Indian Springfield Test

When news of the Indian Springfield first broke it appeared the bike was a variant of the existing naked Indian models (the Vintage and Classic) the difference being that it was fitted with the hard bags from a Chieftain. But in looking more closely it turned out it’s actually closer to the fully dressed Chieftain – without the fairing.

The Chieftain has always been the best cornering of the Thunderstroke equipped Indians and that’s due to slightly different geometry. We’ve always assumed that the Chieftain was set up to accommodate the extra weight of the large fairing, power windscreen, stereo, speakers and instruments that are all mounted on its 48mm telescopic forks.

Accordingly it has steeper rake - 25 degrees compared to the Classics and Vintage’s 29 degrees while the trail is 5mm less (150mm as opposed to 155mm). The rake also means that the Chieftain’s wheelbase is a couple of mm shorter, thus delivering a motorcycle that steered a little more quickly and felt like it had better cornering clearance than its stable mates.

The Springfield has that same 25-degree rake as the Chieftain, but the triple trees have been revised to give it even less trail (132mm) and a slightly longer wheelbase.

But here’s what I got wrong.

What really blows the ‘weight on the forks’ assumption out of the water is that the Classic weighs 341kg dry, the Chieftain tips the scales at 370kg and the Springfield (somewhat surprisingly) is heavier at 371kg dry.

It appears that the big headlight and massive chromed nacelle, (approx. 8kg), touring windscreen screen (approx. 5kg) and light bar (about 3kg) add up to slightly more payload than the Chieftain’s accoutrements.

Regardless of the mass, the result of all this geometric fettling is that the Springfield is the best handling and cornering incarnation of the new Indians so far – and it’s predecessors were already very capable.

The handling is only one aspect where this model sees improvements. It was the most comfortable, felt the most refined and had the sweetest gearbox of any of the numerous Thunderstrokes I’ve tested so far too.

Comfort-wise The saddle seems a little plusher than previous models and the handlebars feel different too. It was about as comfortable as I’ve been on a bike.

The footboards are wide and the upper surface is slightly sprung to isolate the (minimal) vibration of the engine. They are also mounted high enough to give excellent cornering clearance and lean angle - without compromising comfort. It was an absolute pleasure to roll away long sessions on the Freeways and Toll Roads as well as getting amongst it in the foothills. The cruise control worked flawlessly out on the open roads too.

The Overtaking power and ‘hurry up’ that comes form the Thunderstroke is also a torque lover’s delight. It gets away from the lights so effortlessly that it sometimes took me aback to see how far back, and how quickly the tin tops disappeared in the rear view mirrors when giving it a handful from the traffic lights.

It just seems to do it all so easily. Indian claim 138.9nm@3000rpm are developed by the 111 cubic inch, 49-degree OHV Pushrod V-twin with 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters and 9.5:1 compression ratio. The same engine is fitted to all models in the Thunderstroke family.

So far I haven’t been able to find out exactly what Indian have done to the gearbox, but whatever they did – it sure worked. Not that they were cantankerous at all before this model, but this Springfield had a gearbox good enough to mention twice.

The clutch is light and easy and the gear primary drive and belt final give a very direct feel. So tight is the drive train that on throttling down to low speeds the EFI can cause a slight surge as it finds idle revs – but it’s only minor.

Apart from the slight geometry changes there aren’t many other differences on the frame anc chasis spec sheets of the Chieftain and the Springfield. The air adjustable pre-load on the rear monotube suspension is common to both, as are the cast 16.5” x 3.5” wheels front and rear.

The Dual floating disc front and single floating disc rear brakes pull the big units up just fine. They are genuine two-finger fronts and ABS is fitted as standard.

Feel good.

The Springfield was pretty much a lust affair for me from the moment I first hopped on it. Over the course of the test I put in some day rides and country runs that were simply outstanding.

It also worked brilliantly as a city and boulevard cruiser. Relaxed, comfortable, unique, and I just felt good about myself every time I rode it.

It’s feature laden, with cruise, central locking, self-cancelling indicators, security fob, multi function trip computer and a host of other high tech hidden beneath its heritage styling.

More people engaged me on this bike than the other Indians I’ve been on too.

“Is that the Indian that broke the record?” Asked the bloke in the hatchback at the traffic lights and a heap of people questioned me about the bike everywhere I parked it.

“Yes, they still make them. Yes, it is beautiful. Yes, your brother’s Indian was probably built in the 40’s”.

The sort of engagement that comes with a premium motorcycle.


Engine Type: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in / 1811 cc
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio:9.5 : 1
Electronic Fuel Injection System
Closed Loop Fuel Injection / 54 mm Bore

Primary Drive: Gear Drive
Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Peak Torque: 119.2 ft-lbs (138.9 N-m)
Peak Torque RPM: 3000 rpm

Front - Type/Travel: Telescopic Fork (119 mm)
Front Fork Tube Diameter: 46 mm
Suspension: Rear - Type/Travel: Single Shock w/ Air Adjust / 4.5 in (114 mm)

Brakes/Front: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Brakes/Rear: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Tires/Front: Dunlop® Elite 3 130 / 90B16 73H
Tires/Rear: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Wheels/Front: Cast 16 in x 3.5 in
Wheels/Rear: Cast 16 in x 5 in
Exhaust System: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-Over

Wheelbase: 1701 mm
Seat Height: 660 mm
Overall Width: 39.0 in (990 mm)
Overall Height: 56.8 in (1442 mm)
Overall Length: 101.7 in (2583 mm)
Rake: 25°
Trail: 133 mm
Fuel Capacity: 20.8 litres
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 372 kgs 388 kgs)