SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of motorcyclists from all over the world roared into Springfield Saturday for Indian Motorcycle Day. The sound, the look, the feel of an Indian motorcycle rumbling down the road is like no other.
Mike Alves, of Holliston said, “It’s all about Indians, American motorcycle that’s the way I’m going to put it.”
With the sun shining and wind in their face hundreds of riders gathered at the Springfield Museums for the seventh annual Indian Motorcycle Day.
For Indian Motorcycle enthusiasts coming to an event like this gives them the opportunity to travel back in time and see where the sport began.
Indian started in 1901. George Hendee a champion bicyclist became enthralled with the idea like so many others of putting an engine on a bike. With the engineering know how of Carl Hedstrom the two made the first Indian Motorcycle.
Within a few short years they became the largest motorcycle makers in the world based out of Springfield.
Guy McLain, Wood Museum of Springfield History, Director said, “Indian motorcycle was a major manufacturer in the city. There was thousands of jobs that Indian generated each year.”
By 1913 they were making 32,000 motorcycles a year. The bikes served an important role during WWI and WWII. This year is the 100th Anniversary that the Van Buren sisters rode Indian motorcycles 5,500 miles across the country in 1916. The trek stands out as a significant moment in the fight for women’s equality.
Guy McLain: “They continued to be a major motorcycle producers all the way up into the 1950’s, but because of labor prices in the United States compared to Europe Indian closed in 1953 and ended the legacy of one of the greatest motorcycle companies in the world.”
Now a Midwestern company, Polaris, has brought back the Indian brand along with the characteristics of the vintage models. Passion, love, it’s special. The homegrown brand loyalty to the Indian legacy has never died being passed down from generation to generation.
Brent and Greg Bonzek, of Ludlow said, “Born and raised in the Springfield area, I’ve been riding since I was about 12 years old. My great grandfather was a founding father of Fritzy’s Roamers Indian Motorcycle club right here in Springfield and now my father and I are members and my wife over here is a member to and Indian is just a way of life if you live in Springfield.”
It’s a way of life and transport through time to remember and admire the roots of the city that once was.