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What if someone suffixed or prefixed everything they say to you with ‘Your Majesty’ or ‘Your Highness’? That’d be something. It can happen if you belong to a royal family, dress the part and drive a Rolls-Royce. It might also happen if you’re driving the motorcycle that this review is about. Put your hands together to welcome perhaps the most regal machine on two wheels- the Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse.
Why such a grand introduction? Because the motorcycle is just as grand, maybe even more. I have ridden quite a few steeds from Indian Motorcycle. In fact, the xBhp garage was home to a beautiful Chief Vintage and currently houses an Indian FTR 1200. The latter is completely different but other than that, most models have one thing in common- the feeling of charioteering your own royal chariot.
The Roadmaster though is something else entirely. I rode one in the US and then one in Australia. Both the times I looked at it, I wondered how it could move… at all. Then I rode it, came back, looked at it again, and wondered how it moves as it does. It was sofa-big and living-room-loaded. Yet, it moved like a motorcycle much lighter. I was in awe of it. And just now, I got to ride right here in India. 2021 Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse.
As the test bike arrived in the garage, it was like watching a King make his way into his palace. I am not too big on cruisers. They are amazing machines and a whole slew of people swear by them. Me personally, never really got around to being crazy about them. This one though, had me excited right from the get-go. An Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse… in white? Beat that!
The Dark Horse line from Indian Motorcycle is a darker take on all their motorcycles. Lesser chrome, more black, a meaner stance and sinister looks- that is the best way to define these motorcycles. But Dark Horse is not a colour but a theme. It is more about darker nuances that are free from the colour of the motorcycle.
The first thing that I’d like to say here is that the Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse is perhaps the only cruiser that can look this majestic in white. Wherever we went, people were awestruck. Its size and overall design alone could do the trick but the beautiful white paint took it to a whole other level.
Indian Motorcycle likes to emphasize its classic American roots with all its motorcycles. Old-school dials, long and low profile, round headlamps, flaring bodywork, sweeping fenders and drawn out exhaust pipes. Most of the things harken back to the classic American cruiser design theme. The Roadmaster is no different. But I absolutely love what the Dark Horse model brings to the table.
The only thing that could match the regality of an Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse; our Mahindra Thar and fittingly, in white!
Everything that is chrome on the standard model is blacked out on the Dark Horse. Exhaust, suspension, engine, fender accents, headlight surrounds etc.- everything is black. Then there are the wheels that are made with 10-contrast cut spokes. And you just have to love the fins on the radiator!
But hey, we got a chance to take some really good photos and you can see them all so let us skip to the good part- the gizmo-wizardry and, of course, the performance. The Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse features keyless ignition. So, the fob went in the bag and I was saddled up and ready to go.
The first thing one realizes aboard a motorcycle like this is how beautifully Indian Motorcycle has integrated the modern touches in the classic style. The round gauges I talked about are separated by a brilliant 7” Ride Command screen. It has navigation, Apple CarPlay integration, and a readout for so much stuff that you leave it alone till you need it.
The handlebars are tall and wide and the seat is absolute magic. The seat is a ClimaCommand Rogue variant that offers heating and cooling. Combined with the heated grips, it goes a long way in adding some warmth to this cold world. Both of these functions can be adjusted according to your preference with the Ride Command screen.
As you can see, the Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse is a tourer and it shows with all the luggage and the fairing and the windscreen and the sofa-esque seats. In terms of cargo space, you have 137 litres, with remote-locking hard saddlebags and trunk. There’s also cruise control which I didn’t use much but it is a nifty feature to have for long hauls.
Push the starter button and the massive engine comes to life with a rumble. From the sound it makes at idle, you can tell that you are in for a show. Engaging the first gear comes with a decisive clank and off you go. Among nearly everything that left me impressed with the Roadmaster Dark Horse, its engine is right there at the top. The Thunderstroke 116 is a gem of an engine.
It displaces 1,890cc and makes 171 Nm of peak torque that arrives at 3,000 rpm. But a sizable amount of it comes right from the moment you let go of the clutch. That is what makes the Roadmaster Dark Horse one of the most affable big bikes out there. It is so easy to get going and then keep going.
I do not use a lot of oxymorons but this engine demands one. It is so brutally refined that at a point, you forget that it’s a massive Vee. The gearbox presents a similar story; it is a breeze to go through. Another thing that I loved was the clutch and the rear-cylinder deactivation. The latter deactivates the rear cylinder when the going isn’t swift. This feature along with the soft-action clutch make this motorcycle much, much easier to deal with in stop-and-go traffic.
This motorcycle though is highway bird and as soon as you hit one, it liberates you from all your preconceptions about motorcycles. Big and bulky, lithe and agile, this many horses, that many torques- nothing matters as you glide along the tarmac with rock-solid stability even at high speeds.
While the engine does its job in propelling the motorcycle, the long wheelbase, long rake, and well-placed heft of the motorcycle keep it steady as a rock. The Roadmaster Dark Horse is big but most of its mass sits low. Add to that the seat height which is 673mm, and it means the rider sits pretty low as well contributing to an even steadier ride.
The suspension of the Roadmaster Dark Horse is also a thing of beauty. Along with the plush seat, it makes the Roadmaster Dark Horse one of the most comfortable motorcycles out there. Heck, it might very well be the best. But the motorcycle does not feel overly soggy either. You still have plenty of feel from the road. And yeah, this one can handle itself in the bends like it’s no one’s business.
This is one of the most surprising aspects of the Roadmaster Dark Horse. Despite its length and heft and geometry and soft suspension, it feels firmly planted in the corners. It is no knee-scraper but antics like those are better left for parking lots and slightly lesser motorcycles.
The only limiting factor here is the cornering clearance. As soon as you try to go too hard, something will scrape the tarmac. And to a Roadmaster Dark Horse, that is the absolute last thing you want to do. But then again, when you are astride a royal ride such as this, why’d you want to go hard?
Another thing that I’d like to point out regarding the suspension is that while it is pretty good in dealing with the bendies one-up, it may struggle two-up. I did not test it out myself but I can tell that spirited cornering two up may just push the suspension a bit and half more than what you should be asking of it.
We have talked about nearly everything there is to talk about and yet, the crown jewel of this regal vehicle remains. It comes with a 200-watt audio system! What’s the point of one on a motorcycle? Give it a shot and you’ll know.
The audio is crystal clear and pretty darn loud, enough to nearly drown out the racket that the engine makes at full song. The windshield comes in handy here. In its highest position, the windblast is much less than what it is supposed to be at any given speed.
The Indian Roadmaster Dark Horse is one heck of a motorcycle. It is all one could ask from a touring motorcycle and it can give its competition a serious run for their money. It can do that with its engine alone. The other amenities it boasts of just bolster its case even more. Yes, the asking price is a lot of money but then the Roadmaster Dark Horse is a lot of motorcycle too- both literally and figuratively. More than that, you can’t put a price on the chance of having Your Majesty suffixed or prefixed with everything people say to you.