An Indian Summer Ep12 – Springfield Dark Horse Fit, Feel and Finish

An Indian Summer Ep12 - Springfield Dark Horse Fit, Feel and Finish

An Indian Summer Ep12 - Springfield Dark Horse Fit, Feel and Finish

In this article, we’ll take you through the fit, feel, and finish on our 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse. It just takes a glance to know this bike is big, with a big motor in the bargain. But how does that translate to the experience of riding the bike, working the controls, and moving around in the seat. Let’s answer those questions now. Welcome to An Indian Summer Episode 12 with Total Motorcycle!

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse – Devil's in the Details: TMW Reviews!

In Episode 12, we're going to get up close and personal with our 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse. We're going to discuss fit, feel, and finish, and show you as best we can what it's like to ride a Dark Horse. Read the full review on TMW: what you see? Please consider becoming one of our super awesome Patreon Supporters; a buck a month goes a long way. Motorcycle 2021 Motorcycle Model Guide: Motorcycle 2020 Motorcycle Model Guide: out all Total Motorcycle reviews right here: Motorcycle Website Years of Motorcycle Guides. 330 Million Readers. #Totalmotorcycle, Built By #riders for riders. #Motorcycle, #product and #gear #reviews, guides, #games and #forums. Supporting riders for over 21 years.Total Motorcycle Website is accredited media/press for 39 Motorcycle Manufacturers around the world! If you are not on Total Motorcycle you are not getting the Total picture. Don’t be just be a motorcycle fan, be a Total Motorcycle Fan! Come join us on all our social media pages too. Facebook to our Daily RSS News Feed for supporting Total Motorcycle!

Posted by Total Motorcycle on Monday, August 17, 2020

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse in Sagebrush Smoke, pictured from front right quarter.
Low side cases, upswept tank and tall front end gives the Springfield Dark Horse an aggressive stance.


There’s nothing more important for your overall confidence on a bike then fit. Being able to reach the controls, see your instruments, and walk the bike in tight spaces are huge benefits to a comfortable ride.

Seat Height

I’m 6′ even and Carrie is 5’6″, and both of us can confidently flat-foot when seated on the Indian. Seat height is 26″, but that’s only part of the story. A really nice thing about the seat is that it is contoured comfortably for dropping your legs out to the side, something that some bikes do poorly. Not the Springfield Dark Horse!

Upper Controls

Even with the optional 16″ bars (stock bar height is 12″), all the hand controls are easy to reach and manipulate. The only time this doesn’t hold true is when negotiating low-speed, tight space maneuvers such as u-turns or weaves, which honestly don’t come up often. In that situation though, clutch control can be hard to finesse with the bars at full lock right. Reach to the front brake lever is adjustable, though the clutch is not. For this reason, I would take the stock 12″ bars over the 16″ if I were purchasing this bike for myself.

Lower Controls

What really shines for lower controls is the sheer size of the headdress floor boards. They’re almost twice as long as my foot, and half again as wide. With all that space, you can move your foot around all day looking for a comfortable spot. It does mean you really have to reach when you’re going for the brake and shift levers. They’re always within reach of course, but they’re always a little further up than I expect them to be. Grip on those levers are very good too, with big chunky surfaces you can really feel through thick boots.


As we’ve mentioned already, the most remarkable thing about the way the Springfield feels is the sensation of weight. At 758 pounds dry, it’s not a light bike by any means. But it’s so well balanced and has such a low center of gravity that it really feels nimble.

TMW Staff Writer Eric Leaverton posed standing on the right side floorboard of the Spring Dark Horse while the bike rests on it's side stand. Picture showcases the excellent balance of the bike.
The Springfield’s low center of gravity imparts phenomenal balance, even under extreme circumstances like this one!

It swerves and weaves and pivots with ease. As mentioned above, the only time you really start to notice the size of the Dark Horse is when you’re trying to accomplish tight, slow maneuvers. I’m considering arranging a short test ride on one with stock bars to see how much the 16″ apes have to do with that.


“…it’s so well balanced…that it really feels nimble.”


As to the simple physical sensation of riding the bike, there’s nothing at all to complain about. The rogue seat is plush and nicely contoured, with perforated panels to keep some air moving. The steep rise at the back keeps you firmly planted during acceleration, and the stitching and piping isn’t uncomfortable to sit on. The floorboards and foot controls provide plenty of grip, and even at freeway speeds my feet feel secure. I want to stress that. I have no trouble at all repositioning my feet at 75 or 80 miles per.

On the other hand, the high bars and lack of a windshield can leave me feeling a little unsteady under hard acceleration. If I really give it the twist, I’m holding on to the bars as much as manipulating them, a sensation that is anything but comfortable. There’s also just the slightest bit of throttle lag, noticeable in all three riding modes but especially pervasive in Sport. Combined with the wind blast, it leaves me feeling like I’ve got my kid gloves on. This bike has gobs of power, but it’s best to uncap it slowly.



Body and Frame

The 2020 Springfield Dark Horse in Sagebrush Smoke, pictured left side quartering towards.
It just looks awesome.

The first thing you notice is that matte finish. Complimenting the matte is the blacked out features – you really have to get in close to find the few chrome accents on this bike. The overall impression is a bike that is unapologetically not shiny. It speaks to a sense of robust utility, a bike that doesn’t mind a little mud and rainspotting and thinks if you do, maybe you’d better just stay home.


“The overall impression is a bike that is unapologetically not shiny.”


Bright hardware, two-tone wheels, accent ribbing and those gorgeous knurled valve covers create an industrial look in all the best ways. The motor is not quite as beautiful as the one the Scout boasts, but it’s still a work of art. Lack of a radiator means more of the motor is on display too, without a lot of hoses and clamps to clutter it up. This is further embellished with large open spaces at all sides, providing more air flow of course but also viewing opportunities. The motor is positively showcased.


An Indian Summer Ep12 - Springfield Dark Horse Fit, Feel and Finish


The only feature I can find any fault with is the hand grips, which inexplicably are constructed of rigid, cheap plastic. Imagine the hinged latch on your cheapest toolbox and you’ve about got it. Can you hear that dull, hollow clack as you tap it?

There’s a paradox here. The Springfield Dark Horse comes from the factory with a dedicated spot to install a switch for heated grips, right on the instrument apron next to the lock/unlock switch for the saddlebags. The kit comes in at about $350 for all the components on Indian’s website, and then whatever installation surcharge comes with it. For that price, on a bike that’s already north of $22,000, Indian probably figured on most of their purchases springing for the heated grips. In that context, cheap basic grips make sense. But on the other hand, for a bike that’s already north of $22,000, premium should come standard. Indian, please upgrade these base hand grips. The ones on the Scout were lovely.


We will talk at length in a future article about the electronics suite on our Springfield Dark Horse. For now, we’re just going to give a brief overview on how well those electronics work. Critical things like the keyless ignition and remote locks have worked fine, but there are gremlins in other systems.

For instance, the fuel sending unit can take some time to update after fueling. By “some time”, I mean I’ve seen it take as long as three miles down the road before the needle starts to rise. The neutral indicator light can also be twitchy. Sometimes it’s takes two or three seconds to illuminate after clicking into N. Other times, the green N will continue to blaze for thirty seconds or more while you’re cruising in gear. Neither of these pose a serious threat, we’re happy to have a fuel gauge at all really! But they speak to a lack of refinement somewhere in the electronics management.


“It’s more than that it looks good, or is a pleasure to ride. It’s cohesive. This bike feels put together in a way few things are.”



Indian says on their website and promotional material, “If you’re going to do something, do it right. That’s our standard.” I think the Springfield Dark Horse embodies that statement.

It’s more than that it looks good, or is a pleasure to ride. It’s cohesive. This bike feels put together in a way few things are, with each element complimenting the next without dissonance. No one part is more or less embellished then the next – with the exception of those grips – and it really feels done. It’s a rolling haiku, elegantly simplistic and without any fluff or polish. Solid, muscular, brute. We’re going to miss this gem in our garage.

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse in Sagebrush Smoke, pictured low on the left side quartering away.


Have you missed an episode of our Indian Summer? If so, you catch up on our previous review episodes right here:


Did you enjoy An Indian Summer Ep12 – Springfield Dark Horse Fit, Feel and Finish? We would like to thank Indian Motorcycle for providing us another Indian motorcycle (Indian Springfield Dark Horse) to review for you. We have much more to come on our review of the Indian Springfield, their big bagger. Stay tuned each week for yet another long term unbiased review from Total Motorcycle!


Ride Safe & Ride Often!

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About Eric Leaverton 41 Articles
Eric Leaverton is a management and labor relations specialist from the city of Harrisville, Utah, United States. He is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, and in his spare time enjoys riding motorcycles with his wife and raising their three children. Eric is also a product reviewer and field correspondent for Total Motorcycle Web. For more pictures, stories, and background, you can read his blog in the Total Motorcycle forums here: To Ride An Iron Horse (link opens in new tab)