Year Built: 1970
Engine: Four-stroke, single-cylinder
Valve Control: Shaft driven OHV
Owner: Arvid Myhre; Stockton, New Jersey
Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye. And that was particularly true in the years after the original Indian Motocycle Company went out of business in 1953.
For decades, the legendary brand had battled with Harley-Davidson for domination of the U.S. market, and the nation’s racetracks. So when the end came for the company, Indian’s fiercely loyal fans had a hard time accepting it.
One of those in a position to do something about that was former West Coast Indian distributor and motorcycle magazine publisher Floyd Clymer, who acquired the rights to the Indian name in 1967 and made a number of attempts to revive the marque.
Clymer worked with two German firms, Munch and Horex, to build prototypes of an updated Indian, but neither of those projects got beyond that stage.
Eventually, Clymer succeeded in creating this machine, the Indian Velo 500. It combined an Italian frame and other components with an engine from the British Velocette factory. And in 1969, he offered the Indian Velo 500 to the public.
The bike was powered by a 499cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke engine that produced an estimated 34 horsepower at 6,200 rpm. It had a four-speed transmission, wet clutch and chain drive. An Amal carb handled the fuel-mixing chores, while the drum brakes were sourced from Grimeca.
Unfortunately, the Indian Velo came along at a time when the motorcycle world was rapidly changing. Indeed, the year it was first offered to the public, Honda unveiled the four-cylinder 750, and things would never be the same again.
Estimates of the number of Indian Velos produced range from 100 to 150 before Clymer’s death in 1970 brought an end to the effort.
This particular Indian Velo is owned by Arvid Myhre of Stockton, New Jersey, who has kept it in original condition.
“I picked it up because it was obvious that it would be a rare bike,” he says. “It was a departure from the classic British single, and I like that.”