Motorcycle Throwback - The 1904 Indian
 
Wednesday, May 3, 2011

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1904 Indian


The original Indian color was a dark blue rather than the ""Indian Red"" that we all know and love today.

We all know the signature ""Indian Red"" color of the Indian motorcycles. But before the bikes were painted that familiar vermillion, they set themselves apart from the rest of the new motorcycle inventions in a less colorful and more structural way.

The conception of the 1904 Indian began in 1901 when Oscar Hedstrom managed to attach a single-cylinder De Dion engine to a tandem bicycle. Fueled by the extremely popular bicycle races, Hedstrom, like many other motorcycle inventers at the time, was looking for a faster way to race. Why this meant attaching the engine to a tandem bike was the greatest idea, we're not too sure. But when George Hendee, a bicycle manufacturer from Springfield, Massachusetts, saw Hedstrom's invention at an event, he decided to join forces with Hedstrom and the Indian Motorcycle Company was brought to life.

Their first success at making the Indian motorcycle a top motorcycle was with the 1904 Indian. Many motorcycle manufacturers were only managing to slap a motor onto a bicycle frame. Hedstrom and Hendee, on the other hand, managed to find a way to replace the down tube under the seat in order to use the engine as a stressed frame member. This bike also was designed to use a direct-drive chain rather than the tensioned leather belt that was being used by other manufacturers to transfer the engine's power to the rear wheel, making the Indian more reliable than other motorcycles of the time.

Hedstrom and Hendee managed to replace the down tube under the seat in order to use the engine as a stressed frame member.
Hedstrom and Hendee managed to replace the down tube under the seat in order to use the engine as a stressed frame member.

The 1904 Indian's engine managed to pump out a total of two horsepower and could reach riveting speeds of up to 25 mph. While you may scoff at this seemingly snail like pace, in 1904, 25 mph was worthy of two excited thumbs up.

And while the Indian's signature color would later become vermillion, this color wasn't offered until the 1904 Indian model. Previous to then, the Indian's signature color was dark blue are fairly less memorable.




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