If you’re a cruiser fan looking for your next motorcycle, you probably know where to look. Both Indian Motorcycle and Harley-Davidson have simply taken over this market. Of course, BMW is taking a good portion of the market, with large touring bikes like the R18 Transcontinental we reviewed. But the rumbles, the raw riding experience, and the reputation will always go to the first two mentioned. Indian Motorcycle has been coming out with some beautifully designed bikes. Their smaller bikes are simple, muscular, and inexpensive. Simple and muscular stand true for the Chief Bobber, but inexpensive wouldn’t be the first word to come to mind. We wanted to see if the 2022 Indian Chief Bobber is worth the $16,499 price tag, so we took it for a month-long ride.
- Classic Bobber Design
- Award-Winning Engine
- Welded Steel Tube Frame
- Model: Chief Bobber
- Engine/Motor: Air-Cooled 111 Cubic-Inches
- Torque: 108 lb-ft @ 3,200 RPM
- Drivetrain: RWD
- Transmission: 6-Speed
- Great And Simple Design
- A lot of riding tech
- Vastly Different Riding Modes
- Great Braking
- Mini Ape Hangers
- Keyless Ignition
- Visor Felt Useless
- High Price Tag
Air-cooled Thunderstroke Brings The Heat
Taking up a large portion of the design, the air-cooled Thunderstroke 111 engine is the heart of the Chief Bobber. It measures 111 cubic inches in displacement, with a compression ratio of 9.5:1. A combination of the air-cooled rawness with the more advanced tech, like the closed-loop fuel injection, this engine is perfectly-balanced between old-school and new-school. The motor works together with a 6-speed gearbox with a wet, multi-plate clutch. The 2022 Indian Chief Bobber delivers 108 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 3,200 RPM, while weighing 670-pounds. On paper, the Chief Bobber seems fun. We recently reviewed the 2022 Scout Rogue Sixty and we really enjoyed it. So, we couldn’t wait to see what the bigger Chief can do.
Old School Bobber Design
The beautiful thing about the 2022 Chief Bobber is that it looks like an actual classic bobber without any modern touches. Often times, we get classic designs with a fully-digital gauge that takes away from it. This design is classic through and through. The mini ape-hangers make for quite the comfortable ride, not to mention enhances the overall design. The fat 16-inch wire wheels look, in our opinion, better than the Scout Sixty’s. It is beefy and chunky and makes for a solid presence on the road. The front gets an LED light, packaged perfectly in the black, round headlight. The short visor completely changes the front’s look, for the better we think, but it also comes with some frustration (more on that in the riding portion). As per its bobber heritage (which expands beyond this model), this Chief comes with a single seat, so you’re all alone on this ride. In addition to the single seat, chopped fenders improve the looks even further. Overall, the 2022 Indian Chief Bobber is a minimalist motorcycle that does everything right in terms of design.
Proper Technology In A Classic Package
The minimalism continues throughout the cruiser, with a mostly-analog gauge that features a small-enough digital screen. Riders can scroll through the digital screen to display RPM, temperature, ride modes, and a few other information. Speaking of ride modes, the Chief Bobber comes with three available riding modes: Tour, Standard, and Sport. While the Sport mode offers the most fun, Tour and Standard make for a much more comfortable and far smoother ride. Technology continues with keyless ignition, cruise control, ABS, and much more. All in all, the 2022 Indian Chief Bobber is simple. It has the technology to make it a great daily, and the design to make you proud to ride it.
Comfortable Daily With Some Street Cred
When I received the Chief Bobber for the review, I was relieved. At 6’2″ in height, I had a blast with the Scout, but I definitely felt cramped. The Chief Bobber is visually larger, so I knew it would be a fun ride. The foot pegs placement, the 26-inch seat height, and the mini ape hangers create just the perfect triangle for a wide range of body types. It worked for my body type well. Starting the Chief, you will feel a warm, roaring welcome from the rumbling and throaty 111 cubic-inch air-cooled engine. I started the ride in sport mode, and it really wakes the bike up. It’s quick enough, it won’t melt your face off, but it will definitely get you out of any trouble and get you to your cruising speed faster than you ever need to. However, sport mode made the throttle extremely sensitive, that it became uncomfortable getting off the line.
We tried the Touring and the Standard driving modes, and the Standard feels like the best of all worlds. It’s responsive, it’s smooth, and it’s just the perfect mode for a cruiser. On the other end of the spectrum, the Touring mode just made the Chief Bobber lazy and laggy, making it a great mode for rain, but boring otherwise. We mentioned my height, and earlier we mentioned the frustration that came with the visor, and now it’s time to address it. While this may not bother most riders, my height and body dimensions made the visor a major inconvenience. The small windshield directs the air perfectly to the high tip of my helmet. This makes my helmet rattle the whole time. This usually ends in a headache. Again, you have to be almost exactly my height with my torso size to have this problem, not to mention the visor is extremely easy to remove. It just wasn’t my bike to remove.
The wind slapping my helmet right at the end of it didn’t deter me from riding. And riding I did. This cruiser is comfortable and truly encourages you to keep going. A two-hour ride with the Scout was all I could do before getting uncomfortable, but the Chief had no time limit. The seat offers enough cushions and support, while the music from the exhaust makes you want to keep revving and listening. The Chief Bobber has a 28.5-degree lean angle, and it feels really athletic that you will feel comfortable really leaning it into corners, until the foot peg and your shoe hit the ground. That’s when you realize you’ve leaned enough.
One of the major complaints we had about the Scout Rogue was how the rear suspension almost bottomed out during road bumps. The Chief carries itself as the much larger bike it is and the suspension feels far smoother. Braking performance is great, thanks to the 300mm semi-floating rotor in the front and the same-sized floating rotor in the rear, with 4-piston and 2-piston calipers front and rear. Overall, riding the Chief Bobber is an experience. It brings a lot of tech, like the cylinder deactivation feature when idling to reduce engine’s heat, combined with a pure riding feel that of much older motorcycles. The question is, is it worth the price tag?
A Full Package With A Ton Of Character
Coming to the end of our time with the 2022 Indian Chief Bobber, I can confidently say this is as close to the full package as you can get in terms of a small/medium-sized cruiser. The sound, the tech, the performance, and the overall experience makes an argument that this cruiser is worth every penny of its $16,499, not to be confused with the Chief Dark Horse, which comes at a higher price. If you’re looking for a daily that is comfortable, and more importantly timeless, this is it. The design will never go out of style, and the tech is good enough for what you need the bike for. The Chief Bobber can also serve you well on road-trips, thanks to its comfortable riding positions. If you’re a cruiser fan and you have the money, this is a good place to put it.