1904 Indian Hedtsrom Camel Back
Manufactured in USA.
Engine # 1178
This 1904 Indian Hedstrom Camelback is essentially the same bike that Oscar Hedstrom built to show George Hendee as the first prototype for the fledgling company in 1901. The first known ad for a motorcycle from Hendee Manufacturing Co. said, “‘It’s H__L On Hills.’" This was the admiring if emphatic remark of one of the many hundreds who have tried the Indian motor bicycle. We quote it here because the Indian has been built to climb hills in the belief that the motor bicycle that will not do so—and few of them will—is a disappointment. If the bicycle is good on the hills it is good on the level and everywhere else. Its compactness, its eye-pleasing lines, its power, its single-lever control and other features at once place the Indian in a class of its own.” The photo in the ad shows no Indian or other markings on the camelback tank, though the opening line also seems to reference the debut of the prototype in Springfield, Massachusetts, to a quite large crowd who watched Hedstrom ride the machine on the city streets, including up the steep gravel grade of Cross Street hill “with power to spare,” according to news reports of the time. This clean, black example of the early Indian models features the famed “Hedstrom Improved Carburetor” on the 260cc single-cylinder motor that serves as a stressed member of the cycle’s frame. The direct-drive chain Indian used from the start was more reliable than the tensioned leather belts of other cycles (and may be credited with less loss of power in climbing hills). This 1904 Indian Hedstrom Camelback comes from part of a European collection.