We feel like outlaws from some Wild West movie as we roll into the bustling little museum town of Cullinan on our three iron horses. It’s a sunny Sunday morning. The perfect weather sees every conceivable type of motorcycle lining the streets in front of the coffee shops and popular diners. Life is good as always, I suppose…
I find myself astride the Indian Springfield Dark Horse, with Simon flanking me on his custom Triumph modern classic and Bjorn on his KTM 390 Duke. It was a leisurely cruise from the big smoke on this glorious morning, the Dark Horse purring along just fine in top gear. The monster torque from this 1811cc motor makes for an effortless traverse.
On our way, we pass the lush, green and beautifully kept farmlands. Riding at the back I spot a photo opportunity. As I roll off the throttle, I see Bjorn and Simon doing exactly the same in front of me. No communication needed as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
We start positioning the Dark Horse in this field of green. Bjorn, our resident photographer starts capturing beauty, as he always does, while Simon and I discuss the ride so far.
In November 2017, I was privileged enough to ride the “big brother” Indian Chieftain on a three day cruise into the Midlands of KZN. The Chieftain is the more elaborately specced version, suited more to the full time roll of touring. The ride report ‘Travelling like a Chief’ can be viewed from the archives of this website. I was truly impressed back then, and I am truly impressed now. The Chieftain and the Springfield differ somewhat in form and function.
The Chieftain sport more creature comforts and appeals to the touring community first and foremost. A community where ultimate comfort and refinement is demanded. In this habitat it is hard to fault, as the journey through the midlands confirmed. The Springfield Dark Horse, on the other hand, was created for a different purpose, one that appeals more to the rebel inside, one that promotes individuality even more, one that sets apart.
A most glorious feature of the Dark Horse, is that it can be transformed from touring-to-naked bike in seconds. The very effective touring screen can be removed in a jiffy, making for an appealing naked style street rod. This greatly enhances functionality, both in looks and riding experience. There are many occasions where I feel like a fuss-free, wind in the hair style cruise into the country side, especially in South African summer time. As I found on my urban travels, the Dark Horse evoked much more reaction as a naked bike, than the fully faired version. She is a soulful beast, to say the least. I would certainly go naked, most of the time.
Although the seats are very comfortable and plush, the cruiser type seating position on the Dark Horse, as with any cruiser style motorcycle, positions the feet far forward on long running boards for a more relaxed knee angle.
To the rider of more conventional motorcycles, this poses quite a demanding adaptation in seating posture. No fear, when Indian is near! The engineers at Indian, to the rescue. a Riders’ back rest can be inserted with very little effort, affording the necessary lumbar support to the small of the back, making the transition from conventional-to-cruiser seating less traumatic. This seems to be the answer and a very cool feature indeed, making long hours in the saddle an option.
The basic ride and feel of the Dark Horse, is very similar to the Larger Chieftain, as mentioned earlier. The technical specifications are roughly the same, due to the same chassis being used successfully in both versions. This is a trend nowadays with most of the premium manufacturers, which cuts down dramatically on development costs and parts holding. It never seizes to surprise me that these manufacturers can engineer such similar, yet different riding experiences from such similar, yet different motorcycles. No pun intended…
In conclusion, I find the Indian Springfield Dark Horse a true pleasure to ride. The quality, matt black paint finish, evoke reaction from all other type of riders and brands. Almost everyone takes time to look and stare, ask questions and contemplate. Off course, this is very much part of the function desired when engineering this beast. I had the bike for a few days only and felt that I was not ready to give it back on the day of its return to ground zero. The friendly and helpful staff at Indian Motorcycles, Melrose Arch, Sandton was pleased, as this seems to be a favourite with both staff and customers.
I find the Indian brand refreshing and uniquely positioned in the cruiser market. The typical Indian customer is less price-sensitive and therefore doesn’t mind paying extra for this level of individuality. These are individuals, first and foremost, not simply stereotypes and crowd pleasers. Unique motorcycles seem to draw unique souls, it seems…
As a certain wise man once said; “If you follow the crowd, you will end up no further than the crowd”.
For more information visit: www.indianmotorcycle.co.za