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Indian Bicycles
10-11-2017, 11:05 AM
Post: #1
Indian Bicycles
Most every Indian fan knows that Indian was established in 1901....except that isn't really true. Indian REALLY began in 1895.
Here is the story...
As most of you probably already know, Oscar Hedstrom and George Hendee were bicyclists before they were motorcyclists. Hendee was the first national champion bicycle racer, in the 1800's and Hedstrom was a bicycle designer, and later, designer of motorized pacing cycles.
Hendee retired from racing in 1895, and decided to start a company that made bicycles. His first company, Hendee and Nelson, produced "safety bicycles": the Silver King for men, and the Silver Queen for women.
That company went bankrupt, but Hendee bought the entire company himself at auction, and reopened it in his name alone, Hendee Manufacturing in 1898. The new company produced bicycles, and the brand name he chose was...you guessed it...Indian.
When he and Hedstrom formed their partnership in 1901, the company was already producing a large number of bicycles, reportedly in the thousands, every year. (This was as opposed to Harley Davidson, who actually started from scratch, and probably did not produce any significant numbers of motorcycles for sale to the public until, well, much later. By 1905 they had sold...um...very probably 5 bikes. Although, to be fair, they DID offer do-it-yourself engine kits via magazine ad.)
Indian would continue to sell bicycles to the public throughout the entire time they were in business. There is actually a shop not far my home that originally sold Indian motorcycles, and bicycles, and is still in business. It's called, yep, Indian Cycles. They still have Indian advertising up on their walls.
Among the photos below, you will find pictures of a 1951 Indian Scout bicycle.
So, you see, Indian was not just a thorn in the side of Harley-Davidson... they annoyed Ignatz Schwinn, too.
Now you know.
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