UNFAIRED AD­VAN­TAGE

Eat­ing Up the Miles on In­dian’s Stripped-Down Bag­ger

Baggers - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND PHO­TOS: MOR­GAN GALES

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!

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