Indian 1914 7 HP 988 cc IOE V-twin “Light Roadster” in racing trim engine # 84F379
Oscar Hedstrom and Oliver Hendee, both active in the cycle racing world, got together to found the Hendee Manufacturing Company and build the first prototype Indian motorcycle in 1901.
That first machine was powered by a single-cylinder, ‘F-head’ (inlet over exhaust) engine that formed part of the ‘diamond’ frame, in the Indian’s case it sloped rearwards to act as the seat tube. An advanced feature in motorcycling’s early pioneering days, chain drive was used by Indian right from the start.
The Indian single proved immensely successful and provided the basis for the first of the powerful, large-capacity v-twins for which the marque is best remembered.
Indian’s first, 38.61ci (633cc) v-twin appeared in 1907 with an engine clearly derived from that of the single, though mechanical inlet valves – introduced for 1908 – were an early improvement.
The twin’s rear cylinder continued to form part of the frame until 1909 when a loop frame of the type favoured by rivals Harley-Davidson was adopted.
The Springfield Company’s first ‘Big Twin’ debuted that same year displacing 61 ci (988cc).
By 1913 Indian was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world with a production of some 35,000 machines, according to a company claim.
For the 1914 season the company marketed a Light Roadster Model that had no rear springing system and was meant as a basis for a racer: the brochure text stated “internal mechanism constructed to meet any special requirement” .
The machine was a single speeder and there was a choice between a clutch and a compensating sprocket system.
This Light Roadster has been concourse restored in board track racing trim.