Ride-Enhancement Features Turn This Antique Design Into An Entirely Modern Machine

Indian Motorcycle spruced up its Springfield Dark Horse ahead of MY2019 with some aesthetic tweaks that set it apart from the previous versions, but the factory didn’t stop there. It added some all-new electronic tech in the form of a few ride-enhancement features that turn this antique design into an entirely modern machine. Indian’s deep roots are on full display with this one to make it a tribute piece of sorts, and if you’re into designs from around World War II, then the Dark Horse has a lot to offer.

  • 2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Thunder Stroke® 111
  • Displacement:
    1811 cc
  • Top Speed:
    125 (est) mph
  • Price:
    21999
  • Price:

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Design

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
- image 830380
It's the blackout treatment that dominates the look; some parts are glossy, and others are matte, but they all tie into the custom culture to give the Dark Horse a sinister finish.

The overall design hits several historical high points. First, the fat front end hails back to the earliest hydraulic-dampened forks that replaced the old springer/girder front ends of the earliest machines. The full-length front fender drops the skirt associated with the early Indians to leave most of the big front wheel visible, but it still rocks the iconic war bonnet figurehead that has long graced Indian’s products.

Whiskerbar mounted pimp lights and turn signals bracket the large cyclops headlight, and a nacelle dresses up the front end by concealing the headlight can, tripletree area and associated wiring. Since the steering head protrudes so far out front in order to keep the forks clear of the 5.5-gallon fuel tank, the handlebar is almost apehanger-like in its rise. However, the factory cranked it back to place the pilot’s hands in a reasonably comfortable position to effectively give it a tiller-steering setup, and it can be a little odd at first as you get used to swinging your hands instead of torquing them. But, if you’re tall enough, you can stand the bar up, mini-ape style.

A classic, split tank-style console houses the instrumentation with a large analog speedometer and handful of idiot lights supplemented by an LED screen that acts as an interface for the tire-pressure monitor and the Ride Modes feature. A solo saddle — and I do mean saddle — rests at 26 inches off the ground to put your butt nice and low. That pays off when it’s time to deploy your training wheels ’cause it’s an easy reach to the ground and it gives your thighs plenty of leverage. It rocks white stitching at the seams, which is a nice contrast to the shoepolish-black cover.

Below the saddle you’ll find another old-school Indian detail in the body panels that close off all the innards except for that big, beautiful engine. The panels flow back into the full rear fender with color-matched, hard-top saddlebags to provide some dry, secure storage. You can get the sheet metal shot in white or black paint, but no matter which you choose, it’s the blackout treatment that dominates the look. Some parts are glossy, and others are matte, but they all tie into the custom culture to give the Dark Horse a sinister finish. You can pencil me in as a fan, ’cause I’m just about sick of chrome, me.

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Chassis

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
- image 830386
It feels really solid and handles like a dream, and it's surprisingly nimble for a bike this size.

At 802-pounds wet, this is not a light bike, but the factory did take steps to limit the heft by opting for a cast-aluminum frame instead of the typical welded-steel structure. The steering geometry trends toward the stable end of the spectrum with 25 degrees of rake and 5.2 inches of trail over a 67-inch wheelbase.

Cast, 10-spoke, contrast-cut wheels round out the rolling chassis with Dunlop hoops in a 130/60-19 up front opposite a wide 180/60-16, and that offset makes yet another classic custom connection. Fat, 46 mm front forks come with fixed damping values, as does the monoshock out back, but the rear shock is air-adjustable and it provides a plush ride with a wide range of preload adjustment.

The brakes are all business with dual, 300 mm discs and four-bore, opposed-piston calipers up front and another 300 mm disc and twin-pot anchor out back. ABS protection comes with the stock equipment package but it’s an always-on, non-switchable feature that you’ll have to learn to live with. Wink-nudge.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork - Cartridge Type/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tires: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 5 in

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Drivetrain

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
- image 830383
At idle, the ECM kills the rear cylinder in a move calculated to reduce the heat generated when in stop-and-go congestion or areas with lots of traffic lights.

Naturally, the big V-twin still steals the show with its old-school look. For those of you who are too young to recognize what you’re looking at, I’ll explain. The rocker boxes cap the jugs with faux cooling fins to replicate the look of the old flathead engines. On the right side, a quartet of parallel pushrod tubes reinforce that side-valve look that used to be so common. Point of interest: Harley-Davidson flatties were used by some police departments into the ’70s, mainly by Servi-car models used by metermaids.

Polished cooling-fin edges accentuate the V-twin shape — another classic detail — with extra fins around the exhaust ports to draw heat away from those critical spots. Credit where it’s due, the factory tucked the air cleaner up under the tank on the left side, so it’s easier to ride with than H-D’s filter housing.

The 101 mm bore and 113 mm stroke gives it the second-largest displacement for an American-made production engine at 1,811 cc (111 cubic-inches). At 9.5-to-1, the compression ratio is relatively mild and will allow you to run mid-grade fuel, plus it gives the bearings in the conrods and bottom end a break so the engine doesn’t beat itself to death.

A 54 mm throttle body manages the induction, and the Dark Horse rocks an all-new Ride Modes feature that lets you choose between three power-delivery profiles so you can dial in for conditions and/or comfort. Plus, at idle, the ECM kills the rear cylinder in a move calculated to reduce the heat generated when in stop-and-go congestion or areas with lots of traffic lights.

A standard wet clutch couples engine power to a six-speed transmission, and a carbon-reinforced belt carries the power to the rear wheel. What kind of power are we talking about? Well, the factory claims a stump-pulling 119 pound-feet of torque at an incredibly low, 3,000 rpm, and unverified sources cite 100 horsepower at the rear wheel.

Engine Type: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Horsepower: N/A
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio (:1): 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Pricing

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
- image 830389
MSRP falls in at $22k for black and $22.5k for white.

The Thunder Black Smoke model rolls for $21,999, and if you fancy the White Smoke color, you can expect to shell out $22,499 MSRP. Of course, the factory offers a full line of accessories so you can customize to make it your own.

Standard Equipment: Genuine Leather Seat, Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags, Tire Pressure Monitoring; Light Bar; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Color: Thunder Black Smoke, White Smoke
Price: $21,999, White: $22,499

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Competitors

2018 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
- image 733279
2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
- image 830391
Like a battle of immortals, these two marques have been locked in competition, off and on, since the turn of the 20th century.

For an American-style bike like this, there can be only one worthy competitor; domestic foe Harley-Davidson. Like a battle of immortals, these two marques have been locked in competition, off and on, since the turn of the 20th century, so I grabbed Harley’s Road King for my head-to-head.

The FLHR comports itself with much the same dated look as the Dark Horse, and why not, the Road King’s line of succession is unbroken through the better part of a century and it hits many of the same design high points. Full fenders and a headlight nacelle? Check. Hard bags out back and passing lights up front? Check. Harley takes it a step further with a windshield and passenger amenities, fitting since this design is the OG of American tourbikes long before the days of top cases and barndoor fairings.

Like the Indian, the FLHR has non-adjustable front forks, but the MoCo upped its game with the Showa Dual Bending Valve forks that deliver a superior ride to standard forks. Out back, emulsion-type shocks sport a handwheel for easy preload adjustment and a plush ride that rivals the Dark Horse’s air shock. ABS is a $795 option, but if you’re dead-set against it, at least you have the option of leaving it on the shelf whereas Indian makes the decision for you.

Naturally, H-D powers the FLHR with its relatively new Milwaukee-Eight 107 powerplant that delivers 111 pound-feet of torque to fall just short of the Thunder Stroke, but the Road King is 24-pounds heavier as well, so the old heinie-dyno is liable to detect a slight advantage to Indian.

Neither brand is known for using price as a selling point, and it shows at the checkout. The` Road King starts out at $19,289 in Vivid Black, and the factory offers a number of color options that culminate with the $20,289 Custom Color palette.

He Said

“Indian has certainly flourished under the Polaris umbrella, and I, for one, and glad to see it. Competition is good for the consumer and H-D has enjoyed a monopoly on the American market for far too long. Indian quickly made a name for itself on the flat-track circuit, and they look to capitalize on that success, even if it’s just the name recognition since the Dark Horse has absolutely nothing in common with the FT750 racebike. Here’s me hoping that Indian’s ride modes shame H-D into making the leap to the higher electronics.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Honestly, this Thunder Stroke 111 is so pretty, it oughta be framed and hanging in the Louvre. The Dark Horse is a tourer, so the ride is smooth and comfortable. It feels really solid and handles like a dream, and it’s surprisingly nimble for a bike this size. Torque is there early in the revband and it just keeps pulling. It’s a beast.”

2019 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine Type: Thunder Stroke® 111
Displacement: 111 cu in (1,811 cc)
Bore x Stroke: 3.976 in x 4.449 in (101 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Horsepower: N/A
Peak Torque: 119 lb-ft (161.6 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm
Drive/Driven Clutch: Wet, Multi-Plate
Electronic Fuel Injection System: Closed loop fuel injection / 54 mm bore
Exhaust: Split Dual Exhaust w/ Cross-over
Gear Ratio (:1): 1st: 9.403, 2nd: 6.411, 3rd: 4.763, 4th: 3.796, 5th: 3.243, 6th: 2.789
Transmission/Final Drive: 2.2 : 1
Transmission/Primary Drive: Gear Drive Wet Clutch
Chassis:
Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork - Cartridge Type/ 4.7 in (119 mm)
Rear Suspension/ Travel: Single Shock w/ Air adjust/ 4.5 in (114 mm)
Rake/Trail: 25° / 5.2 in (133 mm)
Lean Angle: 31°
Front Brakes: Dual / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 4 Piston Caliper
Rear Brakes: Single / 300 mm Floating Rotor / 2 Piston Caliper
Front Tires: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tires: Dunlop® Elite 3 Multi-Compound 180/60R16 80H
Front Wheel: Cast 19 in x 3.5 in
Rear Wheel: Cast 16 in x 5 in
Dimensions & Capacities:
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal (20.8 L)
Ground Clearance5: .6 in (142 mm)
GVWR: 1,385 lb (628 kg)
Overall Height: 46.3 in (1,176 mm)
Overall Length: 99.3 in (2,522 mm)
Overall Width: 39.4 in (1,000 mm)
Seat Height: 26.0 in (660 mm)
Weight (Empty Tank / Full of Fuel): 770 lbs / 802 lbs (349 kg / 360 kg)
Wheelbase: 67.0 in (1,701 mm)
Top Speed: 125 mph (est)
Details:
Gauges: Tank-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer; dual tripmeters; digital tachometer; ambient air temperature; fuel range; average fuel economy; battery voltage; gear position display; real-time clock; vehicle trouble code readout; heated grip level (if heated grips installed); low engine oil pressure; and 9 LED telltale indicators: cruise control enabled, cruise control set, neutral, high beam, turn signal, ABS, check engine, and MPH or km/h unit designation; tank-mounted electronic fuel gauge with low fuel LED indicator
Infotainment: N/A
Lights: Headlight; Driving/Tail/Brake Lights; Turn Signals; License Plate Light; Speedometer with Indicator Lights
Standard Equipment: Genuine Leather Seat, Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags, Tire Pressure Monitoring; Light Bar; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Color: Thunder Black Smoke, White Smoke
Price: $21,999, White: $22,499

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Road King

2018 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
- image 733281

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road King.

Indian Motorcycle

ALLYN IMAGES - DO NOT DELETE
- image 794320

Read more Indian news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: indianmotorcycle.com, harley-davidson.com

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