A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

Indian Motorcycle book collection

Lately I have gotten very interested in Indian Motorcycles. New, old, American, English (yes, there were English Indian’s…), the mini bikes, it doesn’t matter, it’s where my Vintage bike mind is wandering nowadays.

My first real exposure to Indian motorcycles, other than seeing them in museums or bike shows, came from Roger Herbison of Ojai, California. Roger spent a number of years restoring a 1937 Chief. When he first got it running he brought it by my store with the biggest grin on his mustachioed face (and by the way, his handlebar moustache was almost as big as the handlebars on his Indian??!!). “You want to ride it??” he asked as it was sitting there idling in my parking lot. Before he could regret his offer I had my helmet on, was sitting on the bike and asking if there was anything I needed to know about riding it. “Nope, just have fun.” The next half hour was pure bliss. I spent twenty minutes of that half hour thinking of a way I could convince Roger that a roving band of desperado’s hi-jacked his motorcycle, then I had to think of where I could move to with the Chief where Roger would never find us. Alas, I rode back into the parking lot and gave Roger his Indian back. Little by little the Indian legend and mystique started building in my sub-conscious thanks to that short ride.

Indian Motorcycle simply refused to die. There had been a couple of ownership changes and yeah, at one point they had the ‘look’ of an Indian but were powered by a ‘catalog’ motor…close, but no cigar. Before they (the Indian motorcycle company in Gilroy, California) ran out of money though, they start replicating the Indian ‘Power Plus’ motor. Good looking, plenty of power and truly an Indian.. But, like I said..they ran out of money and Indian again was lost.

Fast forward a few years.

A friend of mine owns a multi-line motorcycle dealership featuring Harley Davidson, Husqvarna, Husaberg and Victory. Paul is a dirt rider at heart but he does love riding his Harley every day. When word came out that Polaris (maker of Victory motorcycles) had bought up Indian Motorcycle. I instantly called Paul and asked if he was excited about the news. He told me that he was already in negotiations for a new building across the street so he could spread out and give Indian a place to live.

This last December, Team Motoworld (myself and staff photographer Heather) went to the Long Beach motorcycle show and got a chance to see the new Indian motorcycles. Truly beautiful. I have never been a ‘Cruiser’ type of person but there was / is something about an Indian motorcycle that makes me want one…badly, (“Dear Santa….”). But, I want an old one. Will my banker (staff photographer Heather) go along with that idea?? I wouldn’t take those odds to Vegas. So, I’ll be content, for the time being, reading about them. That is where I came across these books and magazines about the Chief I would love to own.

Cruising through ebay this morning I found a nice little collection of Indian literature that would help anyone restoring an Indian motorcycle or would just like to know more about America’s first motorcycle. Click on the pics below for more info.

Indian Book Collection


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