Showing posts with label Indian Motorcycles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Motorcycles. Show all posts

Indian Chief

Indian Chief 1950s American classic motorcycle

Harley-Davidson can lay claim to manufacturing the world's best-known motorcycles. Well, American ones, at any rate. But, Harley has always had a rival. The mere mention of 'Indians' has long instilled panic in the suited and booted, in the Harley marketing department!

In the '20s, Indian's Springfield factory was high up the motorcycle heap. The Chief was their biggest asset. The 1200cc engine, in the 1947 model, was good for 85mph. Tuning took it to the 'ton'. An Indian, though, was not about death-defying numbers. Rather, it evoked the spirit of adventure. A bit like that firm in Milwaukee, in fact!

Indian motorcycles were extravagantly styled. Nowhere more so than the finely-fettled fenders. Their trademark curvature was unmistakable. Harley front mudguards are sometimes skimpy affairs. Those which adorn an Indian are heraldic. Almost as if the front wheel were wearing a headdress! Indian, then, was a company which liked to cut a dash. Sadly, the 'Roaring Twenties' glory days faded for Indian - while Harley went on to world domination! But, as in the game ... while most kids grow up wanting to be a cowboy, there are always one or two who would really much rather be an Indian!

Indian Four

Indian Four 1940s American classic motorcycle

The Indian story started in 1901 - in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA. It continued until '42 - and the outbreak of the Second World War. Originally called Hendee, the Indian Motocycle Company came into being in '23. And, no, that is not a typo! One of Indian's most iconic machines was the succinctly-named Four. As the name suggests, its engine sported four cylinders. They were arranged in a longitudinal inline-four configuration.

Top speed for the Four was 90mph. Pretty quick, in the early Forties. The Four's side-valve set-up - 2 per cylinder - gave 40bhp, at 5,000rpm. The longitudinal layout meant overheating could be an issue, though. Cooling air struggled to find its way to the rear pots.

The Four looked every inch the classic American motorcycle. The fenders' rakish lines were pure Indian. Certainly, the bike had nailed down the 'laid-back' custom look. Styling-wise, the solo saddle, front forks and straight exhaust perfectly complemented the downward diagonal of the top frame rail. Comparisons cannot help but be made with arch-rival Harley-Davidson. But - complete with its in-line motor - the Indian Four was every bit as glamorous as a motorbike from Milwaukee. V-twin fans may conceivably disagree, of course!