Franklin’s In­di­ans

Old Bike Australasia - - KAWASAKI Z900RS -

By Harry V Sucher, Tim Pick­er­ing, Liam Di­a­mond and Harry Havelin. Pub­lished by Pan­ther ISBN: 978 0 9564975 5 0 337 pages hard cover. Avail­able from Ren­niks, Syd­ney 02 9695 7055 (ap­prox. $59) or Ve­loce UK (£42.50 in­clud­ing postage)

Pre-WW1, Char­lie Franklin was a lead­ing mo­tor­cy­cle racer and record breaker in his na­tive Ire­land and in Britain, but it was af­ter he had moved to USA to join In­dian in Spring­field as a de­sign en­gi­neer that his pres­ence in the mo­tor­cy­cle in­dus­try was re­ally felt. As co-au­thor Sucher puts it, “Franklin’s story is even big­ger than In­dian…his in­flu­ence was felt in­dus­try-wide. De­sign el­e­ments he pop­u­larised were adopted by other manufactur­ers, in par­tic­u­lar Har­ley-David­son…he de­vel­oped a ‘look’ and style of Amer­i­can mo­tor­cy­cles that per­sists to the present day.” Franklin’s crown­ing glory was de­sign­ing the In­dian Scout and In­dian Chief – mod­els that turned around the com­pany’s for­tune’s and prob­a­bly saved it from bank­ruptcy. This book charts Franklin’s early days work­ing as an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer in Dublin, his early rac­ing days and sub­se­quent shin­ing ca­reer as an in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tor (he fin­ished sec­ond in the 1911 Se­nior TT), and as an In­dian dealer in Dublin. Franklin later man­aged In­dian’s whole­sale and re­tail op­er­a­tion in Dublin, but when this was closed in 1916, he ac­cepted an of­fer to sail to USA to take up a po­si­tion with the Hendee Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany. He planned to stay for only six months, but the move was the be­gin­ning of a bril­liant sec­ond ca­reer for the 36-year-old and was soon joined by his wife and daugh­ter. Trag­i­cally, he died from can­cer in 1932, aged just 52. A metic­u­lously-re­searched vol­ume, Franklin’s In­di­ans will ap­peal to not only devo­tees of the mar­que, but any­one with an in­ter­est in pi­o­neer mo­tor­cy­cling, and has just been re­pub­lished in a soft cover ver­sion.

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