1926 Indian “Altoona” Racer

Even if you aren’t a vintage motorcycle enthusiast, you can appreciate the cosmetic and mechanical beauty of this fantastic machine! This 1926 Indian “Altoona” racer is listed for sale here on eBay and is located in Martinez, California. 31 bids as I write have driven the price to over $22,000 but I expect it to go much higher after looking at past sales of similar Indians that went for over $50k.

This is a rare but not unique motorcycle, but it is very special. An Indian similar to this recorded the fastest motorcycle lap ever at a board track with a 120.3 mph speed! This particular example spent time in the collection of the late Ron Sabeys, a noted motorcycle collector. We’re told the engine has been rebuilt and the bike is in running condition.

I believe this is the overhead valve version of the Indian engine, which was introduced in 1925. If I’m correct, the engine has hemispherical combustion chambers — that’s right, a small “Hemi.”

I can only imagine what it would be like perched on that tiny seat, crouched over the low-slung tank and bent handlebars. I can’t even begin to imagine that experience at 120 mph! Have you ever ridden an Indian motorcycle?


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  1. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    So cool! I cannot imagine riding this Indian “Altoona” racer at that speed over smooth pavement much less over a board track. Those riders must have had some Big Brass ones.

    Like 7
  2. Dan August

    Do check out the doumentary film, “World’s fastest Indian”.

    Like 36
    • Kiwi

      Yes! Its about the true story of Burt Munro and his land speed record riding his 1920 Indian Scout.

      Like 25
      • Donovan Gardner

        I saw the documentary film also…a fascinating guy of limited means who achieved his goal.

        Like 3
    • Steve R

      It’s a movie, though it’s “based” on the life of Burt Munro it’s not a documentary.

      Steve R

      Like 4
    • Donovan Gardner

      I saw the documentary film also…a fascinating guy of limited means who achieved his goal.

      Like 9
  3. TBAU Member

    Keep the bikes commin’…

    Like 4
  4. Derek

    Most OHV/OHC bikes are hemis. 602cc Citroen 2CVs are hemis, it isnae a big deal.

    Like 2
  5. Dave

    One of the coolest board track racers out there is the Cyclone from 1915 or so. Overhead valves, gear-driven overhead cams, Hemi heads, 1000cc/61 c.i., this engine was ahead of its time and technology. AFAIK they never made a road version of this motorcycle.
    Exposed valve gear reminded me of natural gas pumping engines made by Dresser-Rand. V10, 14 inch bore, 17 inch stroke, dual-turbocharged, intercooled, two spark plugs per cylinder, exposed pushrod operating one exhaust valve per cylinder. An ungodly amount of power at 330 rpm pushing natural gas at 800 psig through a 36″ cross-country pipeline.

    Like 2
    • Stu Member

      Yes, Dave, the Cyclones were some of the coolest. Fast, flame-shooting crowd pleasers. Alas, they were quite prone to casting breakage and seldom in the same place twice.

      Incredible engineering that was too far ahead of the metallurgy of it’s time.

      Like 3
  6. Fred W

    My Dad had a later model Indian, but he also talked about his four cylinder Henderson, pre 1920. In his workshop was a small oil pump we used to pump oil out of 50 gallon barrels. Every time I used it, he would have to say, “That oil pump came from my 4 cylinder Henderson motor- sickle”.

    Like 5
  7. Hallowell M

    I saw the documentary movie on Burt Munro..very inspiring.

    Like 9
  8. chrlsful

    kinda returned in recent yrs to that.
    Put a lill gas engine ona peddle bike~

    One co:

  9. Bullethead

    Neat bike, but drop handlebars do not make it a racer. Wrong frame, has brakes and fenders, etc., etc. Adding “Altoona” in the ad pitch is clever but anyone collecting old Indians knows what this bike really is. Unlikely to have ever seen a board track.


    Like 6
    • Scuderia

      @bullethead agreed. Nice bike but nothing about it looks real as for it being an original boardtrack racer. Paint is for sure Fauxtina as well.

      Like 5
      • Terrry

        shifter is different too

  10. vintagehotrods

    I would take a real close look at this one because it looks too perfect. I would like to see a paper trail to prove its provenance.

    About 18 years ago, while on our annual LA Roadster Reliability Run in the Black Hills, we toured a small shop on main street in Sturgis,SD that recreated early 1910’s and 1920’s Indian and Harley motorcycles. All they needed was the engine or even just the engine cases and they would make everything else, even cylinders from scratch. They could make it just like brand new or patina-ed, like it was just pulled from the barn. They made board track racers that looked very much like this one. It was one of the most amazing shops I’ve ever toured and their work was impeccable. It was a father and son operation, but I can’t remember their names or the name of the shop. I have a ton of pictures of the shop on one of my many memory cards that I need to find and catalog on the cloud one of these days.

    Kiwi Indian is doing something similar these days, but with later style reproduction engines and modern brakes and parts. You can even buy a kit and build it yourself. It would be a pretty cool street cruiser.


    Like 6
  11. RonnieDog Member

    To answer your question “Have you ever ridden an Indian”?
    I sure have…… In fact I do so daily at age 70 yrs old!
    02 Chief Roadmaster
    This was the first year Indian produced the Power Plus 100 Bottle capped cylinder covers. What a pleasure it is in receiving different trophy’s for such an outstanding ONE of a KIND Indian!
    As I owned a screen printing business many years, I was able to produce some wonderful artwork and blasted it onto the Primary’s and then destroyed the files so it will never be used again…..

    • vintagehotrods

      Me too, but not daily anymore due to the kamikaze drivers we share the streets with. Too many stupid people! We had a run of seven fatalities in head-on/crossed the center line crashes in cars last month in my little town. No one seems to looking out their windshield and steering their car these days and you have zero chance on a motorcycle. I have a red 2001 Chief with the S&S Evo 88 motor and at 69 I spend more time looking at it than riding it anymore, its such a pretty old motorcycle.

      Like 1
  12. tony t

    Anthony Hopkins film …

    Like 2

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