The open road. There are a lot of them out in the Arizona desert. Roads that run straight for as far as the eye can see, plus big sweeping turns, gradual ascents and descents, breathtaking vistas, and even some curvy mountain roads.
This is the natural habitat of big, visceral, air-cooled American V-twin cruiser, where weight, presence, and comfort matter more than quickness and agility. The new 2022 Indian Super Chief arrives ready for the business of travel without getting fully dressed. Here’s our review.
1. The 2022 Super Chief is one of three styles of new classic heavyweight cruisers from Indian. The bikes have a classic, clean look to them spread among three styles—classic naked, a bobber style, and a touring friendly model. The standard Chief has a 19-inch cast front wheel, tubeless tires, a drag-style handlebar, and midfoot controls. The Bobber Chief has 16-inch wire-spoke wheels with tubed tires, 10-inch mini-apes, and forward foot controls. The touring-friendly Super Chief, and the subject of this review, is a combination of 16-inch wheels, a swept-back handlebar, and forward foot controls delivered with floorboards that allow multiple foot positions.
2. The three 2022 Indian Chiefs come in two presentations. There are six models, the three base models mentioned above, plus three premium variants—the Chief Dark Horse, Chief Bobber Dark Horse, and Super Chief Limited. All six have the same braking and suspension setups, rear cylinder deactivation, LED lighting, cruise control, keyless ignition, and three power modes. The base models have the smaller Thunderstroke 111 engine producing 108 ft-lbs of torque, optional ABS, and a traditional analog and digital combination gauge. The premium models are upgraded with standard ABS, a TFT touchscreen Ride Command dash, and the big Thunderstroke 116 ci engine producing 120 ft-lbs of torque for those who want more power. The premiums also have unique paint options, and the Dark Horses have attractive blacked-out components.
3. The 2022 Chiefs invoke a feeling of nostalgia and substance, without being overwhelming. One of the foremost considerations when buying an American cruiser is feel. What feeling wells up inside you when you see the bike? What does the bike feel like when you sit on it? What do you feel in your gut as you twist the throttle and head down the road? Well, don’t tell my two-wheeled, European companions sitting in my garage, but the Chiefs feel good—really good. Sitting on the motorcycle, you are very aware of its large size and heft, but the seat height, chassis, and low center of gravity all come together to make the bike feel very manageable.
4. The big story is the new steel-tubed frame and overall weight. Unlike what happened to me during the pandemic, the Chiefs went on a serious weight loss program. The new frame and stripped-down, minimalist look help the base Chief get down to a svelte 670 pounds wet. The weight loss is immediately felt during low-speed maneuvers and on curvy roads. For comparison, the Springfield Dark Horse comes in at 790 pounds. The touring-ready Super Chief hits the scales at 739 pounds with bags and a windshield.
5. The 2022 Indian Super Chief we tested had a few accessories on it. The standard 23.8-inch windshield was replaced with a stylish Low 17-inch windshield ($480). Highway bars ($350) were added, along with good-looking slip-on Fish Tail exhaust tips ($300). Also, our Super Chief test bike had ABS ($800). The static photos are of the stock Super Chief, while the actions are off the accessorized version.
6. The Super Chief, with its more upright seating, swept handlebars, and floorboards, fit me just right. The three versions of the Chief are intended to address the demand for varying cruiser configurations. I am 6’ and 190(ish) and typically ride more upright bikes. The floorboards give me the ability to move my feet around for significantly improved comfort, plus I can change position for more spirited riding. The seat is well-padded and comfortable, though it tends to lock you in a bit. Being able to move foot position on the boards definitely improves long-distance comfort. I prefer the Super Chief ergonomics to the standard Chief and Chief Bobber. The position of my feet works better for me on the Super Chief, and the Bobber’s mini-apes aren’t as comfortable or functional as the Super’s wide, swept-back handlebar.
7. The Thunderstroke 111 offers up plenty of power for touring. Starting the big twin up brought a familiar rush of excitement and deep rumble that only American muscle can provide. The 111, a carryover powerplant with minimal modifications, may not be the most dynamic in its class. However, it has a pleasant, smooth purr, and its vibes are welcome at cruising speeds. There is enough bark during hard acceleration to be satisfying on the Super Chief—108 ft-lbs of torque is more than adequate. The Thunderstroke 111 is especially fun and engaging in Sport mode, as it requires a bit more shifting to stay in the sweet spot of the powerband. The 111 only feels slightly lacking during throttle roll on at highway speeds when ridden back-to-back with the 116. Otherwise, power is not an issue when riding solo.
8. The new frame gives the 2022 Indian Super Chief a great feel for the road. To fit the engine snugly in the frame, there is a removable section of tubing. When I heard that, my first thought was that structural rigidity and integrity would be compromised. After two days of riding over some rough roads and very tight hairpin turns at much higher than recommended speeds, I can confidently say that chassis rigidity isn’t a problem. The bike handled everything I threw at it very nicely.
9. The Pirelli Night Dragon tires are there to provide plenty of metal grinding opportunities. Throwing the cruiser through curvy mountain roads, I found that the pegs/boards touched down sooner and more often than I would have expected. On the straightaways, on long sweeping turns, and even at triple-digit speeds (closed road, of course), the 2022 Indian Super Chief is composed and predictable. With only three inches of rear suspension travel, bigger hits are felt, as expected.
10. Single 300mm brake rotors at both ends get the job done. Through the twisties and at speed, the front brake has quite a bit of bite, while the back is a lot softer, yet still adequate.
11. The convenient quick-release removal windshield on the Super Chief looks better than it works. Wind protection is one of those highly personal things that seems to be different for everyone, so you can take my observation with the proverbial grain of salt. I tried both the standard and Low windshields, and both produced too much buffeting for my taste. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to try the 26.8-inch Tall windshield.
12. Customization is key. Indian smartly recognized that the new Chief platform needed to be versatile enough for future models and be easily customizable. Heavyweight cruisers are among the most customized segments in the motorcycle market, and owners expect to personalize their machines. Indian addressed this by making many key parts interchangeable. Chief buyers can build their bikes with almost any combination of the three styles desired. There is also a large selection of performance upgrades and accessories available, so you can get a highly personalized bike directly from the factory.
13. The weight, comfort, and maneuverability of the 2022 Indian Super Chief make it an excellent choice for a variety of uses. Big and comfortable enough for full days trips and highway riding but not so cumbersome or unwieldy that I wouldn’t reach for the keys for a quick ride around town. While there was nothing that stood out as truly extraordinary about the Super Chief, it did everything asked of it. Of course, the ability to easily customize the motorcycle is a big plus. Anyone in the market for a light-touring cruiser should put the 2022 Indian Super Chief near or at the top of a list of prospects.
- Helmet: Arai Defiant-X
- Sunglasses: Ray-Ban Wayfarer II
- Jacket: The Idol by Cortech
- Back protection: SAS-TEC
- Gloves: Tourmaster Mid-Tex
- Jeans: The Ventura by Cortech
- Boots: The Executive by Cortech
2022 Indian Super Chief Specs
- Engine type: Thunderstroke 111 49-degree V-twin
- Bore x stroke: 3.976” x 4.449”
- Displacement: 111ci
- Peak torque: 108 ft-lbs @ 3200 rpm
- Fueling: Closed-loop w/ 54mm throttle body
- Exhaust: Dual exhaust w/ crossover
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Wet multiplate
- Final drive: Belt
- Frame: Steel tube w/ cast aluminum rear subframe
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable fork; 5.2 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Spring-preload adjustable shocks; 3.0 inches
- Wheels: Black Wire
- Front-wheel: 16 x 3
- Rear-wheel: 16 x 5
- Tires: Pirelli Night Dragon
- Front: 130/90 x 16
- Rear: 180/65 x 16
- Front: 300mm semi-floating disc w/ 4-piston caliper
- Rear: 300mm floating disc w/ 2-piston caliper
- ABS: Optional (+$800)
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 64 inches
- Rake: 29 degrees
- Trail: 5.2 inches
- Seat height: 26.2 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4 gallons
- Curb weight: 739 pounds
COLORS and PRICES
- 2022 Indian Super Chief w/ Black Metallic paint: $18,499 MSRP
- 2022 Indian Super Chief w/ Pearl White paint: $19,799
- 2022 Indian Super Chief as tested: $20,429