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1916 Indian Powerplus

Let’s start with a bit of history… on America’s first motorcycle company.

In 1897, George M. Hendee founded a bicycle production company called Hendee Manufacturing. Hendee Manufacturing would eventually come to be called the Indian Motocycle Company (without the “r”), shortened to simply “Indian” and became Hendee’s primary brand name due to a need for recognition in foreign markets as an American product.

1916 Indian Powerplus

In 1901, bicycle manufacturer, racing promoter, and former bicycle racing champion George Hendee hired Oscar Hedstrom to build gasoline engine-powered bikes to pace bicycle races. The machine he created proved to be powerful and reliable, establishing the company’s reputation for outstanding performance. Later that year the company’s first factory was established in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.  The first Indian Motorcycle was sold to a retail customer in 1902, and later that year an Indian Motorcycle won an endurance race from Boston to New York City in its public racing debut.

This activity predates Harley-Davidson by two years.

Indian Motocycles Porcelain Signage

I’m not disparaging or trying to exploit Native Americans. The “wokerati” will undoubtedly object and fan the flames of hysteria on the signage reference, but the first half of the 1900s is when Indian Motocycle featured depictions of Native Americans on their products, signage and in their advertisements.

In 1916, co-founder George Hendee resigned as company president.  It was the same year that the United States was embroiled in a conflict with the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, as he repeatedly made raids into the U.S.  It was also the first year of a new 61ci (990cc) ‘flat head’ (Gustafson side-valve) V-twin – the Powerplus, which replaced the F-head (inlet over exhaust) type.

1916 Indian Powerplus

The Powerplus motor was designed by Swedish immigrant Charles Gustafson. He was spurred on by Indian’s defeat at the 300-mile board-track race in 1915 by Harley-Davidson.  He knew a side-valve motor could be made more reliable than the F-head design and could be tuned for speed more reliably than Indian’s 8-valve racer.  The motorcycle oil consumption was stated at 30 mph, 400 miles/qt.; at 50 mph, 100 miles/qt. with an estimated top speed of 60 mph.

Then in 1917 the United States entered into WWI. Indian Motorcycle dedicated much of its production to the war effort. As a result, dealers had limited inventory and retail sales dropped significantly. The company provided the U.S. military with nearly 50,000 motorcycles from 1917-1919, most of them based on the Indian Powerplus model.

1916 Indian Powerplus

In 1923, the company changed its name from The Hendee Manufacturing Company to The Indian Motocycle Company—no “r” in motocycle when the word was used with the name Indian. Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company ceased operations and discontinued production of all models in 1953. In 1955, Brockhouse Engineering purchased the rights to the Indian Motorcycle name and sold imported Royal Enfield models branded as Indian Motorcycle models until 1960.  More Indian Motorcycle history is HERE.

In 1999, Indian Motorcycle Company of America (IMCA) emerged. America is at a crossroads … they opened and started operations in a different social climate than that of the original Indian Motocycle Company. IMCA was sued in 2000 by the Cow Creek Umpqua of Oregon under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 for their use of “Indian”. Today, the company is now a subsidiary of Polaris Inc. as Indian Motorcycle International, LLC, having refocused its branding with far less focus on Native American imagery.

Edison-Splitdorf Magneto

You might recall that I previously posted articles on “Bob”… a remarkable motorcycle restorer and his vintage motorcycle collection in the northwest.

This original motorcycle is from that collection and shows an aged patina as one of the first-year Indian Powerplus V-twin’s from 1916.  It is in excellent running condition and was ridden and showcased regularly at vintage events. The Powerplus is a 61ci (997.6cc) ‘flat head’ (Gustafson sidevalve) 42-degree V-twin. The bore and stroke is 3 1/8 x 3 31/32 (18HP), the primary drive was a single-row chain under stamped metal dust cover, the suspension in front was cradle spring front fork with a single multi-leaf spring; the rear had an optional swinging arm and leaf spring, or the rare rigid version.  The transmission is a three-speed, hand-change gearbox and foot-operated clutch.. The Powerplus was an influential design of sidevalve engines and encouraged rivals such as Harley-Davidson to follow suit.

1916 Indian Powerplus

This Indian Powerplus is the rare “hard-tail” configuration, which implies to have been manufactured in Toronto Canada and made for the export market.  At the time, it was approx $25 less than the rear suspension model.  It was purchased in somewhat of a dismantled state and restored using Indian original components. Refurbishment included a complete reconditioning of main-shafts, bearing, cylinders, valve seats and various springs and gearbox bearing/pinions along with spokes and tires.  Bob also reconditioned the carburetor, but had to replace the original magneto with an Edison-Splitdorf magneto from the 1930s.

This motorcycle is a fantastic older restoration of a desirable early Indian in original patina condition. It might even be ready for use in an upcoming Motorcycle Cannonball!

1916 Indian Powerplus idling video:

Photos and video taken by the author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Sept. 29, 2013 - Rain!

Sept. 29, 2013 – Persistent Rain!

Wow, what a difference just a few days makes!

It was rather pleasant temperatures, but you could feel it starting to turn toward fall then those northwest rains, persistent rain started.

Then it turned to relentless rainfall this weekend as we got hit with the remnants of Typhoon Pabuk which dumped record breaking moisture on the region.  Enough to eclipse many long standing records!

The Portland International Airport surpassed its wettest September on record with more than 4.38″ as of 12 noon today. The previous September record was 4.30″ set back in 1986.

The winds have gusted to near hurricane force along the Oregon coast and in the valley, we’ve had high-wind warnings and thousands of people have lost electricity throughout the state, as emergency crews work to restore power.

Riding the remnants of typhoon Pabuk

Riding in the remnants of Typhoon Pabuk

In all the years that I have been riding a motorcycle, I can honestly say that I don’t remember one biker who loves riding in the rain.  You deal with it when it happens, but no one prefer’s riding in it.

But, not this guy in the photo… the rain can’t extinguish his fiery spirit!

I was departing my neighborhood, as the wipers on full speed barely kept up and I snapped this semi-fuzzy photo of this dude powering on the throttle.  He must have looked out the window and observed the sideways downpour and said, “ohhh great, it’s raining, I’ve got to go for a ride!”

Well, I suppose if you have to ride in the rain, riding in the remnants of a typhoon means you’ve got a good story to tell all your buddies.

And it’s not even winter yet!

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The calendar states it’s Spring here in the Northwest, but it seems more Spring in some places than others.  

We’ve had 4 back-to-back days of morning snow/rain and temperatures in the mid-30’s!  During the day we’ve seen sleet, hail and rain down pours temporarily flooding streets.  What is going on?  This should be the time of year where warmer weather brings out the motorcycles.

I did see a biker this past Saturday.  Some dude (no he wasn’t wearing “colors”) on I-5 riding North bound on what looked like a new Flat Black Cross Bones, but who could see?  Wipers on high, couple of inches of standing water in the middle lane and hail the size of pencil erasers pelting my windshield.  Even with a full face helmet that dude didn’t have to worry about a “blind spot” because no one could see him or anyone else on the freeway for that matter!

I know why I ride, but for the life of me I can’t think of a reason why that dude was riding…at least not on that day!

Photo courtesy of Burnszilla.

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santa_hdEver wonder where Santa goes after delivering all those gifts?

  

Well here is a little ecard courtesy of Bikersvision that provides a “Christmas Carol” clue.

  

Enjoy.

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hd_ornamentsJust days before Christmas and in a bit of a panic for some last minute gift ideas?  

Well just in time here are a couple of ideas.  For the more traditional there are tree decorating ornaments on the Harley Davidson site. 

Or for the Harley children there is this cool Kid Craft Softail rocker.  It was inspired by the Softail Deuce and has a leatherette seat, plus a sculpted and chromed front fork to support the handlebar.

kidcraftTo keep kids safe, the bike is anchored securely on solid wood anti-tip rockers to prevent accidental tipping.

But for the selective few and to help bring happiness to those cold, wet and dreary days of winter when the bike is relegated to the garage, yet you need to start and charge the battery…there is the perfect gift that will complete your savvy maintenance skills and “satisfy” your biker babe who wants it all. 

It’s difficult to explain, but here’s a video of the “Vibe Rider”. It brings new meaning to the statement; “Could we just take the long way round”?  

Enjoy watching although it’s unlikely you’ll enjoy it as much as these ladies enjoyed the Vibe Rider contest! 

Caution – If trying this at home, loud pipes will wake the neighbors and it’s strongly suggested to open the garage door every 5-10 min’s to avoid exhaust fume build up.

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