When Indian Motocycle Became Indian Motorcycle

Question

Hello, anyone know when and why Indian MOTOcycle (no “r”) became Indian MOTORcycle (with an “r”)?

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admin 4 years 42 Answers 3041 views 0

Answers ( 42 )

  1. indianmotorcycle.com click on Timeline.

    • Looked at it – didn’t see the transition from motocycle to motorcycle.
      Did I miss it?

    • 1923 Indian Motorcycle® introduced a 74-ci, 1200cc engine in a model called the “Big Chief.” It became the industry’s best-selling model, and rounded out an Indian Motorcycle® lineup that also included the Scout, Indian Chief, and the Standard. In November, the company changed its name from The Hendee Manufacturing Company to The Indian Motocycle Company – no “r” in motocycle when the word was used with the name Indian.

  2. George M. Hendee founded a bicycle production company called the Hendee Manufacturing Company. The bicycles carried brand names such as Silver King, Silver Queen, and American Indian, which was shortened to simply “Indian” and became Hendee’s primary brand name.

  3. Folks, he’s asking when/why it was changed from MOTOcycle to MOTORcycle.

    • Some people have trouble with reading and comprehension. There to busy getting on Google so they’ll look like their knowledge is greater than it is.

    • Gary, do you know when it changed back from Motocycle to motorcycle? We are looking and trying to find out. I do know when it was changed to motocycle that was in November of 1923

    • Thanks, Derek! I went back and edited.

  4. Indian used both terms, at least in 1940. My literature collection isn’t extensive enough to know when Motocycle was phased out. I’m guessing When Ralph Rogers split the company into Sales and Manufacturing…


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    • Not as a brand though. In that poster “motorcycle” is simply a descriptor, whereas “Motocycle” is part of the branding/company name.

    • Not a poster, accessory catalog. Indian used ‘Motocycle’ as a descriptor in earlier literature. I think we expect too much consistency from an era not known for it.

    • This 1940 poster still had “motocycle”, see lower part of the page. Im guessing the use of the “motocycle” ended with its first bankruptcy in 1953.

    • Jim, I think you are the only one that came up with a clear answer…..the Ralph Rogers era was the big changing factor on the fate of Indian.

    • Any thoughts on the re-emergence of MOTOcycle in the failed attempt to resurrect production in the mid-90’s?

    • Garry, Waning: I have a VERY low opinion of the pre-King’s Mountain efforts to ‘revive’ the brand. Unless you go all the way back to Sammy Pierce! Using ‘Motocycle’ was just another transparent attempt to cash in on a heritage of which they had no real understanding. I have friends who have Gilroy bikes and love them. I’m happy for them. The ones I’ve ridden were junk. The folks behind the Gilroy bikes we interested only in how much money they could make off of Indian’s centennial. Polaris has made their mistakes, but it’s a pity they didn’t get into the game 15 years earlier. End of rant.

    • Jim, – Haaaa! Rant away, my friend!

  5. I am wondering why the op did not do the research himself and asked us on here. With google and Wikipedia being so easy to search and all, just wondering.

  6. I remember that Zanghi (??) was raising money to begin production of bikes in the mid 1990’s by selling apparel. All of that apparel was branded “Indian Motocycles”

  7. 1901 to make profit

  8. It was originally the American Indian motorcycle company.

  9. In brief, as I understand it from the old timers, the COMPANY was Indian Motocycle Company (with no R in Motocycle), and the PRODUCT was the Indian motorcycle (with an R in motorcycle).

  10. 1901, and because the name garnered more attention than the other models.

  11. The term MOTO Cycle , was the what the general public started to call this “New” contraption….. before they where called Velocipedes….. so Indian motocycle was just the name that was used in the beginning, because MOTO cycle WAS A NEW NAME….. ……but within a few short years, people where starting to say MOTORCYCLE, Indian was already established and sold over a million motorcycles by then, the name did change after WW2 , whether it was durring the DuPont era or when Ralph Rogers took over.

  12. When ! 1901 and why ! To make generation after generation smile ??….

  13. This military manual is dated June 1943. Haven’t found anything later with Indian Motocycle Company. I’m thinking it changed in 1944


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  14. George Hendee was in a dunken stupor when he filed the patent. He misspelled “Motorcycle” and the rest is history. Good thing he spelled “Indian” correctly, or we could all be riding “Indan”. Poor Dan. Or you could not be lazy and do the research yourself. You know….google, wiki, buy a book.

    • At least that’s the way it was portrayed on that 3 night Brand X promo piece… Let’s see what other ‘facts’ can we glean from that ‘documentary’ … Brand X perfected if not outright invented the carburetor… Brand X built the first V-twin… George Hendee was a smarmy snake oil salesman who was almost universally despised…

    • That’s right, I forgot that HD invented and patented the “R”. So it would have been impossible for the term “motoRcycle” to exist in 1901. No one had discovered the “R”.

    • Wikipedia, nor any other source cover when it changed from “moto” to “motor” cycle. There are various dates listing when it changed from Hendee Manufacturing to Indian Motocycle (from 1922 to 1928). Most pin it to either Oct or Nov 1923.

    • Things get murky as far as documentation goes after “Big Chief” Hendee retired in 1916. All manner of shenanigans took place until E. Paul DuPont saved them from bankruptcy in late 1930. They made some catastrophic decisions during the DuPont years, but managed to survive the Depression, unlike the once-mighty Excelsior-Henderson. The paper trail again gets complicated with the US entry into WWII and the apparently one-sided negotiations with the Rogers Group. Like so many other things Indian, precise dates (just when did they switch from Conn Tell ammeters to Hoyt?) are likely to remain elusive. So enteth the recitation from the Gospel according to Walther!

  15. Found this after lots of digging.
    1951 edition listed at bottom as Indian Motocycle Company.


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    • Very Interesting! Wish I could find the post from a couple of days ago of a piece of late 40’s literature from the “Indian Sales Corporation”

    • Jim,  I’ve seen the same. There were different names for different divisions of company. Manufacturing & Sales being two. Plus they still made bicycles until at least ‘52. Read header above pic.


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    • BTW, the Riders manual above covered four years of maintenance (45, 46, 47 & 48). Tune-ups, oil chg, adjusting valves, checking battery cables, trouble shooting magneto & more. Everything but engine/tranny/clutch rebuilds.

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