The New Thunder Stroke 116 Engine Is One Of The Most Powerful Production Engines Out There

Indian Motorcycle is proving to be quick to capitalize on popular products, and the 2020 Springfield Dark Horse is yet another example that drives the point home. The Springfield Dark Horse seeks to ride on the success of the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition model that made such a splash at Daytona this year. Bad-boy blackout is a constant throughout the paint packages up for grabs this year, as are the factory-custom touches that set this model apart from the crowd. Best of all, Indian powers it with the brand-new Thunder Stroke 116 that boosts power and performance even further with over 120 pound-feet of torque on tap.

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Design

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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The overall design takes us right back in time, all of which is hit with the blackout treatment for a sinister custom finish.

Indian draws on its deep historical roots as America’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer for many of the design details we see on the Springfield Dark Horse. Right up front is the iconic war bonnet fender ornament that hails all the way back to the early 1900s. The fender itself is a full-length design that offers plenty of coverage for the front wheel but rocks cut-back sides instead of the old valence skirts to leave ample view of the black-and-polish wheel.

As for the rest of the front end, the rwu forks, fork skirts and headlight nacelle take us right back in time, all of which is hit with the blackout treatment for a sinister custom finish. A super bright cyclops halogen headlight splits the night from its classic-looking nacelle that extends to conceal the tripletree. This detail is both old school and super clean, and the LED tech extends to the blackout bullet turn-signal housings to complete the forward lighting.

Mini apes loft your hands to put them close to the same elevation as your shoulders. This is a common custom detail, and one with deep historical meaning as the original apehangers were a bid to defeat the anti-motorcycle measures taken by the Wehrmacht during the second World War; namely, cables strung across roads to decapitate motorcycle couriers. Veterans of that conflict brought the apes home with them where they quickly became synonymous with the U.S. custom scene and the rough-and-tumble biker culture.

Pushing a fairing or windshield just ain’t the Springfield Dark Horse’s style, so the breeze comes through to the rider unimpeded, and that’s just how I like it. I also like the blackout instrument console that houses the single round speedometer gauge and mini LED screen, ’cause it doesn’t act like a mirror to blind the pilot under harsh lighting. The console covers the middle of the fuel tank all the way back to the saddle and the 5.5-gallon teardrop tank has black inserts on both sides with the war bonnet graphic for another classic touch.

At 26 inches off the ground, the seat puts you within easy reach of the ground even for vertically-challenged riders, so you can count on good stability and leverage when you deploy your training wheels. Forward foot controls and full-length footboards finish off the rider’s triangle and define a relaxed cruiser’s posture that’s easy on the back, shoulders and wrists.

A short rise to the p-pad forms a butt stop and segregates pillion from pilot before it tapers down over the rear fender to leave the bike with the suggestion of a solo seat. Lockable hard-side saddlebags provide the dry storage, and they’re stretched so they fit right in with the Springfield Dark Horse’s custom attitude. Out back, LED lighting takes care of business with a low-down tagholder to finish the gear in the rear.

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Chassis

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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Far from being stodgy, the Springfield Dark Horse attacks the corners with nimble handling for a lean angle of 31 degrees to each side.

A cast-aluminum frame hits the historical high notes with a double-downtube/double-cradle layout that completely supports the engine and offers some protection to the cases along the bottom. Far from being stodgy in the corners, the Springfield Dark Horse attacks the corners with a 25-degree rake angle and 5.2 inches of trail over a 67-inch wheelbase for a lean angle of 31 degrees to each side.

The suspension components are fairly vanilla and unsophisticated with rwu, 46 mm front forks and a single air shock out back. Fixed damping values leave the stems completely non-adjustable with 4.7 inches of travel, but the rear shock delivers a plush ride you can only get from air, with a wide range of preload adjustability and generous 4.5 inches of travel that’ll handle the roughest urban jungles.

Blackout, cast-aluminum rims run with polished flats for a bit of bling down low, and they mount Dunlop Elite hoops in a 130/60-19 and 180/60-16 on the front and rear, respectively. All around 300 mm discs handle the braking with dual, four-pot anchors up front and a twin-piston caliper out back and stock ABS coverage, no matter which of the color packages you choose.

Front Suspension/ Travel: 46 mm Telescopic Fork/ 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 Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: 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

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Drivetrain

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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The Springfield Dark Horse is a fairly essential machine with raw and honest response when you twist that right grip on one of the most powerful engines currently in domestic production.

Indian’s Thunder Stroke engine family channels the look of the old sidevalve powerplants, the likes of which saw service in the U.S. from around the 1930s through the seventies. The new 116 cubic-inch engine on the Springfield Dark Horse inherits that look through its faux cooling fins cast into the rocker-box covers and flathead-tastic exhaust ports, and the old-school goodies continue into the valvetrain with parallel pushrod tubes that indicate a quartet of individual cam gears behind the nosecone, just like the old flatties. A pair of 103.2 mm bores and 113 mm stroke pushes two liters with a 1,900 cc displacement and 11-to-1 compression ratio so that’ll put you at the expensive fuel pump every time.

Induction management falls to the 54 mm throttle body with closed-loop fuel injection to meter and deliver the atomized juice for efficient combustion and low emissions. Unlike some of the higher-tier machines, the Springfield Dark Horse rolls sans the Ride Modes feature, and in that respect, is a fairly essential machine with raw and honest response when you twist that right grip.

As for power, you can count on a whopping 126 pound-feet of torque at a low 2,900 rpm that makes this one of the most powerful mills currently in domestic production and delivers low-stress cruising at interstate speeds. The six-speed transmission and final-drive ratio turns in a top speed that maxes out at 115 mph when you push it up to the rev-limiter in top gear.

Engine: Thunder Stroke® 116
Displacement: 116 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 11:1
Peak Torque: 126 lb-ft (168 Nm) @ 2,900 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: 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

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Pricing

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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MSRP starts at $22.5k for Thunder Black and $23k for a choice of colors.

The 2020 Springfield Dark Horse rolls in a black-on-black Thunder Black model for $22,499. Blackout treatment is a constant across the board, but for another five Benjamins you can score the White Smoke or Sagebrush Smoke finish on the sheet metal.

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

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Competitors

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
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2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse
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Like a brother-from-another-mother, the Road King Special hits all the high-points alongside the Springfield Dark Horse.

American-style bikes have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that evades the rest of the world’s manufacturers, no matter how hard they try, so with that in mind I went straight to the Harley-Davidson Motor Company for its Road King Special to go up against the Springfield Dark Horse. Indian is in good company here, as the MoCo enjoys deep historical roots of its own, and is in fact the second-oldest American marque still in operation.

Like a brother-from-another-mother, the Road King Special rocks nearly the same front fender, only without the Indian-centric war bonnet, with a fat, skirted front end, and headlight nacelle that hail back to yesteryear. The bar has a bit of rise to it for a mini-ape look, and mercifully, the blackout continues onto the console as well. Hard-side stretched bags provide the dry storage for a comparable cargo capacity, and the deep-scoop saddle runs with a Mustang-style pillion that falls in the “I’d rather not” category for the sake of the overall look.

Showa’s Dual Bending Valve forks deliver a superior ride to the plain vanilla stems on the Springfield Dark Horse, but the emulsion-type rear shocks are about as plush as the air shock on the Indian, so I can call the suspension a minor victory for the Harley. ABS is standard across the board, but H-D gets a win in its optional gear with the all-new Relflex Defensive Rider Systems feature that bundles drag-torque protection, traction control, and corner-sensitive ABS for a leg up, but only if you spring for it; it’s not stock.

Harley’s Milwaukee-Eight 114 delivers the goods with 123 pounds o’ grunt on tap to fall just shy of the Thunder Stroke’s power, but it’s such a small difference, it won’t even be a blip on the best-tuned heinie dynos out there. Like Indian, Harley breaks its pricing down along color choice, but the range runs from $22,999 for the Vivid Black base model and $24,999 for the top-shelf two-tone package to give Indian another minor victory at the checkout.

He Said

“Credit where it’s due, Indian gives Harley a run for its money with this model, and I appreciate how quickly the factory put it together for full production based on very recent fan feedback. You usually don’t see that kind of turnaround, so Indian is to be commended for that. Best of all, it can do so without ripping off the MoCo as the marque has its very own experience and fandom from which to draw. I’m a little surprised at the lack of the Ride Modes feature, but I expect pressure from H-D to push that onto the menu sooner rather than later.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Thunder Stroke engine has always been a thing of beauty and great power. Previously available only through the Big-Bore kit, it’s rather exciting to see the 116 in production. The Springfield Dark Horse is a big bike, but you know, it doesn’t feel like you need to wrestle it. The seat height is low, so even shorties like me can flat-foot this. The power is awesome and it has stump-pulling torque.”

2020 Indian Springfield Dark Horse Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Thunder Stroke® 116
Displacement: 116 cu in
Bore x Stroke: 4.063" x 4.449" (103.2 mm x 113 mm)
Compression Ratio: 11:1
Peak Torque: 126 lb-ft (168 Nm) @ 2,900 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: 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/ 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 Tire: Dunlop® American Elite 130/60B19 61H
Rear Tire: 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 Clearance: 5.2 in (133 mm)
Overall Height: 49.6 in (1,261 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): 758 lbs / 790 lbs (344 kg / 358 kg)
Wheelbase: 67.0 in (1,701 mm)
Top Speed: 115 mph
Electric:
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: Halogen Headlamp/Driving, LED Tail/Brake/Turn Signal
Details:
Standard Equipment: Remote-Locking Hard Saddlebags, Vinyl Rogue Seat; Tire Pressure Monitoring; Light Bar; ABS; Cruise Control; Keyless Ignition
Warranty: 2 Years, Unlimited Miles
Colors: Thunder Black Smoke, Sagebrush Smoke, White Smoke
Price: Thunder Black Smoke: $22,499, Colors: $22,999

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special

2018 - 2019 Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special
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See our review of the Harley-Davidson Road King / Road King Special.

Indian Motorcycle

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
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Read more Indian Motorcycle 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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