Today in Motorcycle History

Indian Motorcycles

Indian motorcycles were imported to the UK before and after the First World War, and were highly regarded.

Machines of the same name which bore no resemblance to the original were produced in the UK from 1950 to 1955 by Brockhouse of Southport in Lancashire, who had acquired the rights to the name.

1950 having already produced the Corgi, the firm introduced the 247cc Indian Brave. It had a rigid frame with telescopic forks and conventional lines, but the sv engine had the three-speed gearbox built in-unit, an alternator, and the gear and kickstart pedals on the left - this was not the norm for British machines at that time. The Brave was proved to be commercially unsuccessful and was mechanically troubled.
  • 1954 The addition of a version with rear suspension did little to help sales. Indian then turned to Royal Enfield and rebadged them for sale in the USA.
  • 1955 Although there had been a prototype with a 125cc two-stroke engine based on the 250cc bottom half, nothing came of it and all models were dropped.

Subsequently the Indian brand was acquired by AMC who promptly dropped most the Royal Enfield models, with plans to replace them with rebadged Matchless/AJS machines. However, before this could eventuate AMC went into receivership.

Note: The Indian Motocycle Club of Great Britain has its own web site. indianmotocycle.co.uk

1910 Cycle and Motorcycle Exhibition
Hendee Manufacturing Co.
184 Gt. Portland Street, London, W. Stand No. 58.
The "Indian" motor-cycles have made a great name for themselves during the past season, and the patterns for 1911 will certainly increase their fame. In the first place it will be noticed that the fixed drive has been entirely done away with both in the single and twin-cylinder types. The clutch is fitted to the bottom bracket immediately behind the engine. The countershaft is driven from the engine, and the power can be transmitted or not as the hand clutch lever is moved. In addition to an actual engagement, after the free position any amount of slip can be obtained for starting purposes, owing to the clutch being of the metal-to-metal disc type. The same clutch is employed on the two-speed gear machines and in the case of the latter it should be noted that the top gear is direct, the lay shaft running idle. The gear is contained in a very neat case and is simplicity itself, and although amply strong, does not add materially to the weight of the machine. The Indians are, of course, provided with excellent spring forks. A feature that at once catches attention is the wide mudguards employed, and the fact that the front wheel guard is provided with side flaps, which should greatly protect the engine and also the rider's legs. There has been no alteration the overhead inlet valves mechanically operated, nor yet in the mechanical lubrication. We certainly think that the days of automatic inlet valves are over in the case of motor- cycle engines, just as they are in car practice.

Indian Scout 1920

The lighting dynamo on the new Indian Scout is driven from the countershaft through enclosed subsidiary gear wheels and coil spring drive to the dynamo pulley. The dynamo is located in a very sheltered position below the saddle mounting, and forward of the seat-pillar tube.

Olympia Show 1920

INDIAN. (Stand 100.)

  • 7-9 h.p.; 79x100 mm. (997 c.c); twin cylinder four-stroke; side-by-side valves; mechanical lubrication; Schebler carburetter; American Bosch gear-driven magneto; three-speed countershaft gear; all-chain drive; 28x3in. Goodyear tyres.

Hendee Mfg. Co., 366, Euston Road. N.W.

There have been few more popular heavy twins than the 7-9 h.p. Powerplus Indian, which, on account of its smooth running, high power, and the comfort afforded by its spring frame, has undergone practically no alteration since its first introduction, but remains particularly suitable for sidecar work on any roads where adhesion is possible. The same careful study which is evident in the design of the engine has been carried on throughout the whole machine. The manner in which the valve springs are insulated from the hottest part of the engine by means of ventilated distance pieces is an excellent feature, as also is the telescopic arrangement provided for the enclosing of the valve springs and tappets. Not only is the Indian among the pioneer firms as regards satisfactory spring frame, but it was among the first to introduce a reliable system of electric lighting. The Hendee Mfg. Co. employ the Splitdorf generator, which is driven off the crankshaft by means of a spring belt, which is totally enclosed. Two of these models are shown fitted with luxurious sidecars, and, handsomely finished in Indian red, make exceedingly striking outfits.

  • 4 h.p.; 70x78 mm. (596 c.c.); two-cylinder V twin four-stroke; side-by-side valves; mechanical lubrication; Schebler carburetter; Bosch gear-driven magneto; three-speed countershaft gear; final drive by chain; Goodyear 26 x 3in. tyres.

The Indian Scout has certainly distinguished itself during 1920, being a solo mount of moderate power and reasonable weight; consequently it appeals strongly to the sporting solo rider. One of the most interesting features of this model is the fact that the transmission from engine to gear box is through gear wheels, the final drive being by chain.

For the first time this machine is shown fitted with a Splitdorf electrical generator, which is driven by means of an enclosed wire belt from a pulley on the large transmission gear wheel. One solo model is shown, while another machine is fitted with a sidecar of a light and "sporting" build.

Olympia Show. The Motor Cycle, December 2nd, 1920. Page 706

Sources include: Graces Guide

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