1922 Indian motorbike: photos

IMAGINE walking into a motorcycle dealership to collect your nice new bike. You slap your cold, hard cash down on the counter and a couple of strapping young lads half-carry, half-drag a large box from the back room and ask you how you intend to get it home.

That is pretty much what happened to Jack Reid in 1922 when he went to collect his brand new Indian Scout from the Londregan Motor Garage in Mudgee.

‘‘It came in the box and the old fellow had to assemble it,’’ his son John recounts. ‘‘He paid £110  for it and they gave him two four-gallon  tins of petrol and one gallon  of engine oil and after that he was more or less on his own.

‘‘He even had to teach himself how to ride it.’’

That in itself would have been no easy task given that  the Indian had a hand-operated gearshift lever to the right of the fuel tank and a foot-operated clutch on the left. 

Brakes? Just one, on the back wheel. 

Suspension? A quarter-elliptic leaf spring up front and nothing except a sprung saddle to ease the bumps for the rider’s nether regions.

Jack Reid loved his V-twin Scout and it has stayed as part of the Reid family for an amazing 91 years, virtually still in original condition (repainted just once).

Jack passed away at the ripe old age of 101 but his bike never clocked too many miles – 38,000 or just a jot over 61,000 kilometres. It is not ridden these days at all, living instead in the family room of John’s Lake Macquarie home with a discreet but large chain fixing it firmly to the floor.

It is not in concours condition but it does not look too bad for an old codger – honest, but a little frayed around the edges.

‘‘With a fresh tank of fuel, a new spark plug and an oil change it would probably run,’’ John said. ‘‘It will still spark up the magneto when the starter’s kicked over.’’

New Zealander Burt Munro, subject of the movie The World’s Fastest Indian, set a number of world speed records on a much-modified Scout. 

John Reid might be the owner of the world’s slowest Indian but he does not seem to mind.

Who knows, with the recent launch of a brand new range of Indians in North America, John’s bike could be set for a resurgence.    

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