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2017 Indian Chieftain Review

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse Review

Jessie Lee is a motorcycle fanatic from Wisconsin. She’s owned 16 motorcycles, and most recently picked up an fell in love with a 2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse that she really had no intention of buying. Jessie rode in to Sturgis on her 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Glide, but she rode out of Sturgis on something else. Join her as she shares her experience on this thorough 2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse review.

I rode to Sturgis on a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Glide but I rode home on a 2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

I took four demo rides on four different models of Indian motorcycles and each one was equally as impressive as the next. Torque, handling, balance, and comfort, these machines have it all. I had a nice little routine worked out for the 30 minute test runs, swerve side to side at various speeds, slam on the brakes at least once, hammer on the throttle and sail through the gears coming down the on ramp, set the cruise and let go of the bars out on the interstate, play with the radio at various volumes and speeds, and of course sit back and enjoy the ride!

Jessie on her 2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

I rode 30,000 miles on my Harley-Davidson Street Glide in two years and thought maybe just for fun I should see what a trade-in arrangement would look like on paper. As it turned out, $23,000 minus my trade looked pretty damn good in black and white. I settled on the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse for my new purchase which coincidentally was a 2017 model and my 17th motorcycle. If the looks of these beautiful machines don’t reel you in, the performance will!

Power, maneuverability, special features…

The Indian Chieftain Dark Horse’s 111 cu in engine with 119 ft-lbs of torque has undergone a million miles of testing and I’m here to tell you it holds up to it’s name “Thunder Stroke”! One twist of the throttle and you can feel the tires grip the pavement catapulting you down the road.

The smoothness of the ride and the transmission shifting is unbelieveable, no more clanking into and out of gears like the Harley-Davidson! Swerving side to side this machine is light as a feather perfectly balanced, set the cruise control and let go of the bars it rides itself down the road. I’m 135 lbs at 5’9” and I can easily push, pull, and maneuver this bad boy all around.

As if all of that isn’t impressive enough, these bikes have liquid balanced wheels with an anti-puncture material to prevent blow-outs and flat tires. The stereo goes to volume level 30 and I can hear it loud and clear at level 11 at 80 miles per hour… I used to lose the Harley-Davidson at full volume around 70 mph.

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse travel gear

Long distance luxuries

I travel long distance often and packing is a big deal in my world. I packed my motorcycle tent and gear from my 5 day Sturgis run along with the T-shirts and souvenirs I had picked up and still had room to spare! The saddle bags are huge and one of them has a 12 volt port in the back. There is an optional glove compartment in the dash and a USB port built into the fairing complete with a carrying bag for your phone.

I’m 135 lbs at 5’9” and I can easily push, pull, and maneuver this bad boy all around.

Another big deal out on the road is comfort. I’m not one to stop unless my fuel tank is empty. The Indians have varied options for foot peg/board and handlebar positions depending on height, no aftermarket parts or adjustments needed. Not to mention the foot boards are long enough that no matter where they are positioned I have several options to adjust myself as the miles pile up.

My stock solo seat on the Chieftain I firmly believe was molded directly to my butt, 777 miles and 12 hours home I had no need to dismount this horse! The air shocks, which come with their own gauge and pump, make adjusting for hauling a load or a passenger easy as pie.

2017 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse all packed up

Last but far from least is the push button adjustable windshield, wow. Cruising down the road loving the wind in my hair but it begins to rain, no problem, push the button and boom! I’ve got a windshield in front of me! This feature along with push button start and push button locking saddle bags were just icing on the cake after I was in the saddle and headed down the highway on this magnificent machine.

I didn’t opt for the gigantic touch screen on my dash because I would’ve had to go with a shiny black paint scheme or a flat silver and I am all about the flat black. The convenience of the 7 inch touchscreen navigation set up is probably worth the extra $500.00, it is the largest screen available on a motorcycle after all. The digital screen I have tells me anything and everything about the bike I could ever need to know while rolling in the wind and even gives the artist and song title on the radio.


Aside from wanting to make this 111 roar loud enough for your nieghbors to hear it, I don’t see myself modifying the Indian Chieftain Dark Horse very much to suit my wants and needs. It rumbles nicely stock but I’m a loud and proud, set off car alarms kind of person. Right now MY neighbors can probably hear it, but I want YOUR neighbors to hear it also.

2017 Indian Chieftain Review - Dashboard

There are two things that could be improved in the coming year models in my opinion. The hand controls and switches should be lit up for easier use while night riding, and the engine heat really warms up the inner thighs. Although here in Wisconsin, that might actually come in handy some months. Only the radio buttons are illuminated currently, so I did fumble around in search of the bright/dim headlight switch and cruise control buttons. The heat factor hasn’t ruined my ride yet but I haven’t had any days over 75 degrees to ride in either.

Speaking of headlights, I almost forgot to mention the insane illumination power of the headlight/fog lights! I’m guessing about a billion candle power here! And maybe because I’m a chick, I find the light up Indian face on my fender absolutely fantastic!


I have owned 16 bikes and currently have 6. All different brands and have different purposes, my 5 lucky ladies just welcomed this beast as the man of my garage!

Well done Polaris, well done.

Jessie Lee

Keep up with Jessie and her kick-ass adventures at Jessie Lee’s Open-Road Experience – Life behind bars & wind therapy

Jessie, thanks for sharing your ride with us. Ride safe girl, and stay awesome! If you guys want to check out Jessie Lee’s latest, click here, or check out her trip to Alaska.
– Adrian

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  1. Excellent.

  2. Great read! I’ve always prefered the Indian over HD.

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