Wheels Of Grace Magazine

Volume 12, Issue 2

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12 | WheelsOfGrace.com | #54 It's been going on as long as Ford vs. Chevy, as long as Red Sox vs. Yankees, Cats vs. Dogs, Coke vs. Pepsi -- the bitter rivalry between Harley-Davidson and Indian, two all-American motorcycle manufacturers that are evenly matched and ready to rumble. Now the feud is dissected and showcased, as it has never been before. The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles brings you Harley vs. Indian: Clash of America's Two-Wheeled Titans. The dispute goes back over 100 years, and people started arguing about it immediately after each company was founded. For example, which one is older? William S. Harley did a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle in 1901. A guy named George M. Hendee founded a bicycle production company called the Hendee Manufacturing Company in 1897, then hired another guy named Oscar Hedstrom to build a gasoline engine and put it into a bicycle in 1901. Hendee Manufacturing became Indian. Who was first? The battle began. That same year, Hendee built three motorized bicycles and constructed a factory in Springfield, Massachusetts. By 1902, Hendee was selling motorcycles. It wasn't until 1903 that William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson sold their first production motorcycle to the public. In 1903, Hedstrom rode one of the Indians to a speed record of 56 mph, and then won an endurance race from New York to Springfield and back. The first Harley dealer opened in 1904. Also in 1904, the first Indian was sold in a deep red vermillion paint scheme that became known as "Indian Red." So maybe since Indian wasn't called Indian until 1904, Harley was there a year earlier. Have at it, historians. In 1906, two Indian dealers rode from San Francisco to New York in 31 days and had no mechanical problems. That same year, Indian built its first V-twin, a 633-cc 42-degree HARLEY vs. INDIAN A Century Plus Long Rivalry By Mark Vaughn Courtesy of Black Sheep HDFC E-Magazine and Harley didn't build its first V-twin until 1909. In 1907, Harley- Davidson was incorporated. Did it count before? Argue away. It went on like this for more than a hundred years -- and counting. In 1911, Volney Davis rode an Indian from San Francisco to New York in 20 days. In 1914, Erwin "Cannonball" Baker took a southern route across the country in 11 days. Harley opened its racing department in 1913; "within a few short years," it became known as The Wrecking Crew because of its dominance of the sport, according to official Harley history. In 1915, Cannonball Baker got on another Indian and went from Canada to Mexico in three days. When the U.S. entered World War I, both companies devoted their production to the war effort, sending military bikes overseas. In 1920, both Harley and Indian introduced liter engines. Indian made a 1,000-cc twin and put it into a new bike it called the Chief. That engine was based on a 661-cc unit introduced two years earlier in a new bike called the Scout. Harley-Davidson, meanwhile, had become the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by 1920, with over 2,000 dealers in 67 countries. The HOG association began that same year as the race team started carrying a pig around tracks during victory laps. Indian introduced an inline-four in 1927. Bikes with inline-fours can now command six figures at auction (and in fact just did, two months ago). By 1931, Harley- Davidson and Indian had become the only two remaining motorcycle manufacturers in America, and it stayed that way until 1953. The Japanese motorcycle industry was born in 1935 when Harley-Davidson licensed blueprints, tools, dyes and machinery to the Sankyo Company of Japan. Sankyo's first bike was called the Rikuo. In 1938, local Indian motorcycle dealer J.C. Clarence "Pappy" Hoel encouraged a local Indian motorcycle club called The Jackpine Gypsies to hold a race named the Black Hills Classic in a South Dakota town called Sturgis. 12 | WheelsOfGrace.com | #54

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