An improved and modernized Indian Chief has just been announced from Springfield. The new 74-model 346-is known as “War-time Model 3 Conversion” and will be made and merchandized under War Production release.
From the August 1945 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine
The new War-time Indian, first new American motorcycle to be publicly announced, will be built as standard to replace the former 74 cu. in. model. Manufacturing is under way and it is expected that deliveries will commence within the next few months and be progressively increased during the latter part of 1945.
The new Model 346 is powered by a 42° V-twin engine of L-head design. The standard Indian unit power plant with enclosed primary chain running in a bath of oil is retained. Precision refinements such as mirror finish cylinders, diamond bored holes in piston and connecting rods and precision grinding of bearing surfaces have been incorporated, and each engine is completely block tested before assembly into the frame. Notable features of the new Indian Chief as discussed by the Indian Motocycle Company are as follows: The new Indian dual spring front fork with hydraulic shock absorber has been thoroughly proved in the toughest military service as being unequalled in handling and road holding qualities. Action is soft and easy and the natural fork rebound is shock absorber controlled and coordinated with Indian’s sprung rear wheel for unusual stability and comfort. Construction is of heat treated steel and exceedingly strong. Rubber mounted handlebars which eliminate all road shock and vibration offer a new treat to motorcycle riders. Shock action may be set to any desired tension. The handlebars are fully adjustable to suit individual riding position. A built-in steering damper provides for exact lateral control according to road conditions of the rider’s wishes. Full streamlined design featuring Indian’s skirted fenders make this model as modern as the next minute…and the most attractive of motorcycles. An improved seat post with long travel springs gives smooth action over the biggest of bumps…a spring build-up principle does not permit the saddle to “bottom”. New saddle construction provides added comfort to the rider. The saddle is full cushioned with a layer of sponge rubber beneath the leather top. Protective metal side plates prevent tearing at the usual point of wear. The new wheels are lighter than previous designs. New style hubs and a simpler, stronger, direct-tension wheel spoke arrangement result in increased strength which maintains wheel trueness despite hard use. The water shielded front wheel brake has increased lining area. Brake drum is ribbed for greater strength and the resulting air cooling increases brake lining life. The front brake plate is of polished aluminum. A new brake hand lever and new easy brake adjustment make operation and maintenance easy. Indian’s “Double Action” Spring Frame has been improved to allow greater wheel travel. Riding comfort is increased and the better road holding characteristics result in safer stopping and longer tire life. Instruments continue to be mounted in the motorcycle tank panel. A modern speedometer face makes for easy reading even at speed. Maximum speed hand is standard equipment. Ignition switch is of new construction and of positive rotary contact design.
Indian’s frame is again the rigid double tube cradle type. The spring center stand returns automatically to the “up” position as the motorcycle is rolled forward off the stand. Safety guards are more compact yet fully effective are fitted to the frame
Stand Back, Kids, There’s a New Chief in Town With little fanfare but numerous marketing emails and social media posts hyping a big deal in February, Indian released info and photos of its freshly redesigned Chief
With little fanfare but numerous marketing emails and social media posts hyping a big deal in February, Indian released info and photos of its freshly redesigned Chief line.
“Wait a second!” you might be thinking. “They already have a Chief!” You’re right – they do, but the really retro look of the discontinued Chiefs (Classic and Vintage), with its full-coverage rear body panels, large swoopy front fender and iconic headdress fender topper is gone, replaced now by a stripped-down, more modern (but still fully retro) look.
The new Chief celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first Chief with an American-made $14,500 air-cooled V-twin powered heavy cruiser.
You might also be thinking the only surprise in that sentence is the price point – but that’s without ABS and in basic black. If you want any other color or ABS, your base price is $15,300 USD (+ABS) or $15,800 (+ABS +White or Ruby “Smoke,” Indian’s code word for a matte rather than glossy finish).
Hail To The (New) Chief
At first glance, the 2022 Indian Chief isn’t all that exciting, playing into the bobber trend with a solo seat, short rear fender, and offset license plate holder. On the surface, nothing about the bike makes it stand out, a disappointing development for anybody who was hoping Indian’s next bike would be more 21st century than 20th. To build excitement, you have to look a bit deeper and try to understand what Indian is trying to do with the Chief lineup – give riders something bigger and more traditional (i.e. air-cooled) than the Scout, but more affordable than the baggers and bigger cruisers in the lineup.
It uses a standard (and typical for the genre) steel-tube trellis frame, an easily recognized and inexpensive feature for bikes of this size and style.
The Chief’s Engines
The Chiefs get the same Thunderstroke 111ci (1,811cc) and 116ci (1,901cc) engines Indian has been producing for years. The 111 in the down-spec models has good power, with a claimed 108 ft-lbs of torque, fairly typical for the size and style of the Chief and other bikes like it. Indian claims the 116 in the up-spec models delivers 120 ft-lbs of torque. Indian continues to refuse to release horsepower claims, but sources say the 111 puts out 78 hp and the 116 between 85-90 hp.
There are variations of the Chief to scratch nearly every cruiser fan’s itch.
The Chief Bobber ($16,000) gets stylish wire wheels and swaps in a fat 16-inch front tire for the Base Chief’s cast wheels and 19-inch front tire. The entire line sports a 16-inch rear wheel. Both the Chief and the Chief Bobber have blacked-out, matte-painted Dark Horse variants with different colors but the same overall specs beyond the bigger engine and some tech adds.
The Chief Dark Horse is $17,000, while the Chief Bobber Dark Horse is $19,000. It isn’t clearly obvious from the spec sheets why the Chief to Chief Dark Horse upcharge is $1,500, while the Bobber variant sees a $2,000 upcharge from Bobber to Bobber Dark Horse.
The Super Chief ($18,500) and the Super Chief Limited ($21,000) top out the model’s lineup. They have the wire wheels and 16-inch front tire from the Bobber, plus a passenger seat, leather-like saddlebags and a windshield. The Super Chief Limited has a fantastic looking chromed and polished engine.
Both Super Chiefs have floorboards and forward controls, while the other versions have foot pegs and mid controls. Forward controls are available as a $350 (pegs) or $450 (boards) upcharge, along with extended or reduced reach seats, something Indian has always offered to make sure their bikes accommodate riders of all heights.
Besides color choices, wheel construction and front tire size, the bikes have one easily identifiable characteristic to tell them apart – the handlebar.
The Chief and Chief Dark Horse have a flat, narrow one; the Bobber and Bobber Dark Horse have a tall bar. The Super Chiefs have a wide, gently curved bar tailor made for long distance touring comfort.
You can also pursue a slew of other bog-standard and absolutely typical cruiser add-ons, such as mini ape handlebars, LED driving lights (mounts cost extra), saddlebags and windshields if you’re not buying a Super Chief (mounts cost extra), heated hand grips (how did we ever ride in winter without these miracles of modern engineering?), highway bars in black or chrome, luggage racks and more, more, more.
|Model||CI||Feet||Bars||Wheels||ABS||Colors||Base Model Pricing|
|Chief||111||Mid, Pegs||Flat||Cast, 19/16||Black Metallic, White Smoke||Black Metallic, White Smoke, Ruby Smoke||$14,449 w/o ABS|
|Chief Dark Horse||116||Mid, Pegs||Flat||Cast, 19/16||All||Black Smoke, Alumina Jade Smoke, Stealth Gray||$16,999|
|Chief Bobber||111||Forward, Pegs||Tall||Wire, 16/16||Black Metallic, Ruby Metallic||Black Metallic, Ruby Metallic||$16,499 w/o ABS|
|Chief Bobber Dark Horse||116||Forward, Pegs||Tall||Wire, 16/16||All||Black Smoke, Titanium Smoke, Sagebrush Smoke||$18,999|
|Super Chief||111||Forward, Boards||Wide||Wire, 16/16||Black Metallic||Black Metallic, Pearl White||$19,799 w/o ABS|
|Super Chief Limited||116||Forward, Boards||Wide||Wire, 16/16||All||Black Metallic, Blue Slate Metallic, Maroon Metallic||$20,999|
Many riders will see the Chief and its variants as solid platforms for customizing a motorcycle, and indeed its simplicity and old-school construction make it a good platform for such activity.
The vintage vibe of the Chief lineup capitalizes on what American riders seem to want the most – retro-looking bikes with modern technology touches like LED lights and sat-nav. Customizers have to be drooling at the base model Chief, and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Indian run a version of the Scout Bobber Build-Off with the Chief.
With the base Chief’s price coming in $3,000 above a standard Scout model but $4,500 below their next least-expensive model, the Vintage Dark Horse, the Chief is also filling a mid-priced slot in Indian’s 2021 lineup. After all, if you build a bike for every price point, you can easily shepherd a rider through from their first bike to their last and keep them brand loyal the entire time.
At the end of the day, knowing chopper fan and design whiz Ola Stenegaard had a hand in creating the Chief makes it far less surprising that the new bikes share some design cues and styling choices with the BMW R 18 – at the very least, matching wheel style and tire sizes when comparing the standard and touring models to each other, not to mention the single seat and heavily retro aesthetic. Nobody would mistake a V-twin for the Big Boxer or vice-versa, but you might be hard-pressed to tell the two bikes apart at a distance if you were in a hurry.
2022 Indian Chief Photo Gallery
Nestled in the Pine River Valley north of Bayfield, Jeff Grigsby bends metal and sculpts frames, restoring historic Indian motorcycles to their original condition.
Don’t despair, though: it never was a real Indian.
Often e-bike builds start with a cheap mass production bike, or a pre-existing but aftermarket frame, and the electric motor gets stuffed into a rear hub. This bike is a bit different.
There will always be cafe builds that people disagree with. Lots of people have emotional attachments to certain motorcycles, and when a builder cuts up something rare to turn it into a bobber or a cafe project sometimes the reactions get… a bit extreme.
On that note, I present to you the E-ndian – a 1916 Powerplus Flathead which, if it were actually a Powerplus Flathead, would have the brand faithful absolutely and thoroughly wadded up.
Good news: not only was no part of this bike ever an actual Indian, no part of this bike was ever actually a motorcycle. It’s a ground-up custom build. The motor, which is hidden inside a 3D-printed housing to look like an internal combustion engine out of a 1916-era motorcycle, is in fact taken out of a BMW DTM e-scooter. A belt and pulleys connect the electric motor to the rear wheel and act as a rudimentary transmission. The frame is completely custom fabricated out of steel pipes. The “gas tank” is made from fiberglass and plastic plumbing tubes. There is a single front hydraulic brake (there is no rear brake) which was sourced from a mountain bike.
While the paint job is pretty fantastic, and the “E-ndian” on the tank gives it away, a casual glance might make you believe this bike is 100 or so years old. The owner and creator of this art piece is named Achilles; his shop is in Jesolo, Italy. His vision for this bike was not one of extreme performance, obviously. He set out to create a machine as art and he succeeded. It’s not an exact copy of the 1916 Indian since, as Achille says (translated roughly), “we did not want to pretend it was a real Indian Powerplus, and so we put the e-ndian on the tank and we redid the engine a bit differently, to put the worm in the head of the beholder.” I’ve never heard the saying before but it sounds very Italian and I love it.
This build will never win any speed records, and by all accounts it’s kind of frightening to ride, but from a purely aesthetic point of view it’s a real stunner. The attention to detail, like the painted-on oil drips on the engine, are real showstoppers.
Few of us can afford it but that doesn’t mean we can’t look at the pictures!
Friends, every once in a while, a chance comes along to own a piece of motorcycling history, and for those of you who love very old motorcycles and motorcycle racing of every kind, this might be your chance.
Up for sale through Heroes Motors of Los Angeles is a 1919 Indian Power Plus, and not just any (very) old motorcycle. It was a board track racer in its day and raced at the Los Angeles Motor Speedway; there is a chance this very bike is one of the motorcycles in the above video from 1921!
Heroes Motors has limited information on the machine, except that its owner moved from the United States to France with this bike after World War II, and the machine was then sold to, and stored in, a museum in France from the 1970s through the 1990s. The current owner bought the bike from that museum. It remains in unrestored condition (though some of the leather pieces like the seat have been replaced).
There is no price listed on this motorcycle. It definitely falls under the “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” clause, but as with every single other motorcycle on the Heroes Motors website, the pictures are amazing and worth a look even if you’re not currently in the market.
The Indian Power Plus, while a throwback now and certainly bearing little resemblance to modern motorcycles, was well ahead of its time. It was truly a marvel of engineering. Indian employed engineers as well as their factory racers to design the engines and frames of these bikes. These were the machines that set speed and distance records in their day.
The oval board track racers regularly saw speeds of 100mph and better, which is pretty impressive for a machine that put out just a hair over 15hp. The demons who rode them did not have the benefit of modern safety gear but instead donned leather helmets, and their clothing sometimes had wooden armor. This didn’t help a whole lot when a crash occurred on the speedway, where riders would sometimes (gird your loins here, friends) end up with twelve-inch splinters from the wooden track.
Fire up your imaginations; can you begin to believe what these races must have been like?
Indian 3 Wheel Patrol Vehicles
by Wayne Lensu
The Indian Patrol was made in Springfield Mass in 1952 & 53. Less than 50 were made and approx 7 remain in nearly complete original condition. I have met most of the other Indian Patrol survivor owners at AMCA meets, except for one that I’ve spoken to, who is in Montana. I don’t think the Patrol’s were referred to as Dispatch Tow’s as they had the vertical Warrior 2 cylinder 500cc / 30.50″ engines rather than the V type 45″ or 74″ engine used in the Dispatch Tows. If anyone could clarify this I would appreciate it.
The Indian Springfield Patrol is direct shaft drive to the rear axle, not a chain drive, and should not be confused with the 1959 Indian Patrol Car’s, which were British built Pashleys. After the Indian name was put on the gas tanks, Pashleys were imported for sale through surviving dealerships as Indians. The Pashleys have a 350cc or 500cc single cylinder Royal Enfield engine like the Bullet and were chain drive. I have seen these English Indians at the Wauseon, Oley and Eustis, AMCA meets.
Indian Springfield Patrols, 841’s, and the 2 prototype experimental Fours are the only shaft drive Indians ever manufactured.
There is a Patrol illustration on page 17 of Bob Stark’s Catalog (shown below) and I drive mine to Bob Stark’s spot each year at Davenport to talk with him. Most bike fans have not seen one of these running in 30 years or more. I first had mine drivable at Oley in 2008 and also rode quite a bit at the Rhinebeck National meet. I had the Patrol at Wauseon that year but could not start or drive it because of a sheared woodruff key in the primary drive, which I was able to repair in time for Davenport. The woodruff key in the primary drive has to be the weakest link in this drive train.
I drove a Patrol in 1958 in Far Rockaway, NY and when I saw this Patrol listed on Ebay in 2003, I had to get it. Bob Shingler told me he had put this Patrol together from Ann Arbor, Mich. Police storage yard parts, then it went to Pete Bollenback for his museum, then to an owner in Louisiana who listed it on Ebay. The Patrols are complicated to work on and every repair involves figuring out what off of the shelf or then available parts Indian used to create this mechanical nightmare. When I work on mine, I often stop to wonder how desperate Indian was to have a machine to compete with HD Servicars. I’ve been told that HD dealers offered handsome trade in prices to get the Patrols off the road and then scrapped them, saving only the engines. You may have heard of the six V-twin,Scout 45 cubic inch engined Dispatch Tows made in 1951, I know several of these owners and those 6 with the less than 50 Patrols represent all of Indians 3 wheel production after 1942.
Indian Patrols are a 500cc Warrior from the seat post forward, the primary cases are unique and made for the combination 80″ Chief and 249 compensator using a 3 row sport scout chain. The chain tensioner foot was made up to fit the wider primary cases which also have a larger pocket for the chief size compensator. There is no clutch, just a 3 row sprocket which drives through a Boston Gear angle drive box using Indian 4 cylinder gears. That box was modified to fit around the seat post. The bell housing is stamped 102-S and the flywheel housing is stamped 103-S. They are from some unknown brand, (which I would sure like to identify), using a Crosley clutch, mystery aluminum flywheel, Crosley T92 trans and rear end with 1952 Studebaker Champion hydraulic brakes. The only electric start Indians were the 1952 -53 Patrols and the 1914 Hendee Special. The only Indian shaft drive models are the 841’s, Patrols and the 2 experimental Four cylinders.
Besides the 1914 Hendee Special, this is the only other, from the “factory”, electric start Indian that was made and is “only electric start”, no kicker at all. It has a car type electric starter using a large 6 volt group 1 car battery. The Patrol also has hydraulic brakes like the six rare Scout 45” V-twin 1951 Dispatch Tows that Indian put together in 1951, which are kick start only. After 1942 Indian didn’t have any 3 wheelers to compete with HD’s Servi-Cars until they started making these models in 1951 – 1953
Maintenance is difficult because of the way these were put together, plus there are no Patrol repair manuals and little information available. It took me 2 years to discover the gears I needed for the Boston Gear angle drive box, were standard Indian Four cylinder spiral bevel gears, which drive the car type flywheel and single plate Crosley clutch. I am still debugging this machine, getting everything operational and not concerned with cosmetic restoration yet.
When I got this bike there were two non-consecutive teeth missing from the large gear in the angle drive box. Because they were spiral bevel gears some teeth always seemed to be engaging. After a two year search I found the gear I needed on Rocky and Toney’s table at Davenport. Toney said it was the large gear from the Indian four cylinder 18×27 tooth pair. My guess is that those who tried to get this running before I was able to, failed when each time the gears would lock up, the flywheel would stop causing the woodruff key in the primary to shear. Since this was only an electric start machine the key had to be replaced for each try.
Someone in the past had also left the spring to cam thrust washer out of the torque compensator assembly, so that only the small weak spring was pressing against the sliding cam. The large Chief spring was pressing against the sprocket itself and lifting the primary chain off of the teeth. This cam setup will not travel over center or ratchet, but the back and forth hammering from just the weak spring pressure was also beating on the key.
After installing the new gear, correcting the compensator problems and chamfering the flywheel pilot bearing counterbore so that the inner race was free to turn, everything looked good.
I cleaned the gas tank which was loaded with paint overspray, rust and some kind of dark gray sealer, thoroughly cleaned the Amal carb and was finally able to keep the engine running for more than two minutes.
The magneto cam advance weights were also sticking, causing a second engine start with fully advanced timing. When advanced this would kick back also hammering that poor woodruff key. I replaced the magneto with a distributor so that starting and timing are now much easier.
The shift mechanism is another ongoing problem that needs some modification work.
My Patrol was in an article in the Perkiomen Chapter newsletter in Sept. 2008, Walneck’s Classic Cycle Trader for Sept 2009 and also in Steve Blankard’s last column in the AMCA Quarterly a year ago. I think that was the winter 2009 issue.
I have displayed my Patrol at; Oley in 2008, Davenport 2008, the Rhinebeck Timeline in 2010 and the 2010 Davenport Vertical Models Lineup and drive it as much as possible at swap meets.
Here’s a list of some of the unique Patrol parts.
Handlebars – are 7/8″ with a collar welded on for the left hand 1″ throttle.
Front wheel – is laced with a stronger 741 rim.
Torque compensator – is a combination of 80″ chief and 249 scout. The chief type hex nut is a left hand thread and uses a hidden, under the spring, set screw instead of a lock nut. If the set screw is not backed out, the quill threads are stripped off when removing the nut making reassembly difficult.
Primary cases – are wider for the three row chain and have one less screw where the large compensator hub was added. The chain tensioner foot was made up for the three row chain.
Boston gear angle drive box – was milled out to clear the seat post, the typical mounting flanges were cut off and slots were cut for the large gear to be put inside. Indian used standard bearings and seals, but made the shafts to use the four cylinder 18×27 gear set.I ground off a few interior webs, drilled and tapped a few jack screw holes in the left side cover to make future disassembly easier.
Flywheel housing – is stamped 103-S, but has to be from some available engine as Indian made up a 1/4″ steel plate to use it. I WOULD SURE LIKE TO KNOW WHAT IT IS FROM.
Bell housing – is stamped 102-S, After watching Ebay for years one of these finally showed up and I haven’t a clue what it was used on. IF YOU KNOW PLEASE TELL ME
Flywheel – is an aluminum casting or forging that must have been an available part. It uses four mounting bolts, while Crosley only used three. If Indian made this up themself, I would expect something fully machined from flat stock with no obvious grain or surface roughness. IF ANYONE CAN IDENTIFY THIS PART – I WOULD SURE LIKE TO KNOW.
Starter – is CCW drive and was made especially by Auto-Lite for Indian Patrols.
Generator – is also CCW rotation and came from a Galion road grader.
Trans & Rear – Crosley – with a short aluminum casting instead of the long torque tube.
Rear brakes – hydraulic 1952 Studebaker Champion
It is easy to see where repairing these Patrols became impractical, leaving them abandoned like the bunch of parts Bob Shingler found in the Michigan Police yard. Bob put the one together that I own now. Luckily I was able to spend several hours listening to him at Davenport. Bob also had an awesome collection of literature and early Patrol magazine ads that I hope have been saved.
If anyone has any old pictures or information about these rare 3 wheelers I would be glad to contribute toward document copying costs.
There was some interesting dialogue on the Virtual Indian website pertaining to an Indian Warrior based Dispatch Tow that showed up a few years ago at the Pennsylvania flea market for Das Awkscht Fescht. This same un-restored machine is in the Oley picture attached to this article. This un-restored bike was the very same Patrol that Jim Garrett owned and drove as a 17 year old, he bought it back and he is restoring it now.
The first picture attached is me, Wayne Lensu, at Davenport in 2008 with my drivable 1952 Patrol. The other pictures show some of these unique parts used assembling the Patrols.