History Of Indian Motorcycle Company

There are many different American-based motorcycle brands. The history of Indian Motorcycle Company dates back to the early 1900s. It was officially founded in 1901 by George M Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedstrom. Originally based out of Springfield, Massachusetts, the company now has operations in Iowa and Minnesota.

The company was started in 1897 under the name Hendee Manufacturing Company. It was the bicycle-manufacturing project of George M Hendee. The products were initially given the badge of Silver Queen or Silver King but was quickly switched to American Indian and later reduced to just Indian. Hendee adopted this branding in 1898 because he felt that it improved recognition in export markets. Carl Hedstrom teamed up with Hendee in 1900.

Indian Scout

The modern re-working of the classic Indian Scout

Both of the men were former bike racers and manufacturers, so it was no surprise that they decided to work together to produce a motorcycle designed with a 1.75 bph, one-cylinder engine. The bike was successfully made and Hendee saw sales significantly increase over the next decade. In 1901, the founding year of this company, one prototype and two production units of the Single bike were designed, manufactured and tested. Just a year later, the first edition of Indian motorcycles were sold to the public. These designs featured a streamlined style and chain drives. Indian is known for its signature deep red color, which was introduced with a batch of bikes in 1904.

Production of these motorcycles exceeded 500 bikes a year at this time and continued to rise to more than 30,000 by 1913. The engines in the Single model were designed by the Aurora Firm of Illinois. Up until this point, the brand was seeing great success with its product and the public was taking notice. In 1905, the motorcycle brand produced its debut V-Twin factory racer. Their products were well-known for being part of racing and record breaking scores.

This manufacturer saw its greatest success during the 1910s. At that time, it was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. In fact, it was this factory team that earned the first three places in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in 1911. The most popular models were the Scout, manufactured between 1920 and 1946, as well as the Chief, manufactured from 1922 to 1953.

One of the most famous riders associated with this brand was Erwin Baker, also known as Cannonball. He set many long-distance records in his time and rode this bike across the United States, from California to New York, in just over 11 days. His main bike became the Powerplus model, which debuted in 1916. This was a successful bike, as a racer and roadster. It was available up until 1924, with few changes made to the overall design over the years.

Racing competitions were a major part of the success of this brand. This is, in part, how it became a well-known brand. The public saw many of their favorite racers on these bikes. Not surprisingly, they wanted their own and so sales increased. Despite this success, the two founding members were no longer associated with the business soon after its strong start. Oscar Hedstrom left in 1913, following disagreements with the board of directors related to practices used to inflate company stock value. Hendee chose to resign from his position in 1916.

Still, the brand kept on with its production. Between 1916 and 1919, it introduced several new models. During World War I, 1917-1918, the company sold most of its Powerplus models to the US government. The motorcycles were popular in the military, but post-war demand was taken by other manufacturers. Although the brand was able to gain some from the business boom during the 1920s, it struggled and even lost its number one spot in the American market to Harley-Davidson.

In 1930, Indian and DuPont motors merged. DuPont founder E Paul DuPont stopped production of DuPont automobiles in order to focus resources and attention on Indian. By 1940, the company was selling nearly as many bikes at its biggest rival Harley-Davidson. This was during a time when it represented the only real American-made heavyweight cruiser option aside from Harley-Davidson. The company also began to produce bicycles, air conditioners, boat voters and aircraft engines around this time.

By the 1950s, several changes had taken place with the company and in 1953, it went bankrupt. There were numerous organizations that have taken the name in the years since, none with much success. In 2011, Polaris Industries chose to buy the business. It relocated all of the North Carolina operations to Minnesota and Iowa. Since August of 2013, three motorcycle models that capitalized on the traditional Indian bike styling have been manufactured under the Indian name.


A Brief History Of Harley Davidson Motorcycles

The History of Harley Davidson motorcycles dates back to the early twentieth century, (1903 to be precise) Pioneered by two very talented and dedicated individuals, William Harley and Arthur Davidson.

The earliest motorcycles that were produced by these two men were essentially bikes that were to be used mostly for racing endeavors. This was a strategy to make the brand known by more and more people in the automobile industry. Winning races enabled the company to get the capital that was needed to embark on large scale motorcycle production.

harley davidson

Gradually a stable company was established that produced high performance and good quality bikes for various public institutions and industries all over the United States. In large part this success was attributed to the skill and dedication of the very first employees that were employed by the two pioneers of this beautiful brand.

The racing ventures of these motorcycle production company continued as they went ahead to race in bigger and more influential tournaments. Racing in national tournaments and competitions is one of the major contributing factors to the success of this automobile giant. The crew from Harley-Davidson went ahead to win many races and tournaments over the years and this was just in the early twentieth century before the world wars had kicked off.

The First World War brought about the need to have portable vehicles and automobiles being used to transport soldiers and military personnel in the battle fields. This led to more production of  motorcycles specifically for use by the men and women in the line of fire. These bikes proved to be quite invaluable and very effective in their purpose and this further more contributed to the growth of the brand and enganced its reputation for toughness and reliability..

During this whole period, other motorcycle manufacturers had been gone out of business and in the end two giants emerged in US motorcycle production for public and military use – the Harley Davidson Company and the Indian motorcycle company were the last two competitors who were still standing firmly on their feet during the period before the Second World War.

The Second World War led to more and more production of bikes for the military and service men who were out in the field. Motor bikes could be exported to as far as Germany for this cause and this made the company a worldwide force to reckon with. With just one major domestic competitor, the Harley-Davidson brand had no external pressure to their production activities at all.

After this brief period of war, normal production activities soon resumed and the famous bikes were now accessible to the public once more. This was a good move that saw the faster growth of the company to what it has become today. The production of these bikes continued and the racing activities that had existed there before were taken back and the bikes went on to win many more races in the future.

Like all companies, Harley Davidson has had its ups and downs, but it emergence from the war years guaranteed it an iconic status in American hearts. Today they are seen as quintessential Americana and the brand had evolved from simply a badge on a machine to represent a lifestyle.

Harley Davidson motorcycle merchandise is a huge business and in countries throughout the world owners clubs ensure a healthy social experience for those who embrace the bikes and the brand. When you buy a Harley you are not just getting a bike with the distinctive growl but are entering an established club with a very distinctive identity.


History Of Royal Enfield Motorcycles

Royal Enfield was the name of a company founded in 1893 as Enfield Cycle Company. The now-defunct company was known for its motorcycles, lawnmowers, bicycles and stationary engines. It created many different products during its run, with several models becoming extremely popular. The history of Royal Enfield Motorcycles spans from 1893 to 1971, and is still relevant today as operations continue.

royal enfield

Around 1899, it began producing quadricycles with De Dion engines mounted near the rear. The manufacturer experimented with heavy bicycle frames containing Minerva engines on the front downtube but would eventually build its first motorcycle in 1901. The model contained a 239 cc engine. The year 1907 saw the merging of Alldays and Onions Pneumatic Engineering Company of Alabama and Enfield into Enfield-Allday Automobile. Just three years later, the brand was using different engines and by 1912, released the Model 180 sidecar combination. This was successfully raced during the Isle of Man TT and Brooklands.

During the first World War, the company supplied many motorcycles to the British war department. It also earned a contract with the Imperial Russian Government. It used its V-twin and two-stroke single engines for these bikes. The manufacturer also created a moto sidecar model specifically for the war efforts. This model included a Vickers machine gun. During the 1920s and 1930s, the brand developed new models and launched its debut four-stroke 350 cc single bike. It began to change up the design of some of its bikes, being one of the first companies to utilize bulbous tanks and center-spring girder front forks. Despite the time period of the depression and the loss of sales, it was able to rely on its reserves to maintain its status. One of the business founders, as well as a partner named R W Smith, died in 1931 and 1933, respectively.

The second World War meant that Enfield was recruited by British authorities to manufacture military-style motorcycles. Several of these models were produced, including the most well-known bike that was nicknamed the Flying Flea. This was a 125 cc motorcycle that was lightweight and designed to be dropped by the parachutes containing airborne soldiers and troops. In addition to the motorcycles built for the war, other high-precision products were made during this time and used for war purposes.

Over the years, the products manufactured by the brand continued to improve and grow. Following the war, the business became known for its single cylinder models that were ride-to-work ready and in high demand for those needing every day transportation. Furthermore, numerous military models were also being sold. Rear suspension springing was created in the late 1940s, originally for competition models. Soon enough it was being utilized on several other models and was known for giving a comfortable ride.

The business worked out of its Redditch factory in England until it had closed in the early half of 1967. The last new bicycle by the company was the Revelation small wheeler, which made its debut in 1965. Production of these motorcycles stopped in 1970 and just a year later, the company was completely dissolved. Still, it was in 1965 that Enfield of India began to assemble Bullet motorcycles under a license.

Six years later, in 1962, Enfield of India was building complete bikes. This company bought the rights to use the Royal name in the year 1995. Production, based in Chennai, continues today. This makes Royal the oldest motorcycle brand in the entire world that is still in production with its Bullet model serving as the longest motorcycle production run ever. In May 2013, a new facility for assembly was opened in Oragadam, Chennai.

The brand has a rich history. Although many of the original founders and parties involved with the company are no longer alive or involved, the driving principles behind the workmanship and brand are still present. Many are familiar with this brand, especially its manufacture of high-quality motorcycles. Today, the brand manufactures and sells primarily in India. Still, it exports its goods to Europe, America, Australia and South Africa. There are Royal Enfield drivers all around the globe. The company is, and will continue to, undergo changes in different aspects of design and business. These efforts may be just what the brand needs in order spark new interest in its goods and become a household name again.

To date, some of the most popular products from this company include its Clipper, Crusader, Interceptor, WD/RE, Super Meteor and Bullet models. Some of these are no long produced or widely available as they were during their peaks. Many of these products showcased new innovations or techniques by the company.


Motorcycling in the Highlands

Having been a motorcycling enthusiast for many years now, I have enjoyed lots of trips around the UK exploring a wealth of fantastic places. However, until recently, I had never visited the Highlands of Scotland. On the recommendation of friends, I made my first trip to this wonderful area just a few weeks ago. From my own experience, I can now wholeheartedly recommend this trip to others.

scottish highlands

Planning my route

It helped that I planned my route carefully before leaving home. I spoke to friends who had driven through the Highlands and did some research online to find the best routes to take. I decided that the Moray & Speyside region of Scotland would be a fantastic area to visit. According to friends, the A95 is a great road for motorcycling and I also wanted to ride along the coast. My plan was to spend two days there so that I could explore the area, rather than just drive through it.

The riding experience

The A95 was a great ride to experience on my trusty Enfield. The road had a nice surface and there are plenty of twists, turns and sweeping bends along the way to add to the thrill. It is a bit of a tourist route so you need to take care to watch out for coaches. I also needed to be on high alert for wildlife as I came across pheasants, squirrels and deer during my travels. However, I found that this only added another interesting element to the journey. The coastal part of the ride was equally exciting, although they are a completely different type of road. Along the coast, the country lanes offer a different riding experience to the larger roads in the area.

Fantastic scenery

Without a doubt, one of the best things about riding through the Scottish Highlands has to be the spectacular scenery. Its outstanding natural beauty is some of the best I have seen on my travels across the UK. The coastline is stunning, with sandy beaches and pretty harbour villages. I took some time out to stop at the fishing village of Buckie and enjoy the amazing cliff top views.

Inland offers different scenery to the coastline. I loved the sweeping landscapes full of hills and brooding skylines. At some points there were no houses for miles, and then I would turn a corner and find myself in a picturesque village. What I could see around me changed constantly and this made the ride really interesting.

Experiences along the way

As I was staying  at a hotel in Grantown-on-Spey, I was able to sample some of the county’s finest malt whisky as part of The Whisky Trail. Had I been driving, I would not have been able to enjoy this little treat. As a whisky lover, this was one of the highlights of my trip and Culdearn House was exceptionally comfortable.

I came across some great restaurants in country house settings that looked amazing. However, this is not really my style. I much prefer a good, hearty pub lunch. On day one, I opted for the Plough Inn at Macduff. I enjoyed an excellent meal here and was delighted to see that they mostly used local produce. I sampled a seafood dish as this was fitting to my coastal location.

I was talking to the waitress after my lunch and she recommended that I visit the Macduff Marine Aquarium as it was just around the corner. This is a fantastic attraction, suitable for all the family. There are some really good interactive exhibits here and I loved the tranquillity of watching the marine life.

On the second day, my choice of eating establishment was the Crooked Inn at Alves near Elgin. This was just my sort of food and there were generous helpings and good service. I also appreciated sitting in a spot by the log fire after a long ride.

Overall, the Scottish Highlands was a great place to visit on my motorbike. Not only did I enjoy a thrilling ride round the twists and turns of the Scottish roads, I also got to enjoy the beautiful scenery, eat some excellent food and visit some of the attractions in the area. On the whole, I would recommend motorcycling in the Scottish Highland to other bikers and I certainly plan to return here again.

Triumph Trident – A True Modern Classic

Triumph Trident

The Triumph Trident was produced at Triumph Engineering at Meriden from 1968 – 1975 and was among one of the last motorcycles to be produced here. This fact alone makes it an important machine in British motorcycle history. However, it is the features of the bike that makes it a classic, albeit a rather underestimated one.


The Triumph Trident was one of the first motorcycles in the world to use a three cylinder engine. The idea behind this was to create a larger and more powerful engine that would improve the speed and performance of these new motorcycles when compared to other bikes that were currently on the market. Vibration in the engine was also reduced by having the crank pins of the engine orientated at intervals of 120 degrees.

This type of engine was considered to be very innovative at the time as it was not found in other motorcycles. The use of this engine came as a surprise to some as Trident, and its parent company BSA, was considered to have a conservative approach to management and were not known to be experimental in the design of their motorcycles.

Other Features

The gearbox in the Triumph Trident was also different to those found in other bikes at the time. A dry clutch was used which was single plate and housed between the gearbox and the primary chain-case. A wet multi-plate clutch was a more popular choice for British motorcycles during this period. Behind the gear shaft in the location where the clutch would be expected to have been found, the Triumph had a large transmission shock absorber in its place.

Success In Racing

The Triumph Trident won the Isle of Man TT Race for five consecutive years between 1971 and 1975. This would have been an outstanding achievement on its own, but there were two other factors that meant that this feat was actually quite surprising, and therefore also more celebrated.

During this period, motorcycle racing along with most other motor sports was dominated by vehicles that were produced in Japan. The fact that this was a British motorcycle winning a British event was considered to be an excellent achievement.

Alongside this, both BSA and Trident were suffering financially during this period and there was not a great deal of money to invest in developing motorcycles specifically for the purpose of racing.

Any investment that was available did not come close to matching what the Japanese were doing for their bikes. To create a bike as good as the Trident on a shoestring was nothing short of miraculous.

It’s the opinion of most motorcycle enthusiasts that the Triumph Trident never really reached the commercial success that it deserved, even though it was the fastest motorcycle on the market at the time.

Delays in production meant that by the time it was released, the Honda CB750 followed just four weeks later, undermining the achievement that Triumph had made. The Honda had a five speed gearbox and quickly outsold the Triumph in the United States and elsewhere.

If the Triumph had been released on schedule then there is no doubt in the minds of many that sales of the motorcycle would have been substantially higher. These hold-ups were caused in large part due to the restrictions placed on Triumph by BSA, who ultimately paid the price for these delays when the Trident sales did not perform as well as expected.

Despite these problems, today the Triumph Trident is considered one of the best classic British motorcycles available, and they are still celebrated by enthusiasts across the world.

One of my friends who runs a motorcycle clothing shop in Surrey sent me a link to this video which gives a really good overview of these amazing bikes.

Norton F1 – Never to Be Underestimated

Of all the bikes over the years, the Norton F1 is known today as one of the special ones – the best of the best. Many people remember that smooth scream as the bike rounded the corner, the lovely noise that emitted itself from the twin mufflers. The F1 has a unique exhaust sound that makes it stand out above all the rest. Every sportster bike wanted to be a Norton F1, and every rider wanted to own one.

Norton had tried out a few different bikes with rotary-engines throughout the 80s and 90s, but nothing really came to a head. Even up until today, their best rotary is, of course, the F1 – this bike is legendary after all. When it first came out in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it cost a pretty penny – but that didn’t stop riders around the world shelling out and buying them. These bikes sold like the proverbial hot cakes and, in 1989, the RCW588 Norton F1 won the F1 series for Britain.

The bike was born because of Philippe Le Roux’s desire to develop a racing scheme for Norton, and Le Roux saw the potential in marketing a racing bike as a roadster. Alongside him, the design team from Seymour-Powell had the job of styling the bike and incorporating the P55 engine and gearbox. Of course, the rest is history. The design that was birthed in Le Roux’s mind, and took shape with the design genius of Seymour-Powell, is one for the history books. This creation is legendary, and every biker knows and remembers the bike’s release with the utmost fondness.

Racing was the name of the game with this bike, but it was built for the roads as well, and that’s what made it unique at the time. The styling was sleek and futuristic, dark and mysterious. The bike was black with stunning decals of gold, and Norton used a development of the motor in their Commander to make it purr like a kitten on the roads.

The Norton F1 was released in 1989 with a liquid cooled twin chamber rotary engine. Its max power was a whopping 95hp 69.9 kW @ 9500 rpm, amazing in its day. On average, this gem rides at top speeds of around 145mp/h. However, despite all of the hype surrounding the bike, there were a few glitches – mostly with the F1’s engine.

A rotary engine is not an easy thing to build and the money just wasn’t there with Norton at the time. In spite of this, the bike did incredibly well. In fact, a Norton rotary engine set the 307/km/h British Motorcycle land speed record in 1991.

So what happened after the release of the Norton F1? Despite the hefty price tag, all of the units were taken off of Norton’s hands easily. These bikes sold like nothing else, and many of them went to people from the London party scene who wanted a sleek and fast bike that could go on roads as well as the track.

After approximately 130 F1s were sold, the company decided it was time to go on to the next stage of the F1, called the P55B. This was an upgraded version, which also sold very well, but, while this is true, nothing can compete with the celebration and hype that surrounded the creation and release of the amazing F1. Bikers around the world still talk about the beauty and sleekness of this machine, and they still say that the Norton F1 is ‘never to be underestimated’.

Welcome To My Motorcycles Website

Thanks for stopping by the Musuem of Motorcycles website. As you can see this site is currently receiving a bit of a facelift as we get ready for some awesome new content, featuring some of your and my favourite motorbikes.

Whether you are a new rider, an experienced motorcylist, or are simply a non-riding enthusiast you are very welcome here.

I was initially bitten by the motorcycling bug on a trip to India when I first heard the distinctive sound of an old Royal Enfield machine. I didn’t have a license at the time so wasn’t confident in renting or buying one for a trip on the open roads, but a couple of short trips as a passenger convinced me that I wanted one.

Upon my return to the UK I passed my test and found an old Enfield that belonged to an uncle. 3 months of restoration later and I was good to go, turning heads as I drove through my local village with that distinctive sound.

Needless to say, on my next trip to India I bought a similar machine for $800 from an Australian traveller, rode it for three glorious months around the cities, deserts and jungles, then sold it to another traveller for $750. The best 50 bucks I’ve ever spent!

I have to give thanks to my friends Matt and Nikki at MTS motorcycle training school, Sussex who gave me the idea for the website in the first place. I did my lessons with them and love their commitment to their students. Sorry, didn’t mean to embarrass you guys 😉

Please bookmark the site and stop by soon when there will be some exciting bike-related content.

In the meantime to whet your appetite here are a couple of YouTube videos I love.

Classic Motorbike Documentary

A British documentary about classic bikes. This is the first part of three.

Classic Motorcycles Restored In India

What a contrast from our throw-away culture as you see these bikes still on the road 70 years later.