July 15, 2024

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The History of the Indian Motor Bike

Sport bikes make an impactful statement on an open freeway at top speed, but aren’t meant for beginners and require much skill and expertise in order to operate safely.

Indian offers an impressive range of cruiser bikes such as the Scout and Chief Bobber that provide a comfortable riding position, while their Roadmaster model boasts spacious accommodations and premium amenities.


Indian Motorcycle company was founded by George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom in 1901, starting out with single engine bicycle / motorcycle hybrids that quickly gained in popularity thanks to their speedy yet maneuverable designs.

By 1905, Indian was producing its inaugural V-twin factory racer and began making waves in racing and breaking records. Their factory team achieved unprecedented success at racing events like Isle of Man TT that year; taking first, second and third respectively!

Indian’s decision to dedicate much of its production to military operations at the outbreak of World War I severely restricted dealer availability and ultimately led to lost market share for their brand.

Indian Motor Co. Ltd, however, did not go dormant and in 2013 made its triumphant return under Polaris ownership.


Indian Motorcycles have channeled their racing heritage into creating the FTR 1200, an updated road version of their factory racer that competes in flat track racing. Flat track racing is primarily an American pastime that involves riding along an oval dirt track at high speeds; an exhilarating but potentially risky endeavor, but one which looks like loads of fun.

Polaris Industries Inc. purchased Indian Motorcycle in 2014, producing snowmobiles, ATVs, personal watercrafts and the Victory Motorcycle brand of bikes. Since then they have released models based on classic Indian Chief models to compete directly against Harley-Davidson models in the marketplace.

The company has come under scrutiny from members of Indigenous communities that feel offended by its use of their imagery; nonetheless, the brand continues to reach out and support these groups.


As the company expanded, they began racing their bikes competitively. Soon they made a name for themselves in dirt and road racing competitions as well as land speed records at Bonneville salt flats. Their two engineers, chief engineer Hedstrom and pro racer Hendee combined engineering expertise with stylish designs to produce what would eventually become known as the Indian Scout and Chief models.

Indian Motorcycles are back and better than ever. Since being revived by Minneapolis-based Polaris over a decade ago, Indian has not shied away from offering performance-focused models like their liquid-cooled Scout and FTR series models.

The Chieftain Elite and Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition models, powered by an innovative new 108ci powerplant, deliver impressive amounts of torque while simultaneously offering smooth engine responses.


Indian(r) released its inaugural V-twin engined factory racer, known as Cannonball Baker’s Racer in 1905, which quickly won races and set records across America. Baker was an internationally known rider known for taking an Indian from San Diego to New York in 11 days 12 hours 10 minutes.

The FTR is a modern flat tracker built for taking on even the toughest dirt tracks and highways. Featuring a lightweight cast-aluminum frame, inverted fork and rear shock designed to withstand years of hard riding, its lightweight cast frame will easily endure punishment on any ride.

Rollie’s Speed Shop prides itself on enhancing Indian Motorcycle factory bikes with top quality USA Performance Parts from Saddlemen Seats to Saddlebags to increase comfort for extended riding sessions – no one likes an arse that screams out for breaks! At Rollie’s Speed Shop we understand this need well. At our Speed Shop in Cincinnati we can improve them even further using top-of-the-line performance parts from Saddlemen for instance!


Although Indian Motorcycles appear dormant, under Polaris ownership they have seen a remarkable turnaround. Their models typically retain 77% value over five years due to their exclusiveness, superior technology and distinct style.

Indian Motorcycles remain highly valuable thanks to their powerful Thunder Stroke V-twin engines, boasting up to 120 lb-ft of torque.

Accessories can quickly drive up the price of an Indian bike. Windscreens or handlebars alone could add hundreds to thousands of dollars in extra expenses; while performance upgrades such as exhaust upgrades could increase its cost exponentially.

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