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The 1916 Indian Model K Featherweight
10-11-2017, 10:25 AM
Post: #1
The 1916 Indian Model K Featherweight
More than once in it's history, Indian has been notorious for coming up with answers to questions that, well, no one was asking. The Model K was one such critter.
In the mid teens, Indian was in pretty good financial shape, with the Powerplus and the 33 cu. inch single both selling well, and the factory offering it's racing models to private owners for the first time. Internally, not so much, with the Board of Directors being involved in a pitched battle with the founders, Hendee and Hedstrom. Someone on the board came up with idea (that would resurface over and over) that what they needed was a small, lightweight, cheap (relatively) motorcycle for those who were intimidated by the larger motorcycles. The Model K ( and it's successor, the Model O or "Model Zero" as enthusiasts would call it) were the answer to that idea.
As you might expect, since no one was really asking that question, sales of the K and the O would be rather dismal. The idea was probably not bad, really, but the execution in both cases was, well, lackluster, The bike was still pretty expensive ($150, when the best bike of the day, the Indian Powerplus was just $250, and a Model T was $800). It was grossly underpowered, using a frank copy of the 1912 Villiers single cylinder engine, which turned out to be completely unsuited to rough American roads, and even rougher American riders.
Also the gas tank was, as you can see, rather tiny, holding only one (alleged) gallon of gas.
Now, the Model K is a collectible, as are all Indians from the teens, and you'll be hard pressed to find one in decent condition.
An interesting aside: Look closely at the tank of the third photo: You'll see that particular bike was produced in Indian's factory in Toronto, Canada. Yes, Virginia, at one time, Indian built motorcycles in Canada. That particular bike has also had the factory metal fuel line replaced with a rubber one.
The Model K: another interesting oddity along the long strange road that is the history of Indian motorcyle.
Now you know.
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