Indian Motorcycle’s New Thunder Stroke V-Twin Engine Rumbles with More Torque

We tested two models equipped with the 116 cubic-inch heart and were taken by its 170Nm of torque.

By Jeff Buchanan 30/09/2019

When it comes to heavy cruisers there is one key specification that speaks to a motorcycle’s character; torque. It is the essential ingredient, the authentic, usable muscle that is felt when the throttle is turned. For 2020, Indian Motorcycle introduces the new Thunder Stroke V-twin, an air-cooled 1.9 litre engine that delivers an astonishing 170Nm of the magical, visceral element of torque, granting select models in the Indian lineup seductive performance.

Indian Motorcycle's 2020 Chieftain Elite.

The 116 platform is equipped with 3 selectable ride modes: Tour, Standard and Sport. Photo by Barry Hathaway, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

The 116 platform is equipped with 3 selectable ride modes (Tour, Standard, Sport), allowing the rider to tailor engine response to riding situation and personal taste. The individual engine mappings—easily accessible with the touch of a button while riding—have their own distinct personality; the Tour setting providing a smooth distribution of power, Standard adjusted for crisp, but predictable throttle response, and Sport granting instant throttle response mated with a more aggressive power delivery.

Indian's new Thunder Stroke V-twin engine in the 2020 Chieftain Elite.

Indian’s new Thunder Stroke V-twin engine in the 2020 Chieftain Elite. Photo by Barry Hathaway, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

Addressing the challenge of engine heat when sitting still, the Thunder Stroke 116 engine features unique Rear Cylinder Deactivation. At operating temperature, when ambient temperature exceeds 15°C, the rear cylinder is automatically deactivated when the bike is at a standstill, resulting in less engine heat building up beneath the rider. The rear cylinder is activated as soon as the throttle is applied.

Indian Motorcycle's 2020 Chieftain Elite.

Indian Motorcycle’s 2020 Chieftain Elite. Photo by Barry Hathaway, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

Two of the machines in the Indian lineup emboldened with Thunder for 2020 are the Chieftain Elite and the Springfield Dark Horse. The Chieftain Elite is Indian’s premium “bagger,” combining cruising comfort with high performance. The bike is crafted for the long haul with flared windshield, comfort-focused floorboards and a new PowerBand Audio system that’s 50 per cent louder than the stock system. The latter presents clearer sound, emanating from integrated saddlebag speakers.



The Chieftain Elite’s striking two-tone paint scheme of Thunder Black Vivid Crystal and Wildfire Candy is augmented with matching engine highlights, set off by Precision Machined Elite wheels. The Ride Command infotainment system features a new quad-core processor, providing faster data gathering with traffic and weather overlay, all easily viewed on the 7-inch screen, easily accessed with new “glove-touch” technology. Highway bars provide superb maneuverability and relaxed positioning. Also on board are remote locking saddlebags, constant tire pressure monitoring and full LED lighting to round out this exquisite cruiser.

Indian's 2020 Springfield Dark Horse.

Indian’s 2020 Springfield Dark Horse. Photo by Barry Hathaway, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

The Springfield Dark Horse is another Indian to receive the lusty Thunder Stroke 116 for 2020. This model features slammed saddlebags and rogue seat, paired with 12-inch-rise mini “ape” handlebars for a distinctive look with plenty of built-in attitude. The Springfield Dark Horse is available in Thunder Black Smoke, Sagebrush and White Smoke paint schemes, each color providing undeniable curb appeal and ominous presence.

Indian's 2020 Springfield Dark Horse.

The Springfield Dark Horse dressed in White Smoke. Photo by Barry Hathaway, courtesy of Indian Motorcycles.

The Thunder Stroke engine will be standard on the Indian Springfield Dark Horse, Chieftain, Chieftain Dark Horse, Chieftain Limited, Chieftain Elite, Roadmaster and Roadmaster Dark Horse. All of Indian’s motorcycles come standard with cruise control and ABS, and are available with keyless ignition.



With the introduction of Indian’s new 116 cubic-inch V-Twin, that sound of approaching thunder may have nothing to do with the weather.

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