One of the bicycle brands he created was named American Indian. Soon after it would be shortened to simply “Indian” and at that point in time, it was a popular bicycle.
George was a racing promoter and former bicycle racing champion, needing a pace bike for his bicycle races, he hired engineer Oscar Hedstrom to build a gasoline engine-powered bike.
The machine Oscar created proved to be a winner. It was powerful and reliable, earning a reputation for its outstanding performance. Soon the company’s first factory was established in downtown Springfield, Illinois.
1901 – Indian becomes America’s First Motorcycle Company.
Now a co-founder and chief engineer Oscar Hedstrom, rode one of his Indian motorcycles in an endurance race from New York City to Springfield and back. He won, setting a new world speed record of 56 mph. The year was 1903.
1906 – the first V-twin factory race bike was built.
1907 – American T.K. Hastings rode an Indian Motorcycle to victory in a 1,000-mile reliability trial in England.
Innovative Motorcycle Technology
The 1910’s were an era of technological advancements for Indian Motorcycle. A number of innovations were created, including the leaf-spring front fork, automatic oil pump, 2-speed transmission, floorboards, starter hand cranks, a swing arm rear suspension design, the first electric start on a motorcycle, electric lights, the legendary 1000cc Powerplus engine and the famous Indian Motorcycle script logo.
1913 – a record 32,000 Indian motorcycles were sold.
1916 – George Hendee steps down and resigns as company president.
1917 – the United States enters WWI. Indian Motorcycle dedicates much of its production to the war effort, providing the military with nearly 50,000 Indian motorcycles.
The 1920’s saw the rise of Indian Motorcycle. Several iconic models were introduced including the first Indian Scout. It was a fast, reliable and maneuverable bike which became very popular. It was soon followed by the Chief, the best-selling Big Chief, the Prince and the Ace.
1923 – the company changed its name from The Hendee Manufacturing Company to The Indian Motocycle Company. Initially there was no ‘r’ in motocycle.
1927 – the legendary 45-ci, 750cc V-twin engine was introduced and would become one the best engines Indian Motorcycle ever built.
1930’s & 1940’s – sees the company change ownership. Again, Indian supports the US military during WWII.
1950’s – Indian motorcycles dominated both the dirt and road racetracks.
1967 – 68 year old New Zealander Burt Munro made motorcycle history by setting a new land speed record of 184.087 mph. They made a film about Burt’s exploits called ‘The World’s Fastest Indian.’
1970’s – Indian ran into trouble and sales dropped dramatically. Over the coming decades, the brand struggled to survive.
2003 – Indian Motorcycle Company of America went bankrupt and ended production.
Thankfully in 2008, Stellican Ltd, a London-based private equity firm, purchased the Indian Motorcycle assets and it was reborn.
Stellican sold Indian Motorcycle to Polaris Industries in 2011 and under Polaris’ expert guidance, Indian has thrived. It has continued its tradition of exciting technological development, featuring an ever-expanding lineup of authentic, iconic bikes. It’s new popularity and place in modern culture gives it a bright future.
In 2020 Central Bike Centre becomes an authorised Indian Motorcycle dealer, proudly catering to bike enthusiasts throughout Emerald and the Central Highlands.
Our expert team have a real passion for Indian motorcycles. We invite you to drop by and see our latest models and check out our new Indian Motorcycle showroom.