Indian revs up rivalry with Harley

Charles Fleming
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — Watch out, Road King. There’s an Indian on your tail.

Indian Motorcycle has added another large-motor machine to its growing fleet of American-made road warriors. This one is aimed squarely at the Harley-Davidson competition.

This one, called Springfield after the city where Indian first began building bikes in 1901, is the company’s first “hard bagger.”

Outfitted with the same 111-inch (1811cc) engine Indian runs in its Chieftain, Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and Roadmaster models, the Springfield is designed as a light touring bike.

Features: The new machine features an easy-on, easy-off windscreen, hard side bags and passenger seat, all of which offer quick, tool-free removal. It can also be fitted with a hard-sided trunk.

The key, Indian says, is versatility. Around town, it’s a bar hopper. On the road, it’s a cruiser.

Weighing 818 pounds dry — considerably less than the Roadmaster, but slightly more than the Chieftain — the Springfield can carry up to

533 pounds of rider and baggage.

It sits at a low 26 inches, like the other Indians, and has a similar 5.6-inch ground clearance. It also features Indian’s signature deep fender skirts and abundant chrome highlights.

The air-cooled,

V-twin engine produces

119 pound-feet of torque, delivered by the rear wheel by a belt drive and six-speed transmission.

The Springfield comes standard with remote locking, tire-pressure monitoring, cruise control and ABS — many of which, Indian is quick to point out, are not standard on Harley-Davidson’s Road King.

The Springfield will be sold in two colors, at two base prices: $20,999 in black, $21,549 in red.

Long time coming: Steve Menetto, president of motorcycles for Indian parent Polaris Industries, said the Springfield had been on the drawing boards for a while.

“The day we launched Indian, and people were riding the Vintage, the question they asked was, ‘When can I get a hard bagger?’” Menetto said. “A lot of people wanted this bike.”

Polaris does not discuss market share, but the company is still a David to Harley-Davidson’s Goliath.

But, Menetto said, Indian’s sales grew 67 percent in 2015.