Eating Up the Miles on Indian’s Stripped-Down Bagger
Eating Up The Miles On Indian’s Stripped-Down Bagger
It’s mid-June and I’m riding around my hometown in Southern California. It’s sunny, birds are chirping, palm trees are swaying— you get it. The sun was directly above me, catching the chrome dash and shining right in my eyes. As I’m being blinded I remember thinking, “All right, I found one. I finally found one thing to complain about on this bike.” The 2017 Indian Springfield is the peppy, quick-responding chassis and engine combo that we’ve been telling you about for years now but with a lighter front end and a fresh, unfaired look.
Indian’s Chieftain was the second bagger I ever had the chance to throw a leg over once I came onto staff here at Baggers, and I was instantly impressed by how well it carried its weight and how easily it dropped into the turns. Years later, now I have had the chance to ride just about everything you can strap a set of hard bags to, and Indian’s touring platform is still among the best bikes I get to ride. Taking a strong engine with a steep rake, proper weight distribution, and a stable chassis then stripping it down for more of a classic style makes the Springfield a necessary addition to an already bulletproof lineup.
Walking up to the Springfield, it’s timeless. Black paint shines in the sun, and the chrome looks like you could skip a rock off it. The low, wide bars are somewhere perfectly between Long Beach lowrider style and the ’50s cruisers that inspired it. The whole stance of the bike is low and sweeping, quick looking, but still holding the rider in a very standard seating position. The heavy chrome nacelle helps split the wind and round out the weight of the front end so it doesn’t look vacant or too light compared to the rest of the bike. It’s remarkable how much removing the fairing can do for the look of the bike; all of a sudden the polarizing rounded fairing is gone and every Joe Schmo who loves Harley and thought the Indian “looked funny” is now running up to tell me how much they love this one.
I’ll admit, there’s a good amount of a specs section that I tend to look over. Yeah, I don’t really care what your gear ratios are until I get onto the bike and feel them pull. Seeing that the Springfield has a 25-degree neck probably means about as much to most of you as it used to mean to me— bupkis. Rake is the angle at which the forks come off of the frame and, very generally speaking, longer is more stable at high speeds and steeper has more responsive handling. Fortunately, with modern tech and some high-quality suspension, we can have the best of both worlds—a bike that’s responsive and quick handling but will
also hold steady in a turn when you hit an unexpected bump at 110 mph (not that I know from experience or anything). In the back, a single Fox shock with air adjust goes a long way for smoothing things out while maintaining solid road feel. The Springfield is stable as a freight train but carries its weight very well. With the lighter front end, the nimble handling that I loved on the Chieftain just got a little better.
Modeled to look like an old Flathead from the early years, the Thunder Stroke
111 has been no stranger to the pages of Baggers. The power comes on low and it comes on hard. It has a great sound and a robust personality. Putting out 75.89 hp and a claimed 106.49 pound-feet of torque when we tested it on the Dyno, even with the weight of a big ol’ bagger, this thing can haul. Weighing in at 862 pounds, that’s a lot of power and weight to not even have the option of traction control. Because the action on the clutch is very short on these bikes, the power comes on just as you start to let the lever out, making it difficult to feel the exact catch point if you’re not used to it. Translation: While riding aggressively and quickshifting in the turns, I often found myself slipping the rear tire as I’d let out the clutch. This wasn’t a deal breaker for me by any means, but it would just be nice to see this safety feature added when you’re already paying $21,000 for the bike.
When it comes to storage, the rounded shape of the bags makes packing up easy. The two hard bags lock and unlock electronically with a button on the gas tank or the bike’s key fob. If you want to pop them off, they detach quickly and easily as well.
The windshield that comes standard on the Springfield is pretty darn large and works very well. At 6-foot-4, I was tucked away well and out of the wind. Removing the windshield is as easy as flipping two tabs and pulling it off, which takes about one minute. For me, the windshield doesn’t detract from the look too much and adds a lot in terms of function, so I almost always leave it on.
Yes, we’ve thrown a leg over the Springfield before but not for nearly the amount of miles we wanted. This was a model we had been begging to see in Indian’s lineup. We wanted it, and it does not disappoint. It’s exactly the bike we were hoping for and it’s awesome. We’re lucky enough to have a Springfield as a long-term loaner here in the Baggers garage, so stay tuned for some upcoming projects as we bump up the power and add some custom parts!