Bikes – 2023 Indian Sport Chief

After test riding a new Indian Chief Dark Horse with the same 116ci engine as the Sport Chief, I had to have one. The problem was that the dealership I normally went with was two-fold. They did not have any in stock, and they low-balled me on the trade-in. If I was a more patient person I likely could have sold my FTR fairly quick, but alas – I am impatient.

A year prior, I picked up my FTR for $17k from the dealer. I brought it back and they offered $10k with 3500 miles and roughly $1000 of accessories installed. Had the Sport Chief been in stock I may have just done it right there, but instead I wanted to do some research to see what my FTR was worth and also what other dealers may have in stock.

I did some looking via the Indian website through the inventory at local dealerships, and saw the bike I would eventually purchase on display at a dealer down in Columbus, GA – roughly 3 hours south of where I live. Now something about me, is when I want anything – if I have the means – it takes about .5 seconds to make the decision to do it.

So I hopped on my FTR for the long ride south, and within an hour or two of arriving, I was back out the door on a brand new Sport Chief. The dealership gave me a much better offer on trade-in (I was still taking a hit, just not as big of a hit), and everyone was very pleasant to work with. They didn’t fight too much when I declined the laundry list of warranties either.

“I’ll get a warranty if I can keep the bike longer than a year.”

The first thing I noticed about the bike on the ride home was how stable it was on the highway. The fact it weighed 200lbs more than my FTR was part of it. The fairing did an excellent job of blocking the wind, although I did notice increased wind-noise in my helmet compared to the FTR with the Puig windscreen though. The second thing I noticed – the heat.

All of my experience with motorcycles have been water-cooled bikes. In slow traffic, the engines still get hot, but the heat is dispersed by a radiator and an electric fan ahead of the rider. On an air cooled bike, that heat gets dumped out the sides and via the exhaust. It was kind of brutal TBH, but I adapted. I also learned quickly that a heat shield isn’t foolproof as evidenced by part of my boot having melted onto it.

So I get home on my new ride, and honestly couldn’t wait to get off the thing. No regret here, but I’ve just ridden 6+ hours in 90 degree heat. I wanted to take a shower, change my clothes, and sit on my couch! As the days progressed and I spent more time on the bike, the more I enjoyed it. The seat is the most comfortable stock seat I’ve ever experienced.

Every single bike I had before had a stock seat that would thrash my hind end and tailbone after about 45 minutes. On this bike I can easily put in a few hours before I need to step off, and even then – there’s no back or tailbone pain anywhere. I think the only comfort issue I’ve realized is in my left shoulder after about an hour and a half.

There are a few differences between this bike and any other I’ve ridden. For starters, no key. There’s a wireless keyfob like my car, bike won’t start without it or a specific code entered in to the display. Second, no fork lock. Every other bike I’ve ridden had a way to lock the fork and make it more difficult to steal. Lastly, no helmet lock. I did buy a Lidlox though.

The way Lidlox works, is it mounts to the handlebar, obscures the mounting bolt and allows me to lock my helmet to the bike. The only way to remove the helmet is to defeat the lock or cut the strap. The former is possible but pretty obvious if someone is trying to do – and the latter makes stealing the helmet pointless. A good investment regardless.

The silliest thing though, the bike came with a gas cap that was not locking. Every other bike I owned had a locking gas cap. For this bike, it was a $99 option. Seems like a lot for a gas cap because it is, but hey, y’all can go buy your own gas. Leave mine alone. I did land a deal on some used saddle bags while I was picking up that cap though…

I bring the bike back for its 500 mile service and then proceed to have some fun with it. The bike has 3 ride modes, Touring / Standard / Sport. Touring is probably best for long highway cruises as it also appears to shut down one of the cylinders. Standard is a very manageable mode where the power is there but it’s not really going to push my limits.

Sport mode. Hoo boy. Sport mode turns the throttle into a hair trigger and rapidly unleashes every single horsepower and foot/lb with the slightest of twists. I’ve been in sport mode, hit a bump, tapped the throttle, and it was like one of those electric broncos in a honky-tonk. It’d slam me into the seat back, and I’m holding on to the handlebars for dear life.

It’s a 685lb bike that is acting like my old 500lb FTR. Most of my riding then is done in standard mode until I get on a highway. I’m still getting used to the added power, but there’s one other thing about this bike which I quickly noticed. Left curves. I don’t even think when I enter them now. I just lean the bike and keep riding.

There was maybe one instance thus far where I saw some gravel in the road, went a little wide on a left hander to avoid it, and that gave me a bit of anxiety as I got closer to the shoulder than I was comfortable with, but otherwise I’m back to enjoying my hobby… just reacting to and planning for the next turn. It is two wheeled gasoline therapy and the doctor is in.

Just last week I took my bike up into the mountains north of Dahlonega, specifically taking the route where I had wrecked my FTR. I took my time. I prayed. I had some good conversations with the Lord, and healed more with every curve I took. I got in, got out, and rode on.

I finally got around to running Tail of The Dragon last week, in my car, not sure I’m ready yet to do it on the Chief but who knows. I’m in no rush. God bless!

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