15 Jun 17

The Indian Springfield – An Ocean Liner on the Highways

The Indian brand carries a legacy of being the pioneers in motorcycle design and mass production. With a legacy of being one of the largest selling motorcycles across the world, the company had faced a lot of turbulent times with various financial issues. The brand was resurrected in the early 2011 to be a challenger to the domination of Harley Davidson’s in the chopper division.

The motorcycle market has been dominated by the Japanese trio of Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki; and somewhat by the Europeans; offering a wide range of performance-oriented motorcycles. The classic chopper market was relegated to one manufacturer – Harley Davidson, with a smattering of offerings by custom builders such as West Coast Choppers and Orange County Choppers. The Indian Springfield is a testament to the legacy of the company, delivering the perfect motorbike to counter the hegemony of Harley, albeit at a price tag that can get you a four-door sedan with ease.

Design and Ride Quality

The Springfield name is steeped in company history, with the historic factory originally operating from Springfield, Massachusetts. The company has decided to take not just the name, but the styling cues from its predecessors, with bold and bright colours and lots of chrome-plating all over. The Springfield looks slightly larger and more imposing than its predecessors, the Chieftain and the Chief Vintage. The twin “bags” on the sides are reminiscent of the bikes made during the golden age of choppers, while the Plexiglas visor on the front goes well with its heavy and imposing figure. As a roadster, the bike is big and heavy, meant only as a highway machine, unlike its counterparts that feature a sport mode. The surprisingly low seat and foot rests instead of the usual foot pegs ensure the best in ergonomics. The handlebars too have been modified, with a greater angle-of-attack, for better cornering along twisting roads. The 5.6 inch ground clearance gives the bike the ability to lean a little while cornering, something cruisers have been thoroughly missing for a long time.

Performance

Cruiser bikes are known to come with a welded tubular steel frame. The designers at Indian took the concept from performance-oriented bikes of the Japanese manufacturers, starting off with the trend of using aluminium alloy for the chassis. While retaining the classic stiffness of a steel chassis, the engine is slightly lighter for easier handling. The massive 46mm front forks provides structural comfort, but Indian missed out on the opportunity to provide custom-tuneable front telescopic forks. The rear air-adjustable shock can be tuned as per the load and convenience of the rider, giving you some form of customization options.

The engine on the Springfield is an 1811cc beast, which is surprisingly large, even for American V-Twins. The engine gets a classic chopper look with lots of chrome along the right places, as well as a nod to the golden years of choppers from the 1950s and 1960s, with pushrods, rockers and side valves being emulated with high accuracy. The large engine is coupled with a custom 6-speed gear box and a wet clutch to control the bike. The stopping power comes from four large callipers on the front that bind the dual 300mm front brakes and dual callipers on the similar-sized rear brakes. In addition, there is ABS as a standard feature on the Springfield.

While the company decided to forego as many modern gadgetry, to hark back to its classic roots, there are a few technological innovations that make the Springfield stand out from the competition. The addition of the electronic fuel injection allows the Springfield to be well within the emission norms worldwide. However, it does lack a form of traction control or a slipper clutch, which can add greater control and better power delivery.

Final Verdict

The Indian Springfield is an out-and-out tourer, and it is proud of its standing and heritage. The company has stayed true to its core fan base, who want a large imposing motorcycle to cruise down the highway.

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