Friday, May 13, 2011

Indian Classic Motor 1904

The 1904 Indian used a reliable direct-drive chain as opposed to the more common leather belt.

Oscar Hedstrom had mounted a single-cylinder De Dion engine on a tandem bicycle for the purpose of pacing then-popular bicycle races.

George Hendee, a bicycle manufacturer from Springfield, Massachusetts, saw the contraption at an event and proposed a cooperative effort to produce motorized bicycles commercially.

Hedstrom agreed, and in 1901 the Indian Company was born. Most pre-1910 motorcycles look as though the manufacturer simply bolted an engine and its accessories onto a common bicycle frame -- which indeed was usually the case.

But early Indians used the engine as a stressed frame member, effectively replacing the downtube beneath the seat.

As with most motorcycles of the era, suspension was non- existent (save for the spring-mounted seat), and pedals were used to start the engine.

However, Indian used a direct-drive chain rather than the more common tensioned leather belt to turn the rear wheel, the chain being more positive in operation -- and more reliable.

This 1904 'humpback' is little different than the first 1901 models. Producing just over two horsepower, the 13-cubic-inch single provided a top speed of around 25 mph.

Both the lubrication and ignition system were of the 'total loss' variety. Braking was accomplished by backpedaling, which activated a rear coaster brake.

Dark blue was the color of choice until 1904, when black and vermillion became optional. The vermillion would later be known as 'Indian Red.'


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