Monday, July 22, 2019

Hail to the Indian Chief Motorcycle

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This 1948 Indian Chief is one of the most important Indian motorcycles on the planet.

There’s a good chance, many years from now, that history will judge this particular red-and-white 1948 Indian Chief as one of the most important Indian motorcycles on the planet. No, it wasn’t owned by Steve McQueen or any other celebrity; it’s not a special VIN, not the only or the first or the last of anything; it certainly didn’t win any races or set any speed records either. It’s unremarkable except for one fact: This is the motorcycle that spent two years parked in the Polaris design studio, where it served as the visual inspiration and literal touchstone for the design team that reinterpreted the vintage Indian style for the modern era.

This bike isn’t a static showpiece. It’s fully operational, and Indian Product Director Gary Gray offered us the unique opportunity to ride this vintage classic side by side with the modern Chief that carries so much of its DNA in its lines and design. Gray is the person who actually located this bike for Polaris , negotiating the purchase from a Minnesota collector shortly after Polaris acquired the Indian brand in 2011. It’s a 1948 Chief with the mid-level Sportsman trim package, distinguished by the chromed crashbars, handlebar, headlight and spotlights, and “De Luxe” solo saddle. Riding this bike alongside the 2014 Chief Vintage reveals how far bikes have come in 66 years—it feels like light-years—but it’s surprising how similar the two bikes feel in certain ways. That’s a testament to the fine job Gray and company did translating the old glory to a new generation.

The first difference you notice is scale. Wheelbase and seat height are roughly similar, but the vintage bike, weighing just 550 pounds, is almost 250 pounds lighter than the modern machine. This makes the older bike easier to maneuver, especially pushing it around a parking lot, and it handles well at speed too. Sixteen-inch wheels are concealed under those deep fender skirts, and the ride is surprisingly smooth thanks to the coil-sprung, hydraulically damped girder fork and “Double Action” plunger-sprung rear frame (each shock carries two springs: a top spring for cushioning and a bottom spring for damping) that was a cut above Harley’s then-current rigid frame/sprung saddle combination.

The 74ci (1,200cc), 42-degree flathead V-twin, with roots reaching back to 1920, was already obsolete in 1948 (Harley-Davidson released its overhead-valve Panhead that same year), but with roughly 50 hp and a broad spread of torque it’s adequate for back-road cruising. Top speed is said to be near 100 mph, but it’s happier nearer the double nickel where it doesn’t feel (and sound) like it’s going to shake itself apart. Besides, the drum brakes—the front all but useless and the back not much better—can’t compete with more velocity than that.

Often copied, never equaled (until now): the original 1948 Indian Chief

The control layout is utterly unlike the modern bike. Both grips rotate. The right grip “controls” the Linkert carburetor; the left rotates the automotive-type distributor to manually retard or advance the spark for easier starting. “Controls” is in quotes because any grip input to the crude, poorly atomizing Linkert is a mere suggestion. Engine response lags behind grip input by a few seconds, and the lack of a throttle return spring and a solid throttle wire—not a cable—makes rev-matching during shifting all but impossible. Speaking of shifting, there’s no clutch lever. Instead there’s a foot clutch on the left floorboard (a rocker clutch you have to manually engage and disengage, not a spring-loaded “suicide” clutch) and a hand-shifter on the left side of the fuel tank.

Temporarily rewiring your brain to smoothly manipulate that rocker clutch with your foot and fluidly change the cantankerous, non-synchronized, three-speed gearbox with your left hand is the biggest challenge, but once you get the vintage Chief up to speed it’s a delightful back-road ride, with a perfectly upright riding position that’s more natural and less slouchy than the clamshelled hunch the newer bike demands. It’s a classic American motorcycle experience, and Gray and his team have done an excellent job of transposing this vintage vibe onto the new machine. Starting with such sound genetic material as this, though, how could they go wrong?

Source: Hail to the Indian Chief Motorcycle

1904 Indian Motorcycle Stays with the Family for now

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With 10 minutes to go until the main event of the Cleon Graber estate sale late last week — the sale of a rare, 1904 Indian Camelback motorcycle — Lindy Graber admitted he was “a little nervous; a little emotional” as he watched the public buy bits and pieces of his father’s vast collection.

He also admitted he had a preference as to who might win his father’s rare and valuable motorcycle, an auction item that helped draw hundreds of onlookers to the Wieman Land and Auction building outside of Marion Friday, April 10.

“It would be nice if it would stay in South Dakota,” Lindy said.

Oh, it’s staying in South Dakota, all right.

It’s not even leaving the family.

In a surprising twist, Lindy and the Graber family bought back Cleon’s classic motorcycle with a winning bid of $100,000, making for a bittersweet conclusion to a sale item that had drawn considerable hype; both Jay Leno and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum had both reportedly showed interest in the artifact.

“We had a number that we didn’t want to let it go for,” Lindy told the Courier afterward. “We were hoping it would go for a little more than it did, but that’s the way it goes.”

He said the family buying back Cleon’s 1904 Camelback was always a possibility — “a slight possibility,” he said — and that the Grabers might try to sell it again.

“I’d like to take it to some shows, get it out in the public some more,” Lindy said.

Until then, the rare find will remain with the family it’s been with since Cleon bought the motorcycle in the mid-70s; it was a purchase that came about only because of Cleon’s persistence.

Lindy said his father, an avid collector who had a particular love for engines and transportation, was tipped off about the 1904 Camelback from a fellow collector in the community.

Cleon went to visit the motorcycle owner in the Springfield area, only to be turned down.

“Dad went back several times,” Lindy said, finally striking a deal with the owner after health issues prompted the owner to reconsider its sale.

With the Camelback Cleon’s, it took up residence in a machine shed on the Graber farm east of Freeman where it sat.

Other than some minor changes to its 1904 condition, the Camelback is original. The tires were in bad shape when Cleon purchased it and were replaced; the battery box is not original and the decompression lever used to start the motorcycle has been altered.

Lindy said the motorcycle hasn’t run since it’s been in the family’s possession; they tried to start it about five years after Cleon bought it “and it spit and sputtered a bit.”

But the motor is in such good shape, he said, “I don’t see why it wouldn’t run.”

Lindy believes one of the reasons his dad never worked harder to get it going was because he didn’t want to damage the motorcycle; “He recognized how rare it was.”

Its rarity was noted by Wieman Land and Auction at last Friday’s sale; a video presentation that included an interview with Lindy was shown before the live bidding began and online offers had started coming in up to two weeks before Friday’s sale.

Auctioneers called it “a chance to buy history.”

The opening live bid was $30,500 and quickly climbed to above $70,000 before slowing and eventually topping out at Lindy’s bid of $100,000 — despite the auctioneers’ pleas for somebody to come in at $102,500.

Rich Wieman told the Courier in the days following the sale that they really had no idea how much the 1904 Camelback would bring; research showed similar models going for between $50,000 and $85,000 and, in 2012, one model that was billed as the oldest unrestored Indian motorcycle brought $155,000.

“It was one of those things where you didn’t know for sure what it was worth,” Rich said. “Coffee talk had it going anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000, so we really didn’t know what to expect.”

“It could have brought more,” he said, “but it wasn’t a bad price in this market.”

And, he said, the motorcycle’s sentimental value to the Graber family is worth a lot; “Lindy has a lot of love for that sort of thing, anyway.”

As for being able to auction off something as rare as Graber’s motorcycle, Rich called it “a privilege and an honor” and said they enjoyed monitoring the online bids that came in from across the country starting at $100 and climbing up to $30,500 — the starting point on Friday. “It commanded a lot of attention and that’s what makes it so much fun.

“It’s always fun to sell something that is out of the norm.”

Rich could not verify or deny that Jay Leno’s buyers were among those bidding, but he said the Wiemans had reached out to the celebrity who has a taste for vintage motorcycles in a number of ways.

“I know there was talk that he had voiced interest in several different online forums,” Rich said. “But with online bidding, it’s pretty easy to remain anonymous.”

That Lindy ended up with his father’s 1904 motorcycle is fitting, he concluded.

“It’s a piece of South Dakota history,” said Rich.

Lindy couldn’t have said it better himself.

http://www.freemansd.com/news/article_d43650c8-e2c2-11e4-b392-f32e0185a1de.html

 

105-year-old ‘motorbike’ 1906 Indian Camelback could be worth £50k

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The 1906 Indian Camelback, one of the first ever two-wheeled motorized machines, is hugely desirable despite its rusty appearance and could fetch £50,000.

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This weekend Las Vegas will be hosting two prominent Vintage Motorcycle Auctions. Bonhams Auction on Thursday January 8th and Mecum’s Auctions on January 8-10, 2015. It will be an interesting weekend to see where prices go with our improving economy!

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It was owned by the du Pont family, which bought the ‘Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company’ that built it, and this cycle was last ridden in the Seventies.

Whoever buys the machine will probably use minimum efforts to restore it to a working condition, but complete restoration would see its value reduce.

The Indian cycles were the great rivals of Harley-Davidson, but the company eventually went bankrupt in 1953.

It had a rudimentary braking system and a hobnail boot on the ground would have been needed to help it stop.

The motorcycle is going under the hammer at Bonhams in Las Vegas, U.S., on January 12.

Ben Walker from Bonhams said: ‘This motorcycle is in such demand because of its condition and to restore it would actually take value off.

‘The motorcycle will probably be ‘oily-ragged’, which means wiping it down with oil to preserve it as it is.

‘It will probably be rebuilt mechanically but with as little change to its condition.

Experts believe that cleaning the bike or restoring it to a better condition could actually be detrimental to its value

Experts believe that cleaning the bike or restoring it to a better condition could actually be detrimental to its value

BRAKELESS

‘India were the great rivals of Harley-Davidson and were at the forefront of motorcycles when they evolved from bicycles.

‘It would have been a quick machine with a fair turn of speed and no brakes on early motorcycles were much good – the were the same design as bicycle brakes.

‘This is an extremely rare thing and hs come from the du Pont family that owned the company.

‘It was a pedal assisted bike and it still has its original registration number on the rear mud guard.

‘These motorcycles have never really reduced in value – if I filled a whole sale with them they would all go for good prices.’

As it was: Only 1,698 Camel Backs were made in 1906

As it was: Only 1,698 Camel Backs were made in 1906

 

Source: 105-year-old ‘motorbike’ 1906 Indian Camelback could be worth £50k | Daily Mail Online

Antique Indian Motorcycle Insurance

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Indian Motorcycles through the Years

Many people ask us, how do we insure our Vintage Motorcycles. There are several companies that specialize in Vintage Insurance. When you insure with one of these companies you pay liability on a sliding scale. ie the more vehichles the less expensive you pay for liability, and then you set your comprehensive coverage. This makes for some reasonable rates on insurance. Condon & Skelly is one of the companies that specialize in this insurance market. Check them out for a quote.

The Indian Motorcycle Company, America’s first motorcycle company, was founded in 1901 by engineer Oscar Hedstrom and bicycle racer George Hendee. Hedstrom began affixing small engines on Hendee’s bicycles, and from there, they quickly honed their craft, creating some of the best motorcycles of that era. Just one year later, the first Indian Motorcycle that featured innovative chain drives and streamlined styling was sold to the public. Then in 1903, Hedstrom set the world motorcycle speed record, traveling at 56 mph.

The Indian brand rolled out production two years before Harley-Davidson, and these motorcycles quickly became a force to be reckoned with, introducing the first V-twin engine, the first two-speed transmission, the first adjustable front suspension, the first electric lights and starter, and many more innovations. Indian was clearly dominant in the marketplace in its beginnings, consistently setting and breaking speed records.

The motorcycle wasn’t always called such. When motorcycles began to appear in the late 19th century, there was uncertainty about what to call them. Some people called them “motocycles”. In 1923 The Hendee Manufacturing Company chose to use this term, changing their name to the Indian Motocycle Company. It was in the 1930’s that “motocycles” became known as motorcycles.

Following WWII, Indian Motorcycles struggled with re-entry into the public market and Indian was forced to halt production in 1953, despite the Indian Chief being re-introduced two years prior as a mighty 80-cubic-inch model. The following decades involved a complex web of trademark rights issues that foiled numerous attempts to revive the Indian name. But in 1998, several formerly competing companies merged to become the Indian Motorcycle Company.

It wasn’t until very recently that a new era of Indian Motorcycles was born. The Indian Thunder Stroke III engine was introduced at Daytona Bike Week in March of this year, and the 2014 Indian Chief was unveiled at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. Many motorcycle enthusiasts agree though, nothing compares to the classic and antique Indian Motorcycles.

No matter what type of classic or vintage motorcycle you own, we can insure it at Condon Skelly. Your vehicle will fall into the antique category if it is completely original and at least 25 years old. We insure many different types of antique cars, trucks, and motorcycles so we’ll be able to craft the perfect policy for your vehicle. Please contact us today for more information. (866) 291-5694

 

Source: Condon Skelly | Antique Indian Motorcycles Archives – Condon Skelly

2 Kids & Their Indian Motorcycle

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Bud (Louis) and Temple, who aged 14 and 10, bought an Indian Motorcycle with money they earned from riding on horseback adventures across the USA.

The brothers’ first horseback adventure was from Oklahoma to New Mexico aged 9 and 5. Their father, a US marshall and friend of Roosevelt, came up with the idea saying they needed to “toughen up”.

On July 10, 1909, (eight years after Indian Motorcycle was founded) the brothers Bud and Temple saddled up their horses (called Geronimo and Sam) and set off for Roswell in New Mexico – alone.

 A year later in 1910, the two young Abernathy kids set out from Oklahoma again, but this time headed for New York where they would meet Roosevelt who was returning from a hunting trip in Africa.

This adventure had huge media attention with the entire nation country following the brothers in newspaper reports.

When the brothers arrived in New York City on June 11 1910 they were greeted by a crowd of several thousand people (and their father Jack Abernathy).

For the return trip back home to Oklahoma, the boys bought a Brush Motor Car and drove home, once again on their own.

A further year later, in 1911, they accepted a challenge to ride horses from New York City to San Francisco in under 60 days. The rules stated they couldn’t sleep or eat indoors during the entire journey and there was a $10,000 prize if they succeeded. Sadly, they were two days late.

Despite missing out on the $10,000 prize money, the pair had earned a fair sum from their notoriety and they bought an Indian motorcycle.

In 1913, they rode it together from Oklahoma to New York (Bud was 14 and Temple 10). Their stepbrother Anton went along with them too.

Their ride to New York on the Indian was their last documented adventure. Louis grew up to become a lawyer and practice law in Wichita Falls, Texas. He died in 1979. Temple worked in the oil industry and passed away in 1986.

Indian Motorcycle was LPD’s first vehicle buy

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LACONIA — Laconia Motorcycle Week dates back to a gathering held in 1916, which is why the rally bills itself as the oldest in the world. The Laconia Police Department’s motorcycling tradition is nearly as long, it turns out.

In fact, the Harley-Davidson that was purchased in 1920 – for $632, from Laconia Tire Company – was the first vehicle purchased by the department. Prior to that, Robin Moyer said, patrols were done using private vehicles, or with cars rented or leased from local dealerships.

Moyer manages the information systems and accreditations for the Laconia Police Department. She also serves as the department’s historian. She can’t point to a record explaining why Chief Charles Harvell, who served the city until 1933, saw fit to use city money to buy a motorcycle. However, other departments around the country had started rolling motorcycle patrols, the first being Detroit in 1908, and Harvell likely saw the same advantages in 1920 that Matt Canfield, the current chief, sees today.

The Laconia Police Department has a long tradition of maintaining at least one, usually two, motorcycles in its fleet. It currently has a pair of Harleys, Canfield said, and there are two officers who have gone through special training to use them on patrol.

“They’re very maneuverable,” Canfield said, which is useful when an officer has to respond to a call in the middle of a crowded situation, such as Weirs Beach during Laconia Motorcycle Week, for example.

But the motorcycles are useful during the rest of the year, too, Canfield said.

“We do use them all spring, summer and fall,” he said. Officers doing traffic enforcement find that motorcycles have a “sleek profile,” Canfield said, and motorists don’t spot the officer as quickly as they would a larger police vehicle.

And, because the rider is more exposed on a motorcycle, Canfield said they allow officers an opportunity to connect with members of the public.

“You drive these down to a city park, kids love them,” he said. “The motorcycle, it’s a completely different vibe. It’s important that the kids realize that the police are their friends.”

Maneuverability

Motorcycles can weave through traffic and they can also navigate a variety of surfaces. In 1920s many of Laconia’s roads were dirt and were likely of varying condition.

“Maneuverability is still one of the selling points of a motorcycle,” Moyer said. One of the city’s early motorcycle officers was Charles “Mickey” Dunleavey, who started as a part-time officer in 1925 and eventually retired as chief in 1962. He was a veteran of World War I, as were many police officers in the ‘20s. They likely saw motorcycles during their service, as the machines were used to transport wounded soldiers, deliver messages and even as a platform for machine guns.

If motorcycles could be used to navigate a battlefield, they should be just fine on a potholed dirt road.

Another early devotee of motorcycles was Lawrence Carpenter, who was a part-time officer in Laconia who later became part of the State Police.

While the city’s first motorcycle was a Harley-Davidson, its next two, purchased in 1924 and 1927, were both built by the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, of Springfield, Massachusetts.

In Carpenter’s mind, the Indians were the superior machine, his son, also named Lawrence, wrote in a piece for the now-closed Police Motorcyle Museum.

Carpenter, his son wrote, purchased many Indian motorcycles for his own personal use, often picking them up directly from the factory.

“He was not happy when personally informed by John Griffin that the State would be purchasing Harley Davidsons, as they were preferred by the majority of the officers. Carpenter swore that he never lost a vehicle he was pursuing until forced to ride a Harley. He was known to have stated that a Harley would make a good anchor for a boat. Carpenter continued to purchase his own Indians and use them on his job whenever he could. He bought a new bike every year, sometimes more than one.”

The Indian name is now used on motorcycles manufactured by Polaris, and since Carpenter retired, there are several more options for modern police motorcycles, including from BMW and Kawasaki.

Canfield doesn’t ride, so he said he didn’t consider switching to another brand for his department.

“The Harley is what the officers prefer,” Canfield said.

For Sale: A 1919 Indian Power Plus Board Tracker

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Few of us can afford it but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the pictures!

Friends, every once in a while, a chance comes along to own a piece of motorcycling history, and for those of you who love very old motorcycles and motorcycle racing of every kind, this might be your chance.

Up for sale through Heroes Motors of Los Angeles is a 1919 Indian Power Plus, and not just any (very) old motorcycle. It was a board track racer in its day and raced at the Los Angeles Motor Speedway; there is a chance this very bike is one of the motorcycles in the above video from 1921!

Heroes Motors has limited information on the machine, except that its owner moved from the United States to France with this bike after World War II, and the machine was then sold to, and stored in, a museum in France from the 1970s through the 1990s. The current owner bought the bike from that museum. It remains in unrestored condition (though some of the leather pieces like the seat have been replaced).

There is no price listed on this motorcycle. It definitely falls under the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” clause, but as with every single other motorcycle on the Heroes Motors website, the pictures are amazing and worth a look even if you’re not currently in the market.

The Indian Power Plus, while a throwback now and certainly bearing little resemblance to modern motorcycles, was well ahead of its time. It was truly a marvel of engineering. Indian employed engineers as well as their factory racers to design the engines and frames of these bikes. These were the machines that set speed and distance records in their day.

The oval board track racers regularly saw speeds of 100mph and better, which is pretty impressive for a machine that put out just a hair over 15hp. The demons who rode them did not have the benefit of modern safety gear but instead donned leather helmets, and their clothing sometimes had wooden armor. This didn’t help a whole lot when a crash occurred on the speedway, where riders would sometimes (gird your loins here, friends) end up with twelve-inch splinters from the wooden track.

Fire up your imaginations; can you begin to believe what these races must have been like?

Source: Heroes Motors, Hemmings, YouTube

The Indian Enfield

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In the 1955 Indian started to import English built motorcycles, and branded them Indian Motorcycles. This was under a five year contract with Royal Enfield, which ran from 1955 – 1959 inclusive. After 1953 the Indian name survived only as the Indian Sales Corporation. The Indian Sales Corporation primarily imported Royal Enfields. These bikes were branded as Indian motorcycles for the American market. The imported motorcycles ranged in size from 150cc to the largest 750cc twin model. One model they imported was the Royal Enfield Bullet. This model was called the Indian Woodsman, and Westerner for the US market. Amazingly this same bike is still in production and is being imported into the United States as the Enfield Bullet.
Now one may ask, how can this be when Royal Enfield went out of business in 1970 ? It is not generally known that the Royal Enfield – after the closure in England – nevertheless went on in another place where the classic already had been manufactured for years. The Royal Enfield was also being manufactured in India. This was owing to the fact that the Indian government had set about purchasing a large number of motorcycles for its police and army in 1955. They needed a solid, economical, maneuverable and reliable motorcycle in order to cope with the miserable roads of the mountainous regions, the heat in the deserts and the humidity of the tropical rain forest. After doing a lot of testing of various brands, the Bullet of the Royal Enfield company was chosen as the most suitable. Thus the Indian government ordered 800 of the 350 cc model in England.
The Royal Enfield company was not able to keep up with the sizable orders coming in from India and a decision was made then to form an independent Indian firm (Enfield India) with British tools in Tiruvottiyur, Madras. There, various Bullet models were manufactured similary to those from England during the 1955 model year. After the closure of the Royal Enfield company, Enfield India was alone in manufacturing the Bullet.
During the 1980’s, the Bullet started being exported to foreign markets, among others, to it’s native country, England, and by the mid 90s the gradually refined classic was for sale in more than 20 countries including Canada and the USA among others. To this day more than half a million Enfields have come out of the modern production line in India, where six different models are being manufactured. On all the models, old traditions like the hand painted golden pinstripes on the tank and the mudguards are maintained. Where on earth did you ever see the like of it?
The Enfield Bullet comes in two versions – a 350 cc and a 500 cc. At the moment Enfield Bullet is available in three variant types: Standard, Deluxe and a Army model. The only difference between the standard and the deluxe models is that the deluxe model has a chrome plated tank, chrome plated mudguards, and chrome air cleaner.
The standard model comes in the colors grey, green, and black. The deluxe model is available in black, red and blue. It is possible to obtain the motorcycle in other colors as well. For both models, an option is available to convert the foot shift to the right side, instead of the British Left Side.
It can be said that everybody stares at the Bullet. Only a few own one. Everywhere you go, you will be turning heads, as people look at your new classic motorcycle. The 1999 Bullet is still a 1955 motorcycle. It’s a rickety ride compared to anything modern. It has huge amounts of character. For just under $4,000, it’s a reasonably priced bike. The Enfield India does have modern hand controls, mirrors, shocks and a seat that works, although, purchasing one of the accessory seats may be more comfortable. The motor is very peppy and has a high amount of torque, for a single. The quality is good, remember they now have 40 years experience building this motorcycle ! Most reviewers relate that overall the bike is very reliable, as well. In an age when we seem fascinated with what is classic, the Royal Enfield works. It’s a classic, hands down. You’ll be the first on the block with one of these. All that is needed, is to add the Indian Script to the tank, and you can claim it is an “Indian Enfield.”
Technical specifications
Engine 4 stroke, air-cooled, OHV
Displacement 499cc
BoreXstroke 84x90mm
Max. bhp 22bhp@5400rpm
Max. torque 3.5 kgm/3000rpm
Compression ratio 6.5:1
Transmission Four-speed gear box
Special features
– Top speed of 125 kmph
– Unique neutral finder lever
– Fuel consumption of 70 mpg
– Stunning black paint finish with gold line on fuel tank
– Tiger-head headlamp casing design
– Pilot lamp for parking
– Unique silencer beat
– Fulcrum lever on main stand for easy parking
– Adjustable rear shock absorbers
For more info please contact the U.S. Distributor:
Classic Motorworks PO BOX 917; Fairbault, MN 55021.
Phone: 800-201-7472. http://www.enfieldmotorcycles.com