Indian Powerplus — Plus

This 1921 Indian Powerplus was a truly modern motorcycle in its day. Riding one now is a different story.

| May/June 2012

1921 Indian Powerplus
Claimed Power:
Engine: 1,189cc (72.59ci) air-cooled side valve 42-degree V-twin, 82.5mm x 111mm (3-1/4in x 4-3/8in) bore and stroke
Weight (wet): 430lb (195kg)
Fuel capacity: 2.5gal (9.5ltr) gas/2.5qt (2.4ltr) oil
Price then/now: $510 (1921)/$15,000-$25,000

Modern motorcyclists have it easy. Suit up in comfortable riding gear constructed of space-age materials, swing a leg over the saddle, insert key, turn ignition on, thumb the starter button. Hey, presto, it’s running. Shift into first gear with a snick of the foot change lever, and away you go.

It’s not quite as easy for an enthusiast riding a machine of the veteran era. Controls abound, with levers, knobs and twist grips working everything from exhaust valve releases to ignition timing.

Such is the case with a machine like this 1921 Indian Powerplus, a uniquely rare machine (more on that later) that is fairly representative of other motorcycles of the era. On the handlebar are a right-hand twist grip spark control, a left-hand twist grip throttle and a left-hand lever actuating an external rear brake. A foot pedal for the clutch is on the left, while a foot pedal working an internal rear brake drum is on the right.

On the right side of the gas tank is a hand clutch lever, together with a shifter moving in a vertical plane and an exhaust valve lifter. Such a motorcycle is a busy yet charming machine to ride; at least it has a kickstarter, clutch and a 3-speed gearbox. Earlier models were more primitive, retaining bicycle pedal cranks for starting.

A truly modern motorcycle … in 1916

Motorcyclists and policemen of the day would have been overjoyed at the prospect of having a “modern” Indian Powerplus. Introduced in 1916, the Powerplus featured a new 61ci side-valve L-head engine, replacing the F-head (inlet-over-exhaust) layout first designed in 1901 by Indian Motocycle co-founder Oscar Hedstrom. It was Hedstrom’s V-twin engine that brought the company success at the 1911 Isle of Man TT races, where Oliver Godfrey was the first to ride a non-English machine to a TT win; Indian took the top three positions. By the time of the Powerplus in 1916, Indian founders Hedstrom and George Hendee had taken their not-insignificant earnings, purchased country estates and retired from the fledgling motorcycle industry they had helped create.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.


The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $4.95 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $29.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265