Do You Really Know The Story Of Indian Motorcycle?

indian0Indian3Yes, you probably know that the original Indian nameplate died in 1953, that many devoted enthusiasts worked hard at maintaining the old bikes, that several companies tried to resurrect the brand (the most serious have been CNC in Gilroy, CA and Stellican Limited in Kings Mountain, NC) and that in 2011 Polaris Industries took over bringing the new Indian models to modern standards while still keeping the original mindset.

Indian1But do you know the full story from the start in 1901 as a bicycle manufacturer? How Indian got its worldwide reputation on the racetracks for performance and superb reliability? What provoked the brand post-war decline and demise? What is Polaris current engineering philosophy to create the new generation of Indians?

About 70% of this new hardcover book simply titled Indian Motorcycle: America’s First Motorcycle Company is devoted to the rise and fall of the company, then to the tale of all the efforts to resurrect the brand until Polaris succeeded in writing new pages of its history with modern models. The company’s storied heritage was written by respected journalist Darwin Holstrom, and boasts 227 quality color and 76 black and white photos and drawings. 3.8 pounds. 10.2 x 1 x 12.2”. 224 pages. $32.72. Order at Indian Motorcycle: America’s First Motorcycle Company.

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10 Responses to “Do You Really Know The Story Of Indian Motorcycle?”


  1. 1 Mark Aug 21st, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I am about 30 pages into this book and it appears Darwin did a very good job researching the story,. There are also a good number of photos I’ve never seen before. Pretty much a “must” for any motorcycling library.

    MM

  2. 2 Coffeebeans Aug 21st, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Profoundly incomplete.
    Some of it is pretty good, but a great deal of it shows the author has no true depth of understanding of the history of the marque.
    For example :
    Only a handful of pages on the Gilroy and King’s Mountain period, when there are some seriously fascinating stories from then? Sad.
    Badically, the latter portion is a love letter to Polaris.

    Meh. Still waiting on the definitive book on Indians.

  3. 3 Pat Simmons Aug 21st, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    I don’t want to step on the article about this book. It looks like a good book to me. Another well known book about Indians that I think offers a great history of the brand is Harry Sucher’s “The Iron Redskin”. It’s a very detailed account that I have enjoyed both as a story, and a reference. I recommend it highly. Also Butch, and Tom Baer have written some great books about the Indian Motorcycle, and their long association with racing, building, riding, and selling Indians. I think Butch has about 10 books now. Check them out too. Of course Jerry Hatfield also has written some great books too. Lots of good books out there about Indian. This new book by Darwin Holstrom will be a nice addition to our libraries.

  4. 4 Lyle Landstrom Aug 22nd, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Judging by the cover which states Indian is “America’s first motorcycle company.” I’ll pass. If they can’t get things right on the cover, what’s the rest of the book like? I will however, second Pat’s comment about Harry V. Sucher’s book.

  5. 5 Mark Moses Aug 22nd, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    I grabbed the book a few weeks ago, as I am always looking for new information, interpretations and spins on the remarkable and checkered history of ‘my’ brand.

    Mr. Holmstrom is obviously a very talented and resourceful author that had access to a treasure trove of information and images. While the book started great with a wealth of images I had never seen before and a good overview of the first, second and third eras of the brand, the story then seemed to lose focus and content moving forward from that point. It seemed as if there was a rush to just fast-forward to the current day. The reference to the Gilroy time period left a lot of gray area, only overshadowed by the absolute lack of story content of the Kings Mountain legacy. Key characters were interestingly omitted and seven important and fascinating years edited to near a solitary paragraph.

    From my perspective, there are 6 primary eras of the Indian brand:
    #1 – Springfield from the beginning in1901 and the trials of the late 40’s and early fifties. – good coverage of the story job here.

    #2 – British Years with Indian Motorcycle Sales Corp. – Very Interesting time with many opportunities to tell an often overlooked chapter – good coverage of the account here too, maybe the best tell to date.

    #3 – The roller coaster of the 1960’s-70’s-80’s. Many folks had no idea that there was anything happening during these decades. – good job here introducing many of the elements.

    #4 – The 1990’s with various claims, lawsuits and the eventual Gilroy, California operations. A Rigid Sport Scout, I missed that one… There is so much more to learn about the behind the scenes accounts here; a pending move to Alabama, new product development efforts and the real reason they shut their doors in CA, that had less to do with the quality of the bike and more to do with ownership and management struggles.

    #5 – Mid 2000’s through 2011 where the folks from Stellican that acquired the failed (again) company and applied CPR to stabilize the condition to the point that it had enough life and potential value to welcome a suitor with enough talent, resources and respect to take it to home. Lots of interesting stuff here too, like who the actual guy was the drove this enterprise was, not the outside investor, the guy that did the heavy lifting, Stephen Julius. Not to mention the who’s-who list of fine folks he brought on board, inspired by the opportunity to play their own role in motorcycle history. The single fact that Polaris continued to build the exact motorcycle that was designed and built in Kings Mountain for 2 years is a testament to the efforts of era #5.

    #6 – Polaris. Taking it home… These guys get it! History will show the great respect and careful stewardship they have in regard to the Indian brand.

    I will be the first to admit that many folks would like to do what history won’t, to skip over or ignore facts. In some cases, there seem to be omissions in the story, and that is interesting. The real Indian story has incredible peaks and hell-filled valleys, and it is a disservice in this day and age to present the “Complete Story of Indian” without filling in all of the blanks to the same depth and detail that other parts of the story are shared…

    This brand knows no bigger fan then me and it is inadequate that important details of this iconic story have been left to speculation and confusion. There is an incredible surge in the popularity of the Indian brand right now, and many of the new-found are digging deep to learn the brand’s ‘entire’ story. This book had the chance to lay it all out there, for better and for worse. While I greatly admire the effort and the professional package that the book represents, there is still a place for the “complete history of Indian Motorcycle”.

  6. 6 Gary Stark Aug 22nd, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    This book is missing a lot of Indian History.

    First off – the first half of the book is all plagiarized from Jerry Hatfields books about Indian Motorcycles. The publisher is the same “Motorbooks” so they must have told this author it was ok to \use his pictures and varied the wording a bit. Read Jerry’s books or Harry Suchers Iron Redskin for a better history.

    Then he totally blows over the following:

    Indian became the Indian Sales Corporation and imported Royal Enfields. This chapter missing.

    Where is mention of Floyd Clymer who tried to resuscitate Indian in the 60’s missing…..
    Where is mention of Sam Pierce who had a manufacturing licesnse to produce Indian in the 60’s missing….
    In 1967 the name was sold and they started making dirt bikes in 1967-1977 from Italy and Taiwan. This chapter missing……
    What about the enthusiasts, such as ourselves, who spent their lifetime manufacturing parts for these old motorcycles…… missing…….
    Breifly touches on IMMI, and California customs who became Gilroy Indian, then Kings Mountain.

    So if you want a glossed over not full history – read this book. IF you want true history look elsewhere.

    Gary Stark
    Starklite Indian MotorCycles
    951-968-3070

  7. 7 Gary Stark Aug 22nd, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Oh I forgot…..
    Alan Numan from Los Angeles is the person who was making the dirt bikes in Taiwan, And they were very successful.

    Then when he failed the name was sold in Bankruptcy Court.
    Our family bid on it, $15,000 (1978) Steve McQueen bid on it, and the winner was Camen Deleone who made the INDIAN 4 – 4 STroke Moped in Taiwan from 1978-1982.

    The current owner traces their linage to this sale – but did Carmen really own it? He stopped making bikes, and many people feel it went into the public domain.

    Some even argue that it went into public domain after Floyd Clymers widow sold the trademark because she had no proof that she purchased it from the Indian Sales Corporation.

    The trademark has a lot of black spots on it’s linage of who rightfully owns it, and Polaris has been spending a lot of money to make sure they do own it……..
    hmmmmmm

  8. 8 KD Aug 23rd, 2016 at 10:30 am

    Mark/Gary,

    You two should get together and write the DEFINITIVE history of the Indian motorcycle! (and there are a few others that we all know that know {and own} LOTS as well that could help out)

  9. 9 Gym Aug 23rd, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Does anyone know if it is legal to search for Indian ruins in Gilroy, California? I heard the garlic smell drove them away…

  10. 10 Martin Twofeather Aug 26th, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Gary Stark said it all,thank Gary

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