2016 Indian Springfield First Ride

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Good things come to those who wait

Cruiser riders can be pretty particular about what they want. Why would cruiser aficionados who have a bit of wanderlust be any different? Indian was aware of this before they even released their first models. Those who are more classically inclined go for the Indian Chief Vintage. The riders for whom maximum mileage is the primary concern can opt for the Chieftain or the Roadmaster. What about the riders who want the classic windshield and hard bags? Until now, they haven’t had any option. The release of the 2016 Indian Springfield changes all that.

The Springfield is Indian’s step into the convertible bagger market. By taking signature elements of the the Vintage and the Chieftain and combining them into a neatly produced package, the Springfield gives the cruiser rider the versatile style of the Chief Vintage while offering the weather protection and cargo capacity of the Chieftain. Although it may be easy to consider the Springfield a parts bin approach to segmenting the cruiser touring market into ever narrower slices, a good bit of thought went into the model’s creation.

The windshield pops off easily, making the Springfield more comfortable on hot days. Tall and low optional windshields are available.

Looking at the Springfield in profile, anyone who knows anything about Indians will know the family line from which it hails. The Thunderstroke 111 engine is not only the throbbing heart of the machine, it is the centerpiece which the entire motorcycle is designed to showcase – much like a gemstone in its setting. Similarly, while not all Indians wear skirted fenders, a perusal of the Indian website reveals a deeply rooted family link to them. The headlight nacelle? Well, it’s pure Chief Vintage but ties it in an altered form to the Dark Horse.

Then there is the name. Careful MO readers may remember the name cropping up as an Indian color option, Springfield Blue, and in the occasional Indian-related press release or news items, referencing Springfield, Mass. – where Indian Motorcycle began full-scale production in 1902. So, the name carries a certain historical cachet with the company.

The Thundestroke 111 is the same as it ever was, and that’s a good thing.

The Springfield was designed to blend key characteristics of the Chief Vintage and Chieftain for an optimal combination of style and function for the traditionalist touring cruiser rider. As with the Chief Vintage, the classic windscreen is easily removable, allowing riders the protection from wind blast on long trips while still letting them benefit from cooling air-flow on shorter hops. On the cold winter morning beginning our ride, the wind protection offered by the windshield was greatly appreciated. Indian did its homework with the shield design as there was no buffeting and minimal back pressure at highway speeds. Additionally, the swap from the Chieftain’s batwing fairing to the windshield removed a whopping 24 lbs from the front of the bike, compared to the Chieftain.

This weight reduction alone makes the Springfield lighter steering than the Chieftain. The Springfield does, however, share the Chieftain’s 25°, 5.9-in rake and trail numbers, which are themselves sportier than the more laid back, stretched out Vintage (a difference that was quite noticeable in our previous tests of the Vintage and Chieftain). With the reduced front end weight of the Springfield, the handling becomes sportier by comparison. This is most noticeable in S-bends where going from floorboard-to-floorboard happens quite quickly for a, roughly, 825-lb. motorcycle.

The fit and finish are typical Indian quality.

Reaching back to the rider is a buckhorn handlebar, putting the pilot in a comfortably upright position for racking up the miles. The seat and the floorboard position feel unchanged compared to their progenitors. Similarly, the technology afforded to the rider and the instrumentation are both what we’ve come to expect from Indian’s premium models. Cruise-Control, in-dash informational displays controlled from the switch pods, ABS, and tire pressure monitors are all standard – as are the remote locking features controlled by a wireless remote. The handlebar wiring is routed internally for a neater appearance.

In addition to the wireless lock control, the saddlebags are waterproof, easily removable, and offer 19 gallons of storage capacity. While a 17-gallon accessory trunk is available, the lines of the Springfield’s rear are so tidy that we’d hate to clutter it up. Most importantly, the Springfield offers a 533-lb. carrying capacity which should easily accommodate all but the largest-sized Americans and enough clothing for a decent-length tour. The Springfield passenger, like the Chieftain’s, benefits from floorboards that are adjustable in both height and rotational angle.

We’ve always loved the beefy headlight nacelle that Indian has on many of its cruiser models. The oil coolers shown on these pre-production models were found to be unnecessary and were removed before final production.

Power delivery from the Thunder Stroke 111 is the same as other ones we’ve sampled. The 49-degree V-Twin delivers plentiful torque from its undersquare cylinders. The 101mm x 113mm bore and stroke combine to displace 111 cu. in. (1811cc) and twist out the motivating force via a single-pin crankshaft. The fuel metering is quite smooth and incorporates ride-by-wire technology.

Aside from the quicker steering afforded by the lighter windshield, the Springfield’s handling is standard Indian fare. The stiff forged and cast aluminum frame combines with the 46mm telescopic cartridge fork and the single, air-adjustable shock (with 4.5 in. rear-wheel travel) to deliver a comfortable ride. While the steering is more responsive, the high-speed stability that we’ve enjoyed in the Chieftain remains. Similarly, the dual 300mm semi-floating discs and four-piston calipers deliver plenty of stopping power – though the lever effort is still high. Two channel ABS provide a safety envelope during panic stops or slippery conditions.

All-day comfort and entertaining handling, what’s not to love?

To put it succinctly, the Springfield is everything we liked about the Chieftain – and less. The effect that the weight reduction on the front fork has on the bike’s handling can’t be overstated. Couple that with the grunty Thunderstroke 111 plus the premium features that Indian is known for, and the Springfield is a good option for cruiser riders who prefer traditional styling yet don’t want to compromise on a bagger’s carrying capacity. The 2016 Indian Springfield starts at $20,999 and will be available in Thunder Black and Indian Motorcycle Red. The Springfield should start shipping to dealerships in the next few weeks.

2016 Indian Springfield

+ Highs

  • Improved handling
  • Still love the engine
  • Bagger convenience with an easily removable windshield

– Sighs

  • Brakes are still fairly high effort
  • No touring plans on the horizon
  • We had to wait this long to get it

2016 Indian Springfield Specifications

Engine Type49˚ V-Twin
Transmission6-speed/constant mesh/foot shift
Battery12 volts / 18 amp/hour, 310 CCA
Bore x Stroke3.976” x 4.449” (101 mm x 113 mm)
Charging System42 amp max output
ClutchWet, multi-plate
Compression Ratio9.5 : 1
Cooling SystemAir / Oil
Displacement111 cid / 1811 cc
ExhaustSplit dual exhaust with crossover
Final DriveBelt drive, 152 tooth
Fuel Capacity5.5 gal / 20.8 ltr
Fuel SystemElectronic fuel injection, closed loop/54 mm bore
Oil Capacity5.5 qts / 5.20 ltr
Primary DriveGear drive wet clutch
Front SuspensionTelescopic fork, 46 mm diameter, 4.7 in /119 mm travel
Rear SuspensionSingle shock with air adjust, 4.5 in / 114 mm travel
Dry Weight815 lbs / 370 kg
Ground Clearance5.6 in / 142 mm
Gvwr1,385 lbs / 630 kg
Length101.2 in / 2571 mm
Rake/Trail25° / 5.9 in / 133 mm
Seat Height26 in / 660 mm
Wheelbase65.7 in / 1668 mm
Brake System TypeIndividual front and rear control with ABS
Front Braking SystemDual 300 mm floating rotor with 4-piston calipers
Rear Braking SystemSingle 300 mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Front TireDunlop Elite 3 130/90B16 73H
Front WheelCast 16” x 3.5” with tire pressure monitoring
Rear TireDunlop Elite 3 180/60R16 80H
Rear WheelCast 16” x 5.0” with tire pressure monitoring
MSRPThunder Black:$21,499 ($21,749 in California)
Indian Motorcycle Red: $21,949 ($22,199 in California)
Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

More by Evans Brasfield

Join the conversation
6 of 30 comments
  • Jim L Jim L on Mar 04, 2016

    After adding a backrest, taller windshield, it's up a couple Gs. Want the tourpak? That adds a bunch too. We're up to 24-25K at that point. What bikes are available at that price and how do they compare? In that ballpark I can get a RT for less or a very lightly used K1600GT and both would be better bikes in every category objectively. May be I just don't get it, and I used to ride Cruisers too, Vulcans, but when BMWs start to become better values, it's time to stop and think.

    • See 3 previous
    • Jim L Jim L on Mar 27, 2016

      The K26 is a RT like mine, a 2009. They've gotten rid of throttle syncing, valves are now 12K and the clutch can be easily replaced instead of splitting the bike in half.

      I have noticed getting pushed around more too compared to my Nomad and I think it's because the bike is high. It's sits a lot higher than the Nomad I had and air doesn't pass through it at all. Thing is that if I am going over 60 in the rain, I hardly get wet. Just my shins. Another thing to consider is heat. I live in AZ and in the summer, a harley or similar bike will cool your crotch without getting rid of the stock exhaust system and retuning. I don't get engine heat from the boxer.

      The FJR is a no go for me as the ergos don't work for me. I am 6'5 and over 300 with a bad neck. Even with the RT I put peg lowering kit and bar risers. The problem with the Nomad in terms of ergos was having all my weight on my tailbone and pelvic bones. Even with a Mustang seat I could only go 125 miles before wanting to jump off the bike.

  • Ducati Kid Ducati Kid on Mar 05, 2016


    After consideration - a revised INDIAN 'Springfield'.