Indian Motorcycle: 115 Years of Motorcycling History

115 years, that’s how long Indian Motorcycle has been building motorcycles for. It was started by George Hendee back in 1897 as a small bicycle with the name American Indian and was later renamed to just Indian. He was later joined by Oscar Hedstrom in 1900. Both their bases were centred around bicycle racing and in order to help the sport they decided to make a motorised cycle to make pace bike for the races.

1901 was the first time two production units were made along with a prototype. Sales though began only in 1902. The very next year Hedstrom set a speed record for motorcycles of 56 mph (90.12 kmph). The iconic Deep Red paint scheme was introduced in 1904 while their first V-twin factory racer was a reality only in 1905. A road going version of the bike was made available for sale in 1907.

Indian Motorcycle 1

During World War 1 the company provided over 50,000 motorcycles to the US military providing them a durable and powerful means of transport. After the war they introduced their first Scout. It had a 606 cc side valve V-twin engine with high levels of maneuverability, helping a lot of newbies to start riding. Things though went to a downward slide post the second world war which caused the brand to cease production of vehicles in 1953.

Indian Motorcycle 2

The legend though lived on and in 1967 Burt Munro set a land speed record on his heavily modified Indian Scout at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The record of 184.087 mph still stands. The 70s did see the brand sell a few Taiwanese made bikes displacing 50-175 cc however low sales again caused them to shut down in 1977. A merger of 9 companies though revived the brand under the name Indian Motorcycle Company of America. The joy was short lived as they went bankrupt in 2003.A London based private equity firm did sell a few motorcycles between 2008 and 2011 but the real boost came only after they were brought under the Polaris umbrella.

Indian Dark Horse

The new model line-up with a Thunder Stroke 111 engine was introduced and the rest as we know is history!