Indian 1917 N-17 “PowerPlus” 998 cc side valve V-twin engine # 73J395
This stunning Indian PowerPlus was cherished by the original family in Colorado, USA, until just a few years ago. The machine had been in regular use till around 1928 and was then carefully stored in a barn. All paint is original and the gold pin-striping that borders the black striping is clearly visible on every painted panel. The nickel is also in good original condition. The engine has excellent compression, the gearbox works well and all linkages and levers work freely. The inside of oil and petrol tanks looks amazing, no trace of rust. The bike comes with the original took kit, including the Goodyear tyre repair kit can. When the former owner bought the PowerPlus the original tyres were still fitted but were bone dry and had to be cut off in order to move the machine around. New reproduction Firestone Nonskids have been fitted and also new, era correct, plug leads. The original tyres have been kept with the machine.
The most important change for the 1917 model year was the fitting of more substantial front forks. The earlier Indian forks were of the single-stem type, this was now changed to a triple stem system. This meant that the handlebars now got a double anchorage and were adjustable: “The rider is permitted to adjust the handlebars to whatever angle or degree he may desire, a safety and convenience feature found only on this new type of fork”, the 1917 catalogue explained. Other new features were the two-compartment petrol tank that had a capacity of 3¾ gallons (14 litres) and the new direct-action gear shifter that worked in a vertical plane. 1917 would be the last year of the distinctive but complex and expensive control rod system with bell cranks and universal joints, from 1918 on wire control would be utilized.
By the end of 1916 Indian had signed a giant army contract to supply 20,000 olive drab PowerPlus machines. But this turned out to be no good news, the army purchasing agents had been able to negotiate the very sharp price per machine of $187,50 instead of the normal $275 and the Indian sales people hadn’t taken into account the constantly rising prices of raw materials. Consequently these machines were actually sold at a substantial loss. Another effect of this military contract was that there were hardly any red Indians available for the civilian market. That makes this specimen all the more rare.
The former owner has ridden this machine only once, to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2017. For regular use on the road we recommend that this one-of-a-kind authentic PowerPlus gets a good check-over.