2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse First Ride Preview

2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse in Spearfish Canyon

Rumbling through Spearfish Canyon on the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse. (Photos by Barry Hathaway/Courtesy Indian Motorcycle Co.)

Hustling into the big sweeper my throttle hand is unwavering, the needle of the speedometer hovering a tick below 80 mph. The chassis of the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse is also unwavering, the burly 46mm fork keeping the front end squarely on the designated line. Pitched over at almost 45 degrees, the tacky Dunlops maintain a steadfast grip on the road and the Springfield is composed as it tracks through the turn. No sooner am I exiting the corner than I’m eagerly anticipating the next bend in the road.

While it’s got the mean stance of a muscle-bound cruiser, beneath the blacked-out Springfield’s sinister countenance are the bones of a bonafide tourer. From its cast aluminum frame to its aluminum swingarm, the chassis on the Springfield is the same as the one used on Indian’s tourers. Though it shares the same 25 degree rake angle as the Roadmaster, at 5.2 inches its trail is 0.7 inches tighter than Indians top-shelf tourer. Team that with the absence of the heft of the Roadmaster’s fork-mounted fairing and turn-in on the Springfield is noticeably lighter than other members of Indian’s touring line.

2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse first ride review

We didn’t hesitate to attack big sweepers on the throttle aboard the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse.

Revving up the Thunder Stroke 111, the Springfield Dark Horse leaves a ribbon of rubber behind me as I drop the clutch in first gear. The back end swims side-to-side beneath me before quickly snapping back in line. Approaching the 42 mph mark first gear signs off quickly as the tach bumps 5200 rpm. Clicking into second gear unleashes the next wave of torque. Strong on the low-end, meaty in the middle, there’s a little over rev as it winds out a little higher at 5300 rpm as the bike powers to just over 60 mph before I bang it into third. While there’s no denying the potency of this powerplant, I wouldn’t mind seeing the first two gears lengthened as a 5200-5300 rpm ceiling feels a tad short. On the flip side, in 6th gear the Springfield Dark Horse cruises at 80 mph at just over 3000 rpm with plenty of roll on power at the ready.

The big 300mm dual floating discs on the front though are always at the ready. Each front disc sees four-piston calipers that bite firmly then apply even pressure. Anti-lock brakes are standard and are calibrated so it takes an aggressive squeeze on the front before they engage. The rear sees only a single 300mm floating rotor with a two-piston caliper, but used in tandem with the front it doesn’t take much to break the big bike down from speed in a fairly short distance. The ABS is dialed properly both in terms of the point it engages and in the pulse it emits at the pedal.

2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse at Devils Tower

We spent a day in the saddle of the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse and made a run over to Devils Tower.

Rumbling through the Black Hills, bass-filled chords of the exhaust note provide a pleasing riding tempo. Considering our riding destinations had names like Black Hills and Devils Tower, the blacked-out Springfield Dark Horse is a natural fit for our surroundings. While the matte-black formula has been popular for some time now, it works on the Springfield, especially when you strip off the stock windshield. Though we’re in Spielberg’s “Close Encounters” territory, aboard the Springfield Dark Horse we feel more akin to Bradbury’s “Something Wicked this Way Comes.”

While we wanted to share our initial riding impressions, we’ve got plenty more to say about the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse, so keep an eye out for a full first ride review in an upcoming issue of American Iron Magazine.

2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse ergonomics

With a wide, well-padded seat, pullback handlebars situated down and at a natural reach to go along with spacious floorboards, it’s easy to log a day in the saddle of the 2018 Indian Springfield Dark Horse.

2018 INDIAN SPRINGFIELD DARK HORSE SPECIFICATIONS
ENGINE
Engine: Thunder Stroke 111
Displacement: 111 cu. In. (1811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in. x 4.449 in. (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Electronic Fuel Injection: Closed loop fuel injection / 54mm bore

DRIVETRAIN
Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate

PERFORMANCE
Peak Torque: 119 ft-lbs (161.6 N m) @ 3000 rpm

GEAR RATIO (OVERALL)
1st 9.403 : 1
2nd 6.411 : 1
3rd 4.763 : 1
4th 3.796 : 1
5th 3.243 : 1
6th 2.789 : 1

SUSPENSION
Suspension: Front – Type/Travel Telescopic Fork / 4.7 in. (119 mm) – Cartridge Type
Front Fork: Tube Diameter 46mm
Suspension: Rear – Type/Travel Single Shock w/ Air Adjust / 4.5 in. (114 mm)

CHASSIS
Brakes/Front: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Brakes/Rear: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Wheels/Front: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in.
Wheels/Rear: Cast 16 in x 5 in.
Tires/Front: Dunlop American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Tires/Rear: Dunlop Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 67 in. (1701 mm)
Seat Height: 26in. (660 mm)
Ground Clearance: 5.6 in. (142 mm)
Overall Height: 56.8 in. (1442 mm)
Overall Length: 99.3 in. (2522 mm)
Overall Width: 39 in (990 mm)
Rake: 25°/5.2 in.
Trail: 5.2 in. (133 mm)
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal. (20.8 l)
GVWR: 1385 lbs (628 kg)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 818 lbs / 850 lbs (371 kg / 386 kg)

FEATURES
Color: Thunder Black Smoke

STANDARD
Standard Equipment: ABS; Cast Aluminum Frame with Integrated Air-Box; Cruise Control; Highway Bar; Indian Script Tank Badge; Keyless Ignition; Quick Release Windshield; Quick Release Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags, Tire Pressure Monitoring; Light Bar