2016 Indian Springfield: Merging Old-School Looks with New Technology

Text: Ken Freund • Photography: Indian Motorcycles

Named after the birthplace of Indian Motorcycle—Springfield, MA, back in 1901—the new 2016 Springfield combines nostalgic styling cues with modern touring amenities like a tall windscreen, cruise control, and remote-locking hard saddlebags.

At a casual glance, the Springfield may appear to be an Indian Chief Vintage, with the soft luggage simply replaced by hard bags. However, the Springfield was designed with a unique, trunk-compatible chassis and strengthened rear subframe. A quick-detachable windshield replaces the 24-pound frame-mounted fairing with electric-adjust windscreen found on the Chieftain and Roadmaster. This provides lighter steering and allows for heavier aft loading, so the 17-gallon top trunk (from the Roadmaster) can be installed, making it a bonafide touring machine. 

Powertrain and Performance 

Power comes from the hulking air/oil-cooled 1811cc Thunder Stroke 111 V-twin engine shared with other Indian big twins. Springfield’s engine is rated at 119 pound feet of peak torque on North American models. Long-stroke V-twins make plenty of torque, but since they can’t rev high, their horsepower numbers are usually less than amazing. So, as is the practice with most cruiser manufacturers, only torque ratings are provided, and horsepower figures are notably absent from the spec charts. 

Featuring semi-traditional looks, with a left side air intake, parallel pushrod tubes, and down-firing exhausts, the Thunder Stroke 111 continues the signature engine style of Indian. However—unlike the originals—this one requires little service, with a direct gear-driven primary, a semi-dry sump oiling system (that goes 5,000 miles between oil changes), and a host of low- or no-maintenance features. 

Closed-loop digital electronic fuel injection breathes through a 54mm throttle body. The big engine stirs to life immediately, cold or hot, and quickly settles into a lumpy cadence. There’s plenty of torque on tap to get around slower traffic, accelerate onto highways, and climb hills without breaking a sweat. 

A six-speed gearbox with a multi-plate wet clutch transmits the power aft to a quiet, maintenance-free toothed belt final drive. Gear changes produce a cruiser-like thunk, but shifting is easy, clutch lever effort is moderate, neutral easy to access, and overdrive sixth keeps revs down for relaxed highway running. 

Chassis and Handling 

A specially designed aluminum chassis was made for the Springfield, to handle the higher weight loading produced by the accessory tail trunk. The rear subframe is beefier, and the steering geometry is also changed to 25 degrees of rake with 133mm of trail, compared to the 150mm trail on Indian’s other hard baggers, or the 29-degree rake and 155mm trail of the soft-bag Vintage. The result is the lightest steering feel of all the big Indians, especially at low speeds and in U-turns. 

The Springfield is fitted with a 46mm conventional non-adjustable cartridge fork up front with 4.7 inches of travel. At the rear, there’s a double-sided swingarm with a single air-adjustable rear shock, with 4.5 inches of travel. Dunlop Elite 3 tires, a 130/90B16 front and 180/60R16 rear, provide good grip and a plush ride. 

Dual 300mm floating front rotors with four-piston calipers and a single 300mm floating rotor out back with a two-piston caliper provide ample stopping power. Steel braided brake lines improve lever feel and a high-resolution ABS system allows for safe stops on wet surfaces and during aggressive braking. 

On the road, besides the relatively light steering, the hefty (claimed dry weight 818) machine tracks nicely through curves and feels stable at highway speeds. The suspension is well tuned for the job at hand, and soaks up bumps noticeably better than most big-twin motorcycles. Braking is also above par, with strong, consistent stopping power and good modulation feel coming from the dual-disc front setup. Panic stops are handled well by the standard ABS system. Overall the ride and handling are confidence-inspiring and pleasing for this class of machine. 

Features and Ergonomics 

Springfield’s quick-release windshield comes off in seconds, without tools. Likewise, the hard saddlebags can be unlocked and 
removed sans tools in a minute or so. The bike is designed to look good with the bags removed, so you can have a stripped-down cruiser by popping off the windshield and saddlebags, or add the accessory trunk to transform your bike into a fully loaded bagger/touring model. 

The buckhorn handlebar reaches out to the rider, and combined with the low 26-inch seat height should accommodate most riders. The large split seat is comfy and similar to the other big Indians, but features a unique stitch and stud pattern. In a few minutes the pillion pad can be detached to convert the bike to a solo seat. Another comfort feature is the adjustable passenger floorboards, which adapt to various heights and angles. 

The tank-mounted instrument cluster crams a lot of information in a small space, including a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), cruise control indicator, tachometer, electronic speedometer with odometer, fuel gauge, dual trip meters, clock, and more. The dual driving lamps are standard, as is the cruise control, and it works well. 

Standard front and rear highway bars allow mounting of accessories and offer protection in a tip-over, and accessory leather highway bar wraps provide a vintage look. The Springfield can be further customized with a full line of accessories, including tall and low windshields, heated rider and passenger seats, soft lowers, and heated grips to keep comfortable in cool temperatures. The optional color-matched accessory trunk adds 17 gallons of capacity for serious touring. 

Final Thoughts 

We found the Springfield to be a well-made touring machine, with a torquey engine, comfortable ride, and quality components. Chrome plating, fit, and finish are all top notch. The Indian Springfield is available in either Thunder Black or Indian Motorcycle Red. Retail pricing starts at ,999 for Black and ,549 for Red. Add 0 for California emissions equipment. It comes with a two-year unlimited mileage factory warranty and includes free membership in the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group for one year. As Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be!”