Oscar Hedstrom

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Oscar Hedstrom
Hedstrom with his first Indian prototype in 1901
Carl Oscar Hedström

12 March 1871
Died29 August 1960(1960-08-29) (aged 89)
OccupationMotorcycle Designer
Spouse(s)Julia Anderson (11 April 1898 – until his death)
ChildrenHelen, born 10 May 1901
Parent(s)Anders Petter Hedström
Carolina Danielsdotter

Oscar Hedstrom (12 March 1871 – 29 August 1960) was a co-founder of the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company.[1]

Childhood and adolescence[edit]

Carl Oscar Hedström was born in the parish of Lönneberga, Hultsfred Municipality, Kalmar County, Småland, Sweden. His family emigrated in 1880 to the United States, and settled in Brooklyn, New York City. As a boy, he spent much time riding a bicycle around the city, and was fascinated by its mechanical design.


At age 16, Hedstrom started working at a small engineering workshop in the Bronx, New York, where he learned to manufacture watch cases and components.[2] He worked as an apprentice in several small workshops, until he was 21 when he obtained journeyman status.

On two wheels[edit]

Hedstrom's Tandem Pacer

In his spare time Hedstrom built high-quality bicycles that were lighter and more durable than standard bikes. He rented a workshop space in Middletown, Connecticut where he designed and cast engines from his own patterns. He also designed and build a concentric carburetor.[3] While his reputation as a bicycle designer grew, he started to build tandem bicycles with gasoline engines. These were called pacers, and were used to split the wind for racing cyclists. The motorized pacers of that time functioned poorly, but Hedstrom's design quickly gained a reputation as being very reliable.[4] [5]

At this time he came into contact with the former cyclist George M Hendee from Springfield, Massachusetts, who now manufactured bicycles and sponsored contests. Hendee was dissatisfied with the pacers available, and asked Hedstrom to take one of his to Springfield. Hendee was so impressed that he asked Hedstrom to develop a prototype for a mass-manufactured motorized bicycle. [6] [7]

Indian Motocycle Company[edit]

Paul Derkum on an Indian designed by Hedström 1912

The cooperation between Hedstrom and Hendee resulted in the Indian Motocycle Company. Hedstrom's design was innovative, and successful. Oscar Hedstrom resigned from the Indian Motocycle Company on 24 March 1913 after a disagreement with the board regarding dubious practices to inflate the company's stock values. George Hendee resigned in 1916. Hedstrom resided on his estate on the banks of the Connecticut River until he died in 1960.[8]


  1. ^ "Oscar Hedstrom, Co-founder and Chief Engineer of the Indian Motocycle Co". AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  2. ^ Carroll 1996, p. 16.
  3. ^ Carroll 1996, p. 17.
  4. ^ "Oscar Hedstrom". AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 24 March 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
  5. ^ Daniel K. Statnekov. "Pioneers of American Motorcycle Racing". American Vintage Racing Motorsycles. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  6. ^ "Welcome to the Indian Museum". Hendee Mfg Co & Indian Motorcycle Co. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "The History of the Indian Motorcycle. The People behind the Indian". Indian Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  8. ^ "A Brief History of Indian Motorcycle". Detroit, MI US: Dick Scott's Indian Motorcycle. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013.


  • Carroll, John (1996). The Classic Indian Motorcycle, A History of the Marque 1901 to 1953. Salamander Book. ISBN 0-86101-874-5.