Saturday, September 5, 2015

Indian Enfields Vs. Enfield Indians

1956 Indian Trailblazer
(Rebadged Royal Enfield Meteor 700cc)

Believe it or not, at one time Royal Enfields' were once upon a time rebadged as Indian Motorcycles. Between 1955 through to 1960 Royal Enfields' were imported into the United States in an attempt to compete with popular British singles. 

Trailblazer 700
According to RE-Indian the models were Indian Chief, Trailblazer, Apache (all three were 700 cc twins), Tomahawk (500 cc twin), Woodsman (500 cc single), Westerner (500 cc single), Hounds Arrow (250 cc single), Fire Arrow (250 cc single), Lance (150 cc 2-stroke single) and a 3-wheeled Patrol Car (350 cc single). (Cited in Wiki) Unfortunately, despite growing success today, Royal Enfield as an Indian Motorcycle marque failed and by 1960 Royal Enfields were being sold under their own name. Nevertheless, it begs to question, "what if"?!

Police Chief 700
Chief 700
Trailblazer 700
Tomahawk 500
Westerner 500
Woodsman 500
Patrol Car 346cc
Fire Arrow (front) & Hounds Arrow (rear) 250
Lance Arrow MK1 (rear) & MK 2 150
Apache 700
1920 Indian Scout
According to Classic-British Motorcycles, the failure of Royal Enfield to survive as Indian Motorcycles in the United States had less to do with the reliability of the motorcycles itself but perhaps, rather due to the financial status of the Indian Motorcycle Company. Check out RE Indians website for full specs of all the above models including pictures I am sure the majority of you have yet to see! Let's face it, Polaris is doing an amazing job with their new lineup of Indian Motorcycles. In fact, despite my initial impressions of the 2015 Indian Scout, I keep being drawn back to the marque. The new Indian Scout is pretty impressive but I keep finding myself wishing that it had kept its original style and look. (pictured right)

A compromise could be to purchase a Royal Enfield Classic C5 and to convert it into an Indian Fire Arrow! By convert, I mean simply repaint the tank with the Indian logo. The Royal Enfield Bullet Classic design is, after all, based on the original Indian Fire Arrow. Alternatively, why not resurrect the Indian Woodsman? (see below) Although I would LOVE to see a retro classic Indian by Polaris, what would be the point when you can by the original directly from Royal Enfield?

2010 Royal Enfield Bullet Classic EFI C5
Indian Fire Arrow 250cc
Royal Enfield Electra Woodsman
Watsonian Squire Sells A Conversion Kit
1955 Indian Woodsman
My search for Mr. T's Replacement has been long and frustrating. I have since even looked at the 2016 Honda Africa Twin, Scrambler Ducati and the Yamaha XRS 700. However, I tend to be drawn to bobbers and classics. Add to that the dream of owning an original Indian (you know what I mean!) and well, this may be the perfect compromise.

1 comment:

  1. Being a die hard RE fan I knew this since a few years. What is unfortunate is that Indian Chief has grown much bigger since then.