May 19, 2024


Automotive to Us

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: First ride

In white with that massive batwing fairing at the front, crystal warbonnet fender ornament and panniers large enough to pack in a one-bedroom apartment, the Roadmaster Dark Horse is impossible to ignore. From children to the elderly, no one was spared an almost instinctive double-take as the Indian chugged by. The look that says “Why didn’t this idiot just buy a car?” is something that you just have to get used to on a flagship ‘murican bagger.

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Design

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: The sleeker batwing has the auxiliary lights and turn indicators mounted on the outside. Vents on the bodywork around the leg guards to control heat from the engine

This new design form is visually more svelte without taking away the classic bulk appeal of a full-size bagger. For example, the batwing fairing is still probably the first thing that caught your eye, but it’s dropped the integrated turn indicators from previous generations, making it appear sleeker. Similar treatment has been given to almost all the fenders, panniers and bodywork. What has changed drastically though, is the build and quality of equipment used on the motorcycle.

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: The crystal warbonnet fender ornament is a pretty nice touch and adds to the persona of the roadmaster

Weld seams are now machine precise and neat. The paint quality has improved several-fold as have the button cubes, levers and rubber moldings. It’s proof of how far Indian Motorcycle has come in the last few years, this is a motorcycle that instantly feels worth the fortune you’ve spent on it, and that should say everything.

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Features

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Aside from a rider’s backrest the panniers on the back seat have been moulded for an extra comfy backrest for the pillion, independent speakers ensure that the pillion doesn’t miss on any of the luxuries.

Once in the comfortable saddle, though, you get your first taste of the Roadmaster’s two-wheeled opulence. Both seats are heated, as are the grips. There is ventilation on the bodywork around the knee guard that allows an escape from the heat generated by the motor. The electrically operated windscreen takes care of wind buffeting which can be adjusted for rider’s even larger than my 6’1″ frame.

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Analogue dials flanking the 7-inch infotainment screen give a good mix of old school charm with new generation tech. The body-coloured dash just adds to the premium appeal.

The analogue instrument dials flank a 7-inch TFT touch screen that is compatible with Apple CarPlay. Android users can also use the native navigation suite, along with Bluetooth connectivity for calls and audio. The audio experience from the system though is what really stands out. The speakers are mounted in the batwing fairing and on the pillion panniers as is tradition, but thanks to artful positioning of speakers, they give one of the best audio experiences I have ever had on two wheels with clear sound even with a full-face helmet on.

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Engine & performance

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Black and chrome treatment to the engine is what sets apart the standard Roadmaster from the Dark Horse variant

Powering it all is a mighty ‘murican big block V-twin displacing 116 cubic inches or 1,890cc with a 113mm stroke. As one of the largest V-twins on a production motorcycle, there’s big torque on tap with as much as 171Nm of peak torque kicking in from as low as 3,000rpm. It sounds like a lot but remember that once fueled up this is a 408kg motorcycle, so even 171Nm of torque is just about adequate. It’s enough though to get you off the line smoothly and then keep you chugging along at triple digits. The gear actions are a little longer than one would have liked and require a little tact to shift smoothly but tall ratios and oodles of low down torque mean that you’re not really going to be shifting all that often. NVH though from the motor has decreased drastically, this new 116 V-twin delivers without even the slightest vibrations either at the pegs or at the bar. In addition to all of this, the 2021 Indian Roadmaster also gets cylinder deactivation that allows you to switch off the rear cylinder when idling or chugging along on the highway for better range from its 21-litre fuel tank. All of this mass is held together by a complex tubular chassis that uses dual down tubes to hold up the engine and protect it from the road.

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: In all 136 litres of storage makes for luggage-free travel. 6. Intuitively placed buttons with proper damping and build add to the premium experience

Strong metal reinforcements at critical points keep the flex at a minimum. The rake is set to a sharpish 25-degree that makes for good turn-ins at least within the motorcycle’s 30-degree lean range. Once on the roll, the bike is reasonably easy to flick around and even take the odd u-turn without needing to put your foot down, which is pretty good for a motorcycle with a 1,600mm plus wheelbase. The suspension up front is a pretty standard pair of 46mm telescopes tuned for a softer ride, but it’s the rear air-spring that really makes the ride comfortable. Braking comes from three 300mm discs, two up front and one at the rear. Even then reigning in the 500kg mass of rider plus motorcycle is a tall order, which makes bringing the Roadmaster to heel a bit of a task. Emergency stops are best avoided altogether, and speeds are best kept well below the electronically limited 185kmph top speed.

Although none of these things is likely to bother you. Once you’re in the 673mm seat it’s hard to be bothered about anything. Your posterior is kept warm and cosy by the seats and cushioned by the air suspension, pesky wind buffeting is taken care of, your favourite tunes playing on the stereo and the sound of two massive pistons chugging along, at the very least it makes it very easy to appreciate this genre of motorcycling. A few hours with this motorcycle, and you begin to understand the concept of freedom and the open road, and while you ride past a group of plebs with that signature expression, you’ll be thinking to yourself “why would any idiot buy a car!”

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Verdict

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Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse review: Tactfully placed speakers make for an exciting audio experience even in the noisiest locales

At Rs 43.15 lakh (ex-showroom), the Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse is one of the most expensive motorcycles that you can buy right now in India. For the price what you get is a motorcycle that is the embodiment of the American highway cruiser philosophy, that isn’t fast or supremely agile, but it makes the idea of long distances in the saddle seem easy and comfortable. With no CVO from Harley on sale yet, this is the only flagship American bagger that you can buy in India right now.

Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse

Engine 1,890cc, V-Twin cylinder, liquid-cooled

Power NA

Max torque 171Nm@3,000rpm

Gearbox 6-speed

Wheelbase 1,668mm

Kerb weight 408kg

Seat height 673mm

Fuel capacity 20 litres

Price: Rs 43.15 lakh (ex-showroom)

On Sale Now


Smooth ride, features



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