Indian Model O

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Indian Model O
Indian Model O picture from April 1917 issue of Popular Mechanics.PNG
1917 Indian Model O Light Twin
Manufacturer Indian
Also called Indian Light Twin,[1]
"Model Nothing"[1][2]
Parent company Hendee Manufacturing Company
Production 1917–1919[1][2]
Assembly Springfield, Massachusetts, USA
Predecessor Indian Model K Featherweight[2]
Class Lightweight standard
Engine 15.7 cu in (257 cc)[2] flathead flat-twin
Bore / stroke 2.0 in × 2.5 in (50.8 mm × 63.5 mm)[1]
Top speed 36 mph (58 km/h)[3]
Power 4 hp (3.0 kW)[3]
Transmission 3-speed manual, hand shift[1]
Suspension Front: pivoting fork,[2][3] replaced in 1917 by trailing-link fork[3]
Rear: none, rigid
Brakes Front: none
Rear: contracting band[1]

The Indian Model O was a lightweight motorcycle made by the Hendee Manufacturing Company from 1917 to 1919.[1][2] Indian expected to sell the Model O to young or thrifty riders. The United States' entry into World War I caused Indian to shift manufacture to military motorcycles, and the low cost of the Ford Model T caused the market for lightweight motorcycles to collapse.

Concept and design[edit]

Advertisement in the December 1916 issue of Boys' Life pitching Indian bicycles and Indian Model O motorcycles as Christmas presents for sons

The Model O was designed as an entry-level motorcycle to attract young riders.[1][2] It replaced the two-stroke single-cylinder Model K Featherweight, which was made in 1916 only.[2] In a layout similar to contemporary Douglas motorcycles from Great Britain, the Model O's flathead flat-twin engine was mounted with its cylinders along the line of the frame.[1][2] This added smooth operation to the Model K's existing light weight and practicality.[1][2]

The Model O had a cradle frame supporting the engine at the bottom of the crankcase, while the gearbox was mounted under the frame, below the rear cylinder.[2][3] The rear wheel was rigidly mounted to a subframe bolted to the frame.[1][2] The front suspension was initially a pivoting fork used on the Indian Single from 1906 to 1910 and on the Model K Featherweight.[2][3] This was replaced during 1917 by a leaf-sprung trailing link fork.[3]


The Model O was released in 1917, the year in which the United States entered World War I.[2] Indian diverted its efforts to selling motorcycles to the US military.[4] The appeal of lightweight motorcycles as transport was also eroded by the availability of mass-produced cars,[2] especially the Ford Model T, for which mass production began in 1913.[5] The Model O was not designed to appeal to enthusiasts, to which enthusiasts replied by calling the motorcycle the "Model Nothing". The Model O continued to sell poorly until 1919, when it was discontinued.[1][2]


In 1919, the year in which the Model O was discontinued, Harley-Davidson introduced its Model W Sport Twin.[2][6] The Model W had a Douglas-like layout similar to that of the Model O, using a flat-twin engine with a transverse crankshaft and cylinders parallel to the frame.[2][6] Larger and more powerful than the Model O, the Model W had several innovations, including unit construction of engine and transmission, an enclosed drivetrain, and a coil-sprung trailing link fork.[2] The Model W sold well in its first year, but sales fell after that,[2] and it was discontinued in 1923.[2][6]



External links[edit]