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 Indian - Featherweight mod. K
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Indian D2-492-34-05
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 221
Model : Featherweight mod. K
Production : 1916 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


221cc Model K Featherweight - 1916

A brave attempt

In 1915, Indian made the decision to enlarge its range by producing a cheap, lightweight utility machine. It also hoped to break into a new sector of the market with a little two-stroke single of the type recently introduced by Cleveland. Foreign machines of this type were beginning to be imported into the United States and Indian was eager to compete.

Reliability Problems

The diminutive size of the new bike earned it the name "Featherweight," and, rather than use the traditional American four-stroke engine, it opted for a little two-stroke single built under license from the English firm Villiers, for whom it had been designed by Charles Marston in 1912. The first Featherweights had some reliability problems due to badly-finished bronze big end bearings, and, though this was quickly corrected, sales never recovered.

Give a Dog a Bad Name

Worse still, the Indian agents were reluctant to handle this little machine, which was so very different from the average American bike. In a market influenced by power and performance, the dainty ways of the Featherweight attracted little interest. By the time Indian's engineers had increased its power and fixed all its faults, it was too late. The model was unable to shake off its rotten reputation, and the approach of war gave a good excuse not to give it a second chance. Production ceased in August 1916.


Engine: 221cc (63.5x70mm) air-cooled single-cylinder

Valves: two-stroke

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 3-speed, hand-shift; dry multidisc clutch; chain final drive

Suspension: "Indian Cushion Cartridge" (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: external band (rear)

Wheels: 26 inch wire (front & rear)

Maximum Speed: 40 mph

Though the little Villiers two-stroke was copied worldwide, it found few fans in the US and the Featherweight remains one of the few American two-stroke lightweights.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

Please contact me at info@moto-collection.org for conditions and copyright.

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François-Marie Dumas

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