Ex-E. Paul du Pont, restored in the 1930s and last ridden in the 1960s
1907 Indian Camelback
Engine no. 5884
Bicycles begat motorcycles. They also brought together two of America's pioneering motorcycle industrialists. George Hendee was a successful bicycle racer winning 302 of 309 events entered who had transitioned from an athlete into a producer of bicycles. Carl Oscar Hedstrom was a machinist who looked at internal-combustion engines of the day and thought he could do better. In 1899 Hendee witnessed one of Hedstrom's motorized bicycles pacing the racers at Madison Square Garden. Impressed, he commissioned Hedstrom to design a motorized two-wheeler that could be sold to the public. Thus was born Indian Motocycles of Springfield, Massachusetts.
Within six months, Hedstrom had a prototype up and running, followed by two production examples that were used here and abroad on the 1901 show circuit. Production in earnest began in 1902, a year before William Harley and the Davidson boys hung out their shingle in Milwaukee, making Indian America's first production motorcycle.
The machine itself clearly showed bicycle roots, with Hedstrom's heavily finned single-cylinder engine taking up residence in the diamond of the bike's frame. An artfully curved tank atop the rear fender, segmented for gas and oil, gave the Indian its "Camelback" nickname. Three dry-cell batteries contained in a long tube attached to the frame's front downtube provided spark for the rudimentary ignition system. Chain final drive was a technological improvement over most other motorcycles of the era, which used slip-prone leather belts.
In 1903, to prove the design's worth, Hedstrom himself saddled up and rode an Indian Single to a new world motorcycle speed record of 56mph. Within a few years would come a V-Twin engine, a two-speed gearbox, a spectacular 1-2-3 showing at the famed Isle of Man TT, and swelling sales figures. Prior to World War I, Indian held a 40% market share in the U.S.
This Indian 'CamelBack' was restored by Paul du Pont at the family home around 1933-35 and ridden in parades from 1936 onwards. We are advised that the machine was last used in the 1960s. Offered on a bill of sale.