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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Indian Takes On Performance Cruiser Category with New Sport Chief

Indian’s roots are in racing, believe it or not, and the company currently owns the championship in both the King of the Bagger series and the American Flat Track series. It makes sense that Indian focus at least some attention on the expanding Performance Cruiser category.

Enter the new Sport Chief. With performance-focused suspension and brakes, as well as improved ground clearance for cornering, Indian has found another home for its Thunderstroke 116 motor.

The Sport Chief will be available in three different colors beginning in March of this year at a starting price of $18,999. Here is the press release from Indian, together with photos and a video:

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – February 21, 2023 – Indian Motorcycle, America’s First Motorcycle Company, today unleashed its most aggressive iteration of the iconic Indian Chief with the launch of Sport Chief. Building upon one of the most historic and influential motorcycle namesakes of all time, the 2023 Sport Chief raises the bar for American V-Twin performance cruisers through premium performance-oriented componentry and timeless, American styling. 

“Since launching in 2021, the reimagined Indian Chief has garnered incredible feedback from riders all around the world,” said Mike Dougherty, President of Indian Motorcycle. “With the introduction of Sport Chief, the 2023 Indian Chief lineup is more diverse than ever– offering a wide range of performance and styling options to meet each rider’s unique personality and riding preferences.”

When designing Sport Chief, Indian Motorcycle set its sights on performance by utilizing the finest components from proven brands. With KYB® inverted front forks, also featured on Indian Challenger models, Sport Chief offers superior handling and ride performance. The Sport Chief’s dual-disc, four-piston, semi-floating caliper, radial-mounted Brembo® brakes deliver confidence-inspiring stopping power, while piggyback rear FOX® shocks increase travel to four-inches and increases lean angle to 29.5 degrees, compared to other Indian Chief models. The result is an Indian Chief that begs for more aggressive riding and provides the confidence and capability to take the riding experience to another level. 

“In 2021, we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Indian Chief with a lineup that pays homage to the glory days of American motorcycling,” said Ola Stenegärd, Director, Industrial Design for Indian Motorcycle. “With Sport Chief, we wanted to maintain the same care-free attitude and American muscle but elevate it even further with componentry that not only delivers a style and attitude that exudes performance but raises the bar entirely for performance cruisers.”

Featuring a simplistic steel-tube frame, Sport Chief preserves the Indian Chief’s mechanical styling. At the heart of it all, a blacked-out Thunderstroke 116 motor delivers 120 ft-lbs of torque, while a stylish new Quarter Fairing, along with new moto-style bars with machined triple clamps and six-inch risers set the Sport Chief apart from the rest of the Indian Chief lineup. With mid-mount foot controls and a solo gunfighter seat, riders are in a commanding, yet comfortable, riding position. Sport Chief features sport cast wheels wrapped in Pirelli® Night Dragon tires, a four-gallon fuel tank, bobbed rear fender, dual exhaust, LED lighting, keyless ignition, and three selectable ride modes, including Sport, Standard and Tour. 

Ride-enhancing technology comes standard with Indian Motorcycle’s class-leading four-inch touchscreen powered by RIDE COMMAND. Accessible via handlebar controls or the digital touchscreen display, riders can cycle through multiple interfaces, including two different gauge configurations, bike and ride information, and turn-by-turn navigation with connected features 

like weather and traffic overlays. If using a wireless helmet communicator, riders can control their music within the RIDE COMMAND system once their phone is paired via Bluetooth® or USB. Riders can also access phone information, including recent calls, contacts, number pad and text message history. When connected, incoming calls will appear and can be accepted or declined directly through the RIDE COMMAND system. 

For riders looking to personalize their bike, Indian Motorcycle offers an array of accessories that enhance the bike’s performance, comfort, or adds personal style. 

Performance Accessories

For a smoother, more comfortable ride, Indian Chief riders can add Adjustable Piggyback Rear FOX® Shocks. Featuring 24 clicks via easy-to-operate twist knobs, riders can adjust compression and rebound damping to suit their riding preference. 

Current Indian Chief, Chief Bobber, and Super Chief riders can upgrade to the Sport Chief’s stock dual exposed FOX® Piggyback Rear Shocks, which provide four inches of travel with increased lean angle and an aftermarket, stylish look that increases stability, and improves comfort and capability for aggressive riding. 

The new Chief Pathfinder 5 ¾ inch Adaptive LED Headlight, available in chrome or black, features patented, innovative technology that monitors the bike’s lean angle and delivers optimized illumination of the road ahead. With an industry first adaptive high-beam, lighting performance is superior to that of a standard headlight, projecting light a greater distance and spread in front of the bike.

To improve air flow and add high-performance styling, riders can purchase either the Thunderstroke High Flow Air Intake or Thunderstroke Forward Air Intake.

Style Accessories 

Indian Chief riders looking to add personal style can select from a variety of Indian Motorcycle accessories. New 10-inch Moto Handlebar Risers not only add style, but deliver a more comfortable reach. Low and Tall windscreen options are available for the Sport Chief’s Quarter Fairing, while a variety of bags, including a Solo Rack and Rack Bag, Tail Bag, and Bobber Saddlebag, complement the bike’s design. 

The Sport Chief’s Quarter Fairing and six-inch Moto Handlebar Risers are available for current Indian Chief, Chief Bobber, and Super Chief riders. 

Comfort Accessories

For added comfort and improved ergonomics based off height, riders can add an Extended Reach or Reduced Reach Seat. For two-up riding, Indian Motorcycle offers the Chief Syndicate Seat and a Syndicate Low Profile Passenger Backrest, which complements the Sport Chief’s aggressive design.

Pricing for the 2023 Sport Chief starts at $18,999 and is available in Black Smoke, Ruby Smoke, Stealth Gray, and Spirit Blue Smoke. Sport Chief will begin shipping to Indian Motorcycle dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada in March 2023. Riders can learn more at their local Indian Motorcycle dealership, by visiting, or by following along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


Indian Motorcycle is America’s First Motorcycle Company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under new brand stewardship. To learn more, please visit

Brembo® is a registered trademark of Freni Brembo S.p.A. Corp of Italy

FOX® is a registered trademark of Fox Factory Inc.

KYB® is a registered trademark of KYB Corporation  

Pirelli® is a registered trademark of PIRELLI & C.S.P.A. 

Bluetooth® is a registered trademark of Bluetooth Sig, Inc.

Unless noted, trademarks are the property of Indian Motorcycle International, LLC
© 2023 Indian Motorcycle International, LLC

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  1. Mick says:

    For the first time in about thirty years or more, I read a ride review on one of these team obsolete bikes. The one featured here.

    One line in the review astounded me. It said that the torque peak for the larger of the two available engines for this bike is at 2900rpm. Then goes on to explain that the engine is buzzy between 3000 and 4000rpm and that redline is 5000rpm.

    This sort of performance is tolerated in the cruiser segment in 2023? I don’t know man. I am the first to admit that I know Jack about cruisers. But even this quick look into them shows me that my ignorance of all things cruiser knows absolutely no bounds. I just can’t imagine a universe in which a motorcycle engine like that would sell at all after its first year. Yet I apparently live in one.

    I wish I could move to another. That would be awesome.

    • Jeremy says:

      — “This sort of performance is tolerated in the cruiser segment in 2023?”

      I’m pretty sure performance isn’t tolerated in the cruiser segment.

    • huls says:

      One line in your post astounded me.
      This sort of performance is tolerated in the cruiser segment in 2023?

      It is necessary. Sewing machines with redline at 100.000.000 rpm are unridable.
      Torque is everything. HP is marketing and has no relevance in the real world, the place where real motorcycles are ridden by real riders and not willy contesters reciting HP numbers.

      If you ever become a real rider you’ll understand.

      • Jeremy says:

        Mick, I rest my case.

      • Motoman says:

        “If you ever become a real rider you’ll understand.” (my gut tells me you’re trolling with this and your comment below)

        Really? Guess I’ll be spending my time with the other phony riders on the racetrack with my knee on the pavement.

        Ps: I believe everyone that rides a cruiser is not like huls.

  2. paul says:

    OMG… that video is so lame…. three throttle wankers trying to earn respect.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Grumpy farmer says:

    Why does everything the domestic manufacturers build have to pay homage to the sleds of a century ago? Is it beyond the realm of possibility to build a fully modern sporty tourer that can go, stop, carve a corner and go coast to coast reliably? Think Guzzi Mandello, BMW RS/RT, Suzuki GT etc. Why not? Why the hell not.

    • Jim says:

      Motus tried and failed.

    • todd says:

      Because people would compare it to those bikes. It’s much easier to sell a bike to people who make decisions while under the influence of alcohol and when the competition to that bike was designed a century ago.

  5. Kurt says:

    Bike is OK but who the hell makes a video like that. Riding in tennis shoes and a shirt.
    That’s how you earn respect these days. F-off.

    • huls says:

      Both tennis shoes and a shirt are fully lines with kevlar with appropriate protection in the right places. I ride like that everyday.
      Update yourself on modern riding gear. It might prevent you from posting silly outdated comments.

  6. Grover says:

    Prematurely burning up a tire seems like a dumb and expensive hobby. Ever see one of these clowns lose control while demonstrating their ability to “wow” the crowds? Also, “Sport Chief” sounds like an oxymoron if there ever was one.

  7. Mr.Mike says:

    Nice bike but I am troubled by the idea that the video itself might appeal to anyone older than nine years, and nitwits like those shown exist in real life and exercise their ridiculousness unrestricted.

  8. EZMark says:

    How about a Sport Scout.
    Nothing sporty about 700 pounds.

  9. Artem says:

    Cool engine.
    No ways in Ukraine. 883 existed. Have place to place. Among the chicks. Above some roof.
    Some adminismtrative things. Not that comfortable.

    • ThirdUncle says:

      Is potato

      • Artem says:

        Potato and vegetable garden. Two flats in the city. For those who do not affraid. 883 is a question of time. Not now.

        • TimC says:

          Flag on the moon. A woman’s purse.

        • motorhead says:

          English. Striving. Second language, beat poetry. Mushrooms. Kerouac, Timothy. Two wheel nirvana

          • says:

            A lot of mushrooms. Sold them already. Sons of the forest. By the way it is not a second language. Third one plus five programming languages.

        • Mick says:

          Artem on 883. Shaka! And the walls fell.

          • Motoman says:

            “Shaka! And the walls fell”… The Beast at Tanagra…

            As much as we disagree on things Mick, it always surprises me what we have in common. One of my favorite episodes.

          • Mick says:

            That one nailed the original series vibe.

            Artem’s translator almost does too. I wonder at his native language. Few translate so poorly now days.

            I have a 95 year old French author friend that was finishing up a book on his, terrible, experiences during WWII while visiting last summer. He said I can take a crack at translating it. Artem does not give me any confidence at all.

            The French among you will soon be able to buy a copy. The title will probably be Rose Le Neige (pink snow). My wife is fluent in French and really liked the manuscript. The same guy wrote Prion Pour La Mort (pry for the dead) which was a best seller. They re-released it during the pandemic due to the subject matter in the book, mad scientist doctor makes a prion that kills people. He was also Assistant Director for Orson Wells. The guy goes way back. At 95 he can still read without glasses. Amazing guy.

          • Tom K. says:

            A bad translator?
            Sounds more like poorly written
            Haiku poetry

  10. jimjim says:

    Meh, another boring cruiser.

  11. TP says:

    You know, cruisers are all looking pretty dated. Just rolling styling cliches.

  12. todd says:

    I’m not a fan of ugly bikes.

  13. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    This is a very awkward design, by many small details, loosely held in formation. So what you ask ?
    Frame downtubes bent instead of strong looking straight ones. Head light fairing in profile pointed down instead of straight ahead. Same fairing with narrow windscreen, stupid air slots, and not curved back enough for tangental air flow. Huge rear tire and short spokes add a competing mass visually to engine, away up forward. Heavy valanced rear fender contributing to heavy look at end of frame. Lay down rear shocks parallel to swing arm, ( does the geometry work) ? Pretty fuel tank stuck on top instead of blending in to rest of motorcycle. Cantilevered upper muffler flying proud on the right side. Dumb ass seat so low and not flat, forcing reach to handle bars. Old Rusty Porch Looking paint, instead of shiny new machine vibe.
    The meat and potatoes are there, but un cooked.
    Once again awaiting moderation and approval. Why ?

    • Dave says:

      All intentional to evoke that home-built “Rat Rod” style. There are people who prefer this look to an integrated and more refined one. The question is, how many of them will accept it packaged from a corporation when its inspiration comes from garage builders?

      • Reginald Van Blunt says:

        You have just described a whole new term for motorcycle design styling, that works for a great number of modern bikes.
        Way to go Dave.

  14. bad Chad says:

    The rear end looks weird, I think it’s mostly the lame rear fender. 19k list, just so you can get other same minded folks to look at you?

  15. Mick says:

    As a native Minnesotan I would like to support a company that is Minnesotan and has made some of the snowmobiles that I have occasionally enjoyed over the years.

    I had hope for them when they were promoting a street addition to their flat track bike.

    Then came the FTR. I knew then that hoping for them was a waste of time.

    Bikes like this one are just another dose of disappointment. I may not be a cruiser guy. But I do have an eye for industrial design in general. So who signed off on that fairing and that rear fender?

    Look guys. If all you are going to do is make heavy replicas of obsolete motorcycles. You could at least do a decent job of it.

    • Artem says:

      Strange. Saw classic motorcycle gang exactly in Minnesota. Duluth or something. By the way this bike is nice. Too expensive for me.

    • Bob says:

      Polaris makes shit products for dumb people.

      Aim higher.

      • My2cents says:

        I try to find the positives in any motorcycle unless produced in China (are you listening KTM?). Too many people only know how spread their narrow opinion on motorcycles outside of their ability to understand. I personally am not a fan of choppers but this relates to th he negative handling. I do however appreciate the work aand details the go into the creation. I ride several differing platforms a bagger, ADV, off-road, sport bike, and retro. If your momma never told you “ if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” she did you a disservice as a parent.
        A for instance is I noticed the R/E Scram recently. Visuals are pleasing and odd at the same time. The reliability would be my only question. I find Indian motorcycles to be pretty smart in building what sells. The ADV market has only been popular for perhaps 20 years and has probably peeked as riders age out. The bagger cruiser has been around for over 60 years and still growing. The BMW crowd who continuously crow about the GS models and mostly ignore other ADV rides and completely dislike baggers, and yet here is BMW building a a bagger from. 1600cc inline 6. Further to this BMW has sunk a load of cash into the 1800 cruiser/ bagger/ touring platform ( with very poor results sales wise) . Honda GoldWing the most superior touring platform for over 40 years also played the bagger tune. Truthfully some folks need to idle the extreme negative comments your starting to sound like old school Harley-Davidson guys.

        • Motoman says:

          “I try to find the positives in any motorcycle unless produced in China”…. (you)

          “There are two things I hate in this world, people who can’t tolerate others peoples’ cultures, and the Dutch”… (a joke from a movie I’ll let you guess which one)

          The funnier thing is you don’t realize the irony of your statement.

      • Wack says:

        Lol I was waiting on someone to mention Polaris had two 4 wheelers built by them both junk and the mention 100 years of Indian motorcycles ?? I don’t think soo Polaris bought the name years after they were discontinued

  16. Jim says:

    I’d bet it looks better sans Ebay fairing.

  17. Steve says:

    Slap a bikini fairing on it and now it’s a “Sport”? You’re as bad as Harley!

  18. Phil B says:

    It is NOT an effing 100 year old motor cycle company. They make me sick with that $hit.

  19. VLJ says:

    Watching that video, holy crap, the cruiser crowd is all kinds of lame.

    Man, that’s embarrassing.

    • jim h says:

      Whoa! I watched it after your post! Stay away from those dudes! They rap on those throttles and swerve around like they are 16 and loving life. Egads, what a funny video. I loved it.

      • VLJ says:

        “Respect is earned.”

        “Let your bike do the talking.”


        Not talking about twisting the throttle. I’m talking about all this outlaw badass nonsense, even though the typical buyer of this sled is a fat, elderly guy who is long past all this silly street-pirate crap…or should be, anyway.

        • ORT says:

          Most of what is churned out by HD, Indian and the big 4 makers of the Japanese HKO (Harley KnockOffs) is what I have termed:

          fAd Copy.


      • Jim says:

        That’s what never having real brakes or suspension does to you.

    • dt-175 says:

      the bike is a 5. the ad campain is worrisome. having to triple-twist to let out the clutch, the weaving, BOAT SHOES?!? they probably only know of brembo because some cars have ’em. klr 650 man rides for himself. only place we see multiple ducatis in ads like this is the track, not in the hood which is where these boys apparently live. if this vid accurately depicts actual owner riding habits, the small gas tank will be no problem.

      • jim h says:

        Kept thinking one of them was gonna swing by and “frog” the other one on the arm! Oh, and that Tourette’s throttle or whatever they were doing is the new rage I reckon. If I had enough friends that video could go viral! I’m going to watch it several more times. Good stuff.

  20. Dave Sykes says:

    My 2014 Triumph Thunderbird LT has a 5.8 gallon tank. At 48mpg (premium gas required) it has over a 250 mile range. I do wish it were a few pounds (it is 830lbs wet) lighter like this bike. But once you get rolling it is like riding on a cloud. The suspension is very well sorted out.


  21. Neal says:

    I test rode a Chief last year. Really rough around the edges… weird handling, much less power than I expected… it felt like a work in progress. This version looks particularly cobbled together to my eyes. The whole Indian brand seems like a much less refined HD, marketed to be equivalent or superior, with more expensive and fewer accessories available. I don’t get it. I guess you’re more authentically a rebel by going with the no. 2 brand?

    • TimC says:

      A guy at my last job got an Indian (Scout IIRC) and was very happy with it.

      It was his first bike.

      I did not ask if he cross-shopped anything but I sure didn’t get the impression that he did….

    • Tony says:

      Neal do you work for HD?

      • Neal says:

        No, I work for an insurance company and have owned bikes from a Sportster to a Gixxer. Currently riding a 2021 Honda NC750X.

        • Bob says:

          So you ride half of a detuned car engine. Exciting stuff!

          • Jim says:

            But he’s ridden a Sportster, so he knows Harley “quality”.

          • Neal says:

            I have it kitted out with Givi hard bags. It’s easy to use in the city, I can wring absolutely everything out of it in the mountains, its comfortable and practical for travel, and its so nice to have the frunk always there to carry water or snacks or whatever. The exhaust sounds awesome too believe it or not. It’s also ugly and has an unremarkable spec sheet. It’s not for everyone but I feel like anyone who likes putting miles on bikes will find it easy to love.

    • Jeremy says:

      Hmmm, my impression was the opposite. I thought the Chief was more refined than and comparably powerful (slow) to the very similar Harley I last rode. The Chief was certainly the prettier bike to my eye, though that’s a totally personal thing. To be fair, though, that was years ago, and I haven’t ridden the latest Harleys or Chiefs.

    • Jim says:

      Indian is the company pushing HD to improve it’s quality and antiquated designs, so there’s that.

  22. Mrpokey says:

    700 pounds wet, I’ll stick with my new Rocket3 GT.

  23. Matt says:

    I’ll readily admit that I’m not much for cruisers, but this one I really like. stripped down. Minimal bling, Really big motor.

  24. L. Ron Jeremy says:

    Is a wallet chain really required to match the retro Harley vib? I’ve never seen one in the wild; are they making a comeback?

  25. My2cents says:

    I.m not fond of flat paint and I guess that makes me out of style. The Thunder Stroke engines are excellent and the 4 gallon tank for my use is fine, 3 gallons at 40 mpg is 120 miles with a gallon is reserve. I think for me 120 miles between stops is the most I want. If you’re coming off a another riding segment the power to weight ratio is on the lean side, but ample torque will fill the bottom to mid range. The single unit construction makes at home maintenance a breeze. I will certainly test ride one this spring.

  26. Jeremy says:

    Not my thing, but pretty cool as far as cruisers go.

    • ORT says:

      Agreed, Jeremy. I would say that it is much better looking than that turd of a Buell thing. Well…That is damning it with faint praise for almost anything this side of a Suzuki Madura (more Medusa, really) is better looking than that tool of a Buell.

      But the tiny tank makes me question buying one. Whomsoever designed this thing must not ride or they ride the most useless bike of the past few decades: The HD Sportster ’72 with a 2.25 gallon (US) tank(lette).


      • SpeedEasy says:

        Not bad, but I’ll save myself $19,000 and stay with my M109.

        • Randy says:

          I put 38,500 miles on my 9 over 12 happy, trouble free years. It’s gone now but never forgotten.

        • ORT says:

          Too bad Suzuki still has not given the M109 ABS. The bike and its owners deserve at least that. A friend of mine owned one years ago and really liked it!


          • Randy says:

            If you skip over to Cycle World’s article about the new Buell I posted a picture in the comments of what my 9 morphed in to over the years. It wasn’t pretty but it was lighter than stock and scary fast. Lazy Boy comfort with a NASCAR motor. Hang On!

      • Jeremy says:

        Yeah, it seems I remember a number of HDs having sub-4 gallon tanks, so perhaps the intended audience doesn’t place much importance on range. Or maybe these massive, low power engines are pretty efficient? I’ve rented a few cruisers (Harleys) in the past but don’t remember them getting notably better fuel economy than other bikes, but I could be wrong. It seems d motorcycle industry in general started moving to smaller tanks a number of years ago.

        • ORT says:

          Harley’s new Fat Blob has an even lamer 3.5 gallon (US) tank. No thanks and FTMC.

          And fuelly shows some Super Chief models getting low to mid 30s mpg and it has that same stoopid small gas tank as this bike. Manufacturers do not give an airborne intercourse about riders, just poseurs.


          “Show up and let your bike do the talking”. Stoooopid.


        • Dave says:

          These mildly tuned engines get better mileage than higher performance engines of similar displacement, too.

        • Jim says:

          Smaller tanks are probably a way to cut weight without actually doing any engineering.

          • Dave says:

            Limiting external size is another factor. Lots of modern bikes house the air box under the tank. Those have grow over the years and consume volume that could otherwise have carried fuel.

            I think they also know the vast majority of buyers of these bikes just don’t ride that far in a sitting.

      • Dave says:

        If Mrpokey’s number is correct, that Buell warthog is 250lb lighter than this Indian. I continue to believe the Buell is a shop-made proto. IF they release a bike it’ll be get prettier and heavier.

      • Chuck says:

        They only ride in circles or from Starbucks to the Five Guys down the street

  27. ORT says:

    They had me until I read “4 gallon tank”. A 116 cubic inch motor and a paltry 4 gallon (US) tank? WTF?!!

    I guess that most riders do not ride that far and so can get by with a stupid dinky tank? Same with ride-by-wire electronic cruise control for when one is crossing the boring desert. Who needs cruise control?

    At least the bike has tubeless wheels and triple disc brakes so they did not cheap out on that like those morons at Harley do.

    But really? A dinky 4 gallon fuel tank on big motor bike like this?! What? Did they hire Buell to design that?! Must have talked with a certain weakling and they decided to make the bike “lighter” by giving it less fuel capacity. 😉

    Oh LAWDY! I just viewed the video, LOL! WTF?! How intredasting can they make it? “Show up and let your bike do the talking”. Cirque du SoLame.


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