Archive for the ‘indian motorcycle’ Category

A Brief History Of Indian Motorcycle Part 2


Onward Indian Warriors: The Roaring ’20s & Beyond

Of all the inspired “wrenches” who picked up Indian’s engineering reins after Oscar Hedstrom’s departure, the two most remarkable were Hedstrom’s long-time assistant Charles Gustafson and Charles B. Franklin, an Irish immigrant who had ridden for the “Indian Rules” team that swept the Isle of Man TT in 1911.

Under their leadership, Indian celebrated the War’s winding down by firing a broadside that resounded throughout the entire racing world, the introduction of the first dedicated board-track factory racer ever offered for sale directly to the public.
Featuring a four-valve-per-cylinder, overhead-valve engine and a lightweight rigid frame without such “nonessentials” as brakes, fenders or throttle (the bikes were run with the carbs wide open), the Model H carried a top speed of over 120mph and a sticker-shocking price of about $375, roughly a third more than a fully equipped Chief of the era. Because not many club racers were both wealthy and brave enough to buy and race one, relatively few were built, but those few –particularly when “loaned” to professional riders by the factory — took home trophies and track records almost everywhere they competed.
Equally revolutionary, but a lot more practical and affordable, post-war Chiefs and Scouts were based on Gustafson’s side-valve, 42-degree, v-twin Powerplus engine. Arguably the most influential motorcycle engine design in history, the Powerplus forced other v-twin makers, including Harley-Davidson, to abandon their OHV designs and develop side-valve motors to compete with the Indians’ power and reliability.

The Powerplus platform, in displacements ranging from 37 to 74 cubic inches and chassis engineered by Franklin, remained the gold standard in v-twin design for decades and continues to inspire us at Indian today.

The first significant Powerplus-era street bikes were the 1920 Scout, featuring a 37ci motor, and the 1922 61ci Chief. The low-riding, long-wheelbase Scout , with its innovative semi-monocoque construction, three-speed transmission and helical-gear drive, was an immediate hit with street riders and dirt track and endurance racers and became even more popular after the frame was lowered and the engine bumped to 45ci in 1928.

During the same period, the Chief and the Big Chief, introduced in 1924 with a 74-cubic-inch Powerplus prime mover, began earning the reputation that would soon make the words “Indian Chief” synonymous with “world’s best touring motorcycle.”
Another Indian milestone of the era was the introduction of the Indian Four in 1927. Featuring an inline four-cylinder engine derived from a design Indian acquired in a buyout of the Ace Motorcycle Company, the new model was initially marketed as the Indian Ace and rebranded the Indian Four after being given an advanced suspension, high-stability frame and more durable motor in 1928.

(In one of the many ironies arising from Indian’s pioneering role in motorcycle development, the Four was the progenitor of the transversely mounted inline fours with which Honda — whose founder, Soichiro Honda, was an avid Scout rider before starting his own company — revolutionized the sport-touring market in the early ’70s.)

While Indian’s engineers, assembly line workers, sales reps, factory racers, and customers were soaring through the ’20s celebrating race wins and milestones such as becoming the first manufacturer in the world to produce over a quarter-million motorcycles (1923), the front office was equally busy roaring through the company’s cash, credit and corporate goodwill.
Whereas Oscar Hedstrom’s heirs in Indian’s engineering and manufacturing departments were motorcycle devotees of ability, vision, and passion, those who succeeded George Hendee in the executive suite were mediocre mercenaries at best and white-collar pirates bent on looting and plundering at the worst.

Under their misdirection, the highly profitable Indian motorcycle division was bled white to support money-losing “diversifications” into non-motorcycle-related companies, many of which were suspected of being secretly controlled by cronies of the very Indian executives who made the decision to invest in them.

That Indian survived a full decade of financial machinations in the face of powerful competition from Harley-Davidson, Henderson, Excelsior, etc. — not to mention the even stronger competition from the Model T Ford and other newly affordable four-wheelers — is a testament to the quality and durability of its motorcycles, the pride and dedication of its dealers and riders and — to be the truthful — the gung ho, prairie oysters-to-the-wall economy of the Jazz Age.

Given the rot at the top, there is simply no way Indian — which was already losing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually during the good years — could have survived the Depression or even, in all likelihood, the first two years of the Depression, without a miracle.

Fortunately, miracles sometimes happen. Indian’s miracle — which went by the name of Eleuthere Paul duPont — occurred on the very eve of what was, to the vast majority of American citizens and businesses, the start of an almost 12-year-long national nightmare.

In late 1929, shortly before the Stock Market’s “Black Tuesday,” E. Paul duPont persuaded his brother Francis to merge the family’s luxury car business with Indian and cease production of — surprise, surprise — cars!
Though this decision seems bizarre, especially considering that many American motorcycle firms had already been bankrupted by the public’s infatuation with the automobile, the fact seems to be that E. Paul, scion of one of America’s wealthiest families, was simply more interested in bikes than cars. As a kid he had converted his bicycle into a motorbike by mounting a handbuilt engine of his own design to the frame and he later owned and modified several Indians while still in engineering school.
Then, too, he and Francis had been Indian shareholders since 1923 and had both seen enough to convince them that the only way to recoup anything on their original $300,000 investment was to take over the company and spend as many millions as it took to put it right.

One of duPont’s first moves after becoming Indian’s president was to the pull the plug on all non-motorcycle operations. One of his next — and perhaps even more significant — moves was to lure two extraordinary men, Briggs Weaver and Loren Hosley — into the Springfield Wigwam.

Chief Designer Weaver eventually parented what almost every motorcycle fanatic alive considers the classic Indian look — a sweeping, streamlined, timeless style which looks as vibrant and exhilarating today as it did 60-odd years ago. And Hosley, as production manager, converted Indian into a highly efficient manufacturing company with record-breaking income in less than a decade.

Along the way, they — with E. Paul duPont working hands-on in every area from engineering to test riding — introduced dozens of new technological advances, virtually dominated AMA Class C racing and made Indian an integral part of the march toward World War II preparedness.



Indian Motorcycle: 2009 Indian Chief

The 2009 Indian Chief Motorcycles are designed and engineered to be powerful works of art. Each Indian Chief features a factory built 105 cubic inch PowerPlus engine with electronic fuel injection. The head turning PowerPlus engine unites style and technology while delivering the heart-pounding torque and pavement ripping power you expect from America’s motorcycle company.

From the tip of the Chief’s deep-valanced front fender to the ergonomically designed, genuine leather seat, every detail of the motorcycle strikes a perfect balance between the legendary heritage of Indian and the comfort, style and performance you demand in a quality machine.

Since 1901, Indian Motorcycle has been known for innovation technology and unparalleled craftsmanship. We are dedicated to remaining true to that legacy and to building the highest-quality, handcrafted motorcycles. Each Indian Motorcycle is a labor of love.

The motorcycle itself was the inspiration for the entire design of our dealerships, and it is fit for a Chief. Colors, contours, textures and finishes throughout, from leather to chrome studs, are all part of the world of Indian Motorcycle.

Ultimate service delivered by knowledgeable staff is our promise to you. Whether you are attending an event or buying the Chief of your dreams, you can expect to be treated like a member of the tribe.

Available in three models:

  • 2009 Chief Standard
  • 2009 Chief Deluxe
  • 2009 Chief Roadmaster
  • 2009 Chief Vintage

Dick Scott Automotive Group is proud to add Indian Motorcycle Detroit to it’s family of Best Shot Dealers

A Brief History Of Indian Motorcycle Part 1

While the 2 3/4 horsepower single and the five horsepower twin have been retained, two new models will be presented and a seven horsepower twin. The radical changes of the Indian, however, will consist in a mechanical oiling device, free engine and two-speed gear, and a new spring fork.

— New York Times, January 9, 1910

by Tim Joseph
Indian Motorcycle Co. was born as the Hendee Manufacturing Company by George M. Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedstrom (pictured above with the first prototype of Indian). It was the first American motorcycle company and the most popular in the world by the time the New York Times wrote the paragraph above. Both men were former bicycle racers who got together to build a 1.74 bhp, single cylinder engine in Hendee’s home town of Springfield, MA. The bike was a huge success and and sales increased drastically during the next 10 years.
Indian Motorcycle was very innovative. In 1901 the prototype and two production models we successfully designed, built and tested. Work began in previous years. In 1902 the first Indian motorcycles, featuring innovative belt-drives and streamline styling were sold to the public. In 1903 Indian co-founder and chief engineer Oscar Hedstrom set a world motorcycle speed record by riding 56 mph.

In 1904, the diamond framed Indian Single was made available in deep red. This color would become Indian’s trademark. By this time production was up to over 500 bikes per year and would rise to 32,000 in 1913. It’s best year ever.
In 1906 Indian built its first V-Twin engine. 101 years later the V-Twin is the most popular engine style in the world. The following year Indian made a strong showing in racing and record breaking. In 1914 Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, who set many long-distance record, rode an Indian across American from San Diego to New York in a record 11 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes. Baker’s engine of choice in the following years was the Powerplus, a side-valve V-Twin which was introduced in 1916. It was a 1000cc, 42 degree V-Twin which was more powerful and quieter than previous designs, giving it a top speed of 60 mph. The design was highly successful both as a roadster and as a racing bike. It remained in production until 1924.
Oscar Hedstrom left Indian in 1913 over a disagreement with the Board of Directors regarding dubious practices to inflate the company’s stock values. George Hendee resigned in 1916.
Dick Scott Automotive Group is proud to add Indian Motorcycle Detroit to it’s family of Best Shot Dealers

Dick Scott’s Indian Motorcycle Detroit

At Dick Scott Automotive Group, we are happy to announce a new Member of the Dick Scott Family, Dick Scott’s Indian Motorcycle of Detroit. We anticipate our Grand Opening Celebration to be held in early 2009. Our new motorcycle dealership will be located on Michigan Avenue in Canton, just across from Dick Scott Kia, a few blocks east of Dick Scott Nissan. Details regarding our Grand Opening Celebration will be posted on this page and at If you have a question or comment, or if you are interested in reserving an Indian Motorcycle, please contact us!
More Information To Follow!!!