1911 Indian Big Twin
Around this time a year ago I was wandering through ‘Motorcyclepedia’, a wonderful museum in Newburgh, New York. You can see my photo’s at our main website http://www.themotoworld.com. I was absolutely amazed when we walked into a room that was completely dedicated to Indian motorcycles. There was nearly one of every single Indian made in that room, year by year. One hour later, I was ready to cash in the 401K for a vintage Indian…reality check here, my 401K might…might, buy the front fender Indian running light.
Innovations and designs set Indian apart from every other motorcycle manufacturer. Sure there were other incredibly creative builders in the early 20th century; Flying Merkel, Cleveland, Pope, White, but Indian had something that was special, I don’t know what it was but when you see, really ‘see’ the history of Indian, which I did at Motorcyclepedia, you get it.
In 1911 Indian motorcycles was celebrating its 10th Anniversary. Like all motorbike and car manufacturers of that period they believed that racing success made for sales…’Win on Sunday…Sell on Monday’. That thought held for many companies well into the 1970’s.
The greatest race in the world at the time was the Isle Of Man TT (and still is in my mind, along with the Dakar Rally which starts in just a couple of days…Jan 5). Indian had competed twice before with a best finish of 2nd in 1909 and 14th in 1910. Come the 1911 race, Indian fielded five bikes in the TT and swept the podium..1st,2nd,3rd all went to Indian. 1911 was also the first year that motorcycles ran the full 37 mile ‘Mountain Course’. The overall average speed of the winning Indian was 47.63 mph, today it is over 100 mph but it took nearly a century to get to that speed! In 2011, veteran vintage motorcycle racer Dave Roper took a 1911 Indian Big Twin on a lap of the Isle of Man TT course to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Indian’s win.
A good many of us have heard of the Cannonball Run (besides being a cheesy movie back in 1981)…how fast can you go ‘Coast to Coast’? Well, that run is named after Erwin ‘Cannonball’ Baker who in 1914 took an Indian Big Twin from San Diego to New York in 11 days. Riders nowadays will do that in just 2 days. Indian Motorcycles at that time was the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the country. Racing success at all levels really did propel Indian to sales success.
I found a very nice 1911 Indian on ebay that is just perfect for a restoration project or, just put some work into it and ride it. It needs a few things to get it running and the seller has given the resources to find the parts you will need. Last year a couple of Indian Big Twins sold at auction for over $80,000, this one is less than half that. I think this bike is a great buy for someone who really wants an antique motorcycle that comes with a great history.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.