America's oldest motorcycle brand is celebrating the 100th anniversary of one of its biggest models in 2022, with the Indian Chief meeting the milestone with an updated and rather stylish range.
“The Indian Chief is a truly iconic motorcycle and what better way to celebrate its 100th birthday than unleashing an entirely new Indian Chief lineup,” says Indian Motorcycle President, Mike Dougherty.
“These bikes capture the mechanical simplicity and attitude of classic American V twins, yet bring it all forward with modern sophistication and features. We could not be more thrilled to bring this new platform into our lineup.”
The new Indian Chief range is powered by Indian's downright visually stunning Thunderstroke 116 – the newer and bigger brother of the engine the model made its debut under the reborn Indian Motorcycle brand back in 2014. Power is a claimed 162Nm of torque which is ample for punting the big American bikes around at more than a brisk pace.
The engine is now housed within, in Indian's words, "a simplistic steel-tube frame" with suspension coming in the form of 46mm front forks up front and a pair of outboard mounted rear shocks instead of the previous monoshock out the rear. Both rear shocks are preload-adjustable, but it is quite an interesting move by Indian to walk away from the hidden monoshock design of the 2014-2020 generation Chief. Lean angle (because it is something American companies feel they need to shout about...) is a claimed 28.5 degrees before you start scraping footboard.
But its in the visual department that the new Chief lineup has seen its biggest changes. Gone are the swooping fenders and heavy looking front nacelle, with the new range featuring a less artisanal aesthetic that will surely help attract more buyers to the marque. Don't get me wrong, the outgoing Chief range were damn fine lookers, but there is something about the simplified looks of the new bikes that are strangely appealing.
The lineup features a 15.1-litre fuel tank, bobbed rear fender, dual exhaust, LED lighting, keyless ignition, and Pirelli Night Dragon tyres. Along with electronic cruise control, riders can adjust throttle response of the big Thunderstroke engine by selecting one of three ride modes: sport, standard or tour – all on via the new TFT dash unit which a first for the Chief range.
Featuring a short wheelbase of 1626mm, a low seat height of 662mm and a wet weight of a claimed 304kg, Indian's goal for the updated chief was to make it one of the more approachable bikes in a class of heavyweight behemoths. The new bikes definitely look like they have slimmed down a tonne in their quest to shake the image of the big-bore Indian range being a grandad's bike.
“We wanted to capture a timeless look that never goes out of style, and looks beautiful whether naked or fully dressed,” said Ola Stenegard, Director, Industrial Design for Indian Motorcycle.
“We also wanted to keep it simple enough to allow riders’ imaginations to take flight with personalization options and possibilities. Ultimately, this is a bike that evokes emotion with simple mechanical styling and raw American muscle. It’s a pure riding machine.”
The 2022 Indian Motorcycle Chief range will come in three variants for 2022, with the base Chief and Chief Vintage going the same way as the old-school styling and apparently getting cut from the lineup. Instead, we're left with the Chief Dark Horse ($24,995) as the entry to the range, followed by the Chief Bobber Dark Horse ($26,495) and topped by the Super Chief Limited at $28,995.
The Chief Dark Horse (above) is defined by its stripped-down, mechanical styling highlighted by drag handlebars, 19-inch cast alloy wheels, mid-mounted foot controls, a slim headlight bucket and a solo bobber seat.
The Bobber Dark Horse (above) switches things up with mini-ape hanger handlebars paired with the traditional forward-mounted foot controls, adds fork and shock covers, and features a large headlight bucket wrapped in a nacelle.
Designed for comfort and practicality, the range-topping Super Chief Limited (above) stands apart with a quick-release windscreen, black leather saddlebags, touring seat with passenger pad, floorboards and traditional cruiser handlebars. Like the Bobber Dark Horse, the Super Chief Limited features 16-inch wire wheels, large headlight bucket with nacelle and fork covers, but tops it all off with a traditional full chrome exhaust.
The new 2022 range of Indian Chief motorcycles is expected to arrive in New Zealand dealerships from April 2021 along with a range of 70 accessories to choose from to further personalise the bikes to the owners choosing.