Motorcycle Review: Unleashed 2023 Indian Sport Chief

Indian Motorcycle, America’s First Motorcycle Company, today unleashed its most aggressive iteration of the iconic Indian Chief with the launch of the Sport Chief.

Building upon one of the most historic and influential motorcycle namesakes of all time, the 2023 Indian Sport Chief raises the bar for American V-Twin performance cruisers through premium performance-oriented componentry and timeless, American styling.

2023 Indian Sport Chief looks mean in black smoke.
2023 Indian Sport Chief looks mean in black smoke.

Since launching in 2021, the reimagined Indian Chief has garnered incredible feedback from riders all around the world,” said Mike Dougherty, President of Indian Motorcycle. “With the introduction of Sport Chief, the 2023 Indian Chief lineup is more diverse than ever– offering a wide range of performance and styling options to meet each rider’s unique personality and riding preferences.”

“When designing Sport Chief, Indian Motorcycle set its sights on performance by utilizing the finest components from proven brands. With KYB® inverted front forks, also featured on Indian Challenger models, Sport Chief offers superior handling and ride performance. The Sport Chief’s dual-disc, four-piston, semi-floating caliper, radial-mounted Brembo® brakes deliver confidence-inspiring stopping power, while piggyback rear FOX® shocks increase travel to four-inches and increases lean angle to 29.5 degrees, compared to other Indian Chief models. The result is an Indian Chief that begs for more aggressive riding and provides the confidence and capability to take the riding experience to another level.

“In 2021, we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Indian Chief with a lineup that pays homage to the glory days of American motorcycling,” said Ola Stenegard, Director, Industrial Design for Indian Motorcycle. “With Sport Chief, we wanted to maintain the same care-free attitude and American muscle but elevate it even further with componentry that not only delivers a style and attitude that exudes performance but raises the bar entirely for performance cruisers.”

The 2023 Indian Sport Chief has a stylish quarter fairing up front.
The 2023 Indian Sport Chief has a stylish quarter fairing up front.

Featuring a simplistic steel-tube frame, Sport Chief preserves the Indian Chief’s mechanical styling. At the heart of it all, a blacked-out Thunderstroke 116 motor delivers 120 ft-lbs of torque, while a stylish new Quarter Fairing, along with new moto-style bars with machined triple clamps and six-inch risers set the Sport Chief apart from the rest of the Indian Chief lineup. With mid-mount foot controls and a solo gunfighter seat, riders are in a commanding, yet comfortable, riding position. Sport Chief features sport cast wheels wrapped in Pirelli® Night Dragon tires, a four-gallon fuel tank, bobbed rear fender, dual exhaust, LED lighting, keyless ignition, and three selectable ride modes, including Sport, Standard and Tour.

Ride-enhancing technology comes standard with Indian Motorcycle’s class-leading four-inch touchscreen powered by RIDE COMMAND. Accessible via handlebar controls or the digital touchscreen display, riders can cycle through multiple interfaces, including two different gauge configurations, bike and ride information, and turn-by-turn navigation with connected features like weather and traffic overlays. If using a wireless helmet communicator, riders can control their music within the RIDE COMMAND system once their phone is paired via Bluetooth® or USB. Riders can also access phone information, including recent calls, contacts, number pad and text message history. When connected, incoming calls will appear and can be accepted or declined directly through the RIDE COMMAND system.

For riders looking to personalize their bike, Indian Motorcycle offers an array of accessories that enhance the bike’s performance, comfort, or adds personal style.

The 2023 Indian Sport Chief comes loaded with upgraded handling and performance
The 2023 Indian Sport Chief comes loaded with upgraded handling and performance

Performance Accessories
For a smoother, more comfortable ride, Indian Chief riders can add Adjustable Piggyback Rear FOX® Shocks. Featuring 24 clicks via easy-to-operate twist knobs, riders can adjust compression and rebound damping to suit their riding preference.

Current Indian Chief, Chief Bobber, and Super Chief riders can upgrade to the Sport Chief’s stock dual exposed FOX® Pre-Loaded Chief Performance Shocks, which provide four inches of travel with increased lean angle and an aftermarket, stylish look that increases stability, and improves comfort and capability for aggressive riding.

The new Chief Pathfinder 5 ¾ inch Adaptive LED Headlight, available in chrome or black, features patented, innovative technology that monitors the bike’s lean angle and delivers optimized illumination of the road ahead. With an industry first adaptive high-beam, lighting performance is superior to that of a standard headlight, projecting light a greater distance and spread in front of the bike.

To improve air flow and add high-performance styling, riders can purchase either the Thunderstroke High Flow Air Intake or Thunderstroke Forward Air Intake.

The Indian Sport Scout looks awesome in stealth grey.
The Indian Sport Scout looks awesome in stealth grey.

Style Accessories
Indian Chief riders looking to add personal style can select from a variety of Indian Motorcycle accessories. New 10-inch Moto Handlebar Risers not only add style, but deliver a more comfortable reach. Low and Tall windscreen options are available for the Sport Chief’s Quarter Fairing, while a variety of bags, including a Solo Rack and Rack Bag, Tail Bag, and Bobber Saddlebag, complement the bike’s design.

The Sport Chief’s Quarter Fairing and six-inch Moto Handlebar Risers are available for current Indian Chief, Chief Bobber, and Super Chief riders.

Comfort Accessories
For added comfort and improved ergonomics based off height, riders can add an Extended Reach or Reduced Reach Seat. For two-up riding, Indian Motorcycle offers the Chief Syndicate Seat and a Syndicate Low Profile Passenger Backrest, which complements the Sport Chief’s aggressive design.

Pricing for the 2023 Sport Chief starts at $18,999 and is available in Black Smoke, Ruby Smoke, Stealth Gray, and Spirit Blue Smoke. Sport Chief will begin shipping to Indian dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada in March 2023. Riders can learn more at their local Indian Motorcycle dealership, by visiting RC

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Indian Motorcycle Sport Chief.

Custom Motorcycle: Mark ditches the skirt fender on his Indian Bobber

This is almost as much a story about a 2015 Indian Roadmaster as it is about a 2018 Scout Bobber.

Turns out, it’s also a tale about a man who just so happens to share the same name as the general manager of Charlotte Indian Motorcycle Dealership—Mark Moses. And that’s quite an interesting story, too. When asked if he was that Mark Moses, this Mark Moses said that, while there was no relation, there were some interesting coincidences. “I’ve met him,” he begins. “Oddly enough, we each have an Indian motorcycle tattoo on a forearm. I thought that was funny.” Sure is!

Custom 2018 Indian Scout Bobber

But getting an Indian tattoo inked on your forearm is much easier than getting the actual bike parked in your garage. Due to this, Mark made do with Hondas for years. And since these Japanese motorcycles are really nothing like Indians, there was a lot of doing Mark had to make. “My other builds were attempts at making Honda cruisers look more like Indians, but cleaner and personalized,” he relates. This included internalizing the wiring and, most importantly, installing what Mark calls the “beautiful skirted fenders.”

But then he finally got a Roadmaster. “I have no intention of ever selling my Roadmaster,” Mark says. “I’d love to see just how many miles I can rack up on it.”

The fact that Mark has built so many Hondas with skirted fenders makes their absence on this Indian Bobber glaringly obvious. As Mark says, “This is the first bike I’ve had in a long time that I specifically didn’t want skirted fenders on.”

But why? To Mark, the Scout Bobber represents so much more than just looks. It’s all about raw power. This is why he didn’t get the most traditional-looking Indian (skirted fenders and all)—the Chief Vintage. “I desired an advanced powerplant that could scream on the road, really pull like a banshee out of the corners,” Mark explains. “My need for speed had to be assuaged, and the Scout platform can assuage that for me.”

Custom 2018 Indian Scout Bobber

So, while Mark had a definite vision for his Scout (a modern interpretation of the Bobber look with old-school touches), he could not sacrifice performance or rideability in the pursuit thereof, such as the possibility of removing the rear subframe and fender. “I’m concerned that being peppered with road debris constantly will reduce ride enjoyment,” Mark says. Similarly, chopping off the front fender, while cool, would “expose the front of the tank to a lot more thrown dirt.”

If he ever did decide to remove these components, Mark would do so in his two-car garage. But he hasn’t and probably won’t. Mark has, however, done a great many other mods there, which has required him to move his other bike and his wife’s car out of the way every time. “It gets tight,” Mark says of his garage. “But I have enough room to make it work.”

The very first time Mark moved all six wheels in his garage so he could start customizing his Scout Bobber was on the same day he purchased it, which also happened to be the very first day that the Bobber arrived at Mark’s local dealership in August 2017.

Besides not installing Indian’s iconic skirted fenders on his Bobber, Mark’s very first mod kept with his oldest garage tradition. “The first thing I do to every bike is remove the reflectors,” he says. “Every bike I look at that still has those reflectors brings this urge to remove them.”

Although Mark doesn’t remember what bike started this ritual, he suspects it was a CBR600. “I do remember thinking that the fork reflectors and the side reflectors at the rear seemed like afterthoughts that didn’t flow with the lines,” Mark adds. “I tentatively popped one off, stood back, and said, ‘That was the right move.’”

It’s understandable that Mark followed through on this tradition with his Scout, especially since he experiences urges rather than just mere wants or interests.

Custom 2018 Indian Scout Bobber

It’s quite possible that Mark feels a similar urge to test-ride motorcycles, too, because he’s ridden, in his words, hundreds of them. “It wasn’t long before I’d ridden every model that Indian offered,” Mark says. While this would usually be a good thing (to avoid annoying buyer’s remorse), the fact that he test-rode Scouts led to some complications with an aftermarket seat base. “The rear subframe is different on the Bobber than on the Scout, which surprised me,” says Mark. “The Mother Road’s base I purchased was impinging on the rear fender.”

So, Mark sent Mother Customs new measurements and alterations to create a one-off. The front mounting hole, Mark reveals, needed to be elongated and the mounting plate required shortening in the back. “The rounded ‘ears’ of the plate kept hitting the fender by approximately 1/8”,” Mark says.

Since Mother Road Customs didn’t have a Bobber for testing, the manufacturer supplied Mark with what he believes to be a pre-production unit. “It worked great, and I thanked them for it,” Mark says.

Mark also had some problems with how Indian’s Thunder Black Smoke color scheme clashed with some aftermarket pipes. Unlike the rear fender clearance debacle, this had nothing to do with the design discrepancies between the Bobber and base Scout model. The colors just didn’t match.

Mark first tried applying VHT high-temp engine paint. It looked good. At least, it did for the first 30 miles. “Then the header end of the mufflers discolored and flaked off,” says Mark. “So much for being high-temp.” Next, he tried a “ceramic” powdercoat that would ostensibly hold up to high temperatures. It didn’t though. “While the coating maintained its structural integrity, it discolored in patterns that showed the various amounts of heat the mufflers had absorbed from the exhaust stream and motor,” Mark relates.

Custom 2018 Indian Scout Bobber

His last idea, as Mark admits, should have been his first. “I was aware of Cerakote and its amazing ability of getting heated on firearms and suppressors at temperatures where the underlying metal is nearly translucent and yet still returns to its original color,” he says. “It finally occurred to me that a suppressor was a muffler.” That did the trick.

Mark did plenty more of these tricks to bring his stock bike “to that last 10 percent.” And even though Mark’s Bobber is nearly done (9.5 percent?), he doesn’t plan on getting another bike anytime soon. He did, however, come very close to getting a Motus MST-R recently.

Imagine what an MST-R would look like with a skirted fender! RB

Motorcycle Gear: Cardo PACKTALK Communications System

I was never a fan of helmet-to-helmet communication. I used to like being in my helmet alone, my only thought being of the road ahead. Keeping a conversation going while riding seemed like a distraction. Plus hearing my riding buddies drone on and on about God knows what, I get enough of that while enjoying a beverage after the ride. Sorry, of course, I’m kidding. The conversation is always a delight. Is this reading as sarcastic, hummmm?

All jokes aside, I used to be opposed to the comm thing, which changed this summer while testing out the Scala Rider PACKTALK from Cardo. Cardo was one of the first companies to create a clear and noise-free Bluetooth headset for cell phones with wind-suppressing technology. It’s called Scala.

Cardo PACKTALK helmet-to-helmet communication
Here’s what is included in the Cardo PACKTALK motorcycle communications kit.

One morning while riding to work, one of the Cardo crew had an epiphany: What if we use this same technology, wrap it in a waterproof shell and attach it to a helmet? That’s all it took to get the ball rolling. Handing this idea off to one of their engineers the project took shape and eventually culminated with the Scala Rider. A hands-free device that would connect riders to their music, cell phones and each other. Obviously, Cardo wasn’t all that creative when it came to a name for this brilliant new device, but who cares, it’s awesome.

Now, I said I used to be opposed to the comm thing. I was recently schooled the hard way on why a device such as this can be extremely useful and dare, I say it, fun.

My friend and longtime riding compadre Jon and I recently rode up to New Hampshire from Connecticut, well, Jon from Brooklyn, to cover an American Flat Track race. Great race, Bronson Bauman won the Big Twins event on an Indian FTR1200. Our ride up was great, beautiful weather and back roads for miles. We’ve ridden together for years, never once with any more communication than hand signals, and, um, simple gestures. But this time we both installed Cardo’s Scala Rider PACKTALK system.

My helmet is the Shoei GTII Air and Jon has an Arai. We had no problem attaching the devices to our helmets, using one of the many mounting brackets provided. Syncing the two was also a breeze. Simply hold down a sync button on each unit until they connect. Getting the device and my phone to talk took a few steps, but once the PACKTALK signal was recognized, it connected every time I turned it on. Connecting to your phone is key for listening to music and using Google maps. Have to say, having turn-by-turn directions given to you while riding, that’s nice. You can also give Suri commands to make or answer phone calls and text. And if you have music playing, it lowers automatically when any other voice functions are used, nicely done.

The headset and mic fit nicely into my helmet. Being a new model and communication-friendly, cutouts were in place to accept speakers and wires. Most touring helmets come with these cutouts, making installation much easier. Glove-friendly buttons and a roller wheel for volume are positioned on the device allowing riders to choose commands easily while riding.
The audio is great and virtually wind free. My music sounded good, and the conversations between Jon and me were clear. Surprisingly, we both enjoyed the helmet-to-helmet connection, go figure.

This connection came in very handy on the ride home. We started off in a light rain that quickly grew intense. We were on the highway for about an hour when my bike suddenly lost power. I was in the third lane at the time, and it was pouring, not ideal. Jon was leading when this happened. Using the intercom, I told him I had lost power and needed to get to the shoulder immediately. Without hesitation, he dropped back, used his bike’s signals, and guided me in. Without this Scala Rider, I would have been stranded alone, not even able to get to the side of the road or worse. Hard lesson learned.

So I’m a believer now in helmet-to-helmet communication. It’s pretty clutch in sketchy situations and damn nice to have your tunes along for the ride. This Cardo ScalaRider PACKTALK delivered pretty much as advertised, plus somehow made the droning banter, old friend, well, delightful. RC

Motorcycle Gear: Kuryakyn Freeloader Motorcycle Travel Bag

Some material objects just speak of adventure. Motorcycle tool kits, good knives, 40mm grenade launchers…and bandannas that have been freshly laundered to remove blood and oil stains, come to mind. A good motorcycle travel bag also opens the floodgates of wanderlust for me.

The Kuryakyn Freeloader motorcycle travel bag is one of those objects that screams “itinerant journey.” After I packed this thing with all I needed for a long weekend, I headed out of Columbia, South Carolina, and rode to Ocracoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. Everything I needed for a three-day trip fit easily. I had plenty of room left if I wanted to purchase any Blackbeard souvenirs. Over 300 years ago Blackbeard used to hunt in the waters off Ocracoke Island, and, honestly, who wouldn’t want Blackbeard souvenirs?

Motorcycle Travel Bag

This bag is clearly designed by someone who rides. It attaches solidly to a sissybar without any extra straps required. I really like the system used to secure it to the bike, and it has been rock-solid for several trips now. It has a pocket for small incidentals like sunscreen and earplugs (or a flask and dry powder depending on the nature of your foray). There is a nice bungee that holds a bedroll and an external pocket will fit a bottle of Gatorade and some beef jerky.

Motorcycle Travel Bag

It’s an attractive bag that comes in solid, pirate-black and is made of Anne Bonny-tough 1200 denier. I hit a few small rain showers and nothing inside was even damp, even though I didn’t take the 35.2 seconds necessary to slide the included rain cover over the pack. The bag has a zippered, roomy, bottom compartment that can be used to hold the rain cover without any wrestling and more importantly, without removing any straps from the bag. Sweet.

The Kuryakyn Freeloader bag is tough and affordable. It’s well made and even stylish. If Calico Jack rode a chopper, he would want this bag. I’m keeping mine. RC

Click here to view more Kuryakyn products.