First Ride: The Springfield
Indian Offers A Chief Unto It’s Own
Article By: J. Ken Conte
Originally Published In The July 2012 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I have ridden several incarnations of the Indian Chief. If you have read my reviews before, you know that I owned a ’48 Chief, complete with a left-hand throttle, tan rhinestone solo seat, 6-volt electrical system and a series of incantations that had to be followed precisely to get it started. I also owned a 2000 Gilroy Indian, of which, for all its faults—and there were plenty—I still have fond memories that will not be pushed aside by newer two wheelers. And I reviewed the 2015 Chief Classic in these pages just last year. I knew nothing about the Springfield prior to climbing on . . . just the way I like it: unfettered by preconceived notions or expectations of bells, whistles and the like. What I was told was that the Springfield I’d be enjoying during Daytona Bike Week had factoryinstalled upgrades, including cams and a high-flow air cleaner and performance pipes—beyond that it was up to me to form an impression. I immediately felt, when perched upon it, that I was on a new platform. This couldn’t be the same long, luxurious frame of the Chief Classic I’d roamed Southern Californian hills with. I was right. The frame was more compact, and it had a very smooth feel to it at slow speeds. I did notice a slightly higher center of gravity, but the bike still felt very balanced.
One of the positives to riding a bike during a rally is that it becomes your chief—sorry, had to say it—form of transportation and thus provides for “real world” testing: you go from spot to spot, deal with traffic, parking, and really put a bike through its paces in fairly extreme conditions. The Springfield was obviously an answer to the Harley- Davidson® Road King®, which I was fortunate enough to ride at Daytona several years ago as well. What I found riding the Springfield is that it is more than mere transportation—it gave me the same smile and sense of satisfaction I got sitting astride my ’48, navigating country roads, through miles of corn fields, on summer nights with a slight chill. It was a transcendental experience: I was in the present while channeling the past. I became one with the Springfield in short order and truly enjoyed the minimalistic bagger feel.
It was nimble, performed great (possibly due to the upgrades) and featured user-friendly accessories, like keyless entry, roomy saddlebags, a quickly detachable windshield that provides an ample windscreen on the highway and a simple instrument cluster featuring all the necessary readouts. Prior to getting out on the highway with the Springfield, I had the notion that it might not be the all-around cruiser everyone wants in their stable and can feel good about. But I was wrong—dead wrong. What I experienced on the highway was a bike that screamed to go faster and could be ridden for hours in the configuration in which it was provided to me. I felt comfortable going 80+ mph, passing cars and taking turns, and it was stable with cross winds. In other words, it provoked the smile I’d desperately been seeking since my last encounter with an Indian. I missed that smile. Bottom line: Indian did it again. They’ve produced a stable, powerful, purpose-built motorcycle that’s meant to be ridden. I look forward to the next time I can put miles on another Indian.