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  • Considering an Indian...

    Hello everyone. Forgive me if this has been asked somewhere's else in the forum...
    My son and I have been AMCA members since 2018. We are seriously considering, and in the market for, our first antique motorcycle. All of my motorcycle experience has been on modern Harley Davidson motorcycles years ranging from 2001 to current. I have sold all of our modern rides and am searching for my first antique motorcycle due to their unique character, craftsmanship, and... because not everyone has one.
    Coming from modern Harley Davidson's... I have always believed an antique Harley Davidson would be the natural next step. Still may be... however, I have given some serious consideration to an antique Indian Chief (possibly years ranging from 1945-1947). Any knowledge/advice would greatly be appreciated. Also, any/all suggestions as to where a rider of either brand may be located as well as suggestions as to who to trust when making such an investment. Being my first antique motorcycle, looking for a dependable rider with solid bones & mechanically sound...doesn't need to be a fully restored motorcycle...just dependable, mostly original, and a rider.
    Also, I have spoken by email with Kiwi and was curious if anyone has bought a motorcycle directly from them. We have returned emails a few times and they seems very nice, knowlegable, and has been quick to answer any/all questions I have. As stated above, I hope this post isn't a copy cat of an earlier post. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • #2
    First the disclaimer. I am totally biased. For me there is nothing like riding an Indian. The other bikes are nice but an Indian is just a little more special to me. They have a look and styling that is pleasing to the eye. Properly maintained they are dependable as anything on the road. Good luck in your search.

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    • #3
      Thank you Bills37.
      Last edited by WmC1911; 01-10-2022, 10:28 PM.

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      • #4
        If you're not already a member of a local chapter, find one & join! Everybody knows somebody that knows somebody . . .
        Last edited by frichie68; 01-11-2022, 12:04 PM.
        Rich Inmate #7084

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        • #5
          I totally agree with everything Bills37 said about Indian. I've had plenty of Indians over the years and been happy with them. I sold my '40 Chief about 10 years ago and consider it the dumbest thing I ever did in the motorcycle hobby. Last Summer, I bought a 1941 Indian Sport Scout and have been enjoying the restoration immensely now that I'm back in the tribe.

          I think Indians are less complex than other bikes, rugged, and have a nice ride. Parts are plentiful, and so is technical information. I love all motorcycles, and Harleys are near and dear to my heart, but the Indian gives you a special enjoyment. Also, don't limit yourself to such a narrow year spread; any year Chief from 32-53 is roadworthy. I love the early Big Chief era but parts are considerably tougher to find.
          Last edited by exeric; 01-11-2022, 09:31 AM.
          Eric Smith
          AMCA #886

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          • #6
            Originally posted by frichie68 View Post
            If you're not already a member of a local chapter! Everybody knows somebody that knows somebody . . .
            I think that's great advice, if that's possible in your area. And regardless of whether it's a vintage Indian, HD, Triumph, BMW, etc. I personally think you'd be wise to avoid sources like Ebay...especially if you want to ride it (lots of cosmetic fixes and fewer mechanical ones). I'd think a machine owned and ridden by an AMCA member would be a good place to start looking for a vintage rider!

            And, as Eric mentioned, if it's Indian, then the bikes from the thirties are not all that different from the '45 to '47 window you're looking at (Indian technology...let's face it, was pretty stagnant )...plus the skirted fenders are a bit more difficult to work on (e.g. changing tires or oiling your chain )
            Last edited by pisten-bully; 01-11-2022, 10:00 AM.
            Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

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            • #7
              Many thanks to all of you for your reply. We have not joined a local chapter. I believe the closest to our area would be Owensboro Kentucky or the Music city chapter in Nashville TN. Both are about equal distance from where we are.

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              • #8
                Is a foot clutch and 3-speed a problem? All Indians have them, H-D 1936-* big twins don't if you don't want them.
                The Linkert Book

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                • #9
                  I can only echo what has been said above.
                  Joining your local chapter would be good way to network and possibly find a bike local.
                  As Harry pointed out the skirted/valanced fenders does make some maintainence more of a chore.

                  You will want to learn about and watch out for 'wet sumping' (there is a reason for a lower and upper drain plug on the left case)

                  Mike Tomas rebuilt my engine. I would not hesitate to purchase a bike from him; but if you can find one locally all the better.
                  Mike used to publish a newsletter that had some good stories. One of my favorites was reprinted from (???) I don't recall the original source.
                  It was called "An 1939 Indian Restoration Story". I will try and PM you a copy (too big a file to upload here).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kitabel View Post
                    Is a foot clutch and 3-speed a problem? All Indians have them, H-D 1936-* big twins don't if you don't want them.
                    No sir. Not a problem. There will be a short learning curve Im sure, but I'm looking forward to that. I will say, that I prefer the throttle to be on the right hand side with the shifter being on the left side of tank... Hope that is doable. Though I prefer that, it wont be a deal breaker if that cant be swapped...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PaulCDF View Post
                      I can only echo what has been said above.
                      Joining your local chapter would be good way to network and possibly find a bike local.
                      As Harry pointed out the skirted/valanced fenders does make some maintainence more of a chore.

                      You will want to learn about and watch out for 'wet sumping' (there is a reason for a lower and upper drain plug on the left case)

                      Mike Tomas rebuilt my engine. I would not hesitate to purchase a bike from him; but if you can find one locally all the better.
                      Mike used to publish a newsletter that had some good stories. One of my favorites was reprinted from (???) I don't recall the original source.
                      It was called "An 1939 Indian Restoration Story". I will try and PM you a copy (too big a file to upload here).
                      That would be great. Thank you for your reply. I will be looking forward to that "restoration story"...
                      Many Thanks!!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My first antique bike was the 48 Chief. The bike has been incredible. Its the best money I ever spent on a hobby vehicle and I have had a lot. Definitely take your time, be PATIENT, and educate yourself as much as possible. Leave the rose colored glasses in the drawer. Can't emphasize enough the suggestion above to make contact with a local chapter as well as attend AMCA swap meets and talk to people. Everyday there are guys getting too old to ride so good bikes turn up but often the best ones are the ones that never make it advertised on the internet. Good bikes sell themselves by word of mouth and don't need advertised. Hence why you need to make connections with the antique chaps.

                        If you want a matching number bike be very careful. I've seen countless ads that say "matching numbers" but they fail to say they match because they were re-stamped by a hack. I'd rather buy a non-matching numbers bike with original stamps than a re-stamped matching number bike. You'll pay less and increase the candidates if you don't care about matching numbers.
                        You won't regret buying an Indian but you really need to study up so you know that what you are buying will meet your expectations. Use caution when you see one advertised as "restored" unless its from a reputable shop. The term restored is used very loosely. I've see a number of restored bikes that were never run enough to be debugged and were nothing but months of trouble and $$$$ to get sorted out.

                        Nothing wrong with Harleys they are great bikes but something about an Indian is special once you get time in the saddle. In my travels riding with Harleys the general public will walk right past the HD and be slobbering over the Indian. You get used to it. LOL
                        Jason Z
                        AMCA #21594
                        Near Pittsburgh PA (Farm Country)
                        Allegheny Mountain Chapter http://amcaamc.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Skirted View Post
                          My first antique bike was the 48 Chief. The bike has been incredible. Its the best money I ever spent on a hobby vehicle and I have had a lot. Definitely take your time, be PATIENT, and educate yourself as much as possible. Leave the rose colored glasses in the drawer. Can't emphasize enough the suggestion above to make contact with a local chapter as well as attend AMCA swap meets and talk to people. Everyday there are guys getting too old to ride so good bikes turn up but often the best ones are the ones that never make it advertised on the internet. Good bikes sell themselves by word of mouth and don't need advertised. Hence why you need to make connections with the antique chaps.

                          If you want a matching number bike be very careful. I've seen countless ads that say "matching numbers" but they fail to say they match because they were re-stamped by a hack. I'd rather buy a non-matching numbers bike with original stamps than a re-stamped matching number bike. You'll pay less and increase the candidates if you don't care about matching numbers.
                          You won't regret buying an Indian but you really need to study up so you know that what you are buying will meet your expectations. Use caution when you see one advertised as "restored" unless its from a reputable shop. The term restored is used very loosely. I've see a number of restored bikes that were never run enough to be debugged and were nothing but months of trouble and $$$$ to get sorted out.

                          Nothing wrong with Harleys they are great bikes but something about an Indian is special once you get time in the saddle. In my travels riding with Harleys the general public will walk right past the HD and be slobbering over the Indian. You get used to it. LOL
                          Thank you very much for the reply and insight. Ive never thought about someone 're-stamping' items and pawning them off as original matching numbers. That's why I can see now why it is vital to join a club and to get to know it's members well. Im encouraged by the fact that I've had a number of long-term members of this forum & Club reach out to me with advice & optimism for me and my son's new adventure. It's great to know that you and others are willing to take the time to help educate 'newbies' like us to preserve this really cool hobby.
                          Many thanks for your reply & the time it took you to do so.

                          WmC

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                          • #14
                            In many re-stamps, the seller bought it like that, and since it's been registered and titled he won't listen to any criticism.
                            Humor: "It's numbers matching, the license plate number matches the registration". No, really!
                            Real is always best.
                            The Linkert Book

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by kitabel View Post
                              In many re-stamps, the seller bought it like that, and since it's been registered and titled he won't listen to any criticism.
                              Humor: "It's numbers matching, the license plate number matches the registration". No, really!
                              Real is always best.
                              Haha... Understood. I appreciate all of the help Im getting from everyone. One member mentioned to attend some judging events so that I get educated on what's proper. I can see now how important it is to get involved and active in a local club. The knowledge that can be shared thru that avenue will be worth its weight in gold.

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