Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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

 

Worlds Fastest Indian Burt Monro Challenge

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Two motorbikes that featured in The World’s Fastest Indian movie will roar back into life at this week’s Burt Munro Challenge event in Invercargill and Bluff.

The Burt Munro Challenge is being held for the 10th time from Thursday until Sunday and features six events ranging from hill and beach racing to track and road racing.

The event is named after former Invercargill resident Burt Munro who set numerous land-speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1000cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Munro’s exploits on his motorcycle were based on the 2005 feature film, The World’s Fastest Indian, some of which was filmed in Southland. Actor Anthony Hopkins played the part of Munro.

Burt Munro Challenge committee member Stephen Winteringham said they wanted to do something special to mark the 10th anniversary of the event this year.

So they have got hold of two replica motorbikes, from the Southland Museum and an Invercargill arcade, which featured in the movie a decade ago.

The bikes will be ridden in demonstrations before numerous Burt Munro Challenge events begin this week if the weather permits.

The event organisers wanted the public to see and hear the motorbikes in action for the first time since the movie a decade ago.

The motorbikes on show will be an Indian, which was ridden on Oreti Beach near Invercargill during the movie, and a Ducati which was under a fibreglass shell when ridden on the Bonneville Salt Flats during the movie.

The two people charged with riding the two motorbikes during the Burt Munro Challenge are Rhys Wilson and Francie Winteringham, the 2012 and 2014 winners of the Burt Munro family trophy.

They took the bikes for a spin for the first time on Monday, and Wilson was buzzing after riding the throaty Indian around the Teretonga track.

“Exhilarating. Every motorcyclist’s dream,” he said.

Francie Winteringham said riding the two bikes was a lifelong dream fulfilled.

“Burnt my leathers a bit, both bikes were a handful to ride, definitely unlike anything I’ve ever done.”

Stephen Winteringham also rode the Ducati around the Teretonga track, and, like Munro in the movie, burnt his leg on the exhaust pipe.

“She’s a mission, I take my hat of to Burt.”

The bikes will be ridden at Bluff prior to the hill climb on Thursday, before the Oreti Beach racing on Friday and around Teretonga track on Saturday, Winteringham said.

‘She was a pistol’: Winnipeg teen Sadie Grimm raced into motorcycle history in 1914 Social Sharing Grimm rode her motorcycle through harsh Manitoba terrain where men failed — then did it again Darren Bernhardt · CBC News · Posted: Jun 22, 2019 6:00 AM CT | Last Updated: June 22

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She faced long odds, from swampy and rutted terrain to skepticism in a male-dominated era, but Sadie Grimm had something that trumped it all: grit.

In 1914, she did something on a motorcycle that men attempted but failed — she became the first to complete an endurance race from Winnipeg to Winnipeg Beach, across roadless marshlands.

Then the 19-year-old did it again. On the same day.

“She was a pistol, is what her grandchildren called her,” said Ross Metcalfe, a Manitoban who is president of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America and co-founder of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba.

“I call her plucky. This was something that a very phenomenal woman did 105 years ago, and she showed no fear in being able to do it.”

Sadie Grimm standing with her Indian motorcycle in June 1914. (Manitoba Free Press)

It was the first documented award in Canadian motorcycling by a woman in a competition also open to men, said Metcalfe.

“Think about the year she did it — it’s 1914, the year Nellie McClung is staging the mock parliament and pushing the government for the women’s vote. So it’s a pivotal time for women and here’s Sadie doing something no man could do,” he said.

“By our record, she’s probably the first woman in North America to win a medal or a trophy or an accomplishment on a motorcycle — and was actually able to keep it.”

An undated postcard featuring Clara Wagner and her motorcycle. (A. Loeffler)

A few years earlier, American Clara Wagner won a race between Indianapolis and Chicago but was denied the trophy because of her gender, Metcalfe said.

Race to resort town

The Winnipeg-to-Winnipeg Beach contest, open to anyone, was announced by the Manitoba Motorcycle Club in the winter of 1913-14.

A gold medal was offered up to the first person to complete the 90-kilometre one-way trek from the city to the Empress Hotel on the shore of the popular beach town.

“Winnipeg Beach was Manitoba’s Riviera, it was  was Manitoba’s Fort Lauderdale,” said Metcalfe. “It had a huge CPR four-storey hotel with balconies and it was a destination.”

Upwards of 13 trains a day would take people to Winnipeg Beach when there were no roads. (Archives of Manitoba)

But there were no roads to it. Winnipeg Beach was founded as a resort town in 1900 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, which had the only way to get there.

“The CPR once said that was the most profitable 60 miles of track in all of Canada. Upwards of 13 trains a day would take travellers to the beach and its boardwalk and the fancy hotel,” said Metcalfe.

There were cottages, a dance pavilion, a large pier, water chutes (precursors to modern water slides), and weekend boat regattas that drew as many as 10,000, according to Heritage Manitoba.

The Empress was a grand hotel along the shoreline of Winnipeg Beach. It burned down in 1935. (Archives of Manitoba)

“So motorists by 1911-12, they kind of started pointing fingers about the railroad having a monopoly to a place that we want to get to,” Metcalfe said.

So the endurance race was born and motorcycles were a natural choice. Manitoba was a hotbed for motorcycle riding and racing at the time, said Metcalfe.

“There were very many famous racers — men racers — here in Manitoba that were … setting world records,” he said, noting Joe Baribeau, who set a world record at the Kirkfield Park track in 1911 as the fastest man, averaging 60 miles per hour (nearly 100 km/h) over a distance of 100 miles (just over 160 kilometres).

“The first person on Earth to do that and it was done here in Winnipeg. Because of these people being so famous and the Manitoba Motorcycle Club being so dominant,  the Canadian Motorcycle Association … moved the Canadian championships to Manitoba in 1914.”

An undated postcard showing Winnipeg Beach and the Empress Hotel. (hippostcard.com)

The Manitoba Motorcycle Club, founded in 1911, is the oldest motorcycle club in Canada and fourth-oldest in the world, Metcalfe said. 

‘She got back on that bike’

Despite that popularity, there are no records of Grimm competing in any races prior to the endurance test. She seemed to come out of nowhere.

But Metcalfe has his theories.

It just so happened that Grimm’s boyfriend, Jim Cruikshank, was an accomplished amateur motorcycle racer and had opened a repair shop for Indian motorcycles in 1913, across from the new Yale and Northern hotels on Main Street.

Winnipeg Beach offered wooden water chutes, precursors to modern water slides, among its many attractions. (Archives of Manitoba)

Metcalfe thinks Grimm was likely taught how to ride by Cruikshank, who then provided a new, 1914 seven-horsepower Big Twin Indian motorcycle.

“A lot of those early motorcycles were very primitive, so endurance races were a way of motorcycle companies proving their worth,” he said.

Some eager riders who tried their hands at the Winnipeg to Winnipeg Beach run while the ground was still frozen turned back. Others tried in early spring but were trapped by the wetlands.

The only place where there was some semblance of a road — really more of a rutted wagon trail — was through Teulon, Metcalfe said. But it stopped about 35 kilometres short of Winnipeg Beach.

Boat regattas drew thousands of people to the shores of Winnipeg Beach. (Archives of Manitoba)

Grimm set out on the morning of June 14, 1914.

“For 25 miles she had to break gravel eight inches deep while going 30 miles an hour. She took several graceful slides but picked herself up unhurt,” the Manitoba Free Press reported at the time.

The slides were most likely less than graceful, said Metcalfe, describing them as “two or three face plants.”

“So we want to talk about plucky, I mean, she wasn’t dismayed. She got back on that bike,” he said.

Grimm went up though Selkirk to Petersfield, where the road soon became bog and potholes. After tracing things like deer trails she rode up onto the railroad track.

The pier was a popular place for strolls back in the early days in Winnipeg Beach. (Archives of Manitoba)

It was extremely bumpy “but she pounded her way up the track,” Metcalfe said.

After four hours, a slightly dirty, scratched and exhausted Grimm walked into the Empress Hotel and claimed her prize.

There were a couple of people who scoffed at the victory because she used the railroad tracks, so after she rested for a few hours, Grimm decided to make a statement.

She climbed back on the bike and drove back to Winnipeg via the Teulon route that nobody else could traverse.

“So she actually did it twice in the same day,” Metcalfe said. “It was quite a feat.”

The Free Press, under a June 20 headline that said “Lady Wins Gold Medal,” called it “one of the most strenuous rides ever attempted by a Manitoba motorcyclist.”

The route Sadie Grimm rode from Winnipeg to Winnipeg Beach, a distance of roughly 90 kilometres. (Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame)

At least one other motorcyclist also made an attempt that same day but ran out of gas west of the beach and arrived several hours too late to claim the prize.

“What Sadie Grimm did was pretty spectacular, really, when you look at it from a female perspective in Canadian and North American history,” said Metcalfe.

Arrested for impersonating men

Even two years later, in 1916, sisters Augusta and Adeline Van Buren rode their motorcycles 9,000 kilometres in 60 days across the continental United States. They wanted to prove women could ride as well as men and would be able to serve as military dispatch riders.

Augusta, 24, and Adeline, 22, dressed in military-style leggings and leather riding breeches and were stopped several times during the journey by police who took offence to the fact they wore men’s clothes, according to Anne Ruderman and Jo Giovanni’s book Adeline and Augusta Van Buren: Pioneers in Women in Motorcycling.

“They were arrested a number of times for impersonating a man, if you can believe it,” said Metcalfe.

Despite their success, the Van Buren sisters’ applications to be military dispatch riders were rejected. Reports in a motorcycling magazine of the day praised the bike but not the sisters. It also described the rigorous journey as a vacation.

Augusta, left, and Adeline Van Buren rode their motorcycles 9,000 kilometres in 60 days across the continental United States in 1916. (Van Buren Family Collection)

Following her success, Grimm became a spokesperson for the participation of women in motorcycling. In the July 1914 edition of the Winnipeg Tribune, Grimm lauded the activity as beneficial to health and the independence of women.

“The motorcycle is a great teacher.… It teaches [one] to be more independent on herself, to know that with a twist of the wrist she can control the powerful little machine that will carry her swiftly and safely wherever she wants to go,” Grimm said.

“I don’t think anyone could recommend a better doctor than nature — plenty of fresh air and exercise are the greatest health givers.”

Grimm died in February 1970 at the age of 74. In 2017, she was inducted into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

‘Empowers women to ride’

That same year, the first Sadie Grimm historic motorcycle ride to Winnipeg Beach was held. Follow-up rides have been held every June since then, doubling as a fundraiser toward a planned commemoration for Grimm.

The Women Riders Council (WRC), a member of the Coalition of Manitoba Motorcycle Groups, wants to build a picnic shelter, named in Grimm’s honour, at the spot where the Empress Hotel once stood.

A 1913 Indian motorcycle owned by Ross Metcalfe and similar to the one ridden by Sadie Grimm was on temporary display at the Winnipeg Police Museum. (Ross Metcalfe)

The Manitoba government has agreed to the proposed steel-and-concrete design with a motorcycle motif being built on the property, now owned by the province.

“It will have a motorcycle theme for the sides of it and the circles in the top, holding the roof up, will look like motorcycle wheels. So it will be a real commemoration of Sadie’s ride,” said Mary Johnson, a member of the WRC and chair of the Sadie Grimm Celebration Committee.

Sadie Grimm as seen in a photo included in the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction for the class of 2017. (Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame)

She first heard about Grimm’s story in 2014 while at the Manitoba Motorcycle Club’s induction ceremony into the Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame. When Metcalfe was accepting the award, he mentioned Grimm.

“I remember thinking at the time ‘I need a piece of that [story],'” Johnson said.

She got Metcalfe to tell her everything he knew about Grimm and shortly after, she shared the story at a WRC meeting.

That’s when another member, Carolyn Peters, offered to do more research and eventually got in contact with grandchildren and a grandniece of Grimm’s in California.

They had some photos to offer up but for the most part, Grimm’s exploits were unknown to them. They always thought she was kind of cool because she was “just a little out there,” with her long fingernails painted in bright red polish that matched a similarly brilliant lipstick, said Peters.

But for the most part, Grimm was just known to them as Nana, she said. 

“It is just such an interesting story, that this woman who was very anonymous until now … had been this vivacious, independent, outspoken woman for women’s issues and women’s rights at such an early point in Manitoba history,” Peters said.

“It was really a terribly courageous thing that she did. I just think of her at this point as a really fantastic role model to young women back then in 1914 and still very relevant today.”

The dusting off of Grimm’s story immediately led to a renewed interest and ultimately, her induction into the hall of fame.

In the summer of 2015, the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba (which amalgamated with the MMC in 2010) organized a Sadie Grimm run from Winnipeg to a roadhouse about halfway to Winnipeg beach.

Johnson was told the club would buy a meal for all women riders who participated. She rounded up a large group, which then finished the run to the beach in honour of Grimm.

The Sadie Grimm picnic shelter project is raising funds to create a public commemoration on the former site of the Empress Hotel in Winnipeg Beach. (Coalition of Manitoba Motorcycle Groups)

That sparked the idea for the picnic shelter, which is expected to cost $45,000.

So far, the fundraising rides and other donations have raised about $28,500.

Johnson and Peters hope the shelter will keep Grimm’s story in the public eye because of the inspiration it provides.

“When we talk to people about it they get really excited,” she said, noting one woman joins the ride every year, spurred by Grimm’s story, and “just went and bought an Indian Chief motorcycle this week.”

“It really empowers women to ride.”

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

Mike Wolf’s Big Indian Pick

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Mike Wolfe is known as an American picker. He’s a TV star, author and entrepreneur.

But mostly, he’d tell you, he’s an Indian Motorcycle® enthusiast. He loves them for their history and heritage, and for their ride. His “best pick – ever” (and what got him in the business full-time) was when he scored a treasure trove of Indian® motorcycles at a Pennsylvania farm.

Mike called the farmer about his classified ad, then drove 800 miles and slept in his van in the farmer’s driveway. The next day, the farmer opened two barns, revealing 10 vintage Indian® motorcycles and tons of parts. Mike Wolfe discovered heaven on earth.

In his picking business, Mike encounters antiques of every kind. But his greatest picking passion is Indian® motorcycles. He collects them. Gets them running. And mostly, he rides. He loves dings, dents, scratches and rust. Forget cosmetics or fresh paint. Just ride. After all, it’s an Indian®.

Indian Motorcycle is excited to be working and riding with Mike Wolfe. He’s helping us bring back the passion this iconic brand deserves, and is energized to ride with us into the exciting next chapter of Indian Motorcycle® history.

Indian Motorcycles- History of America’s Oldest Motorcycle Brand

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High on the list of truths universally acknowledged must be the fact that the Indian Motorcycle, as a legend, a logo and a symbol ranks up there with the golden arches and the three-pointed star, with power and value beyond calculation. On the other hand, naming your daughter Baby Ruth doesn’t ensure she will hit 60 homers a season against big-league pitching. To collect on the promise of legend and esteem, you gotta have a product.

We are concerned here with the Indian, originally spelled Motocycle by the founders, as currently offered by Polaris Industries. To fully appreciate this, we’ll have to look back 60 years, to an un­disputed tragedy.

At the close of WWII, a prosperous and product-starved public was ready to buy just about anything. The car and motor­cycle makers had learned a lot during the war, but they were canny enough to offer the old versions while testing and refining the new. The 1947 Harley-Davidsons, Fords, Chevys, Dodges, etc., were identical to the 1941 models, while the improved models—the ohv Oldsmobile engine and the telescopic-fork Hydra-Glide—didn’t get here until 1949.

But at the Wigwam, as always, things were different. E. Paul DuPont, who owned Indian and kept the brand in business through the Great Depression, sold his shares in the company. The new owners had new ideas—vision, one could say. The firm’s chief engineer had designed a radical line of really new machines, modular in that there would be a Single, a Twin and a Four, all using the same basic design, all overhead valve, foot shift and hand clutch, suspension fore and aft, with the writing on the tank being the only clue as to what was what.

Indian Scout

Further, the new president embarked on a revolutionary ad campaign. As the Japanese say, he reckoned to enlarge the pie, rather than fight over slices. The completely different motorcycles were launched in 1945, with a completely different campaign endorsed by baseball, show business and movie stars.

But wait: Doesn’t this sound like Honda in 1959, meeting the nicest people and all that? Yes. But for one thing, Honda’s dealer network was based on new people who mostly ran hardware or sporting-goods stores, and for another, Honda’s engineering raised the bar worldwide.

Indian’s new bikes—the Single and Twin (the inline-Four never got past the prototype stage)—were disasters. When they didn’t blow up, they broke down. The motorcycling community was small, and everybody knew how bad the new models were. Add to that, the old dealer network, the guys who’d raised a stink when the evergreen Scout was abandoned and stormed the boardroom demanding a new one, wasn’t always that happy with the new people.

Suffice it here to say that everything that could go wrong did. The money ran out and Indian’s new owners begged for help. The English brands were doing well, so Indian asked to distribute several makes. A partnership was formed, and before you could say the camel’s nose was in the tent, the Indian visionaries were out, the English owned Indian and production of the new models was immediately stopped. The final production run of the final genuine Indians, the Blackhawk version of the side-valve 80-inch Chief, came in 1953.

There followed a run of Royal Enfields and later, Matchlesses labeled Indian, but fooling nobody. Next, a puzzle and struggle over ownership of the script, name and symbols. There were Matchless-Indians, then a run of Italian Indians backed by entrepreneur Floyd Clymer, first road bikes and then motocross.

Indian Enfield

Next, a series of failures on a different stage: promoters with big plans and no money, who never made any motorcycles. A serious effort appeared in 1999. There was a major market at the time for full-dress Harleys and look-alike rivals from the major brands. Indian of America had a factory in Gilroy, California, and produced a viable machine, a big Twin styled like the old Chief and powered by a version of a Harley clone. But the funding wasn’t enough, sales did not meet hopes and the firm went bankrupt in 2003. Three years later, another group of investors picked up the baton and began building the same sort of repro-Indian Chief, this time with modern engineering as in EFI and a bigger V-Twin than Indian Motocycle ever dreamed of—all of it just in time for the bottom to drop out of the market.

But the true revival, one can only hope, came in 2011, when Polaris bought the struggling brand. What’s the difference this time? The lesson since the debacle in 1945 is clear: It’s a heap more difficult to produce a viable motorcycle than all those dreamers and promoters realized. They all had the script and the logo and the legend, but not one had a product to match the hype, good intentions or no.

In contrast, Triumph, with a logo and badge nearly as good, was revived and still thrives simply because it had 1) the capital to invest; and 2) a properly engineered machine that created its own market. It didn’t revise the classic Bonneville Twin until the big Triples proved that the product matched the promotion. Knock wood, those Indian dealers who stormed the boardroom demanding a new Scout in 1947, may soon get their wish. Except there is a very good chance it will be a Chief.

I don’t hear anybody complaining.

Source: Indian Motorcycles- History of America’s Oldest Motorcycle Brand

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

1933 Indian Four – Jay Leno

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In 1901, bicycle racer and builder George Hendee teamed up with engineer Carl Oscar Hedstrom to build a 1.75 hp single cylinder motorcycle prototype with a revolutionary chain drive. This motorized bicycle met with immediate success, and the 1933 Indian Motorcycle. Indian Motocycle Company was soon formed in Springfield, Massachusetts.