INDIAN SPRINGFIELD DARK HORSE (2019 - on) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
A 1.8 litre, mono-perched, naked cruiser, which full of fuel weighs the same as two Yamaha MT-07s, might not everyone’s idea of biking nirvana, especially with such an eye-watering price tag. But as a machine, ridden in the right environment, the new Indian Springfield Dark Horse is quite a thing.
The Springfield (named after the birthplace of Indian motorcycles in 1901) gets a light update for 2019, including selectable throttle maps (Tour, Standard and Sport) and the rear cylinder that cuts at tickover in the heat (when ambient temperature exceeds 15 degrees), to stop it roasting you in traffic.
While the standard Springfield is caked in chrome, has a pillion seat, screen and a 16in front wheel, this Dark Horse version has a blacked-out engine, exhaust and cycle parts, a smaller front ‘fender’ and a snazzy diamond cut 19in front wheel, but there’s no wind protection or room for a pillion.
For lazy cruising it’s hard not to be impressed with Indian’s new Springfield Dark Horse. Styling upgrades and rider modes on this updated model don’t add up to a whole lot, but that big V-twin motor is a gem – smooth and loaded with grunt.
Ride quality is superb, it’s comfortable on the medium haul, has a huge fuel range and handles far better than a behemoth of a machine like this has any right to. It’s well thought out, but the build quality could be better in places and for the price isn’t as well equipped as other models in Indian’s range.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Despite a massive 237-mile tank range (we got a 52mpg average during our test) and having enough room in its hard panniers to pack a weekend’s worth of clobber, the Springfield Dark Horse isn’t the world’s best long-distance cruiser.
Ride quality is first class and the Springfield’s plushness is ably highlighted on concrete motorways, of all places. While traffic alongside noisily ‘dagger-daggers’ over joints and groves in the surface the Springfield floats serenely along.
Most impressive is how well the Springfield Dark Horse handles, remarkably, given its monster dimensions, but then Indians have always had an admirable knack of getting themselves around corners without tripping over their feet. Steering is crisp, brakes are strong (especially the rear), it’s stable and there’s no lack of ground clearance.
Tyres are grippy in the dry, but horrendous in the wet and never need a second invitation to spin up – it’s the only time you ever wish the Indian had traction control.
Exposed to the elements it’s hard to hang on at UK motorway speeds, especially in a headwind and although its stitched leather perch is supple for a few hours. Any more than that and your behind will be begging for a rest.
But the Indian is a soothing place to be when you lower the pace, like they do in that there America and slice your journey up into smaller chunks.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Offering varying levels of throttle response, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the three power maps. But that’s no bad thing – just select ‘Tour’ and leave it there to enjoy Indian’s wonderful beast of a Thunder Stroke 111 motor.
It offers the perfect mix of throbbing character, smoothness, speed and the kind of lolloping grunt that sees the 1811cc motor spinning at just 2700rpm at 70mph.
The gearbox itself is slick, but its foot-forward position makes changes clunky (those running boards are crying out for a heel change), but with so much grunt oozing from the Indian’s twin cylinders you barely need to swap cogs anyway.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
On the flip side Indians have proved to be bullet proof since their revival under Polaris ownership and you get a generous five-year warranty.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
A quick poke around quickly reveals a smattering of cost cutting; fog lights are held on by cheap metal plates and fixings, exhaust bolts rust at the first sight of British weather and the paint is too thin around the petrol cap.
For this kind of dollar (and it’s not cheap with a PCP deal, either), the Indian needs to have Ducati-levels of build quality at the very least and it hasn’t.
Despite the price, the Indian isn’t exactly dripping with bells and whistles. Sure, it’s nicely finished, refreshingly minimalist and it comes with keyless ignition, central locking, a dummy fuel cap, as well as those riding modes and cruise control, but there are no heated grips, LEDs and the digital section of the analogue clock is decidedly dated.
There’s even a blanked-off button on the console that reminds you of an old L model Ford – reminding you of what gizmo you could have had if you’d paid more attention at school. Indian’s new FTR1200 S is far better equipped and costs ten grand less.
Black replaces chrome for the Dark Horse version of the Springfield. Diamond cut 19in wheels replace the standard model’s 16-inchers and are fitted with tyre pressure monitors. Dunlop American Elite tyres are poor in the wet.
Switchgear is simple and uncluttered, with a finger-full of main switches on the front and a flasher type paddle on the rear to active the dash and mode functions. Standard issue cruise control works well, but is fiddly to use with winter gloves.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 4v, V-twin|
|Frame type||Cast aluminium|
|Fuel capacity||20.8 litres|
|Front suspension||46mm upside telescopic forks. Non-adjustable.|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, air adjustable.|
|Front brake||2 x 300mm discs with four-piston calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||300mm disc with twin-piston caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||130/60 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||180/60 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||52 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||-|
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max torque||111 ft-lb|
|Top speed||115 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||237 miles|
Model history & versions
2016: Indian Springfield introduced.
Indian Springfield – Slightly cheaper base model features lots of chrome, a screen, pillion seat, a 16in front wheel and big mudguard.
Owners' reviews for the INDIAN SPRINGFIELD DARK HORSE (2019 - on)
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