Words: Mike Ryan
Photos: Indian Motorcycle
Since 2016, Indian Motorcycle and Jack Daniel’s have teamed up to release a limited-edition motorcycle, inspired by the style and long history of both brands. For 2022, that collaboration continues…
Bikes and booze may not seem a natural – or even ethical – combination, but for the past five years, Indian and Jack Daniel’s have made the combination work. America’s oldest motorcycle brand and America’s first registered distillery have tapped into their respective histories to create bikes that pay tribute to both and have been hot sellers.
What started in 2016 as a celebration of Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary has become an annual collaboration, with the Chief Vintage, Springfield, Chieftain, Scout Bobber, Springfield Dark Horse and Roadmaster Dark Horse serving as the platforms for past creations, while the famous Tennessee distillery has inspired the custom touches applied to each limited-edition motorcycle - from the well-known Old No. 7 whiskey to various other blends and even the Jack Daniel's in-house fire brigade.
In 2019, the union between Indian and Jack Daniel’s was expanded with the opening of the ‘Lynchburg Garage,’ a motorcycle and merchandise store just down the road from the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, that also offers refreshments and motorcycle hire.
A third partner in this union is Klock Werks Kustom Cycles, who have designed and produced most of the bespoke touches on all these limited-edition Indians from the beginning.
Based in South Dakota and founded in 1997, Klock Werks have a much shorter history than either Indian or Jack Daniel’s, but they’ve become a major player in the motorcycle aftermarket parts industry, as well as the custom bike scene.
“We’re proud to continue this unique partnership with Jack Daniel’s and Klock Werks – two respected brands with whom we share the age-old American ethos of uncompromising quality and craftsmanship,” said Aaron Jax, Vice President for Indian Motorcycle.
“The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse takes our award-winning bagger to an even higher level, representing the highest levels of premium technology and craftsmanship - just as Jack Daniel’s has done with its Tennessee Rye whiskey.”
A Sip of Rye
For this latest limited edition, Klock Werks and Indian took inspiration from Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye whiskey.
Rye whiskey has been around in the US since the 1700s and was the country’s whiskey of choice for almost a century before Kentucky bourbon came to the fore after the end of Prohibition in the 1930s.
So, while rye whiskey itself is nothing new, the current offering from jack Daniel's is, first marketed in 2017 and using the distillery’s established charcoal mellowing and barrel aging processes, but swapping the grain mixture ratio.
The mash is 70 per cent rye, 18 per cent corn and 12 per cent malted barley, whereas the familiar Old No.7 Tennessee whiskey runs an 80 per cent corn, 8 per cent rye and 12 per cent barley mix.
The result? A whiskey that’s “undeniably spicy and complex, yet sippin’ smooth” according to Jack Daniel’s. Some people like it, others hate it, but there’s enough of the former for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye whiskey to find an audience, both at home and abroad.
Jack Daniel’s market their rye whiskey in white-label bottles with green and gold detailing. It’s this colour palette that has influenced the styling of the sixth Jack Daniel’s limited-edition Indian, which is based on the 2022 Challenger Dark Horse bagger.
“This year’s bike perfectly embodies what our rye is all about – innovation and a relentless, uncompromising drive to craft American products of the highest quality,” said Greg Luehrs, sponsorships and partnerships director for Jack Daniel’s.
Green and Gold
To set the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition apart from the regular MY22 Challenger Dark Horse, Klock Werks started with the paint – a custom 'Rye Metallic' pale gold metalflake that’s contrasted with ‘Black Crystal’ charcoal metalflake.
Applied to the tank, mudguards, fairing and panniers, this combination is accented with stripes in green and metallic grey, while a darker gold is used for the Indian decals.
Dark gold also features on the heads, cam cover and primary cover, while the horn cover carries a Jack Daniel’s Rye badge that’s inspired by the whiskey label and produced by Montana Silversmiths. Each bike’s individual build number also features on this badge.
That rye badge is repeated in a tank decal and rye graphics adorn the rider footboards.
Compared to the 2021 limited-edition, the Jack Daniel’s logo is a little more prominent, embroidered into the custom-stitched leather saddle and added to both the tank and the pillion footboards.
Paint and detailing aside, the 2022 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse is unchanged from the regular MY22 Challenger Dark Horse.
The Challenger’s Power Plus liquid-cooled v-twin, of 1768cc (108ci) capacity and with 52mm dual bore throttle bodies, outputs a class-leading 91kW (122hp) and 178Nm (128lb/ft).
A split dual exhaust system is standard, but for a little more bark, there’s an optional Power Plus Stage 1 air intake and slip-on muffler kit. To improve horsepower by a claimed 10 per cent and torque by 3 per cent, optional Power Plus Stage 2 performance camshafts are also available.
Other standard spec includes a gear primary and belt final drive, slip/assist clutch, six-speed transmission and 22.7-litre fuel tank.
The steel frame carries a 43mm tele fork front end with 130mm travel and a Fox monoshock rear with electronically-adjustable preload and 114mm of travel.
Brakes are Brembos – which is becoming more common in the cruiser segment – comprising dual 320mm floating front discs with 4-piston calipers and a 298mm rear disc with a 2-piston caliper. Two-channel Cornering ABS is standard.
Tyres of choice, at least for the US market, are Metzeler Cruisetec Sport Contrast Cut in a 130/60B19 and 180/60R16 combination on standard Challenger Dark Horse alloys.
On the ergonomic side of things, the low 672mm seat height is matched to a low-rise handlebar and chassis-mounted fairing with power-adjustable windscreen that combines style with practicality. Wheelbase is listed at 1668mm, with rake at 25 degrees and trail at 150mm, while ground clearance is 137mm and dry weight is 365kg.
On the tech front, the MY22 Challenger Dark Horse is well-loaded, so all this transfers to the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition.
Aside from the aforementioned electronically-adjustable rear suspension preload and Cornering ABS, there’s cruise control, drag torque control, tyre pressure monitoring and the Pathfinder Adaptive LED headlight that senses the bike’s lean angle and activates additional LEDs to light the way through corners while also adjusting the headlight’s high beam to suit.
Augmenting the Pathfinder headlight are Pathfinder S LED driving lights that are slung below the fairing and provide additional illumination. The tail lights and indicators are LED, too.
Indian’s Ride Command infotainment system is standard, centred around a 7.0-inch touchscreen that allows all the usual functions – bike information, riding modes, music, phone and navigation - as well as the rear suspension preload, to be controlled at the press of a finger.
This is integrated with Indian’s premium Powerband Audio that upgrades the Challenger Dark Horse’s dual fairing speakers with two more in the panniers for a 400W system that’s said to be 50 per cent louder than the stock sound system.
Apple CarPlay is standard, along with keyless ignition, a USB port and remote locking for the panniers that offer a combined 68 litres of storage.
As with all previous Indian Jack Daniel’s motorcycles, production of the 2022 Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Challenger Dark Horse will be limited – in this instance to just 107 units for the global market.
Only a handful of those 107 units will be coming to Australia, and while they’re not due for local release until January, pre-orders opened in mid-October, so they may already be spoken for by the time you read this.
Australian pricing is $49,995 ride away, so see your Indian Motorcycle dealer to confirm availability and pre-order.