Hendee Mfg Co & Indian Motorcycle Co

1952 Indian Scout 22″ Three-Speed

1952 Indian Scout

(Now sold)

I imported this Indian Scout from America earlier this year and have been riding it. Indian machines enjoy an almost mythological status among motorcycles, so I’d always wanted one. But rather than pay a five figure sum for a motorized vintage Indian, I decided this unmotorized Indian Scout was an extremely practical option …not only much cheaper to buy and import, but also good exercise!

After WW2, bicycles made in America were heavyweight ‘balloon-tired’ machines that were not practical for long-distance commutes or touring. They were essentially recreational machines. But in Great Britain, saddled with repaying war debts to America, bicycles were just about the only form of transport available to the average person. Practicality was essential.

There was a limited market in the USA for British bicycles. As part of the debt repayment, America became an important export destination for British cars, to some extent motorcycles, but particularly bicycles. Indian Sales Corporation (Bicycle Division) in Springfield, MA pulled out all the stops to promote their new ‘British’ bicycle range. Their Christmas 1951 advert explains the advantages of a British bike:

An Indian 3-speed bike is the best Christmas present anyone could get. Beautifully made, 20 pounds lighter than balloon-tired bikes, and fitted with the Sturmey Archer 3-speed hub. No matter whether it’s uphill or down, the Indian pedals easier and goes faster with less effort. It’s the bike for you! Extra safe, too, with two-wheel brakes.

This bike is in good all-round condition. I’ve enjoyed riding it.

New tyres and tubes were fitted when it was serviced this summer. Everything works fine. The wheels and handlebars have good chrome. The paintwork is original and in good condition.

It’s not generally known that in 1948 one of the greatest American bicycle and motorcycle manufacturers attached its badges to a bicycle that was not only mundane …but also British.

The Indian Princess was the ladies model, and the Indian Scout was the Gents.

And the British bicycle manufacturer whose exported bicycles bathed in Indian’s reflected glory?

…Yes, it’s a Phillips!

Phillips were one of the top British bicycle exporters. Industry was nationalized during the war, and that Phillips made military bicycles. After WW2, in the national drive to repay war debts to the USA, the British bicycle industry had government assistance to help bring in the much-needed foreign exchange to rebuild our economy.

The Phillips bicycle in the 1947 ad above looks very similar to the Indian Scout. The ad below is from 1949.

The Indian Scout headbadge is impressive. It also has the remains of the Indian logo on the seat tube (below).

The pedals are American.

And it’s fitted with a side stand, which is standard on American bikes.

The only job that needs doing on this bike is that the Wrights saddle needs a few stitches at the rear.

The Scout was manufactured between 1948 and 1952. I’ve based the age of this one on the fact that the Sturmey Archer three speed hub is dated 1952, below.

Though the Men’s version, the Indian Scout, was current between 1948 and 1952, I believe the Ladies version, the Indian Princess continued beyond 1952: I’ve seen various advertised for sale as 1953 and 1954 and they are quite common in the USA.

I believe the ‘Laughing Indian’ ad is from 1956.


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