all the other “bad-ass” flat black penis extensions. Too bad, I was starting to like Indian when the came out with the Scout. Now they’re just playing follow the leader. At least we know what the next Bat Bike will look like.

  20. Jschmutz says:

    I think I can line up sponsors to take advantage of all that billboard space and help offset some or all of the price. Maybe “Orthopedic Associates” for the one with apes?

  21. Provologna says:

    Upon looking at the topmost image, I thought, “I’d rather take the bus than ride this bike.”

    At least the bus is free here in Cache Valley, Utah.

    • cyclemotorist says:

      The bike with the apes gives off a whole nother vibe. Not one I care for.

      I like the low bar variations.

  22. arbuz says:

    Look wise, should loose the skirts. Otherwise looks looks nice for this 42 year old weekend rider of a dual-sport.

    And I did not even realize Indian knows how to do ABS, as Scout does not have it, so I thought they have struggled to engineer ABS into their product.
    But they apparently know how to do this, so why no ABS on scout…

  23. beasty says:

    Well, since Polaris introduced flat black models in their line, it was inevitable that Indian would do the same. I like matte black on some bikes and I like apes on some bikes. I just don’t think either looks good on this bike. The engine is still a work of art.

    • Bob says:

      Agree on the engine. It’s the best part of the bike and I’d love to have one to build a frame around. Unfortunately, the design of the existing Chief frame doesn’t allow for it to be “uncovered” in a stripped down version. It is butt ugly, and doesn’t have the versatility of the Harley tube frames used on the Dyna and Softail. While it may be the product of good engineering, the ability to use it in other versions is limited. We’ll never see a near naked version of the Chief, and that’s a shame.

  24. Dino says:

    I thought the Flat Black paint jobs were out… I never got them. Maybe people think they are radar stealth without real paint on them??

    Saw a $50k Cadillac CTS-4 the other day, all flat black paint… Looked like he did it with a rattle can himself, or maybe it was just un-even with the dirt on the snowy roads.. Either way, great way to ruin an otherwise nice car!

    All the side panels on the Dark Horse (Katy Perry getting some royalties?) make it look like honda had a hand in this.

    I wish Indian the best, but that is one model that won’t be in my garage…

  25. Provologna says:

    I asked She who cooks and cares for me in infinite eternal ways to share her opinion of the bike portrayed in the images. She is not into motorcycles.

    Of the bike portrayed in the top two images she said, “A combination of the Batman motorcycle and a Nazi motorcycle.” Of the bike portrayed in the bottom two images she said, “A combination of a Batman motorcycle and an Easy Rider motorcycle.”

    Indian, please send market research check to me c/o Dirck at this blog.

    • mickey says:

      Lol funny you should say that. I had the last picture showing on my ipad and my wife asks ” who’s bike is that” and I said, it’s a new model from Indian and she says ” it looks like Batman’s bike”.

      I kid you not!

  26. MGNorge says:

    “To each their own”, “Different strokes for different folks”, etc, etc., but….

    I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to, much less like it enough to buy, a bike that’s all blacked out. I don’t care for cars, trucks or SUV’s done that way either. I know it’s trending but I’ve never been a follower so I hesitate when people rush to make their vehicles all dark and (Mysterious?). I’m not sure where that desire comes from? I’ve always been an admirer of a vehicles paintwork and how tastefully any bright work is applied. Matt finishes leave me dull.

    ..and what can be said about Ape Hangers has already been said below.

    I’d like to see Indian break from this mold and really become something other than an HD derivative. But, if that’s what their customers want you can’t blame them for that.

    • Denny says:

      Indian has proved that they can make exceptionally attractive motorcycle, e.i. Scout which is turning out to be excellent seller; so they can if they want to. This ugly stump is something else. But then as you say, if customer wants it, let them have it. Including that crappy colour. It’s all market driven.

  27. Thom says:

    Gettin’ old, so I traded a 2000 Kawasaki ZX12R (bought new) for a 2006 HD Softail (used) and then a 2011 HD Softail Deluxe, (new). Other than light lens and control housings, there is no plastic on my Harley. As much as I wish them well, fender skirts are silly especially if they’re plastic. And, ape bars? Agreed: for idiots.

  28. dave says:

    I do not know why people keep buying this stuff

  29. Provologna says:

    I’ll wait for arrival of the 2017 Kymco lookalike clone, an electric bike with faux V-twin motor, for $4889.00. Hopefully longer wheelbase and more chrome.

    Probably Kymco already has the original Indian model and works now on their clone. I heard Kymco already hired away the Indian design team. With some luck Kymco can release it before the original Indian!

    /sarc off

  30. paul246 says:

    Has a 1920’s locomotive look to it, best with the low bars, too.

    Ape hangers are for idiots.

    • jim says:

      Low bars cool, Apes are WTF.

    • Eric says:

      In NJ, the MV codes say handlebars that place the rider’s hands above their shoulders are illegal. Wonder if other states – or the feds – have similar code.

      Oh wait, I forgot. The ape hangers come with a “For Track Use Only” sticker…

  31. Mick says:

    It’s nice to see that now the aging sport bike rider can get himself a cruiser that doesn’t make him green with bodywork envy.

  32. DaveA says:

    I can’t think of a better looking cruiser. Very cool.

  33. cyclemotorist says:

    It’s like ancient and futuristic at the same time. It has a hint of steampunk.

    It’s awesome.

  34. cyclemotorist says:

    The thing is Bad Ass!

  35. Artem says:


  36. Provologna says:

    Name for the next Indian model: Indian Killer…then the next year later, a special Indian Killer John Wayne “Signature” model with ape hangars and “drawl” exhaust note.

  37. VLJ says:

    The clownmobile with the apehangers and stem-to-stern Krylon treatment is right up there among the worst-looking conventional motorcycles ever offered by a major manufacturer. This, from the same people that brought us the reasonably cool Indian Scout?

    Come on, Polaris. Give your customers at least a little credit. This is an abomination. And, at a “bargain” starting price of $17K, it’s downright insulting. Who spends “only” $17K in an effort to save a couple grand on non-essentials such as, oh, actual paint?

  38. Stella says:

    Indian and Harley Davidson = Dumb and Dumber

  39. Butch says:

    Fender skirts may be cool on 59′ Chevy but on a motorsickle, uh no.
    Would love to see it sans skirts.
    This thing begs to be customized.

    • DaveA says:

      I’m with you. I’m totally with the whole Indian heritage stuff, and even though I’m not a cruiser guy at heart, I am really digging the new Indians. I’ve even ridden a couple of them and I really enjoyed the experience. I am hopeful that the skirts will be an offering along side a trimmer cut set of fenders on at least some of the models.

    • Randy says:

      Agreed. The engine is an eye-catcher already. It would be a great focal point for a minimal
      style bike. Universal, non-modern flat tracker or even a café. Indian does not have to be another H-D.

  40. Randy says:

    In general I like the bike, more with the chrome exhaust than the black. The engine is incredible. But that headlight cowl has GOT TO GO.

  41. Bob says:

    Back half looks like a Lambretta scooter, as do all the Chief models. Polaris, how about a real stripped down model, with abbreviated “conventional” fenders and no headlight nacelle, or are you ashamed to expose the underpinnings?

  42. Mike Simmons says:

    It seems like Indian is cloning the MoCo playbook. Change the tin a bit, put new bars on it and voila! a new model! And factory installed ape’s too!! Lord help us!!

  43. ABQ says:

    I went to the dealeship in Albuquerque to sit on one with a regular paint job.
    I discovered one thing that was a problem for me. The side stand was too far forward for me, and it was under the foot board. That is just my problem, However. The employee that was showing the bike to me is shorter than me and he had no problem putting up the side stand. So I asked him if there was an attachment that could be put on the side stand to make it easier to pull back, or find when you wanted to put it down. So far, no.
    Easy use of the side stand is a deal breaker for me. We will have to see how the sidestand on the Scout is.
    (I have similar issues with soft tail H-Ds)

    • VLJ says:

      I’ve read about countless trivial, inane deal-breakers on this site, but a supposedly-too-far-forward kickstand that somehow even a Lilliputian salesman had no trouble deploying has to take the cake.

      I mean…wow.

      • Random says:

        No sidestands with beaks and seams for me too

      • ABQ says:

        I sit on bikes to see how it fits me. Can I reach the side stand when it is down? Can I find the side stand when it is up? Is the side stand hidden under the foot board. Is the side stand hidden under the primary when it is up? No it is NOT inane to want to find the freakin’ side stand. Like I said:”That is just my problem”. But if you want to test a bike without checking how it fits you then that is your problem. wow.

        • VLJ says:

          You said the salesman was shorter than you and had no problem reaching and deploying the sidestand. So, it’s clearly not a major problem. Instead of taking a few seconds and a couple of stabs at it to figure it out and make it work, you dismiss something so profoundly trivial as a deal-breaker. This is nothing short of embarrassing.

          For the record, I rode the Scout, a Chief and a Chieftan during one of Indian’s Demo Days up at the Auburn, Ca store. I don’t have long legs. Yes, the sidestand on the Chief was in a rather funky location. Yes, it took a moment to adjust to it. No, it was in no way, shape or form a deal-breaker. You’re not driving a Camry. You’re riding a 1700cc motorcycle. Something as silly as the slightly unusual location of the sidestand isn’t supposed to send you trudging off in defeat. As a motorcyclist, you’re supposed to have a bit more gumption than that.

  44. Robert says:

    The motor, tank and seat are things of beauty. Especially the motor. The rest looks odd. It’s probably a great bike, but it is just funny looking to me.

  45. Ed says:

    I like it, less chrome, less shiny paint less work more time to ride.Been procrastinating washing my filthy bug spattered water spotted FLH all day.I can’t think of much that’s more useless than the solo seat except possibly ape hangers.

  46. North of Missoula says:

    Looks like they took the Classic model of the Chief, which is a beautiful motorcycle IMO, and sprayed it with Plasti Dip. Thumbs down.

  47. canuck says:

    The 2015 riding season hasn’t started for most and they are releasing 2016 models? Doesn’t seem right

  48. HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

    Old guys who like to play dress-up in their costumes have a new, parallel-universe Barbie car.

  49. Chris says:

    I hope Indian doesn’t fall into the typical Harley crap of putting different paint on and calling them NEW model’s I had high hopes for them but now not so sure.

  50. feels like acid reflux

  51. WSHart says:

    Since and Company don’t allow the truth to be artfully stated…Allow me.


    Ad infinitum.

    How typically pusillanimous of them.

    • Randy says:

      Why, every pusillanimous creature on earth has a brain! You might use yours to check your grammar.

  52. TimU says:

    Just another chopper, black, ugly, want-a-be profile bike I won’t buy.
    I’ll be glad when this bopper phase has passed.

  53. Larry Kahn says:

    They just lost the respect I was somewhat giving them by showing the ape-hangers. I can’t help but figure the rider is a moron whenever I see someone with apes.

    • Dino says:

      Some people just have sweaty ‘pits…

      And some are HUGE fans of the Karate Kid, when he finally does the Crane kick to defeat the bad guy! Whasss-Saaaah!

  54. todd says:

    Sorry. For the life of me, I can’t find anything nice to say.

  55. Tom R says:

    Check the box on your motorcycle order form for your choice of handlebar: Ridiculously High or Ridiculously Low.

  56. Motorhead says:

    Is there a trend here? Looks like the Chief has the same ergos as the new Yamaha TMAX reviewed on the previous page. Rider comfort appears to be the most desirable attribute of the new bikes. I like it. But my long legs still look for a higher seat and standing-up ability of the standard and adventure-type bike.

    • Adv-twin says:

      Agree, another long legger here, only thing I can ride are adv type bikes, when my knees are above my butt it makes for a painfully short ride. Wish Indian would come out with a road oriented adv ergo bike with the scout vtwin and call it the Tomahawk! Would be my only chance for owning a USA made bike, the Victorys have longer floorboards but I just can’t get past the looks..

    • Larry Kahn says:

      I think the TMAX will be faster and handle better. But you won’t be able to wear your SOA t-shirt on one.

  57. Norm G. says:

    i like it. ship it…!

  58. Modsquad says:

    I like the look of the engine, and the logo, that’s it.

  59. Tom says:

    Ducati has been doing Dark models for quite some time.

  60. Don E. says:

    Nothin’ a dozen rattle cans of shiny paint couldn’t fix. Strap on some cheap ABS plastic side bags and you might be able to take this bike someplace.

  61. JC says:

    Too bad they can’t fulfill their Scout orders.

  62. Aloha-Terry says:

    Okay, what do I know. I like it…the price is not too bad either, for 111 inch engine. All the muscle and none of the touring stuff. Still a little heavy, but down in Florida there are no curves and my legs can still hold a bike up at a stop sign , so it looks good to me.

  63. mickey says:

    Got to love ad speak..

    Watch out after losing 27 pounds, the 65 hp, 900 pound bike may just snap your neck from sheer acceleration

    I am amazed it has factory cruise control. That would be a nice feature on a lot of tourers and sport tourers that DON’T come from the factory with it

    • DaveA says:

      Could you please point out the hyperbole in the press release? The only thing I can find is the part about it being the lightest, therefore the quickest one. As this would be a fact, I am assuming that it’s not what you’re referring to.

      Also while I’m no cruiser guy, I have ridden the new Indians and the motor is plenty stout for the intended purpose. Or maybe I missed the part in the press release about how the bike is intended to be used as a race bike?

  64. ABQ says:

    …and we are down to naming new models after a black paint job. That was quick.

    • Geep says:

      Haha when your niche is in the past, there are only so many choices…you know…been there done that

    • KenHoward says:

      I thought Indian might be naming the bike, ambiguously, after a fictitious indian chief (and that the next variation might be a more-interesting, much-lighter weight Crazy Horse model).

  65. Fred says:

    If were to buy any Indian besides a Scout it would have to be this model. Looks to have a very comfortable riding position and with the blacked out look, not as garish as the other colors.