Vintage Indian Motorcycle models: the complete listKeyin Web
Produced from 1901 to 1953, vintage Indian motorcycle models are famous for their ground breaking engineering, their large skirted fenders and their colorful two-tone paint schemes. Let’s see together the motorcycle models that made Indian Motorcycle History.
First American V-Twin
Indian built the first V-twin in 1905-1906 for racing purposes. Then, in 1907, the company release a similar version for the public equipped with a 633cc, 42-degree V-twin: the first American V-twin production motorcycle.
Time goes by and Indian starts introducing improvements to their design: in 1909, the loop frame – based on the one used by their racing team – was introduced to the public; in 1913 a rear swing-arm suspension called the “Cradle Spring Frame” made its debut and was equipped on all 1913 models.
In 1916 Indian introduced a new 1000cc motor, a 42-degree V-twin flathead: the Powerplus. This engine was so good that became the basis for many of the Springfield based company race bikes, and was equipped on all vintage Indian motorcycle models until 1924. During WW1, Indian provided the U.S. Military with nearly 50,000 motorcycles from 1917-1919, most of them based on the Indian Powerplus model.
Indian Scout history starts way before its debut in 1919: In 1916 Indian asks Charles B Franklin to join them in Massachusetts. He went and designed an optimized version of Gustafson’s Powerplus.
The results were so incredible that Indian decided to make a smaller version of this engine. The new 67cu.in V-Twin needed a motorcycle so Franklin designed a light motorcycle that debuted in 1919: the Indian Scout. This new motorcycle had a double cradle frame, a geared primary transmission that granted an incredible durability, and a lightweight of only 370lb.
This Indian model rapidly gained popularity on the streets, started winning races and became the most used motorcycle used by stuntmen especially on the “silodrome”.
In 1926 the AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) establishes a racing class for 45cu.in engines. Indian, conscious on their incredible power, asks Charles Franklin to design a bigger version of his famous 37cu.in engine.
Franklin delivers an astonishing engine that is 25% bigger than his old 37cu.in motor but capable of delivering way more than 25% more power. The enthusiasm drove sales to an incredible extent: the vast majority of new Indian Scout models were equipped with the new 45cu.in engine.
In 1928 the company unveils the Indian Scout 101, which was an improved version of the original Indian Scout: increased front fork rake angle and lower seat to improve stability and handling. A real masterpiece on two wheels available in two versions: a regular one and a “Police Special” version with shorter wheelbase to improve maneuverability.
In 1934, despite things were going not so great, Indian decided to unveil a new Scout. The new Indian Scout Sport had a light frame, aluminum cylinder heads to save weight, a better heat dissipation and improved carburation. Trats that allowed this bike to win the first ever Daytona 200 race and become a legend on the streets.
Indian Chief is the vintage Indian motorcycle: a real icon!
In 1922 Charles Frankin designs what what was going to become Indian flagship, a Big-Twin: The Indian Chief. Since the very beginning, Chief Models gained a fame for strength and reliability. Qualities that granted Chief the role of flagship til the end of production in 1953.
A wide range of Indian Chief models have seen the light in that time frame. The first model released in 1922 inherited it 61ci engine from its predecessor called “Powerplus”. In 1923 Indian introduced a new model called the Big Chief with a 74ci engine, this model was initially meant to be a sidecar, but it has a great success in solo configuration.
The smallest model production terminates in 1928. In 1930 Indian merges with DuPont, whose paint industry connections drastically widened the color range which Indian Chief became famous for throughout the decade.
In 1940 another distinctive trait of this model was introduced: the flared fenders. These fenders staid in production until 1942 and, in the meantime, Chief models were also equipped with sprung frames that made them far better than any Harley-Davidson on the market at that time. By the time United States entered World War 2, Harley Davidson was the most selling motorcycle company in the USA but Indian Chief models were the ones distinguishing themselves for quality, durability and prestige.
Unfortunately, due to Harley Davidson incredible sales and American buyers turning their interest to the cars market, Indian had to put Chief production temporarily on stand-by in 1949. The Indian Chief was reintroduced in 1950 and rocked telescopic forks. Production continued with problems throughout 1952 and until in 1953 when the last Chief models were produced using remaining parts before liquidation.
In 1927 Indian acquired Ace Motor Corporation and moved to Springfield the production of the Ace 4 cylinders motorcycle. The same year, the bike hits the market with the name “Indian Ace”.
Indian Model 841
In response to a request from the U.S. Army, Indian designed and built the 841, a 90-degree twin-cylinder motorcycle suitable for desert fighting. Approximately 1,000 models were built, but only a handful saw combat action before the U.S. Army determined that the Jeep was more suitable for their needs.
Our tour of vintage Indian motorcycle models ends here. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did enjoy writing it. If you want to learn more about some of these models, please let us know. We’ll be more than happy to write something about them.