Royal Enfield Sold As Indian Motorcycles. Did You Know?

royalenfieldindianIn 1953 the Brockhouse Corporation acquired the rights to the Indian Motorcycle name after it went bankrupt. From 1955 to 1960 British Royal Enfield motorcycles were painted red, and marketed in the USA as Indian Motorcycles. Badge engineering (a term that describes the re-badging of one product as another to avoid the cost associated with designing and engineering a totally new model) didn’t impress the Americans and it was a fiasco. The largest Enfield “Indian” was a 700 cc. The marketing agreement expired in 1960. Since 1955 Royal Enfield motorcycles are built in India and now available in the US under their own brand name.

21 Responses to “Royal Enfield Sold As Indian Motorcycles. Did You Know?”

  1. 1 Mike Perry Jan 19th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Your blog is so interesting. Always learning something new. Thanks cyril.

  2. 2 Lyle Jan 19th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    Yeah, so were Velocettes. Later, Floyd Clymer and Carl Munch teamed up in Germany to try to bring back the Big Base Scout in the late 60’s but they didn’t get very far. Then the name appeared on Japanese dirtbikes, then mopeds. The name has been bastardized so many times…..

  3. 3 36 Special Jan 19th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Yep seen a “Indian” dirt bike on craigslist the other day and I believe it said it was a 60 something. Not sure if anyone will ever make Indian successful, I don’t see the current company doing to well because of the high price. As far as Royal Enfield is concerned it would be nice to see a nicer bike come from them instead of the current models they make in India. They just don’t look like something we would buy in America.

  4. 4 Dave B. Jan 19th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Someone told me a sketchier version of this story years ago, but not being an Enfield guy I didn’t know if it was true or not. It seems there was an odd Indian/Enfield story in there after all.
    Learn something new every day.

  5. 5 fuji Jan 19th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Royal Enfield as I remember is the oldest continuous motorcycle manufactured in the world.

    I can remember these bikes when I was a kid having seen several in my area. At the present time there is a dealer in my area , Southern Fl.

  6. 6 fuji Jan 19th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    To finish my thoughts I remember seeing some young kids late sixies early seventies rinding small indian motorcycles in amature flat track beginners class . I had no idea who made them at the time.

  7. 7 ian Solley Jan 19th, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Royal Enfield had a display at the UK Motorcycle show in November last year, and I have to say these bikes were excellent – they have taken a single model and developed various models such as a cafe racer and a scrambler as well as the traditional ones. Priced about the same as the cheapest sportster – they have a great nostalgia value to them that is genuine.

  8. 8 James (Kiwi) Jan 19th, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Re Badging does not often work,as one tries to change the essence of one motorcycle into another.

    In the back of one of my books there is a Hesketh with a Triumph badge on the tank taken infront of the Meriden Triumph factory.
    Hesketh were already bust and Triumph were about to disapear for a while.
    Couple of years back there was a Honda engined Vincent,Course HD had re badged Aemachi
    (Probably spelt wrong).
    None of them seem to last long.


  9. 9 ROCK STAR Jan 19th, 2009 at 7:24 pm
  10. 10 battlegraphics Jan 19th, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    I was just noticing a fellow on ebay selling an ad Royal Enfield put out in the U.S. in 1960, saying it was dropping its disguise of “feathers and war paint” in America. The timing must have seemed pretty good for Royal Enfield, since British bikes were really coming into popularity in the U.S. and the Japanese were still on their way. Good time to go out on their own but then things went sour for the whole British industry.

    The Royal Enfields sold in the U.S. as Indians were actually pretty advanced models, as they dated from 1957 to 1960. The model built in India was standardized on the 1955 Royal Enfield and stayed virtually unchanged until recently. India has never produced the big Royal Enfield twins that Indian had in the ’50s. So those old Royal Enfield Indians are pretty special. It’s an interesting history.

  11. 11 Lyle Jan 19th, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Most of the Indian badged Velocettes are restored as Velocettes. Real indains quit being made in 53 unfortunetely. Not that the Royal Enfield or the Velocettes were bad bikes, they just weren’t Indians.

  12. 12 Sheridan Jan 19th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    If you want a V-twin Royal Enfield look no further than Australia at the new Carberry Enfield.

    Running a 1000cc V-Twin these are cool machines with the power to back up the looks!

  13. 13 Sam Jan 20th, 2009 at 1:43 am

    I recently saw a Royal Enfield with an Yamaha XS650 engine in it on ebay which would be a pretty cheap & reliable way to go. There are big bore kits for those old engines that go up to 750cc or 840cc.

    Never heard of these Carberry Enfields though, but it’s interesting.

  14. 14 Bike Trader Jan 20th, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Hey …. thats really such a nice information, liked to read your article.. its been really very nice to read this in formation on Royal Enfield

  15. 15 Ed Martin Jan 20th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    …..just an aside. The dirt bike versions in the 70’s were brought in by Frank Miyake of FTM. I was distributing Hodaka’s at the time, and he and I did business together.

  16. 16 rodent Jan 20th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    Their were and still are pretenders to the name that died in 1953

  17. 17 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian M/C Co Jan 21st, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Indian sure has had a colorful and interesting post 1953 history since the factory was closed in Springfield Mass.

  18. 18 Nitrous Phil Jan 25th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Good info here – good memories.

  19. 19 Old cars Apr 8th, 2009 at 6:05 am

    This information is very nice, Royal enfield is really very nice and genuine bike, i always ride on that bikes, Royal enfield is british company they are not change the look of bike from 1949, when ride on this bike you can feel royal.

  20. 20 drcrypto Jan 16th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    My brother had a 1955 Indian around the year 1958 and it was a real beauty.
    Ran great and never had a problem. Was painted an off red.

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