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The Hendee Special: 1914 Indian

13 Sep

Over a hundred thousand V-twin Indians had been sold since 1907 and 31,950 motorcycles were built during 1913 alone. By1914 the Hendee Manufacturing Company was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world and had over 3,000 India

Hendee Special with Princess sidecar

Hendee Special with Princess sidecar


Hendee Special -- 1914 sales brochure.

Hendee Special — 1914 sales brochure.

The two-speed gearbox was introduced in1910 and the success of the Indian race team at Isle of Mann in 1911 led to the design of the Tourist model the following year. The Tourist models featured dual rear brakes (drum and band), knockout axles, roller bearings on the rear hub, and were fitted with the new Gustafson kickstarter. The innovation for 1913 models was the “Cradle Spring Frame” that, along with the front leaf spring of 1910, provided the first complete suspension system for a motorcycle. Something impressive was required for the next model year.


Patented Indian kickstarter.

Patented Indian kickstarter.

Seven Indian models were introduced for 1914, one with a single-cylinder engine and six V-twins. The Hendee Special was the elite model and featured the first electric starter used on a production motorcycle. Unlike on the other two electric models where the batteries had to be removed and manually recharged every 12.5 hours (or less), the starter motor also functioned as an electric generator to automatically recharge them. Another innovation was the use of waterproof condenser coils to provide the spark, which improved the reliability and efficiency of ignition and certainly made starting easier. It was a brilliant design and it utterly failed.

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