Indian - Wall of death
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Indian D2-492-79-05
Photo ou archives : M. Woollett

Capacity : 600
Model : Wall of death
Production : 1925 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


600 Scout / "Wall of Death" - 1923

Defying the law of gravity

This veteran bike enjoyed a long career on the spectacular "Wall of Death" fairground attraction, where it appeared on every continent ridden by the Briton Doug Murphy until his retirement, at the age of 68 in 1982.

Death-Defying Stunts

Wall of Death riders perform death-defying stunts while using centrifugal force to ride horizontally round the interior of a gigantic cylinder of wooden planks. The difficulties lay in making the transition from vertical to horizontal mode and maintaining the correct speed to overcome the force of gravity without flying out of the top of the cylinder!

Legendary Reliability

Despite its great age, the Indian Scout has long been a favorite with Wall of Death riders for its legendary reliability and its modest weight, and Doug Murphy was no exception. The Scout's engine, designed by Charles Franklin, was advanced in concept the sturdy side-valve V-twin drove the integral three-speed gearbox through helical gears housed in an aluminum casing, eliminating the need for a primary transmission chain and reducing maintenance to a minimum. As a concession to showmanship, the frame was chromed but was otherwise pure Indian Scout right down to the leaf-sprung trailing-link forks. The first Scouts went on the market in 1920, and the Scout V-twin survived, with various updates (the engine capacity increased from 596 to 744cc over the years), until after WWII, when the name was reused for a far less impressive parallel-twin.


Engine: 596cc (70x78mm) air-cooled 42-degree V-twin four-stroke

Power Rating: 11 hp @ 3000 rpm

Valves: side

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 3-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: leaf-sprung trailing-link forks (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: drum (rear)

Wheels: 19 inch (front & rear) originally 3.00x30 inch

Weight: 295 lb

Maximum Speed: 55 mph (highway use – Wall of Death speed not measured)

This 596cc Indian Scout spent many years circling the Wall of Death all over the world before its retirement in 1982.

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 for conditions and copyright.

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François-Marie Dumas

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