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Indian Big Chief
American enthusiasts have always held to the
belief that bigger is better. It's a philosophy which is not always shared by
the rest of the world, but it does explain the sheer bulk and weight of the
typical American motor cycle of the interwar years
The emergence of the Big Chief as a model in its own right came about because Indian dealers were clamouring for still more speed, power and stamina. Dublin-born chief engineer Charles B. Franklin set to work to give them what they wanted. Instead of boring-out the Chief engine to provide the extra capacity he enlarged the bore by only 1/8in but lengthened the stroke considerably.
The outcome was an L-head side-valve with a
loping stride and a top speed of nearly 90 mph.
From the first, the Big Chief was equipped with
helical-tooth primary gears and an integral three-speed gearbox. The Splitdorf
magneto was gear driven and while European motor cycles still made use of the
archaic lever throttle, Indians controlled the Schebler carburettor by means of
Already the machine weighed a hefty 425 lb, and
as time went by it was to grow weightier still. Another point in its disfavour
was that, like most American makers, Indian fitted a rear wheel brake only.
That was the way it was to be on into the 1930s when, for a time, the big solo was partnered by a Chief-engined three wheeled delivery van. In the final years of producion at the Springfield, Massachusetts, works, the 74cu in twin adopted deep-flared mudguards and even plunger-type rear springing, but by 1950 it had died.
Source Super by Bikes Loure Caddell