What makes a touring motorcycle great? It’s a bike that’s big enough to offer
plenty of power without overtaxing the engine. It's comfortable so you’re
not tired or sore after a riding a few hundred high speed miles. It has a big fuel tank so
you can cruise those couple hundred miles without searching for a gas station. And it's equipped with bags that securely store lots of stuff, and is capable of adding even more bags without sacrificing stability, because—well—a girl simply can’t have too much stuff.
Oh, yeah, and a great touring motorcycle also handles like a smaller bike—with the goal being
lots of raised eyebrows from impressed onlookers as they watch a small woman expertly U-turn that big mammoth around in small spaces.
I’ve ridden plenty of bikes that have most of these
qualities, but there only a few possessing all these features—plus the ability to handle effortlessly.
I recently had the opportunity for a full-day test of one such bagger—the Indian
Motorcycle Springfield. Click photos to view larger in a slideshow.
My wife, Mary, rode an Indian Scout
most of the day but reluctantly agreed to be my “riding shot model” on the Springfield shown here. Intimidated by its size, she was hesitant to try the big bagger, nor do the umpteen turnarounds that riding shots require. But after just one U-turn she was all smiles when realizing this bike handles like a dream! In fact, she didn’t want to trade back to the Scout after the photo session was over.
Touring-friendly features that include a large comfortable seat, big windshield, bright driving lights, lots of storage, plenty of power, and a relaxed riding position make the Indian Springfield great for riders who enjoy long distances but prefer just a windshield over a full fairing.
The Springfield is often compared to the Harley-Davidson Road King, one of women’s top touring bikes
, as they share similarities such as a removable windshield, wide handlebars, large saddlebags, large-capacity fuel tank, big floorboards, ABS brakes, and cruise control.
Mary is 5 feet 6 inches tall and has no problem reaching the ground on the Springfield with lots of bend in her knees. We both agree that the Springfield’s low seat height (26 inches compared to the Road King’s 28.2 inches) and wide bars makes low speed maneuvering and lifting the 862 pounds off the sidestand very easy.
Named after the birthplace of Indian Motorcycle (Springfield, Massachusetts), the Springfield has vintage-styled skirted fenders with the front sporting the iconic American Indian head.
The Thunder Stroke 111 cubic inch (1811cc) powerplant found on all Indian Motorcycle touring bikes has more than enough power for any situation. Torque is spread throughout the powerband so you have the power you need when you roll on the throttle.
The Springfield’s 6-speed transmission is engages without any extra effort or loud clunks. The clutch pull is notably light for a bike with this much power.
The "Indian Motorcycle Red" Springfield we tested retails for $21,449. Black costs $20,999, while two-tone options cost more.
The gray/burgundy color scheme shown here, and blue/silver versions retail for $22,099.
Chrome accents include front and rear fender tips, studded seat, and engine and saddlebag guards. Indian Motorcycle has a large catalog of accessories that include an assortment of leather bags, bar wraps, and footrests that will attach to the chrome guards.
The extremely comfortable two-piece seat is artfully stitched and includes an embossed Indian Motorcycle logo. I noticed while reviewing the Scout Sixty
that Indian proudly incorporates its branding all over its motorcycles in a tasteful way.
The Springfield’s fuel gauge and instrument displays offer a couple more branding opportunities and incorporates the Indian Motorcycle red-and-tan theme. The motorcycle starts by pressing the button on the upper right of the dash panel.
The motorcycle's security system is activated with a key fob that needs to be nearby for the bike to start. Many cars now turn on this way. No need to put a key in the ignition. The key shown here is used for the saddlebags although this bike is equipped with a remote locking system. You can lock and unlock the saddlebags by either pressing a button on the tank dash panel or buttons on the reverse side of the fob.
I like the layout of the analog speedometer but it’s position on the tank is a far look down for my tall torso. I have to completely take my eyes off the road to glance down to see how fast I’m going. In fact, one scary moment happened when I was playing with the LCD display and didn’t see an oncoming car enter my lane. Thankfully, Mary warned me via our Sena 20S communicators!
Despite turning your attention off the road, the LCD readout offers a lot of useful information. While a tiny digital clock and the gear you’re in is always displayed, you can toggle through the following larger readouts: trip 1, trip 2, RPM, outside temperature, current voltage, average mpg, fuel range remaining, front tire pressure, rear tire pressure, and odometer.
The view from the rider's seat shows a good amount of shiny chrome without messy wires (the switch wiring is run internally through the bars). The handlebar is wide but feels perfectly positioned for me.
Mary also noted how comfortable the Springfield’s seating position is. She is demonstrating good riding posture here: her back is straight, arms and shoulders relaxed, and her knees have a comfortable bend.
The long floorboards mean that you can choose different positions for your feet. That’s a big plus for a bike that’s meant for long days in the saddle.
Even the passenger gets a small floorboard. What's unique here is that these are three-way height-adjustable. Using tools, you can position them up or down from the stock middle position, so your passenger gets just the right leg position. This is a special detail that sets this tourer apart from its competitors.
The grips feature that very familiar logo and a comfortable ribbed pattern. Just like the rest of the bike, even the chrome switch housing is stylish.
The right side control housing is quite a bit larger and includes another touring bike must-have: cruise control. My only problem with this setup is that the buttons to set and adjust the cruise control are too far for even my long thumbs to reach without taking my hand off the grip. I wish the chunky chrome housing was a lot smaller which would make it an easier reach.
Mary and I both noted that the top of the windshield was right in our line of sight. I was able to look just above the windshield by sitting up tall, but she had to squat down slightly and look through it.
If the stock windshield, such as the one shown here, doesn’t fit your height, Indian’s accessory catalog has both a taller and shorter windshield available for the Springfield for $600 each.
Part of the appeal of the Springfield is that you can easily remove the windshield and saddlebags as they use quick-release hardware. The day of our test was a balmy 60 degrees, but I was still thankful to have the large shield that worked well to keep the cool air off my torso.
I don’t know about you, but give me saddlebags and I will find stuff to fill them! The Springfield was developed with a trunk-compatible chassis which means you can really load it up without sacrificing handling stability.
Color-matched, quick-release 17-gallon accessory trunks are available for an additional $1,800 ($1,900 for two-tone).
The lids on the hard-sided lockable saddlebags pivot all the way out so it's easy to see to the bottom of the oversized bags.
Loading and unloading gear is a lot less cumbersome when the saddlebag lid clears the open bag like this. Dare I say that these may be the best stock saddlebags I’ve ever used? Lockable, watertight, easy to open, easy to load, easy to remove—what else does one want in a saddlebag?
How about a 12-volt socket in the right side bag so you can charge your phone while you ride or eat? Works for me!
Mary and I were both amazed how light and nimble the big Springfield feels. Whether dancing along curvy mountainous roads or hitting the highway, the Springfield makes riding a big bagger easy.
Specs At A Glance: 2017 Indian Motorcycle Springfield
Engine Size: 111ci (1811cc)
Seat Height: 26 inches
Weight: 862 pounds
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gallons
Colors: Indian Motorcycle Red, Thunder Black, Steel Gray over Burgundy
Metallic, Blue Sapphire over Star Silver
Price: $20,999 (black); $21,449 (red); $22,099 (gray/burgundy; blue/silver)
The Indian Springfield is an excellent option for American air-cooled V-twin riders who like lots of power and touring comfort without being "too big to handle." Don't let the long length and weight spec steer you away from giving this great bike a test ride. Furthermore, the Indian Motorcycle brand supports women riders as evidenced by its marketing campaigns and women's gear options, something worth considering when looking to purchase a new motorcycle.
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