The Amazing History Of Indian Motorcycles

While Harley-Davidson has produced motorcycles without interruption since the company was founded in 1903, its once great rival Indian Motorcycles has had a much less stable life, initially going bankrupt in 1953 and lurching from one owner to the next before Polaris Industries put the company back on a sound financial footing in 2011. As with so many motorcycle brands, Indian’s origins were in the booming bicycle industry of the late nineteenth century. George M. Hendee formed the Hendee Manufacturing Company in 1897, building bicycles. Early bicycles were called Silver King and Silver Queen, but the name American Indian, soon to be shortened to Indian, was adopted in 1898, emphasizing the American origin of the product for export markets. In 1901, he hired Oscar Hedstrom to build gasoline-powered bikes to pace bicycle races. The motorcycle was not only powerful, but crucially, reliable, not something that could be said for every early motorcycle. In 1904, Indian adopted the deep red color that would become Indian’s trademark. By 1913, Indian was producing 32,000 motorcycles a year… read more >

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