The Indian Motorcycle Company was the preeminent American motorcycle manufacturer near the turn of the century. Launched in 1901 as the Hendee Manufacturing Company, the Indian Motorcycle represented the cutting edge in bike technology for the period.
The 1926 Indian Prince was built to attract new riders to the fraternity. Touted as an entry-level rider’s machine, the company marketing line boasted ‘You can learn to ride it in 5 minutes’!
With it’s 3-speed transmission, a dainty 265-pound curb weight and a modest 21-cubic-inch flat- head single, the Prince, while hardly in the performance category of the company’s “superbike” lines of the era, was beautifully designed and indeed, easier to handle than the larger models.
Girder forks and a compressed a coil spring kept the front wheel on the ground (most of the time) and a single drum brake on the rear wheel brought it to a stop (most of the time).
A rounded fuel tank replaced the wedge-shaped tank for the 1926 model, the seat was lowered a few inches, and the “beach cruiser” handlebars were lengthened to allow smaller riders comfortable access to the grips.
The 1926 Indian Prince shown here was custom made for Indian dealer Freddie Marsh and, unrestored, is now part of Brian Keating’s collection of superb machines. And it’s not just for show. This bike is a runner and rider. As these bikes were somewhat underpowered, not many survived intact, and that makes them exceptionally rare and desirable in the eyes of collectors.
Most photos by Nick Keating
While many options can affect the final value on an Indian motorcycle (multi-speed transmissions, clutch assembly, engine options, dual brakes, side cars), you can expect to pay something near $20,000 for a Prince model in decent shape, and much, much more for one with any sort of provenance. Keep in mind that nearly all the most desirable Indian models manufactured after 1919 are twin cylinder.