|In 1950, the V-twin engine was enlarged to 1,300 cc (79 cu in) and
telescopic forks were adopted. But Indian's financial problems meant
that few bikes were built. Production of the Chief ended in 1953.
World War II
1939 Indian Dispatch Tow, 3-wheeler
1942 Indian Scout 500, the 741, used by the US ArmyChiefs, Scouts,
and Junior Scouts were all used for various purposes by the United
States Army in World War II. However, none of these could unseat the
Harley-Davidson WLA as the motorcycle mainly used by the Army.
The early version was based on the 750 cc (46 cu in) Scout 640
compared directly with Harley's offer, the WLA, but was either too
expensive or heavy, or a combination of both. Indians eventual offer,
the 500 cc (31 cu in) 741, was underpowered and could not compete
with the WLA. Indian also offered a version based on the 1,200 cc (73
cu in) Chief, the 344. Approximately 1,000 experimental versions
mounting the 750 cc motor sideways and utilising shaft drive, as on a
modern Moto Guzzi, the 841, was also tried.
During World War II, the US Army requested experimental motorcycle
designs suitable for desert fighting. In response to this request,
Indian designed and built the 841. Approximately 1,000 841 models
The Indian 841 was heavily inspired by the BMW R71 motorcycle
used by the German Army at the time, as was its competitor, the
Harley-Davidson XA. However, unlike the XA, the 841 was not a copy
of the R71. Although its tubular frame, plunger rear suspension, and
shaft drive were similar to the BMW's, the 841 was different from the
BMW in several aspects, most noticeably so with its 90-degree
longitudinal-crankshaft V-twin engine and girder fork.
The Indian 841 and the Harley-Davidson XA were both tested by the
Army, but neither motorcycle was adopted for wider military use. It
was determined that the Jeep was more suitable for the roles and
missions for which these motorcycles had been intended.
In 1945, a group headed by Ralph B. Rogers purchased a controlling
interest of the company. On November 1, 1945, duPont formally
turned the operations of Indian over to Rogers.
Under Rogers's control, Indian discontinued the Scout and began to
manufacture lightweight motorcycles such as the 149 Arrow, the
Super Scout 249, both introduced in 1949, and the 250 Warrior,
introduced in 1950. These bikes suffered from poor quality and a lack
of development. Production of traditional Indians was extremely
limited in 1949, and no 1949 Chiefs are known to exist. Manufacture of
all products was halted in 1953.
Brockhouse Engineering acquired the rights to the Indian name after
it went under in 1953. They imported Royal Enfield motorcycles from
England, mildly customized them in the US depending on the model
and sold them as Indians from 1955 to 1960. Almost all Royal Enfield
models had a corresponding Indian model in the USA. The models
were Indian Chief, Trailblazer, Apache (all three were 700 twins),
Tomahawk (500 twin), Woodsman (500 single), Westerner (500
single), Hounds Arrow (250 single), Fire Arrow (250 single), Lance
(150 2-stroke single) and a 3-wheeled Patrol Car (350 cc single).
In 1960, the Indian name was bought by AMC of England. Royal
Enfield being their competition, they abruptly stopped all Enfield-
based Indian models except the 700 cc Chief. Their plan was to sell
Matchless and AJS motorcycles badged as Indians. However, the
venture ended when AMC itself went into liquidation in 1962.
1972 Indian MM-5A minibikeFrom the 1960s, entrepreneur Floyd
Clymer began using the Indian name, apparently without purchasing
it from the last known legitimate trademark holder. He attached it to
imported motorcycles, commissioned to Italian ex-pilot and engineer
Leopoldo Tartarini, owner of Italjet Moto, to manufacture Minarelli-
engined 50 cc minibikes under the Indian Papoose name. These were
so successful that Clymer also commissioned Tartarini to build full-
size Indian motorcycles based on the Italjet Grifon design, but fitted
firstly with Royal Enfield Interceptor 750 cc parallel-twin engines, then
with Velocette 500 cc single-cylinder Thruxton engines.
After Clymer's death in 1970 his widow sold the alleged Indian
trademark to Los Angeles attorney Alan Newman, who continued to
import minicycles made by ItalJet, and later manufactured in a wholly
owned assembly plant located in Taipei (Taiwan). Several models
with engine displacement between 50 cc and 175 cc were produced,
mostly fitted with Italian two-stroke engines made either by Italjet or
Franco Morini, but the fortunes of this venture didn't last long. By
1975, sales were dwindling, and in January 1977, the company was
declared bankrupt. The right to the brand name passed through a
succession of owners and became a subject of competing claims in
the 1980s, finally decided in December 1998 by a Federal bankruptcy
court in Denver, Colorado.
Indian Motorcycle Company of America (1999–2003)
The Indian Motorcycle Company of America was formed from the
merger of nine companies, including manufacturer California
Motorcycle Company (CMC) and IMCOA Licensing America Inc.,
which was awarded the Indian trademark by the Federal District
Court of Colorado in 1998. The new company began manufacturing
"Indian"-badged motorcycles in 1999 at the former CMC's facilities in
Gilroy, California. The first "Gilroy Indian" model was a new design
called the Chief. Scout and Spirit models were also manufactured
from 2001. These bikes were initially made with off-the-shelf S&S
engines, but used the 100-cubic-inch (1,600 cm3) Powerplus engine
design from 2002 to 2003. The Indian Motorcycle Corporation went
into bankruptcy and ceased all production operations in Gilroy on
September 19, 2003.
Indian Motorcycle Company (since 2006)
Headquarters Kings Mountain, North Carolina, USA
On July 20, 2006, the newly-formed Indian Motorcycle Company,
owned largely by Stellican Limited, a London-based private equity
firm, announced its new home in Kings Mountain, North Carolina,
where it has restarted the Indian motorcycle brand, manufacturing
Indian Chief motorcycles in limited numbers, with a focus on
exclusivity rather than performance, like a 'luxury' watch. Starting out
exactly where the defunct Gilroy IMC operation left off in 2003 all of
the new models are continuation models based on the new series of
motorcycles developed in 1999. The 2009 Indian Chief incorporated a
redesigned 105-cubic-inch (1,720 cc) Powerplus V-twin powertrain
with electronic closed-loop sequential-port fuel injection and a
charging system providing increased capacity for the electronic fuel
injection. Indian was bought out by Polaris Ind. in 2011.
Indian Motorcycle Production has moved to Iowa. Polaris sales were
up 7-9% in 2014.. We think Indian sales continue to rise, but
have no info to back that up. The plug was pulled on Victory,
Land speed records
Between 1962 and 1967, Burt Munro from New Zealand used a
modified 1920s Indian Scout to set a number of land speed records,
as dramatised in the 2005 film The World's Fastest Indian.
Polaris Announces A Brand New Engine For Indian
Thunder Stroke 111 Engine Powering
The New 2014 Indian Motorcycle
111 cubic inches
More than 115 ft-lbs of torque
49-degree air-cooled V-Twin
6-speed overdrive transmission
|2016 Indian Chief 1811cc
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|Indian motorcycles were manufactured from 1901 to 1953 by a
company in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, initially known as the
Hendee Manufacturing Company but which was renamed the Indian
Motocycle Manufacturing Company in 1928. The Indian factory team
took the first three places in the 1911, The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy.
During the 1910s Indian became the largest manufacturer of
motorcycles in the world. Indian's most popular models were the
Scout, made from 1920 to 1946, and the Chief, made from 1922 to
1953. The Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company went bankrupt in
1953. A number of successor organizations have perpetuated the
name in subsequent years, including the current company which has
been manufacturing Indian motorcycles since 2006.
|The "Indian Motocycle Co." was founded as the Hendee
Manufacturing Company by George M. Hendee and Carl Oscar
Hedström. Both Hendee and Hedström were former bicycle racers
who teamed up to produce a motorcycle with a 1.75 bhp, single
cylinder engine in Hendee's home town of Springfield. The bike was
successful and sales increased dramatically during the next decade.
In 1901, a prototype and two production units of the diamond framed
Indian Single were successfully designed, built and tested. The first
Indian motorcycles, featuring chain drives and streamlined styling,
were sold to the public in 1902. In 1903, Indian's co-founder and chief
engineer Oscar Hedström set the world motorcycle speed record (56
mph). In 1904 the company introduced the deep red color that would
become Indian's trademark. Production of Indian motorcycles then
exceeded 500 bikes annually, rising to a peak of 32,000 in 1913. The
engines of the Indian Single were built by the Aurora Firm in Illinois
under license from the Hendee Mfg. Co. until 1906.
|In 1905, Indian built its first V-twin factory racer, and in following years
made a strong showing in racing and record-breaking. In 1907 the
company introduced the first street version V-twin and a roadster
styled after the factory racer.
|The roadster can be distinguished from the racers by the presence of
twist grip linkages.One of the firm's most famous riders was Erwin
"Cannonball" Baker, who set many long-distance records. In 1914, he
rode an Indian across America, from San Diego to New York, in a
record 11 days, 12 hours and ten minutes. Baker's mount in
subsequent years was the Powerplus, a side-valve V-twin, which was
introduced in 1916. Its 61ci (1000 cc), 42 degree V-twin engine was
more powerful and quieter than previous designs, giving a top speed
of 60 mph (96 km/h). The Powerplus was highly successful, both as a
roadster and as the basis for racing bikes. It remained in production
with few changes until 1924.
Competition success played a big part in Indian's rapid growth and
spurred technical innovation, as well. One of the American firm's best
early results came in the Isle of Man TT in 1911, when Indian riders
Godfrey, Franklin and Moorehouse finished first, second and third.
Indian star Jake DeRosier set several speed records both in America
and at Brooklands in England, and won an estimated 900 races on dirt
and board track racing. He left Indian for Excelsior and died in 1913,
aged 33, of injuries sustained in a board track race crash with Charles
"Fearless" Balke, who later became Indian's top rider. Work at the
Indian factory was stopped while DeRosier's funeral procession
Oscar Hedstrom left Indian in 1913 after disagreements with the Board
of Directors regarding dubious practices to inflate the company's
stock values. George Hendee resigned in 1916.
World War I
As the US entered World War I, Indian unnecessarily sold most of its
Powerplus line in 1917 and 1918 to the United States government,
starving its network of dealers. This blow to domestic availability of
the motorcycles led to a loss of dealers from which Indian never quite
recovered. While the motorcycles were popular in the military,
post-war demand was then taken up by other manufacturers to whom
many of the previously loyal Indian dealers turned. While Indian
shared in the business boom of the 1920s, it lost significant market
share to Harley-Davidson.
Inter-war era - Scouts, Chiefs, and Fours
Indian Scouts in police service, 1920sThe Scout and Chief V-twins,
introduced in the early 1920s, became the Springfield firm's most
successful models. Designed by Charles B. Franklin, the
middleweight Scout and larger Chief shared a 42-degree V-twin
engine layout. Both models gained a reputation for strength and
|In 1928 Indian purchased the ownership of the name, rights, and
production facilities of the Ace Motor Corporation in 1927. Production
was moved to Springfield and the motorcycle was marketed as the
Indian Ace for one year.
In 1928, the Indian Ace was replaced by the Indian 401, a development
of the Ace designed by Arthur O. Lemon, former Chief Engineer at
Ace, who was employed by Indian when they bought Ace. The Ace's
leading-link forks and central coil spring were replaced by Indian's
trailing-link forks and quarter-elliptic leaf spring.
By 1929, the Indian 402 would have a stronger twin-downtube frame
based on that of the 101 Scout and a sturdier five-bearing crankshaft
than the Ace, which had a three-bearing crankshaft.
1939 Indian 4, in the "World's Fair" color scheme, in commemoration
of the 1939 New York World's Fair. On display at Clark's Trading Post,
Lincoln, New Hampshire.Despite the low demand for luxury
motorcycles during the Great Depression, Indian not only continued
production of the Four, but continued to develop the motorcycle. One
of the less popular versions of the Four was the "upside down"
engine on the 1936-1937 models. While earlier (and later) Fours had
IOE (inlet over exhaust) cylinder heads with overhead inlet valves and
side exhaust valves, the 1936-1937 Indian Four had a unique EOI
cylinder head, with the positions reversed. In theory, this would
improve fuel vaporization. In practice, it made the cylinder head, and
the rider's inseam, very hot. Dual carburetors, fitted in 1937, did not
help. The design was returned to the original configuration in 1938.
Like the Chief, the Four was given large, skirted fenders and plunger
rear suspension in 1940. In 1941, the 18-inch wheels of previous
models were replaced with 16" wheels with balloon tires. Recognition
of the historical significance of the 1940 four-cylinder model was
made with an August 2006 United States Postal Service 39-cent
stamp issue, part of a four panel set entitled American Motorcycles.
The Indian Four was discontinued in 1942.
|The 1928 Indian Big Chief with sidecar, The first 1922 model Chief,
had a 1000 cc (61ci) engine based on that of the Powerplus; a year
later the engine was enlarged to 1,200 cc (73 ci). Numerous
improvements were made over the years, including adoption of a
front brake in 1928.
In 1930, Indian merged with DuPont Motors Company. DuPont Motors
founder E. Paul DuPont ceased production of duPont automobiles
and concentrated the company's resources on Indian. DuPont's paint
industry connections resulted in no fewer than 24 color options
being offered in 1934. Models of that era featured Indian's famous
head-dress logo on the gas tank. Indian's huge Springfield factory
was known as the Wigwam, and native American imagery was much
used in advertising.
In 1940, Indian sold nearly as many motorcycles as its major rival,
Harley-Davidson. At the time, Indian represented the only true
American-made heavyweight cruiser alternative to Harley-Davidson.
During this time, the company also manufactured other products
such as aircraft engines, bicycles, boat motors and air conditioners.
In 1940, all models were fitted with the large skirted fenders that
became an Indian trademark, and the Chief gained a new sprung
frame that was superior to rival Harley's unsprung rear end. The
1940s Chiefs were handsome and comfortable machines, capable of
85 mph (136 km/h) in standard form and over 100 mph (160 km/h)
when tuned, although their increased weight hampered acceleration.
|1928 Big Chief