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Harley vs. Indian
10-11-2017, 10:35 AM
Post: #1
Harley vs. Indian
"If I had a Harley, I'd leave it for a thief,
And with the insurance money, I'd buy an Indian Chief!"
"You can't wear out an Indian Scout,
Or it's brother the Indian Chief.
They are built like rocks
to take hard knocks
It's the HARLEY'S that cause the grief..."
-Traditional Tribal chants/taunts from the dawn of motorcycling.
As you can see, the Harley/Indian thing has been going on for, well, ever. For MOST of us, it's tongue in cheek, and in fact, the majority of Indian riders today probably previously owned what the old timers refer to as Brand X...Harley Davidson. When I first saw, and fell in love with Indians in 1976 (has it REALLY been forty years...) I was astride a Harley. Although I am now a thoroughly dyed-in-the-wool Indian guy, I can still admire a nice looking bike of another brand, and appreciate the enthusiasm of it's rider. Most of us are probably like that...we love our Indians, but still respect the ride. We are all motorcyclists, regardless of brand.
However, there have been times when it was deadly serious, and there are segments of both communities, Harley and Indian, for whom it is still dead serious.
The guys who raced against Harley in the 30's and 40's will tell you that there were times when the opposing riders and mechanics would not even speak to each other in the pits. Some of my older relatives told me about back when parking your Indian within a block of the Harley dealer (or vice versa) was an open invitation to have your bike vandalized. Unfortunately, there is still a bit of that around.
In the Gilroy era, many, many of the Harley parts were straight up interchangeable with Indians, since they were basically based on the HD Softail. Gilroy Indian owners will probably all have at least one story of going into a Harley dealer to pick up a part, and being told "We don't sell parts for Indians." Even if you knew the part number and KNEW it would work, they wouldn't sell it to you.
One Harley parts guy told me flat out that he would not even sell me a bolt, if it was "going on that piece of shit." And he pointed out the window, where my black and cream Chief had a crowd gathered around it.
I do have to say that, as with the crowd of guys at the rude Harley shop, most HD riders (and, most riders in general) actually DO like Indians, and admire them. There only seem to be a handful that take the whole thing WAY too seriously, and I suspect they are the ones that have their whole self image tied up in being a Harley rider. It does, however, sort of amaze me that simply acknowledging Indian's history and heritage as another great American motorcycle, would threaten someone's self esteem.
Ah well, it is what it is.
My advice is, enjoy your Indian, love the heritage, respect the ride and the other riders, wave at everyone, slough off the haters, and ride on.
Life's short. Ride far. Ride safe.
Peace, out.
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