Hendee Mfg Co. / Indian Motocycle Co. Bicycles Information Thread


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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#1
Starting to dig into the history of George M. Hendee starting with Hendee & Nelson Mfg. Co. and moving through to Hendee Mfg. Co. and the Indian Motocycle Co. This thread will run with data from the 1890's through the 1950's but as most of the research will be pre-1933, I felt it best to post it here. I will also add "Notes & Reference" placeholders in separate posts up front for each era. Obviously with bicycles & motorcycles were so closely linked in the early 1900's, there will also be references to their very early motorcycles I find that may be appropriate here as well.

I encourage anyone with additional information on these great bicycles to post it here as well. There is a lot of mystery & intrigue to this company and always the questions of who actually manufactured Indian motobikes. Post your bikes, ads, catalogs, articles whatever you feel appropriate here to the subject matter at hand and maybe in the end we'll all have the answers we seek on these great marques of bicycling history.

NOTE: This will be a long term project for me so I'll post what I can when I can get to it. Work & Family Life crazy right now but plan to work on this little project as time allows.

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George M. Hendee (1866 – 1943)
  • Photos: 1883, Post 52; Posts 15, 53
  • Articles:Posts 13, 15, 55

Oscar Hedstrom (1871-1960)
  • Photos: Posts 15, 59
  • Articles: Posts 15, 28, 55
 
Last edited:

Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#2
1890's

1890's Reference & Notes Post

1896
  • The Hendee & Nelson Manufacturing Company at 478 Main Street in Springfield Massachusetts were building safety bicycles under the names of Silver King for men and Silver Queen for women.
  • Photos: Silver King bicycle in Post # 10
  • Ads: Post # 38

1897


1898
  • Hendee & Nelson Manufacturing Company went bankrupt and Hendee purchased the entire inventory at auction and set up shop on Worthington Street in Springfield Massachusetts.

1899
  • Bicycles only manufacturing & sales
 
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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#3
1900-1909

1900-1909 Reference & Notes Post

1900
  • Bicycles only manufacturing & sales
1901
  • Bicycle manufacturing & sales; Motor Bicycles launched
  • April 25, 1901 - Hedstrom nearing completion of gasoline powered chain driven motor for the Hendee Mfg. Co., Post 28
  • May 23, 1901 - Dealer story on 3 years of selling Indian bicycles. Post 29
  • June 6, 1901 - The Launch of the Hendee Motor Bicycle, Post 30
  • Bicycle Ads: Posts 27

1902
  • Bicycle & Motor Bicycles manufacturing & sales
1903
  • Bicycle & Motor Bicycles manufacturing & sales - Post 50
1904
  • Bicycle & Motor Bicycles manufacturing & sales - Posts 46, 51
  • Motor Bicycle Ads & Photos: Posts 59
1905


1906


1907


1908
  • Motorcycle Ads & Photos: Posts 41, 42

1909
  • Motorcycle Ads & Photos: Posts 42
 
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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#4
1910-1919 Reference & Notes Post

1910-1919 Reference & Notes Post

1910
  • Motorcycle Ads & Photos: Posts 41
1911

1912

1913

1914

1915 - Return of Indian Bicycles announced for 1916 model year
  • Westfield to build new line-up of Hendee Mfg. Co. Indian Bicycles to add to their Motorcycle business: September 25, 1915, United States Investor periodical reports that Hendee Manufacturing Company has entered into arrangement with the Pope Plant in Westfield, Mass. to build bicycles to add to their motorcycle line-up and calls the addition of bicycles, "the new business is an experiment however, until it proves it's worth". Posts # 25 & 26
1916 - Return of Indian Bicycles
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales (Bicycles outsourced to Westfield as manufacturer)
  • Bicycle Brochures & Catalogs: Post 49
1917
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Bicycle Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1918
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Bicycle Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1919
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Bicycle Brochures & Catalogs: Post
 
Last edited:

Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#5
1920-1929 Reference & Notes Post

1920-1929 Reference & Notes Post

1920
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1921
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1922
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1923
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • On October 26, 1923, the corporate name of Hendee Manufacturing Company was changed to Indian Motocycle Company. (Post # 25)
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1924
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1924-1926
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Indian Motorcycle Company - Merkel Motor Wheel brochure, Post 19
1925
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
1926
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post 37
1927
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Post
  • Photos: Dealership Photo, Post 24
1928
  • Bicycles & Motorcycles manufacturing & sales
  • Brochures & Catalogs: Posts 20-23
1929
 
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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#8
1950's Reference & Notes Post

1950's Reference & Notes Post

  • Brochures & Catalogs: Posts 61
 
Last edited:

Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#9
The start is with Hendee & Nelson Mfg.

The start is with Hendee & Nelson Mfg. and their safety bicycles under the names of Silver King for men and Silver Queen for women.

From Digplanet:

"In 1892 Hendee retired from bicycle racing and began making Silver King bicycles at 41-43 Taylor Street in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1895. In 1896 the Hendee & Nelson Manufacturing Company at 478 Main Street in Springfield Massachusetts were building safety bicycles under the names of Silver King for men and Silver Queen for women. The company went bankrupt and Hendee purchased the entire inventory at auction and set up shop on Worthington Street in 1898."​
 
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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#10
Steve McQueen's Hendee & Nelson Mfg. Silver King

An appropriate place to start is with one of Hendee's earliest bikes, a Hendee & Nelson Mfg. Silver King that belonged to one of the coolest cats ever, Steve McQueen.

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thehugheseum

Wore out three sets of tires already!
Apr 5, 2011
993
573
Wilsonville, United States
#12
great stuff,i only wish i had anything to contribute.......i do have a very recent find that will help this thread but its fricken huge nobody will believe without pics.....so its a pics or it didnt happen thing right now

hendee was a champion high wheeler from my understanding,hedstrom wasnt too bad himself if i remember right? i know oscar hedstrom (hendee and hedstrom started indian motocycles) raced the motorcycles they built in the early days
 

fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,796
450
#13
Gary, I too have taken a deep dive into the history of the Indian from its inception. To know the Indian story you have to know the man that the company was named after; George Mallory Hendee!

Hendee was a world class cycling record holder at the tendered age of 16 years. Crowds would gathered to see him race. Towns would literally shut down to watch him pedal... shops would place placards in their windows " Gone to see Hendee race".

HendeeTheEarlyYears-1.jpg


From most of the information I was able to obtained...it sounds like George Hendee was bigger than life...a celebrity of sorts. He made a great deal of contacts and business acquaintances while on the cycling circuit...promoting and sponsoring bicycles.

HendeePortraitpng-1.jpg


He was a visionary...a big picture thinker. Before retiring George saw that the high wheel racing was coming to an end with the introduction of safety cycles. George's entree to bicycling retail began as the head of the bicycle department at Merwin, Hulbert & CO. on 23rd St. in NY.
Georgeearlyretailer-1.jpg


By 1893, George opened a small retail bicycle store.
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A year later he begins manufacturing safety bicycles under the name of Hendee Bicycles. The Silver King of Safety.
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To expand his line of bicycles he ventured into a partnership in November 1985 with Edward A. Nelson...the company was renamed Hendee & Nelson Mfg. Co., makers of the Silver King, Silver Queen.
HendeeandNelsonpng-1.jpg
 
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fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,796
450
#15
HendeeampNelsonpng-1.jpg


His partnership Edward A. Nelson (another cyclist) formed the Hendee & Nelson Mfg. Co., it was short lived.

The company folded because their retail price of the Silver King and Queen was too expensive. Department stores had undercut their product with cheaper bikes. It is interesting that Hendee allowed the company to go bankrupt, then immediately purchased the entire inventory? He started up the business again; the "American Indian" with some success. He later dropped the word American for just 'Indian' for export appeal.

I have read countless articles that clearly paint a profile of George Mallory Hendee as a savvy businessman, very competitive, a formable man that wouldn't accept "no" as an answer. He saw the future and he knew he wanted to be a stake holder in the transportation arena!

I'm going out on a limb here...and speculating that George didn't see himself as a bike "builder", the man in the background building bikes? Being behind the scene wasn't his fortay. I believe he enjoyed being the man in the front...the leader! Hendee was a class act, a salesman, a showman!

Look at all his businesses...every one of them bared his name!

HENDEENEWCOMPANY-1.jpg


From documented evidence, Hendee was aware of the "new" automotive industry circling the transportation wagon. Bicycles were quickly losing their cache, the automotive was the emerging market. However the problem was its price; it was cost prohibitive for most people, only the wealthy could afford a motorized automobile.

Hendee knew if he could only merge his cycling passion with a motor, he could make the motorized transportation accessible for the masses and make history!
George owned a velodrome? It was here he had a ringside seat of his dream becoming a reality; often witnessing the time trials of the cyclists racing.

Cyclist would paced behind a pseudo motorbike, called a "PACEMAKER." These were tandem bikes with motors! One man steered while the other man controlled the engine. The problem was these tandem motorbikes were unreliable, they'd failed, and would often break down with the cyclist crashing in the tandem's wake.

However there was one very reliable tandem gaining much acceptance: the Hedstrom tandem (pic above) built by an engineer, clock-smith and also an ex-bicycle racer, Oscar Hedstrom.

It was after one of these trials that George introduced himself and told Oscar about his dream...to build a motocycle.

George must have been an incredible salesman? Because Oscar stopped what he was doing and went off and built a small prototype engine, attached it to a bike in a matter of months! (that's from scratch).

HedstromampHendee-1.jpg


George is quickly own his way!
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dfa242

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
May 16, 2011
3,251
2,290
Wrentham, MA
#16
Really cool stuff - I hadn't realized the Hendee/Harley relationship before. Looking forward to further reading.
 

chitown

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jun 21, 2010
2,918
706
Prospect Heights, United States
#17
... speculating that George didn't see himself as a bike "builder", the man in the background building bikes?
I believe Indian used Aurora Automatic Machinery to build their 1st machines... or at least the motor and components. Aurora Automatic Machinery built lugs, brackets and other parts needed to assemble bicycles and motor cycles.

View attachment 97091 View attachment 97092
 

fordsnake

I live for the CABE
May 12, 2010
1,796
450
#18
We know from documentation that Oscar Hedstrom produced four prototype Moto Cycles for George Hendee. After giving a public demonstration of his hill climbing motor cycle, a partnership was quickly established between Hendee and Hedstrom; the Hendee Mfg.Co.

Hendee conceded to Oscar’s engineering talents and gave him the reigns of quality control and factory management. While Mr Hendee’s duties were to raise the capital and to run the front office.

Hedstrom quickly shipped one of his prototype motors to the Aurora factory for analytical research. He also went along and accompanied his motor for technical assistance.

Why Aurora? Apparently the company had a previous relationship with George Hendee, providing him the castings for his Silver King and Silver Queen bicycles.

After a few months of collaboration with Hedstrom; the Aurora Company produced some refinements on Oscar’s design. Hedstrom owned the motor’s patent and the patent for the carburetor …plus several other engine related patents.

Since there was no money in the Indian coffers, George immediately struck a deal with the Aurora Co. They were to build the motor cycle engine exclusively for Indian for the first year. The second year, Aurora could not build motorcycles or motors to compete with Indian. However they were allowed to publicly sell the motors, but giving Indian a royalty for each motor.

With money to be made, Aurora quickly began selling the engine as an after market bicycle product. Subsequently they developed their own motorbike, "Thor" featuring an Indian motor knockoff, by this time Indian had advanced their motors and were now manufacturing their products in their factory under the watchful eye of Oscar Hedstrom.

Here's another unknown factoid; Hendee was not going to allow Aurora to take advantage and steal his product idea. So as the Indian Co. collected their royalties from Aurora's motor sales, Hendee & Hedstrom developed an alternative bike motor; more convenient and easy to install on any safety bicycle!
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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#19
1924-1926 Indian Motorcycle Company brochure on the Merkel Motor Wheel

Here's the I believe is somewhere between 1924-1926 Indian Motorcycle Company brochure on the Merkel Motor Wheel. A long time Indian collector had marked this 1922 which I do not believe to be correct. Based on artwork, Indian Motorcycle Company, front fender style and headlamp style date it to somewhere between 1924-1926 with the straight front fender at the rear following the tires contour. Pretty sure in 1927 they migrated to a ducktail front fender coinciding with the Westfield change to this fender style in 1927. Hopefully we can nail down a year as other brochures are captured here but I believe this is a fairly accurate assessment.

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Gary Mc

Cruisin' on my Bluebird
Jul 5, 2011
2,297
107
Buford GA
#20
1928 Indian Bicycles Catalog Part 1

1928 Indian Bicycles Catalog Form No. I8--5-28-10M J.H.B.

(Based on Form No. could either be 1928 or published in 1928 for 1929 Bicycles)

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