As far as Indian is concerned, there can never be too many Chiefs. Or Indians, for that matter. To help get more of both, Indian is introducing a new model for 2023—the Indian Sport Chief.
As its title states, this Chief has an upgraded performance envelope compared to the standard model. With the Thunderstroke 116 engine, a few choice component upgrades—including suspension and brakes—increased lean angle, and more rear suspension travel, not to mention the sporty-looking quarter fairing, the Sport Chief is ready to go mano a mano with the Harley-Davidson Low Rider S.
Indian engineers cannibalized their own Challenger model when sourcing the Sport Chief’s 43mm inverted KYB cartridge fork. Like the Challenger, the fork is non-adjustable and retains the same 5.1 inches of travel. The seating position of the Sport Chief will certainly feel different from the standard Chief, with the rider gripping the moto-style handlebar attached to six-inch risers.
Complementing the front suspension is a pair of non-adjustable Fox piggyback rear shocks. The Sport Chief provides an additional inch of rear travel compared to the standard Chief (four inches vs. three inches, respectively). Yet, it does not quite match the 4.5 inches of travel of the Challenger with its single Fox shock. Indian’s accessory catalog features Fox shocks with 24 clicks of adjustable compression and rebound damping. Too bad Indian didn’t see fit to make this much sportier shock standard on a model with the word “sport” in its name.
The additional inch of shock travel also bumped up the Sport Chief’s ground clearance from 4.9 inches on the standard Chief to 5.9 inches. The residual effect of that extra inch resulted in a 29.5-degree lean angle, one degree more than the standard Chief’s 28.5 degrees. Seat height also increased by one inch, going from 26 inches to 27 inches.
Front braking performance should fall into the “no comparison” category as Indian added an entire second disc and caliper, giving the new Sport Chief twice the braking power. The twin, four-piston, semi-floating, radial-mount Brembo calipers squeeze two 320mm discs that are both 20mm larger than the single disc on the standard Chief.
Digging a little deeper, it’s no surprise the new, sportier Chief has more aggressive rake and trail numbers of 28 degrees and 4.4 inches. However, it is curious that the 64.6-inch wheelbase of the Sport Chief is greater than the standard models’ by 0.6 inches. The 685-pound curb weight of the Sport Chief is also 15 pounds higher, but that can mostly be attributed to the extra braking components and larger 1890cc engine.
Pricing for the 2023 Sport Chief starts at $18,999. The Sport Chief is available in Black Smoke, Ruby Smoke, Stealth Gray, and Spirit Blue Smoke colorways.