Unfortunately, this doesn't belong to one of our Yerba Buena members...it lives in Germany. Before you complain about the best American bikes flying away to Europe, this one has always lived abroad, one of perhaps 2 or 3 genuine 'Road Racers' built by Indian in 1926 to compete in foreign markets and bolster the Indian name. There was a time before Protectionist legislation in the US (which levied 100% tax on
imported goods) when bikes made in the US sold well in England, Europe, Japan, Australia...in fact Japan was Harley Davidson's second biggest export market, after Australia! But, politics meant retaliation from other countries, and suddenly American motorcycles cost 100% more to foreign buyers, starting in the late 1920s, and exports died.
1926 Indian OHV Paul D’Orleans
This very special Overhead Valve 750cc Indian road racer is a very rare bird. The Wigwam built around 25 of these special engines between 1926-30, almost all for Hillclimb events. This bike was equipped with a 'normal' frame (as opposed to a stretched frame for Hillclimb), mudguards, brakes for racing, and a special damper for the front forks. The factory called these machines 'Scouts', but there is absolutely no correlation to the production model - no engine part, nor the frame or gearbox, would swap over - it was all one-off for racing. One of these Road Racers was taken to the salt flats in California for speed testing on
alcohol fuel, and AVERAGED 126mph on a two-way run... had FIM timekeepers been present, this would have been a new World Motorcycle Speed Record! Faster than the Brough Superior which held the record at the time at 118.98mph... but due to the usual politics, American records were typically not recognized abroad. In fact, American racing motorcycles could have held the Speed Record from about 1913-1928, if they had imported timekeepers from Europe, but that was an expensive proposition. The speed of this Indian wasn't 'officially' (ie in
Europe) broken until 1930, with the Zenith-JAP ohv 1000cc ridden by Joe Wright (which I write about here). Until just a few years ago, this Indian lived in Czechoslovakia, where it was originally imported. I am continuing to research the history of this particular motorcycle, looking for period photos etc, with help from the current owner, who is a friend..I tried to buy this machine 8 years ago, but he has a lot more money! (And no, I haven't shaved my beard, this photo is two years old)