An Indian Summer Ep9 – Indian Springfield Dark Horse First Ride

An Indian Summer Ep9 - Indian Springfield Dark Horse First Ride

An Indian Summer Ep9 - Indian Springfield Dark Horse First Ride

Indian Summer at Total Motorcycle just keeps getting better and better! Indian promised and delivered us a gorgeous behemoth of a motorcycle for our review. It’s big, it’s beautiful, it’s fast, it’s nimble and it’s Sagebrush Green. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to climb into the saddle of a brand new Indian Springfield Dark Horse. It’s a long story, read on.


Introducing… The 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse

Reviewer: Carrie Leaverton
Review Dates:  06/24/2020 – Current
Price Point: US MSRP $22,499 – $22,999 USD
Color: Sagebrush Smoke


2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse in Sagebrush Smoke
2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse in Sagebrush Smoke

First Impressions – Here’s what it’s got!

The Bars

The Indian Springfield Dark Horse… Ape Hangars Seriously? In the first 30 seconds of my first ride video, I mentioned it. Yes, Seriously Ape Hangars. Totally comfortable and capable! I loved them the whole way home which was about a 45 minute ride with a combination of interstate and in town traffic management. The bars make up a major part of the Eloquent Industrial look of the Springfield Dark Horse and they were the first feature to draw my attention. Our sport bike riding friends commented their opinions and I stated don’t knock it until you try it! This was my first ride with hangers as high as my shoulders (which is the local limitation) and I was certainly impressed.

Windscreens are offered for the Springfield Dark Horse although our bike has not been equipped with one. Wearing my Blaze Vest, I took blasts of freeway grit to my neck and arms as they were stretched out and high. As powerful as the bike is, I concentrated on holding on when accelerating as I took a lot of wind blast to the chest and face. 0 – 65 mph riding was comfortable, after that I started to feel the wind pressure and felt especially focused on my grip.

Check in with us for future episodes for my thoughts on how the bars feel on long road trips.

The Pegs

I’ve always preferred pegs over floorboards for the option of stability over comfort. But… I’ll tell you after my initial learning curve, Indian sure spoiled me with the floorboards on our Springfield Dark Horse. Their ‘Headdress’ design is long and wide, but not so wide I can’t comfortably put my feet down at stop lights. The board lengths are very nice for adjusting my leg position for comfort and the boards are tucked in close enough that I don’t feel like the freeway wind will push my legs out of position. I don’t have real long legs (I’m 5’6), so I need to keep in mind not to get too comfortable with my feet too far back on the boards because it can be quite a reach to the shift and rear break levers.


“1900 cc 49° V-Twin. That’s a big engine… “


The Machine

For the first time in the Indian Motorcycle’s history,  a 116 cubic-inch Thunder Stroke engine is offered on select models straight from the factory. Our Springfield Dark Horse sports this amazing Thunder Stroke power plant. It has a 49 degree V-Twin on a 6 speed transmission. Also on the Thunder Stroke Line Up is the Chieftain, Chieftain Limited, Chieftain Vintage, Roadmaster Dark Horse, Roadmaster, Roadmaster Elite and very special 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition.  Our math converts that displacement to 1900 cc’s. That’s a big engine.  With that said, Indian managed to keep this bike under 800 pounds (758 dry weight to be exact). Impressive! ABS brakes give it the stopping power it needs.


2020 Indian Springfield Darkhorse in Sagebrush Smoke


The Maneuverability

With 758 pounds in mind, the Indian Springfield Dark Horse is very nimble. The best way I can describe it is like a magic broomstick, which is something I’ve always wanted. The seat is low so it’s easy for me to mount, flat foot and shift the weight of the kickstand. After the kick stand is up I shift the Dark Horse into first gear and kick off soaring like a witch on Halloween Night. And I LOVE it!

As a motorcycle enthusiast, journalist and MSF RiderCoach, I’m involved in the motorcycle community every day. I often hear of incidents where both new and experienced riders have tip overs at very low speeds or with the engine off while maneuvering a motorcycle around the garage or driveway. As heavy bikes reveal their weightiness when not at speed, the ability to flat foot, muscle around and maneuver heavy bikes really can save you from a garage incident. I’ve got no complaints whatsoever as to the engine off maneuverability around my over packed garage (aka toybox) and I don’t embarrass myself while maneuvering the enormous 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse around parking lots. I am eager to try it out on the MSF Range to see how it performs on low speed cone weaving exercises.


The Special Features

Indian did their homework when designing this beautiful machine.

When piloting motorcycles with larger engines I always expect engine heat when riding in traffic on hot days. The Springfield Dark Horse has a feature called Rear Cylinder Deactivation that you can turn off or on with a couple clicks of a selection lever on the handlebars, it’s easy enough to change while at a stoplight. I turned it on when night riding at 80 degrees ( I knew it was 80 degrees because the display showed it with another quick click of a selection lever.) I felt engine heat at stop lights but wasn’t blasted with a blower full of hot air. I’ll turn the Rear Cylinder Deactivation off in the chill of the morning and welcome the heat, though. Follow us for future episodes to see how that feature works for me.

The Springfield Dark Horse offers three different riding modes, Standard, Touring and Sport. It’s easy to select your preference when you start your ride for the day. I selected the Standard Mode for my first couple days on the bike.

Adjustable Suspension is another amazing feature you’ll find on the 2020 Springfield Dark Horse. It comes with a pump to easily make your adjustments and a graph is printed on the underside of one of the side cases. You can estimate the weight of rider, passenger and item’s and make your adjustments. Later on this on our passenger episode.


The Side Cases & Keys

Indian calls them ‘Slammed Bags’ and guess what…they work with on a  keyless entry system. Their shape really looks nice and streamlined, not enormous but big enough to take lots of items along for the ride. Locking side cases are such a wonderful thing to have on a road trip. It’s nice to pull into a roadside diner after a 200 mile stretch and have a burger, knowing your Springfield Dark Horse has your stuff locked up safe.


Keyless Entry


The fob used to lock and unlock the ‘Slammed Bags’ is also a start up transmitter. As long as I have it on my person no keys are required. I have to tell you that is really a gift, courtesy of Indian. Every rider struggles with putting gloves on, then remembering they have to dig in a pocket to retrieve the key. Depending on the tightness of your jeans, jacket zippers, or where your purse is, keyless riding is a wonderful thing! Indian does throw in a set of keys as well, and one is required to lock the forks for extra security when parking.

The Seat

The ‘Two Up Rogue Seat’ is surprisingly comfortable for as sleek as it looks. This design includes a ridge at the back of my rear that feels right natural and keeps my center from sliding back when accelerating. This design is especially appreciated when taking on wind at high speeds without a windshield. More to come later on how it feels to be a Springfield Dark Horse passenger.


“…there’s so much power that I was immediately wishing for a windshield.”


Our Upgrades

Thunder Stroke Stage 1 Slip-On Exhausts

This Stage One Slip on Exhaust upgrade makes the bike sound exhilarating and mean without being aggressively loud or annoying. Eric and the kids can hear me and the Springfield Dark Horse coming through the neighborhood with enough time to hit the garage door opener button for me.  Indian’s website states that not only does the upgrade produce a rich, throaty exhaust note, it lets a Thunder Stroke engine breathe more freely, unleashing additional power with enhanced mid-range torque and throttle response. This upgrade costs $699.99 USD for the pair and you can choose black or chrome. A variety of Exhaust Tips are sold separately.

Thunder Stroke Stage One Performance Intake

Indian upgraded our Springfield Dark Horse intake with the Thunder Stroke Stage One Performance Intake. Indians website states that the upgrade will ‘increase the horsepower by 3%’. The key to making power with any engine is abundant air and fuel flow into the combustion chamber. Swapping your stock air filter for this Stage 1 High Performance Air Cleaner is a great way to create more power and improve acceleration.This waterproof Stage 1 Performance Air Cleaner is designed with non-woven media to improve power through better flow, and provides high-efficiency cleaning to protect your engine from damaging dirt and debris.’ They also state that the synthetic filtration material operates at high filtration efficiency and doesn’t require filter washing like paper based filtration systems. Also, it looks pretty awesome, inspired by muscle car designs. The price point is $519.99 USD and color options are black or chrome.


2020 Indian Springfield Darkhorse in Sagebrush Smoke
Thunder Stroke Stage One Performance Intake Upgrade


Front Fork Driving Lights

The Springfield Dark Horse Headlight Nacelle (TMW editor – Nacelle? I had to look this one up!) comes stock with a place for the on/off button, should you choose to add Front Fork Driving Lights. Check out our Youtube and Facebook video for this episode to see the incredible difference these lights make. They offer more than double the light to my panoramic view while night riding and could be the difference between seeing wildlife or debris in time to avoid an incident or not. A smart upgrade indeed as more illumination can only be a good thing. The price point is $399.99 USD, color choices are matte black or gloss black.


16 in. Ape Hanger Handlebar Kit

The stock bars are 12 inches, so this 16 inch upgrade gives you a 4 inch increase. I mentioned above that I’m 5-6, so this upgrade makes my hand position parallel to my shoulders. In Utah, any higher than your shoulders is not legal. As a distance rider, it’s important to me to mention these handlebars position my arms low enough as to not expose my delicate armpits to UV rays. Evenings after my rides are absolutely enjoyable without sunburns. The positioning is just comfy comfy! Indian’s website states that this upgrade ‘infuses classic cruiser style’, and they’re certainly right about that. The kit comes with clutch extender cables etc. and can be purchased for $309.99 USD and you can choose from polished (chrome) or gloss black.

2020 Indian Springfield Darkhorse in Sagebrush Smoke

The Iconic Indian Motorcycle Front Fender Headdress

First Impressions – Summary

On first impressions, the Springfield feels a lot lighter and nimbler than it looks, and there’s so much power that I was immediately wishing for a windshield. Controls are easy to reach, but there’s a learning curve to the foot controls if you’re not used to big wide floorboards. The seat is comfortable, and so are the higher bars, but again it’s hard to hide from the wind with your arms spread so wide. I had a great time riding it home, and we’re exciting for all the riding we’ll do on it this summer.

Now that you know a little more about the new Indian Springfield Dark Horse make sure to see all previous in-depth episodes of An Indian Summer with the Indian Scout:


We would like to thank Indian Motorcycle for providing us another Indian motorcycle (Indian Springfield Dark Horse) to review for you in the next 8 weeks. This is just beginning with the Indian Springfield, their big bagger. Stay tuned each week for yet another long term unbiased review from Total Motorcycle!

Ride Safe & Ride Often!


Indian Motorcycles


About Carrie Leaverton 19 Articles
Carrie Leaverton is a MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) Certified RiderCoach. She regularly teaches Basic Rider Courses and also works as senior financial analyst and account reconciliation specialist. She was a competitive off road motorcycle racer in her youth and now enjoys street motorcycling with her husband. Carrie is a proud mom of three and also enjoys fiber/needle arts, camping and gardening and is a parrot enthusiast. She is also a product reviewer and field correspondent for Total Motorcycle Web.