WORLD FIRST TEST INDIAN SPRINGFIELD
‘No American motorcycle makes more of a statement’
ollowing the huge success of its all-new, Harley-rivalling Chief family of big V-twin cruisers launched in 2013, comes Indian’s latest newcomer – the Springfield. And on the evidence of MCN’S world first ride in Florida it could well prove to be the American upstart’s best big bike yet.
The Springfield is effectively a blend of two of Indian’s existing big twin cruisers, which are all based around the same air-cooled, 1811cc ‘Thunderstroke’ engine. Indian’s current Chief Vintage is a classic tourer distinguished by its Harley Road Kingstyle Plexiglas screen along with soft, leather panniers. Similarly, the continuing Chieftain is a proper ‘bagger’ defined by its larger handlebar-mounted fairing and twin hard panniers.
There’s actually a lot more to the Springfield than just a Plexiglas screen
Fand hard panniers, though. First, both features have been designed to be easily detachable, allowing the Springfield a much cleaner, cooler look when not burdened with practical niceties.
In addition, the Springfield’s steering geometry is sharper than the Vintage while it also dispenses with that bike’s wire wheels and whitewalls in favour of similarly more sturdy alloys.
Finally, as the Springfield is intended very much as a premium touring machine, it’s specced up with cruise control, adjustable pillion footboards, ABS, tyre pressure monitors and even central locking, all of which goes some way to justify the £19,599 price.
In the metal, the Springfield’s a gorgeous piece of kit, too. Big, bold and handsome, it’s generously appointed with stylish touches. No American motorcycle makes more of a statement at a standstill.
Better still, it lives up to that bold image on the move, too. Though undoubtedly an imposing and heavy bike the Springfield’s saddle is pleasingly low, meaning it’s surprisingly manageable. Footboards mean you can move your feet around, while the new ‘Buckhorn’ bars have been canted further back to provide additional touring comfort. It’s a natural, comfortable place to be.
Nor is it a handful. Light, precise enough clutch and throttle give you complete control over the motor’s delivery and, with its massive peak torque available at just 2600rpm, you easily pull away from barely more than idle. Wind it on and stomp through the six gears and it putt-putt-putts effortlessly up to 70mph+ with barely 4500rpm showing on the digital LCD tacho incorporated into the analogue speedo dial atop the tank. Eighty-plus is just a twist of the wrist away with more to come if required. But even though the screen happily bashes the wind away and the Springfield remains comfortable at far faster speeds, that’s sort of missing the point. Instead, you’re better off sticking it at 70, prodding in the easy-to-use standard cruise control and basking in all that reflective chrome. It’s what the Springfield is all about.
What impresses most, though, is simply how well it just works: intuitively, sufficiently, effectively. Screen and panniers detach quickly and easily; performance and handling are without complaint; switchgear, cruise control and central locking are slick and easy.
The only things I could find to remotely criticise are the lack of a heeltoe shift as standard and the lack of handles on the detachable panniers. Everything else was perfect – especially in Florida.
‘Big, bold and handsome. It’s appointed with stylish touches’