A Little Indian: 1970 Indian MM5A

'70 Indian

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, this bike really is that small, and yes Indian Motorcycles did build some tiny bikes! Listed here on eBay and sitting in Morris Plains, New Jersey with a BIN of $1,500 is this 1970 Indian MM5A. Some say this mini bike was designed for children, so they would be primed to be ready for a full-size Indian later in life.

'70 Indian engine

It appears there were 15 different engines for small Indian dirt bikes. Some were made by Metori Franco, Metori Minarelli, Jawa, and Fuji. This is not an Indian dirt bike, this is a legitimate mini bike. Reported top speed was just 10-12 mph. The engine in this one is a 50cc made by Morini putting out about 1.5 hp. Weighing 57 pounds this mini bike has a centrifugal clutch and no transmission, making a great learners bike. The MSRP was $249 and the estimated miles per gallon was 200!

1970 Indian MM5A
According to the seller, this first generation Bambino is all original and is in working condition, but that’s about all the information they offer us. The bike shows wear and the rims, pegs, kick stand and the chain all show a little rust. At one time mini bikes were quite popular and you could find them running around the pits at race tracks all over the US. Do you have any memories with a little bike like this one?

Motor-on,
Robert

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Comments

  1. Jeffstag

    No Plymouths today? The Mayflower logo should be a sure tie-in

    Like 1
  2. boxdin

    Weight is probably closer to 200 lbs. My CT70 Honda w similar size is 200 lbs.
    I guess its a real Indian, but not in the classical sense.

    • Robert Member

      boxdin,

      These are just 18″ tall and the reported weight is 57 pounds. These are tiny little bikes. There was even a “training wheels” option.

  3. jim s

    seller has 808 items listed on ebay. i rode minibikes as soon as i was old enough to start the motor. i guess these have a following like anything else with a motor. the mini motocross bikes took over at some point. interesting find.

  4. DREW V.

    The Show “Pawn Stars” featured one of these Mini Indians on an episode… They had it restored and it brought a pretty good price…

  5. Charles

    Nice complete little bike!

  6. Paul R

    Indian Motorcycle Company went out of business in 1953.
    Several companies over the years used the Indian name on small bikes like this one. Many legal battles in the courtroom have been fought over who actually owned the Indian trademark.

    • Wayne Thomas

      This is the Original Indian vs Real Indian debate that has lasted for decades. This is a Real Indian (under the law) but it is not an Original Indian. either way, Indian lived on to today where Polaris has the money to find it into a genuine company that once again can leave HD behind in engineering and racing.

  7. Howard A Member

    I do remember these, although, this should not be confused with the “Lil’ Indian” minibike of the 60’s. ( which was a more conventional type mini-bike) This was an Italjet, and while not as popular as the Asian mini-bikes, this was a real motorcycle, only miniature. With different gearing and carb work, I’ve seen these go a lot faster than 12 mph, ( I thought there was a throttle stop that could be adjusted for more speed, but may be thinking of something else) but they were geared for children, and many got their 1st taste of motorcycling with these style bikes. When I was a kid, my old man brought home a Honda step-thru 50, that was vandalized ( he traded an air conditioner for it) and we fixed it up, and was my 1st motorcycle, and cemented my love for biking, even now, 50 years later. I had a friend that had a Rupp Roadster, with a Tecumseh engine and 2 speed trans, and that ate my poor Honda 50 for lunch ( but I still had him on the top end, 43 mph) As Paul sez, I don’t think these were real “Indians” and I remember the battles that went on. None the less, if you had one of these as a kid, you had some cool parents, and most were run into the ground. Pretty rare these days. Cool find.

  8. brakeservo

    Was a guy in Alamagordo, New Mexico earlier this year with one of these, kept listing and re-listing it on the local Craigslist. Ridiculous price of $5000 too. Maybe he gave up, maybe he found a sucker. I don’t know, except I’ve not seen it wasting space on Craigslist here for a long time now.

    Like 1
  9. Doug Towsley

    WOW!! Cool to see a Motorcyle on here. Yep, these were cool, Floyd Clymer of repair manual fame had a big part in the Indian name, he tried a number of ideas to get them back in business. The mini bike thing was just one of many ways to cash in on the name.
    There was a whole series of these bikes of various sizes. Ive had 2 of these in the past, A guy locally i know used to buy and sell these at swap meets, had several dozen over the years. On some he made small side cars for them out of water heater shells then had his grandkids ride it around at events.Make a loop and come back to the booth. His granddaughter was adorable sitting in the side car. WIth the For Sale signs on it he had crowds of people running behind the bike back to his booth. I have pictures at the AMCA regional meets for the Evergreen chapter with a fleet of these in front of his camp site and booth. When I owned mine it was fun to tell people I owned an Indian, Im known as a collector so its not implausible, but fun to see their faces when i wheeled it out of my shop. Years back, at the old DJs swap meet one year they raffled a Indian Chopper (A real one, a Sport scout) and a work bench as a door prize.
    Every one i know bought tickets.

  10. Emily Pendley

    This picture is my grand daughter on her little battery powered mini match to mine. The little MM5-A mini did exactly what they made it to do. It taught me how to ride at the age of 4. Nearly 38 years later I am a very proud owner of a 2015 Indian Chief Vintage!!! Dreams really do come true. I love and believe in Indian Motorcycles and will never own anything else. I would love to find one of these little motorcycles and restore it with my dad. #1 on this ole gals bucket list. My dad’s passion for riding and for Indian Motorcycles made me the Lady Indian Rider I am today. I am grateful!!!

    • Doug Towsley

      Great story, cute kid. Good for you! There is a very good reason you dont see motorcycles parked in front of Psychiatrists offices in patient parking. Love the vintage motorcycles.

  11. Emily Pendley

    This is a picture of my 2015 Indian Chief Vintage….purely majestic!!!

  12. Pam WILLIAMS Angerhofer

    With training wheels the Little Indian mini wouldn’t pull itself and our 3-yr-old through the grass, so my husband drilled out the restrictor plate enough that our child could exceed the 25-mph speed limit in the bathing areas of Daytona Beach and we adults dared not catch up with him on our bikes. We are in the process of tuning the Little Indian back up for the grandkids. It is dusty but in perfect condition. We will not need the training wheels, as these kids can already ride bikes. Our son rode the Indian w/training wheels before he rode a bike, because pedaling a bike makes it harder to balance than just opening the throttle. The only damage in all the 50 intervening years was that the seat stitching thread gave out and had to be restitched.

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