5 Favorite Things About the 2018 Indian Springfield
Testing the merits of Indian Motorcycle’s hard-bagged bruiser
The Indian Springfield has been flexing its muscle in the cruiser domain since its debut in 2016. While tassels and soft bags have their place, outfitting the Springfield with hard saddlebags that lock at the push of a button helped Indian establish a presence in a new niche. Indian Motorcycle engineers smartly outfitted the Springfield with the same cast aluminum frame and swingarm as its touring motorcycles. And while it has an identical 25-degree rake as the Roadmaster and Chieftain, at 5.2 inches, the Springfield’s trail has been trimmed 0.7 inch compared to its compatriots. There’s also the noticeable absence of a fork-mounted fairing, and both turn-in and manageability at the bars benefit.
The burly hard-bagged cruiser made such a positive impression on Cycle World’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Hoyer that he dubbed the Springfield “the best handling of the Indian big twins.” That said, we’ve been busy logging miles on a 2018 Indian Springfield and found our own five shining points.
Yeah, we know, styling is arbitrary, but the Metallic Jade over Thunder Black paint is an undeniably striking colorway (sorry, Indian Red!). The deep green is subtle until sun hits it, igniting the tiny metalflake. Tastefully applied pinstripes delineate the Metallic Jade from Thunder Black. The dark tones of the paint combo make the copious amounts of chrome in the powertrain pop. Even subtle styling cues like the Indian script logo on the tank add to the Springfield’s panache. We’ve been approached on the street by several random people asking if they could snap a picture of the bike, which is further validation that Indian hit the nail on the head with the styling.
“Fat Bottomed Girls, You Make the Rockin’ World Go Round.” Like the timeless Queen classic, we’re grateful for the 2018 Indian Springfield’s fat bottom seat. It’s wide in the right places, thickly padded, well-contoured, and wrapped in rugged leather. We easily did a 250-mile jaunt without tightness in the lower back or butt-numbing pressure points. Comfort levels are assisted by ample-sized floorboards that are mounted far enough forward to allow a six-foot-tall rider plenty of room to stretch out their legs and enjoy the ride. When it’s time to hammer down and put in some miles, a comfortable seat means less stops to stretch and faster arrival at your destination.
Handling suspension duties for the 2018 Indian Springfield is a 46mm cartridge-style fork and a single air-adjustable rear shock. The seriously stout fork tubes on the Springfield do a stand-up job of keeping the front contact patch firmly established. Although it runs a single spring on the back, that unit does an admirable job of providing a smooth ride. We’ve encountered plenty of harsh broken surfaces during the course of our test rides and can’t recall ever taxing the travel out back, even with the bulk of a 230-pound body onboard. The back end is easy to dial in thanks to a handy “Air Suspension Adjustment” guide printed inside the left side cover below the seat. The cover needs to be removed anyway to access the valve and connect the hand pump to add or subtract a few psi, but the process is quick and fuss-free. The well-sorted suspension comes into play on the next attribute as well.
A big bike like the Springfield shouldn’t be so fluid when it hustles through turns, but it is. Solid and composed at lean, the bike makes it easy to find your groove and flow through the curvy stuff. Steering takes little input to initiate, and the burly 46mm fork plants the front end squarely on the designated line as the tacky Dunlop Elite 3s maintain a steadfast grip on the road. The chassis of the 2018 Indian Springfield doesn’t wallow or flex, allowing riders to confidently carry good speed into corners. It’s a hustler with agility that belies its size.
Considering the engine’s name is Thunder Stroke, you’d expect the Springfield’s massive 1,811cc V-twin to hammer down like Thor’s Mjölnir. And it does. Dump the clutch and the Springfield will lay down a nasty black streak of rubber no problem, but then loads of bottom-end torque is to be expected from a mammoth mill. What’s equally impressive is the get-up-and-go it has at highway speeds. In sixth gear it marches to a 2,800-rpm beat at 75 mph. Roll on the throttle and response is immediate as the tach climbs and in no time flat the obstacle you wanted to pass is a speck in your side-view mirror. When you need a little extra giddyap to get out of the blind spot of that big rig in the right-hand lane hauling a triple trailer, count on the Thunder Stroke 111 to deliver the goods and get you out of harm’s way.