First Rides: Dark Horse

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Another Great Bike From Indian Motorcycles

Article By: J. Ken Conte

Photos By: Melissa Shoemaker

Originally Published In The July 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

The Indian Springfield model line was launched in 2016 as a way to attract riders who wanted something between the Chief and the Scout. Some thought it was the perfect offering. I typically gravitate toward mid-size motorcycles because of their practicality—most riders can only afford one bike, so it’s easy to split the difference. The Springfield Dark Horse starts with practicality and follows up with styling that leads the pack. The first thing I noticed about the Springfield Dark Horse was the nineteeninch blackedout ten-spoke front wheel and the open front fender sans headdress light. This gives the bike a more strippeddown look, and when I took the windshield off, I was surprised at how different it looked compared to the standard Springfield. The flat black theme of the bike was complimented by gloss black accents on the front and rear highway bars, as well as the handlebars—just enough gloss to tie it all together. I packed up my extra gear in the standard remote-locking saddlebags and got ready for my first trip down the road on this good-looking machine.


I was sure the Dark Horse would handle similarly to the standard Springfield. What I found, as I maneuvered through the streets, avenues and highways of central Florida, was a stable yet-nimble steed equipped for whatever was thrown at it. I initially thought some performance would have been sacrificed with the nineteeninch front wheel wrapped with a Dunlop tire (that has less sidewall than, but is the same width as, the standard Springfield) . That wasn’t the case, though: the nineteen-inch not only looked great but also handled well at both low and highway speeds. Obviously, this machine is not purpose-built to tour, but the saddlebag connection allows for the addition of a trunk that could store everything you might need for a long-distance journey. It also comes standard with cruise control, and I can see how it could be a great option for someone who takes the occasional longer trip to Sturgis or Daytona but mostly spends time riding around town with their buddies. It also comes standard with a sleek and pretty comfortable solo seat, but buddy seats are readily available through Indian and the aftermarket. Where the Springfield Dark Horse finds its stride is around town and at low speeds.

The 111-cubic-inch Thunder Stroke, with its claimed 119 foot-pounds of torque, was a huge asset when passing on the highway, but its performance around town was what impressed me. The airadjustable rear shock and smooth engagement of the transmission— coupled with the fluid power distribution—made me feel like I was on a much smaller bike, even at low speeds. At just under 800 pounds, the Springfield Dark Horse needs ample braking power, especially when it’s fully loaded. I found that the standard ABS brakes, with two calipers up front and one in back, provided plenty of stopping power, regardless of how loaded up the bike was. The Springfield Dark Horse pulled me in with its stunningyet- subtle blacked-out good looks and won me over with the ride. As I pulled in to return it to the stable of Indians, I thought about who this bike would be good for and determined it’d be great for anyone who wants a versatile, fast, great-handling, stylish bike. So basically anyone who can handle another horse in their stable.

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