I’ll be 39 years old next month, so I suppose that means I am roughly the sort of person Indian is hoping to lure with this machine. If that’s the case, I’m not 100-percent sure Indian has succeeded.
The first thing I’m not sure about is the act of blacking out everything. That’s a trick that feels a little outdated to me. Perhaps “outdated” is not the right word to use on a motorcycle that so deliberately follows styling cues from the 1930s, but hopefully you get what I mean. It’s something that made sense a few years ago but doesn’t quite fit a bike being released in 2015.
I think “younger” riders are averse to excessive chrome, but not necessarily averse to colour. I think bikes like the Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight or Triumph Speedmaster or Victory Gunner strike a good balance.
Meanwhile, Indian has chosen to keep those damned studs on the rider’s seat, which I think is a bad call. I look at things like that (and fringe) and all I can think of is that scene in Police Academy when they go to the Blue Oyster Bar.
Though, having said that, one of the things I like/respect most about the Dark Horse is the fact that the absence of chrome seems to highlight just how unapologetic Indian’s designers were in being faithful to the brand’s famous art deco lines. It really is a mobile work of art, and, in as much, a declaration of style and taste. This is a bike that will not aesthetically appeal to everyone; the design seems to acknowledge that and almost flaunt it.
Also, I totally approve of the alloy wheels. I think they look better, they’re easier to clean, and they (presumably) make it possible to ride with tubeless tires.
With all this in mind, I find that if I look at it long enough, the Chief Dark Horse is a bike I can love. I’m not sure it quite possesses the je ne c’est quoi that would make me willing to bend myself over a financial barrell to own one –– that thing that makes me think, “Dear Lord, I need this thing in my life right now” –– but if I had the requisite money to hand I would happily part with it. If someone were to give me one, they would receive Christmas cards for life.
I have a number of friends my age who do earn enough money to buy a Chief Dark Horse, but none of them ride motorcycles. Indeed, when I’ve tried to cajole some of them into developing an interest in riding they’ve told me I’m an idiot. One of my friends said: “I would rather learn to speak Tagalog. Keep in mind I don’t know anyone who’s Filipino.”
For that bike to exist, though, these early steps need to succeed. So, if you’ve got the money please go out and buy a Chief Dark Horse. If you don’t like it, you can give it to me.