newtesty

THE 1955-85 ERA

Indians with various English engines and Italian frames, Royal Enfields dressed up as Indians, Matchless marketed by Indian, two Ducati-Indian prototypes, and many Taiwanese Mini-Bikes

Updated 24 Jan 2014. To make sure you are seeing the latest version of this or any web page and not an older "cached" version, click the icon at the top of your browser for "refresh" or "reload". It is a little "C" button with an arrow at the top end of the C. In Internet Explorer it is about the middle of the top of your screen while in Google's "Chrome"browser it is near the left. (In older versions of browsers it was on the right under Tools.)

arrowdown To resume our history from the 1901 - 1953 era, even prior to the very end of the Springfield Mass. line in around early Sept. 1953, Indian was importing Matchless and AJS motorcycles from Britain which gave them some revenue and their dealers something to sell as the American made models were virtually extinct by the early 1950's. (The Warrior/new Scout project had failed miserably and I believe 1951 was the last year they were sold, and in 1952 and '53 only a few hundred Chiefs were sold.) Ad below is my evidence that Indian was selling Matchless in 1952. I do not know if that was the first year - probably because if earlier the Matchless (same as AJS) 500 cc. twins and singles would have competed with Indian's home made Scouts.

I gather from the old ads I have collected that that Matchless/AJS arrangement lasted only three years inclusive (1952-54) as by 1955 Indian was importing and its dealers selling Royal Enfields (also made in the UK), then by 1961 they went back to Matchless until Joe Berliner took over the Matchless (and Norton) importation a few years later. Jumping back to 1953 the company was bankrupt, and its shares and assets (including the intellectual property, e.g. Indian trademarks) were sold in 1954 to two different companies: the English Brockhouse Corporation - who would use the Indian dealer network to sell the two aforementioned brands of English motorycles - and to the Titeflex company who attempted unsuccessfully to manufacture things in the USA and whose name remained on the Springfield factory until wind blew it down in 2005. From the perspective of Joe Biker, there were no more American made Indians after 1953. Thus in 1953 the second biggest domestic maker, a company that started two years before Harley and was their main competitor, suddenly stopping producing and selling. The ad below is from late 1954 and well expresses the situation. When bikers read it they must have been overjoyed and thought another American made and designed Indian was on the way.

manymoonsago

Boy, they must have been disappointed when the dealership network was used by new owner Brockhouse to sell English motorcycles, and then promises to revive the Scout by Floyd Clymer and Sammy Pierce went up in peace pipe smoke. The "new" Indian of 1955 was basically just the English line of Royal Enfields painted in Indian red and bearing the Indian script on their tanks (although the Chief had its own fenders, wheels, instrument console, fishtails, braces, crashbars, spotlites, and ornaments made in USA, and an extended frame and elongated chain guard and stronger gears for police use see photos furhter down this page.). You camy also visit www.re-indian.com for more details. History has shown the 700 cc.c models, e.g. the Trailblazers and Chiefs, to have been quite reliable. Royal Enfields were a good bike - I would say the best of the Brits and I have owned many Britbikes including a 1969 Royal Enfield - but giving them cosmetic treatments and selling them as Indians in the USA (from 1955 - 1960/61) must have been depressing for those expecting an updated Chief or Scout. Why didn't Indian market the Vindian which I described in the main page (1901-1953 history) of this site? That would have been a great new Indian. It would've been a Super Chief. And what about the OHV Fours and shaft drive Fours? Perhaps some thought these were the "new models" that required two years to perfect. Apparently the factory simply lacked the funds to proceed, and decided to abandon updates to old models and instead put its resources into an advanced British parallel twin imitation called the Warrior, which is discussed in the main page of this website dealing with the 1901-1953 history. (In a nutshell, a great idea which failed in practise. The Warrior flopped because it was too small, at 440 cc., and was very unreliable until the last year or so it was made, which by then it was a 500 but still no competition for the Triumph and BSA and Norton twins. Indian was not alone in trying to copy the very successful Britbikes of the era. Harley's 1954 side-valved K model, which with OHV conversion became the Sportster three years later, was also a copy of a typical English 650 twin, except that it came with a V twin engine of almost 900 cc.) It must have been embarrassing for Indian dealers to find themselves a few years later selling the competition (British twins) under the Indian label after their own Brit-beater failed.

The British Enfields were given North American Indian names such as Tomahawk (a 500 c.c. or 30.5 CID twin), Chief and Trailblazer (700 c.c. twins), Woodsman (500 c.c. single scrambler), Fire Arrow (250 c.c. single). Below are two Cycle magazine full page ads from 1955 showing the Indian Trailblazer 700 c.c. (42.5 CID) twin based on the Royal Enfield Constellation. Very disappointing to someone expecting to see a full fendered Chief or Scout V-twin. On the other hand Cycle magazine testers were very impressed with its power, brakes and smoothness. When it zipped though the 1/4 mile in just over 15 seconds, they described its acceleration as "fierce". (Consider this was almost 60 years ago.) Top speed was almost 110 mph. The name Trail Blazer was meant in a general sense; it did not imply "trail" as in trail or dirt bike. It was a street bike.

1955ad 1955adwithgirl execs ogge new RE Chief

In Aug. 2000 I went for a three hour ride with a bunch of Enfields and 1955-60 Indians, and one fellow had a 1955 Trail Blazer which he had bought when new! The bike still looked new but had plenty of miles on it after 45 years of riding. It started fine, ran like a charm, didn't weep a drop of oil, sounded great and looked much better than these old ads would suggest. In fact the bike is long and lean, like a 1960's Sportster, not chunky and short as it appears in these old photos. I chose to ride just behind and to the side of it so I could oggle it and groove off the exhaust note. It seemed to have plenty of power for a 700 twin. There was also a 500 single Woodsman in our group and it ran fine too. Regretably I did not take my camera to that rally. However in Jan. 2008 I saw this nicely done 1957 Trailblazer for sale on EBay. It has straight exhaust pipes instead of mufflers and a 1965 engine (736 cc., but looks identical to the original 700 cc mill)

Next is a very nice 1958 Trailblazer, maybe I got the shot from E-Bay, can't recall. Looks stock except side panel and oil tank are chromed and it lacks the front fender lamp.. The next one I shot at Oley PA in May 2012, probably a 1955 or 56. Looks stock except for the megaphone mufflers and lacks the chrome panel on the fuel tank (he put a big Indian script decal on instead).
1958 Trailblazer L Trailblazer at Oley

Click on the thumbnails to get big views of the engine (which is a wet sump Royal Enfield, quite powerful). The bigger image will open in a new browser window which you can click off to return to this page.

Here is an ad also from the now defunct Cycle magazine showing the entire line for 1959?? Note that it uses "Enfield" in as large a type size as "Indian". Again check out www.re-indian.com if you need Indian (not Enfield) parts for these bikes. If you need the Enfield components for one of these bikes go to Burton Bike Bits or Hitchcocks in Britain. And join the REOCNA if you live in North America.

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Note the trike in the lower right. This was sold to auto service stations and police as the replacement for the Dispatch Tow. (Similar to the Harley "Servi-car"). Whereas the Dispatch Tow tricycle was powered by a flathead V twin engine, the 1955-60 version used a 350 c.c. Royal Enfield OHV single. In Canada this three wheeler was marketed as a Pashley until about 1970 when Enfield ceased to exist. There was always one on display at Firth's Motorcycles in Toronto, but I think I only saw one on the city streets (used by a parking enforcement junior cop to hand out tickets). Actually 52 were sold to the Toronto Police force. Because the force back then had Harley 1200 c.c. foot clutch/hand shift bikes (for both solo and sidecar use), the Pashley had a similar gear change setup so riders would have control consistency. (The police in Toronto and probably many other cities were never trained on hand clutch/foot shift until 1980 when Harley finally completely abandoned the "handbanger" setup after 1979.)

weeteepee Pashley weeteepee

In 1959 a new Chief was offered, being the 700 c.c. Enfield engine in a stretched frame with semi-valenced fenders, 16" wheels, and a specially made heavy duty gearbox never used before or after on any Enfield except for the Apache models of the same years. (Many if not most were sold as police versions with old fashioned solo saddles, sirens and red spotlites.). Apparently these bikes were made in 1958, 59 and '60 and sold as 1959, 60 and '61 models. (Nearly all bikes and cars start manufacturing in the year before the model year.) Below are several shots of this 1959-61 Chief in police and civilian trim. Not quite as beautiful as the 1940-53 skirted Chief but a close second. The acceleration and top speed were as good as if not better than the earlier V-twin flathead Chiefs. These 1959-61 Chiefs were considered almost worthless at the end of the 20th century but now mint condition ones and perfect restorations are going for up to $10,000 US.

brochurepage3 brochurepage4

The Enfield arrangement went on from 1955-60 (+ 1961 for the Chief only), and below are typical ads from that era. Note the attempts to Americanize the Royal Enfields with Indianesque names.
1957ad woodsman

Black and White photos below are from the March 1955 issue of CYCLE magazine, and show the 250 c.c. single cylinder OHV Fire Arrow and to the right the 500 c.c.twin cylinder Tomahawk. Both are Royal Enfields dressed up as redskins.

Also imported from the UK was a 250 single flathead (called the "Brave") for buyers on a budget. Below are two shots of a red 1956 Brave, expertly restored.

1956 Brave L1956 Brave R

arrowdown I get so many e-mails from readers
with 250 singles and Taiwanese motorbikes (50 - 175 cc.) thinking that because
it says INDIAN on the tank they are worth a lot. Sorry, they
are not worth much at all, even in perfect condition. The Royal Enfield
powered 500 c.c. singles and 500 and 700 twins are worth something to fans of Royal Enfields (join the R.E. Owners Club of North America to get a sense of values in the club newsletter).
Nothing like the $25000 - $30,000 well restored 1945-53 Chiefs are now commanding.

To get back to the history, by 1960 the arrangement with Enfield was ending and as of 1961 Enfield began to market their own bikes as Royal Enfields, with no modifications to the UK models. No longer were they painted red, given Indian-esque names, having the Indian script painted on their fuel tanks and the Indian Chief's head running lamp bolted to their front fenders. (Apparently except for the Chief in 1961.) They went back to being the sports bikes they were sold as in Britain. What was the Indian company going to do? They became, or reverted to being, the North American distributor for the Matchless and AJS brands. But they still had some Enfield powered bikes in inventory to sell, so in advertisements what the reader saw was the Indian+Matchless logo, but with photos of Indian-Enfield bikes for sale! Then in 1961 the same ads had both the Enfield powered Chief and some Matchless models. This made sense for the Brockhouse Corporation as it had a good model range (350, 500 and 700 c.c. by Enfield, 650 cc. by Matchless.) One would think from the ads that the big Chief was a Matchless Indian whereas it was an Enfield Indian. Meanwhile in every other country Matchless and Royal Enfield were two different and competing companies (although often sold by the same small dealers). In the New old stuff page of this site is a 1952 US motorycle magazine full page ad which shows standard Matchless models but with the Indian logo at the bottom of the page, indicating that Indian dealers were selling Matchless at least as early as 1952, so when I said that this arrangement took place effective 1961 I was probably wrong. Maybe Indian dealers were selling Matchless since at least 1952, and the Indian-Enfield arrangement was an add-on from 1955-60. e.g. on another site I saw an ad that showed a painting of a factory identified as the new Indian Matchless factory, supposedly from the late 1950's. Or maybe the deal was Matchless from 1952-54, then again from 1961 on (actually only a year or three until the Berliner company took over the US marketing of Matchless and Norton). Since Brockhouse (until the early 1960's) owned the distributorship of Matchless and Royal Enfield and the Indian name rights, it could be as inconsistent as it wanted with identifying itself in its advertising.

The ad below says there's only one Chief, (at least there was no Matchless 650 Chief) but lots of readers would have remembered the flathead V-twin Chiefs of seven years previous. I have even seen photos of Indian Chief engines stuffed into 1950's and sixties Matchless motorcycles, (see the Customs page of this website) done so neatly and professionally that one wonders if they were done by factory staff as official prototypes using new old stock Chief parts. In fact the owners think so. Equally likely they were done by Indian dealers who did not like the Matchless' engines, but it is a mystery. The very reliable understressed Chief engine would have put out as much power as the athletic Matchless unit, but would have the great English gearbox and frame and 150 pounds less weight. Location and drive to a generator or alternator would be problematic.

1960Chiefad

coponChief

Matchless Indian Twins for 1961 ad

Below are shots of two civilian (non-police) 1959-61 Chiefs. The top dark red metallic one with original paint was in late 2007 sold by michaelsmotorcycles.com and the blue & white one was sold late 2007 at www.chromeclassics.com. I think the latter site has died but Michael's is still going strong and is worth frequent visits as he often has interesting motorycyles for sale.

Coming soon are shots of a (black) 1959 Chief I took at a RE rally in Huntsville Ontario in Aug. 2012. That one was 100% stock except for some horns being added, and its a priceless guide to restorers. It looks very much like the red one below, from Ebay circa 2009.

In 1960 the Indian Sales Co. was selling Matchless 350 cc. single cylinder models (so-called "lightweight" series) as evidenced by the two ads from Cycle of that year showing Ohio dealer Dick Klamfoth who raced and won on that type of bike.



Indian did not try to dress the Matchlesses up in Indian colors as it had done with the Royal Enfields; nor did it bolt the Chief's head to the front fenders, but starting in 1961 it gave the Matchless bikes Indian names. To try to fool the customers, it used mostly the same names as it had applied to the Enfield series. See 1961 ad above with Tomahawk, Apache and Trailblazer. Below is page 2 of a two page ad from 1962, showing several Matchless models with Western names such as Apache and Pathfinder. (Page One, not shown, showed bikes named Mohawk, Pinto and Papoose.) This fake consistency in nomenclature must have been confusing for everyone, especially for parts orders, as a customer with a 1961 or later Trailblazer owned a Matchless 650 whereas one with a 1960 or earlier Trailblazer owned a Royal Enfield 700. Likewise a Tomahawk was really a 500 cc. Matchless starting in 1961, but really a Royal Enfield 500 from 1955-60. Similarly an Apache was first a 700 c.c Enfield; later a 650 c.c. Matchless! Speaking of Matchless, the famous G-50 OHC 500 single racer above was marketed as a street bike called The Golden Eagle. Note how the ad is mostly Matchless but the Indian name and logo and the Indianesque model names were still used to imply that these British bikes were also Indians.

1962Matchlessposterpage2

All of the early 1960's ads and sales must have been good news to Matchless and AJS fans, who now had a big distribution network for sales and service, but it must have been disappointing to fans of the all American Indians who loved the V-twin Chiefs and Scouts.

Although 90% of English bikes in the late 1940's and in the 1950's were sports bikes, there were a couple of tourers which competed with Harley and Indian. These being the Vincent Rapide and later the fully enclosed Black Knight (61 CID or 1000 cc), the Sunbeam which was like a BMW but with two inline cylinders (reliable and had 5" X 16" wheels and fat fenders, but the engine was only 30 CID or 500 cc so it didn't last long) and the Ariel Square Four (61 CID or 1000 cc). The "Squariel" is shown below left and the Sunbeam is on the right. Of the three, the "Squariel" was the most successful but it disappeared in 1959, the same year the new Indian Chief came out.

redsquariel sunbeam

After the Indian, Vincent, Squariel and Sunbeam died, for pure touring Harley-Davidson's only competition was the BMW boxer (horizontally opposed) twins, boasting better brakes and famous reliability and shaft drives but with engines of only 500 and 590 cc. Harley certainly had no competition at all for its type of big V-twin since the V-twin Chief died in 1953. Yet sales of the 74 CID panhead were not great either. This was because the fast, light, excellent handling English bikes were in vogue from about 1950 up to about 1970, when they in turn were replaced by the super fast and super reliable Japanese bikes. To compete with the British invasion Harley invented the relatively small and light, fast V-twin K model in 1952, which evolved into the KH and then the H and CH Sportster. The English Triumph, BSA, Norton, Matchless/AJS and Royal Enfield 500-750 c.c. twins are long gone but the Sportster remains. One thing it had over its main competition was reliability. Its 900 cc's (54 CID) compensated for its greater weight and slightly less good handling. We have all seen many Sportsters, stock and chopped and made to look like the big twin.

Part of the trend toward lighter, faster, better handling and shifting motorcycles was due to American soldiers and pilots in WW II being stationed in Britain and getting exposed to the English bikes which were so much more advanced than the Harleys and Indians back home. (Of course they were mechanically unreliable, had very unreliable electrical systems and fast-wearing carburetors, were prone to oil leaks, clutch problems and snapped clutch and brake cables, vibrated badly and were overall very uncomfortable on the highway, but this may not have been noticed much during short trips in a small country with plenty of curves and no superhighways.) Basically the huge V-twin tourers (or cruisers) are best suited to North American roads while the Limey bikes were best suited to curvey trips of shorter duration, i.e. British terrain. It is just as inappropriate to expect a British 500-750 cc bike to be a good expressway cruiser as it is to expect a big Harley or Indian Chief to go fast on curvey roads. (The author has tried both forms of folly, so speaks from experience.)

weeteepee

Sometime between about 1955 and 1965, a former race and Indian dealer named Sammy Pierce in California made great efforts to revive the marque. He built about 50 bikes from NOS parts, all of them different from each other, sold under the name "American Indian" or "Super Scouts". By 1970 they were being cannibalized for parts for stock Indians, which is a shame as nowadays they would be worth more. If any readers owns one please send me photos. Apparently these specials usually had Warrior frames, with Scout engines crammed in. The engines were at least of Bonneville (factory high performance) specs and souped up beyond that. Pierce was famous for popularizing the phrases "You can't wear out an Indian Scout and you just can't beat an Indian Chief", and "Harley Davidson made of tin - rude 'em out and push 'em in".

arrowdown In addition, Sammy Pierce and Ed Kretz and friends collaborated on a bike called the P-61 Rocket. It had an Indian 841 frame (plunger rear suspension) and an engine that was externally a combination of Scout and Chief parts. The fork was from an Ariel. Inside were combined plain and ball big end bearings, the theory being that if one type failed at high rpm the other would carry on. Given that these were side valved engines with no more than 1000 c.c. one doubts they could reach 6000 rpm. The bike could not even reach 100 mph, yet a steel band was pressed around the flywheels "to keep them from disintegrating at high rpm"! The obsession with steel bands also ran to the Scout rear brake drum which had a band pressed around it to keep it from distorting under hard use. All this despite the makers claimed obsession with light weight. Big end and flywheel failure is unheard of in Chiefs and Scouts so why these "improvements"? Parts from Ford, GM and Chrysler cars were used in the engine and brakes. Although this was a sport bike (a this time fat tourers were out of favour with the general riding public), a massive skid plate covered the engine and gearbox. More excess weight! One more realistic improvement was that the engine was rubber mounted, although my experience on flatheads is that they don't vibrate much anyway due to low compression. Suspiciously despite all the boasting of the advances in the "Rocket", not a word was said about the gearbox or clutch, and it is not clear from the photos (below) whether it was foot or hand shift. One can see a clutch lever on the left handlebar and no sign of a hand gearshift lever so perhaps an Ariel or Triumph gearbox was used. But then the kick start mechanism looks stock Chief, and the gizmo on the outer end of the clutch derby suggest an Indian 3 speed or more likely H-D "45" 3 speed gearbox. Also, the fact that the final drive chain is on the right hand side is a dead giveaway that the gearbox is either Indian, H-D 45 or K or Sportster. The final eccentricity about this bike is that it had a big Oldsmobile horn. Perhaps a large car horn was needed because the designer chose to mount the horn inside the large headlamp nacelle where a small motorcycle horn could not be heard! Doubtless this huge horn added more weight. Despite its eccentricities, the bike does look exciting. The styling is a weird combination of traditional American (tractor type solo saddle with ornaments, speedometer mounted on the fuel tank, sidevalved engine of 1930's heritage) and modern (frame and possibly gearbox). Not surprisingly this oddball machine never went into production.

P61left P61right
weeteepee

In the late 1960's another eccentric and flamboyant American former Indian Scout and H-D racer, stunt rider, Indian dealer and for some years owner of Cycle magazine, decided that it was time to revive the Indian brand. The Matchless/AJS brand (along with Norton and Guzzi) were by then being marketed be a company called Berliner and the Indian distribution network had ceased to exist. Indeed the Indian name had disappeared during the decade except in California perhaps where Sammy Pierce kept trying to revive it. And like Sam Pierce, Mr Floyd Clymer's aspirations exceeded his finances, so again there was no thought of making a brand new, all new Indian. Clymer planned to revive the Indian Scout using a frame by German eccentric Munch (Mr. Munch had squeezed a modified NSU car engine into his frame and called this huge beast, aptly, a Mammoth - at the time it was the biggest bike one could buy.) Although the frame and rolling chassis would be state of the art (for 1970), Floyd for sentimental and patriotic reasons wanted to use the original Scout sidevalved engine. Supposedly it was to be updated but other than magnesium instead of aluminum, and a foot shift/hand clutch gearbox (Enfield's?) it looked like a stock 1940's Scout engine. (See photos below.) It seems to share the front end and rear body parts with the Mammoth but the Scout had retro instead of advanced engine - even had the pre 1952 Linkert carburetor. It was rumoured that with so many Scout engines and NOS parts still available, part of the motive was economic. This bizarre combination of old and new never got past the plastic and wood mockup stage. However it is a complete thing, and in late 2009 was sold for a lot of money to someone who can make it into a running motorcycle if anyone can. So the 1968 Indian (which was still being promoted and advertised in 1969) was stillborn.

clymerscout
4shotsofclymerscout

Since it had only been less than a decade since the Royal Enfield 700 cc. powered Chief, Floyd's next idea was to contact the Enfield company about buying engines. By then it was 1969 and their big twin was 750 cc. and somewhat faster and considerably improved over the earlier 700 cc. version. Enfield were happy to sell engines for the new Indian. As for the rest of the machine, unlike the 1959-61 models, it was not going to be called a Chief and would be a sport bike. Instead of being a Royal Enfield made to look Indianesque, it was going to have an Italian frame and sheet metal. The Italjet company agreed to supply the rolling chassis. The result was a bike even sportier and better handling and braking than the Royal Enfield. Sometime after 1970 some points covers with the Indian script on them turned up in England, obviously designed to be put on the Indian Enfields, but not ready in time.

It was beautiful, in the sportbike rather than big fat Chief style. Sadly, Floyd died in 1970 just when the project was getting rolling and very few were made (between ten and a hundred; about 15 are known to still exist). Below is a black and white photo of one, note they apparently came with two fuel tank styles. Compare the B&W prototype to the green one owned by Joe Pasquale. Joe seems to have removed the oval disk from the side panel which is fine since whoe needs a place to attach a racing number on a street legal bike?

green Clymer RE Pasquale

Next we see a red and white one that is or was owned by Joey MacArthur of sales@motodeals.com in the USA. It was for sale a few years ago for offers above US$16,500, which probably barely covered the cost of restoration. It took a decade just to get all the parts. If I had the $ I'd snap it up.

Jumping back about two years for a moment, Clymer also planned to use Horex (German) parallel twins as a stop-gap until the 750 Enfields were ready, but it appears that only one or two prototypes of this bike were made (see below):

Specs for bike in color are: 600cc, chain driven OHC, 4 speed, unit construction, Bing carb, Bosch electrics, Boranni rims, Magura handlebars and controls, speedo & tach, Ceriani forks, optional Campagnola disc brake, Available Feb. 1969 for US$1,750

girlonhorex

Returning to 1969/70, another idea of Floyd's was to make an Indian 500 single with an English motor. Wasn't this just what had been done in the 1950's? Yes but instead of painting a Royal Enfield 500 single red and calling it an Indian, the 1969 and 1970 version was an English Velocette 500 single in an Italjet frame. (Looks to me that the complete frame, wheels, sheet metal and perhaps wiring were Italian and only the engine and gearrbox and primary drive were British.) These are also rare but I have seen one or two running (well) at vintage rallies. Even if the project had not ceased with Floyd's demise it is unlikely it would have taken off as the few Velocette fans (Velocette was just about dead in 1969) would only have bought the bike as a Velocette and old time Indian fans would have had no interest. I still wonder why Clymer didn't use the Royal Enfield 500, given that he bought 200 Royal Enfield twin cylinder engines, as it was still being produced. In fact it was part of the Enfield Indian line 1955-60 (called Woodsman and Westerner in the ads above). As a footnote, the Royal Enfield 500 single is still being sold today, in India (where it is now made and had been under licence from Royal Enfield since about 1955), England, and the USA. Possibly the Velocette engine was considered more sporty and popular circa 1969. Possibly Velocette offered Clymer a lower price than Enfield, or possibly production of the Enfield singles had been totally shifted to Madras, India by 1969. (India was too far away and the quality of the Madras Enfields was a far cry from those made in England.) At any rate the new bike came with a Velo engins and testers say that the Italian frame greatly improved the handling, and I'd guess the Grimeca brakes were better too. Of the 97 built, about half had the 41 h.p. Venom Thruxton engine, compared to the stock 34 hp Venom engine. So perhaps the Indian Velo with the Thruxton version of the engine is one of the best 500 single sport bikes of the pre-Japanese era, and greatly under-rated (usually ignored) by motorcycle historians. Below on the left in B&W is a Clymer advertising photo of a prototype and below on the right in color is a photo of Tim Switter's, purchased from John Cooper. It is a 1969 with the 34 hp mill. The headlamp mounts are longer than stock, rear dampers are aftermarket and seat has extra padding. Ignition key has been relocated and electics converted to 12 volts.

John Cooper's Indian Velo

Below is an article about these Velocette Indians from the long defunct Cycle Guide magazine, Dec. 1969 issue.

Indian Velo magazine p 1A
Indian Velo magazine p 1B
Indian Velo magazine p 2A
Indian Velo magazine p 2B
Indian Velo magazine p3

The last big bike by Clymer to wear the Indian logo is the most mysterious. Only one prototype was made, shown below. This was a Norton 750 in an Italjet frame (a bit of a copy of the famous Norton Featherbed frame apparently). The disc brakes are Campagnolo, cable operated. The same Italjet fenders seen on the Horex-Indian and with a BMW headlamp (my 1970 Italian Laverda had one), and a custom fuel tank. A beautiful sports bike. Thanks to Phil Doland for the info. Hopefully this "Nortian" or "Indiaton" still exists.If so, whoever owns it (or anyone with a better or more photos) please come forth and take a bow as the owner of one of the rarest post 1953 Indians.

nortian

Now we move on to yet another chapter in this fascinating saga. With Floyd's death his wife and estate were not keen to continue the project, and the freight forwarding company (which the estate trustee would not pay) had 200 Royal Enfield 750 cc. engines sitting on some US dock. The famous Rickman frame company of England was contacted and an agreement came to be resulting in 200 Rickman Enfields. These are valued by collectors and are a great sportbike (by 1970 criteria) but personally I consider them ugly and prefer the Clymer Enfield Indian with its Italian styling and Grimeca brakes. The Rickman Enfield Metisse was 100% English, both in engine and in frame. I have not put a photo of the Rickman Enfield in this site because it was never marketed as an Indian. Anyone with a Clymer Indian is encouraged to contact Phil Doland at phildd@burwood.hotkey.net.au as he is creating a registry. He owns a '57 Indian Woodsman, '59 Chief, a (Clymer)Indian Velocette and a (Clymer)Indian Enfield 750, so is the ideal person for this self-inflicted task.

www.re-indian.com is another useful site for info and the owner makes repro parts for the rare 1955-61 Royal Enfield-Indian hybirds.

weeteepee

According to Classic Bike magazine, (Dec. 1993 issue from where the following photo was taken, with thanks), the penultimate chapter of the story was in 1974 when Floyd Clymer's lawyer (who owned the Indian name and logos) tried to interest Ducati in reviving Indian with this joint project bike. Apparently lawyer Alan Newman shared Clymer's dream and a few years after Clymer's demise, with ideas of sport engines in Italian frames still in his head, but with the English companies having died out by then, why not an all Italian sports bike with Indian styling? It sure looks good and might have done OK in the market but Ducati backed out.

Indian Ducati Type 1 1974

The final chapter of this saga occurred in 1976 when the Indian Indiana shown below was offered for sale. This was a Ducati chopper with Indian logos! The chopper phase of motorcycles was still in vogue then so this would not be a stock Ducati with Indian badges. Only one prototype was built and it is still in good condition. Attached is a touched up photo-drawing from the factory. The actual bike looks even worse. The 1974 version looked a lot better.

Mr. Newman was also a pragmatist and saw the market for mini-bikes, and still owning the Indian name and logos he contracted with a manufacturer in Taiwan to make Indian mini-bikes from 1971 through 1976. Indian had their own factory in Taipei, and used Minarelli, Morini and Fuji engines of 50 c.c. through 175 c.c. Early models were called "Indian Four", trying to cash in on the fame of the prewar Four, but actually referring to 4 stroke engine rather than four cylinders.) Likewise there was an Indian 80, only 80 cc. but pehaps trying to rely on the cache of the famous Indian 80's of 1950-53. Sales were good in the beginning, with over 20,000 sold during the 1972/73 season. In Jan. 1977 the Indian name was sold to American Moped Associates, who continued to use the plant in Taiwan unitl about 1982 when they sold out to Mr. Carmen Deleone (who is mentioned elsewhere in this website). As a result, Manco go-karts were made with the Indian name on them for a year. To your right is a photo of a 1978-82 made-in-Taiwan Indian which I took at a rally in the year 2000. It says Four Stroke on the side. I often get emails from readers who own these 1971 - 82 bikes thinking they are worth a lot because they say "Indian" on them, but really they are worth very little - few hundred dollars max unless you can sucker a museum into buying one- so please stop sending the emails. For more details on the Indian mini-bike era see http://clubs.yahoo.com/clubs/the1970indianmotorcycle , and thanks to their web author for the above info. mini 4

To conclude this section, many will say this 1950-60 and 1970's business was impure, "not real Indians", but the 1999-2003 Indian Chief had an imitation Harley Evo engine and gearbox and clutch and primary drive, in an imitation Harley Softail (TM reg.) frame, and the same forks used on Harleys (all made by Showa in Japan), so if a 1960 or 1970 Indian is not a real Indian one could argue that neither was the 2000 model. The 1960 700 cc. vertical twin Chief, the 1970 500 cc.c single and 750 c.c. vertical twin Indians, and the 2000 V-twin Chief were all made under the design and orders of the people who at those times held legal title to the Indian name, so they are legally Indians even if they have engines and frames made by another company. Harleys - I believe - use Japanese forks and partial electrics, and brakes and possibly clutches, and they paid Porsche to design their Evo and V-Rod engines, so what is "pure American" anymore? The big Honda models are built 100% in the USA, by Americans, and Americans had a lot to say in their design, so is a big Honda a Japanese bike? The Honda Aero and ACE Tourer looked more Harley than Harley! And I have heard that at least some of the new Triumph bikes are built in Singapore so does that make them not English? The Royal Enfield singles (also touted as "English" have been made in India since the mid 1950's. We live in a global world of multi-national corporations.

If anyone recognizes their bike in this site please let me know so I can put your name in as owner. Also feel free to send me photos of your Indians so I can add them to the site, especially rare models as I now have plenty of stock Chiefs. If I got anything wrong in here, Email me the correction: author and web designer.

THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAS SENT PHOTOS OF THEIR INDIANS AND COMPLIMENTARY EMAILS (& CORRECTIONS & INFO).

This site is not the official site of the makers of the current lines of Indian motorcycles, INDIAN MOTORCYCLE in Kings Mountain, North Carolina (V-twin) and INDIAN MOTORCYCLE LTD. of Edinburgh, Scotland (4 cylinder)