With An Indian Summer Series Finale, we give our final rating on the Indian Springfield Dark Horse and talk about our first ever 15 episode long-term review series. 2 new Indian motorcycles, 6 reviewers, 18 weeks and a whole lot of gear. With 3000 miles and 10 weeks on the Dark Horse we slabbed it, rode 100’s of miles of twisties, commuted and ran errands on it. Let me tell you how it went and why we Can’t help falling in Love with Indian.
An Overview of the Springfield Dark Horse
The 2020 Springfield Dark Horse is a long, low cruiser of a motorcycle in the “bagger” flavor. The Dark Horse variant differs from the standard Springfield in several key ways. Matte finishes, premium blacked-out accents and 12″ handlebars create gobs of attitude. The Dark Horse also gets the 116ci (1900cc) Thunder Stroke air-cooled V-twin motor with blacked-out finishes, churning out 126 foot-pounds of torque. It comes standard with three ride modes (Standard, Touring, and Sport) and rear-cylinder deactivation. Also standard are keyless ignition, ABS, cruise control, and TPMS. Remote locking saddlebags are also standard equipment.
Indian generously outfitted our Springfield with several upgrades. It had the 16″ handlebars, driving lights, and Stage I intake and exhaust kits.
Our Rating for the Springfield Dark Horse
Here at Total Motorcycle, we rate review bikes on eight key elements. They are comfort, power, handling, range, versatility, style, sound, and fun. Each category receives a rating of 1 to 5 stars. Because every rider is looking for something a little different, we don’t offer an overall rating and let each aspect stand for itself. So with that in mind, lets go over our final ratings for the 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse.
Comfort – 5
Being comfortable starts with being confident, and confidence starts with footing. The low seat on the Springfield Dark Horse makes it easy to flat foot, but that’s not the entire story. Whatever black magic Indian uses in designing their bikes also makes it feel light, despite being 758lbs dry. It comes up off the kickstand with hardly any effort, and it stays balanced even in low-speed maneuvers.
All the controls are easy to reach and manipulate, and the high bars cut down on back fatigue during long rides. The wide, long floorboards let you adjust your feet and legs when you feel the need. And the seat is firm enough to keep you stable but not so hard it’s uncomfortable to sit on.
There’s also a little extra credit here. Both of our passengers during our 2Up test had positive things to say about the riding position and the feel of the pillion.
Power – 5
Our rating of the Springfield Dark Horse in this category was influenced by the Stage 1 intake and exhaust kits Indian outfitted our bike with.
The 116ci V-twin and six-speed transmission never, not once, left us wishing for more oomph. There’s enough power for hauling the Springfield Dark Horse through traffic, powering out of corners, or cruising on the freeway at a steady 80mph. Drop a gear and passing is a breeze, too. Even riding with a passenger I didn’t notice any lack of power, whether cruising on the freeway or climbing mountain roads. Can’t help falling in Love with that engine!
Handling – 4
The Springfield Dark Horse handles amazingly well for such a large bike. It carves corners with confidence and tracks straight on the interstate. It weaves and swerves smoothly, and you can lean it over quite a bit before the pipes hit pavement. Steering feel is light and crisp and predictable.
Where we loose a star in this category is those high bars. All that straight-line comfort exacts a price when you’re trying to navigate in limited spaces. You just can’t reach your arms out far enough to turn the bars to full lock, and that makes things like 90° turns difficult. This may not be a problem with the stock 12″ bars, but the taller 16″ bars on our press bike sure made it a challenge. This is another instance where our rating of the Springfield Dark Horse was affected by a non-standard upgrade.
Range – 5
Our Springfield Dark Horse had long legs. The fuel tank is 5.5 gallons and we averaged about 49 miles to the gallon over the 3,000 miles we spent with it. That’s almost 270 miles of range in a single tank, and I know very few riders who can handle 200 miles without stopping anyway. Our Dark Horse went the distance and we never fretted over distances between stops.
Versatility – 5
The Springfield Dark Horse is a bagger, outfitted for bare-bones touring. We were pleased to discover, though, that this bike was competent with everything we threw at it. I’ve never enjoyed commuting on a bike more, owing to the around-town comfort and remote locking saddlebags. The Dark Horse kept pace with my 2011 Kawasaki Concours through canyon twisties, no mean feat for an air-cooled V-twin. It even handled about two miles of gravel road during our four-state road trip without getting out of sorts.
I was also surprised to find I’ve never enjoyed riding 2Up more. The long Rogue seat and low center of gravity lets you very nearly forget there’s a passenger behind you at all.
Towns, twisties, touring or 2Up, the Springfield Dark Horse does it all.
Style – 5
We’re aware that style is extremely subjective, so let me try to explain what impresses me most about the aesthetic of the Springfield Dark Horse.
Whether or not you like the minimalist look, what shines about the Dark Horse is the cohesiveness of the presentation. Every component has a casually industrial, purpose-built look and feel, and they all coordinate. What we don’t have is a bike that was built 80% to it’s concept, and then finished up with parts-bin bits. Every piece looks like it was designed specifically for the Dark Horse iteration of the Springfield. Every piece. Can’t help falling in Love with that detail! I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s the impression you get.
With the blacked-out bits and matte finish, you get a sense that this bike doesn’t mind getting a little dirty. It’s ruggedly beautiful. It’s style is utility, it has work to do. It looks like a tool, or a weapon. A caveat here. A lot of that impression accrues to the Sagebrush Smoke color of our review bike. The dark green in a matte finish just screams “military”, and it’s an open question if the other color options would look as purposeful. All we can do is review the bike we’re given.
Sound – 5
The low-revving 116ci V-twin puts out a wonderful exhaust note. It’s low and throaty and just loud enough to turn heads. When we took the Springfield Dark Horse to gatherings, lots of people had good things to say about it.
There’s more to the sound that just the exhaust though. The belt drive means there’s no chain lash, and air-cooling eliminates the whine of a water pump and fan. It’s a very unadulterated sound.
Our Springfield Dark Horse was outfitted with the Stage 1 exhaust upgrade kit, which affected this rating.
Fun – 4
With all the good things we’ve had to say about the Springfield Dark Horse, this rating may come as a surprise. We debated over this one for a while, but in the end we had to take a star from Fun. There’s a couple of reasons for this.
First, as I’ve mentioned in a previous article, the Springfield Dark Horse doesn’t respond well to an honest flogging. It’s a little difficult to hold on to when you really give it the beans, and the rev limiter steps in at 5,900 rpm. So leave that hooligan stuff at home. The Dark Horse is a serious, no-shenanigans partner on the road.
Secondly, as capable as it is of cruising on the open freeway at 8o per all afternoon, it’s not much fun to be on it for such a ride. A lot of that is lack of a windshield. Wind blast and buffeting at freeway speeds are downright pommeling. But that’s not the only issue. There’s more than a little throttle lag, and keeping your speed constant can be a challenge as you tackle slipstreams, headwinds, and inclines. It does have a very capable cruise control system to alleviate some of this, but it’s not always practical to use.
Our ratings for the 2020 Springfield Dark Horse are as follows:
- Comfort – 5
- Power – 5
- Handling – 4
- Range – 5
- Versatility – 5
- Style – 5
- Sound – 5
- Fun – 4
Carrie and Eric’s Reflections from “An Indian Summer”
We had so much fun spending our summer with these Indian bikes! It was more than just rides and cameras, miles and meals. In a way, getting to spend so much time with these specific two bikes was like a karmic boomerang. Howso? I’d like to tell you a brief story. It sounds too perfect to be true, but I assure you it happened just like this. We have the footage to prove it. Details omitted to protect the innocent.
A few years ago, Carrie and I attended a large motorcycle expo with our entire family. We attended as press, but we brought our kids along and made a whole event of it. We went on the regular public day instead of the press day, and our kids had a lot of fun getting photos and watching us do our thing with the crowd.
This expo included an extensive test-ride element with multiple manufacturers. We rode several bikes that day, including a couple of Indians, and therein lies the story. At the Indian booth, they were doing a “schoolyard pick” of their available fleet rather than letting people reserve a particular bike. First come, first serve. And the bikes that Carrie I wanted to ride were the base Scout, and the Springfield Dark Horse. Again, we have footage.
For my part, I didn’t get to ride what I wanted to ride out of courtesy and utility. Another attendee had selected a Scout Bobber with the upgraded “mini-ape” bars, and she quickly decided she didn’t feel confident with that arrangement. She asked me to swap the base Scout with her, and I agreed. No muss, no fuss.
Carrie, on the other hand, had some drama. The 2019 Springfield Dark Horse was there that day in Thunder Black Smoke, and that’s what she wanted to ride. But she wasn’t the only one.
Also there that day was a large club of lady riders. Vests, chaps, patches, the whole nine yards. One of those gals was adamant about riding the Dark Horse, exclaiming loudly to the rest of her club that she’d fight anyone who tried to take it instead. Obviously that’s more intense than anything we were ready to commit to! Carrie rode the base Springfield, and the lady rider who was so vocal about the Dark Horse dropped that bike on it’s left side at the first intersection we reached. No ill will towards her of course, we’ve all been there. But for Carrie it was a sad moment.
All of which is to say, when the email first came through clear back in April that we’d be getting a Scout and a Springfield Dark Horse, it was like mana from heaven. It’s like they knew.
We can’t express how grateful we are to Indian for providing us this opportunity and trusting us with their equipment and reputation. We enjoyed every minute on these bikes, enjoyed spending the time with them and getting to know them.
We’d also like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Total Motorcycle for all their hard work and dedication in running TMW. Their efforts made the summer of 2020 one of the greatest we’ve ever spent, and in the grips of a worldwide pandemic that’s no small feat. Hats, err, helmets off!
Total Motorcycle Mike Reflections on “An Indian Summer” Series
Hello Total Motorcycle readers! Mike Le Pard here, founder and owner of Total Motorcycle. This summer we did our first ever long term review series “An Indian Summer” with new not 1 but 2 new Indian bikes, and a log of new gear, it was awesome and I hope you enjoyed all 15 episodes! As our finale says “Can’t help falling in Love” with them all!
Creating, running, organizing and managing “An Indian Summer 2020” has been both challenging and rewarding. Like all our reviews, I wanted to provide a real in depth “live with it” over the longterm type of viewpoint, one that would like to see more of in our motorcycle industry. There can be immense challenges being a reviewer and doing reviews, one being how do you be “unbiased” and be able to walk that fine line. Like any tightrope artists would say “it is all about balance and talent!”. Dear reader, I can’t tell you how many emails, calls and article editing you don’t see behind the curtain to make this all happen but lets just say I could write another 15 episodes, lol!
In the end, not only did we get An Indian Summer 2020 all out, but it was extremely successful on TMW and across all our 9 social media channels. Readers gave us great feedback and a real rarity on Social media, it was overwhelmingly positive!
I would like to thank my staff, Eric, Carrie, Andrea, Bruce and Jen have done a great job for you all this summer! I would also like to thank Indian Motorcycle for providing us 2 new motorcycles and a boat load of gear to review for you as well. What a great company and I appreciate their trust in us to deliver unbiased and professional reviews for our readers.
Although this journey has come to an end, we have many more journeys you can join us on coming up. It is going to be an exciting fall and 2021, I can’t wait! Dear readers, Thank You for being part of the Total Motorcycle family!
Till then, ride safe, be safe and keep the rubber on the road!
Mike Le Pard, Founder & Owner of Total Motorcycle*
*The largest motorcycling family on the internet and not owned by a corporation”
Have you missed an episode of our Indian Summer? If so, you catch up on our previous review episodes right here:
‘Proper riding gear is a necessity for all motorcycle riders. It doesn’t just protect you in the event of a fall but protects riders from the elements on the open road. Thanks to Indian riding gear, we not only rode safe, but we rode in style! Read on to see our thoughts about the gear we chose from Indian’s line-up for men and women.’
‘Sharing our Passion for motorcycles is what we at Total Motorcycle are all about. We took a couple friends out on the open road to experience the thrill of the 2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse. What’s it like to be a Springfield Passenger? Read on to see what they had to say about riding 2-Up on the Springfield vs. other bikes they have been a passenger on in the past.’
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!
We’ve taken our Springfield Dark Horse on long weekend trips and through canyons, but until now we haven’t had occasion to commute with it. I commuted on the Dark Horse all last week to see how it can handle low speeds, city traffic and long red lights. Temperatures were above 90°F all week and my commute is 10 miles through the city center. Check out our last Episode #10 in case you missed it.
It’s still Indian Summer here at Total Motorcycle and we’re loving it! What you really wanna do on a big touring bike like the Indian Springfield Dark Horse is of course, tour. We wasted no time at all getting our review bike out for some extended road tripping. Read on to find out how the Dark Horse handled that first incredible 2000 mile week with TMW reviewers Eric and Carrie!
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.
Is the Indian Scout the most fun mid-sized cruiser? After six weeks and nearly 1000 miles with the Indian Scout, we’re ready to give you our final ratings! We took the Scout up and down every canyon we could find. We commuted to work, shopped for groceries, did some banking and pumped gas. Mainly though, what we did on the Scout was had fun. Let’s rate and review our Indian Scout.
A good quality pair of luxurious leather riding gloves is a must have on the open road. No rider should ever have to sacrifice their style for safety too much. Stylish classic black leather riding gloves should be a necessity for every lady rider’s wardrobe, and Indian provided Total Motorcycle with their Women’s Classic Gloves to review. Read on to see what we think about them.
We wanted to know if the 2019 Indian Scout would be ideal for commuting. We rode it to work for two weeks, saddle bags loaded with a laptop, planner, and other essentials. Then we ran some errands around town like banking, getting gas, and picking up some lunch at the drive thru window. Read on to see how it handled these everyday tasks.
There’s nothing quite like a dyno run when reviewing a bike. It’s one thing to try to explain how much horsepower a bike has, and how it delivers that power. It’s quite another to have numbers in black and white that illustrate your description. We took the Indian Scout to a local speed shop, Tucker Speed, and got some solid numbers to show you. Scout Horsepower Dyno Runs are a go!
We’re racking up the miles on our new long term Indian Scout cruiser! We’ve been up and down a dozen canyons, spent some time on the interstate slab, and driven in heavy city traffic. After all that, we’ve got a few things to tell you about how the fit, feel and finish of the Scout. Grab a coffee, send the kids outside, and let’s chat.
An Indian Summer: Indian Motorcycle partnered with Total Motorcycle in 2020 so we could review their bikes and gear for our readers! In this episode, An Indian Summer Ep3: Gear Up in Style, we review some cool men’s and ladies’ t-shirts, stylish hoodies and not one but two pairs of Indian Motorcycle Red Wing leather motorcycle boots! So, what did we think? On with Ep3! (Read Episode 1, Episode 2 in case you missed them).
In this article we’ll answer some upfront questions about the new Indian Scout. After one week and about 300 miles, we have some first impressions to share. Some interstate superslab, some mountain twisties, some city traffic. We’ve only just started, but here’s a few things about the Scout that stood out. Presented in no particular order. With that in mind, on with An Indian Summer Ep2!
Indian Motorcycles opened up their garage to TMW, and we couldn’t be more excited! We selected a Scout and a Springfield to review, and we’ve got them for a whole month! We’ll be writing articles and publishing videos throughout, so don’t miss a moment! Bookmark TMW, head over to the Forums and sound off in the thread, and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Ride on! With that in mind, on with An Indian Summer Ep1!