Indian, America’s first Motorcycle, Joins Forces with K&N Filters

By jason owens

Indian Chief Dark Horse Motorcycle

“I’m a cowboy – on the steel horse I ride.” J. Bon Jovi

Indian Chief Classic Motorcycle

During the turn of the century, not this last one, but the one a hundred years before that, cowboys were known to actually ride Indians. Yeah, weird, but historically accurate. In 1901, Indian motorcycle riders, some of them cowboys by vocation, could be seen roaming the dirt trails and rolling along the wagon-wheel ruts of Americas’ roads. You only get to be first once and Indian Motorcycles owns that slice of history outright.

Ten years after those initial sightings, in January 9, 1910 the New York Times reported – “While the 2 3/4 horsepower single and the five horsepower twin have been retained, two new models will be presented and a seven horsepower twin. The radical changes of the Indian, however, will consist in a mechanical oiling device, free engine and two-speed gear, and a new spring fork.”

The Indian Motorcycle Company, or the “Wigwam” as the factory would later be called, was started in 1901 by two bicycle racers, George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom. Their first motorcycle was a bicycle that housed a small engine capable of reaching a top speed of 30 mph.

Indian Chief Vintage Motorcycle

Indian motorcycles experienced instantaneous engineering and racing success, thrusting the company forward at a tremendous pace during the early 1900s. By 1920 Indian claimed the title of the largest motorcycle manufacturer on the planet. But, the most popular models were still two years away. In 1922 the most famous model debuted – the “Chief.” Together with the “Scout” these two models would become the icons of the Indian brand.

Indian Chief Roadmaster Motorcycle

“The most important aspects for Indian Motorcycle Company are our Heritage, our attention to detail, and our fit and finish,” says Marc Pomerantz, Marketing Manager for Indian Motorcycle Company. “The finished product that the Indian Motorcycle Company has developed has to encompass the thought provoking images of our past, the quality one would come to expect of the brand, and the performance that the motorcycle deserves.”

That kind of meticulous craftsmanship and painstaking attention to every nut and bolt and paint finish can only be achieved through persist patience. In 2009 Indian Motorcycles produced fewer than 500 bikes. For this year they project they might get out somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 motorcycles. It is what it is. The company uses a “team build” concept, where two builders work on the bike along a slow creeping assembly line. The same two people build the bike start to finish, ensuring the highest possible quality fit and finish.

We asked Pomerantz how he viewed his place in the American and worldwide motorcycle market. “We view ourselves as the Bentley of motorcycles. Indian Motorcycles have always been the motorcycle that everyone wants. We feel that we have the highest quality motorcycle on the market. The care and precision that goes into each and every bike imbues the major difference between us, and the rest of the industry. One look will entrance you, one ride and you will want one.”

With so much love and devotion poured into every fiber of every motorcycle, nothing, not one single nuance is dismissed or ignored. Only the very best of the best goes into making the most excellent motorcycle on the market. “When the new leadership at Indian Motorcycle Company decided to build the best motorcycles in the business, we spared no expense in cosmetics and performance. K&N has always been the leading company in air filters and performance. The choice was easy,” says Pomerantz.

“As far as future projects are concerned,” reveals Pomerantz, “I can’t comment on the exact projects or their names, but, what I can say is that we are constantly working on new models within and outside of the Chief Platform. Look for some new models again in 2011.”

Since this interview we have seen Polaris Industries take on the Indian brand and take it to a new level. Introducing Scout Springfield, Roadmaster, Challenger and fTR models.

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