Indian set the racing world on fire in 1911 when it introduced its 8-valve V-twin racers. With pushrod-operated vertical valves in flat combustion chambers, these first 8-valves were known as “big base” racers because of their enlarged crankcases, which hid extra-large flywheels. Extra crankshaft momentum was considered essential for these racers as they were designed for carburetors designed to run flat out; to adjust his speed, a rider used the ignition cut-out, and the heavy flywheels kept the engine spinning smoothly in the interim. These racers weren’t cataloged and were only available to selected riders—those likely to win races. One technical oddity was the uneven-sized exhaust valves in each head; the smaller valve opened slightly earlier than the larger valve to relieve back pressure on the larger valve.
In 1916, Indian again produced a small batch of 8-valve racers, which had been redesigned with normal-sized crankcases and crankshafts, which of course were immediately dubbed the “small base” racers. Single- and twin-cylinder versions were available, both with 4-valve cylinder heads, magneto ignition and single-speed chain drive via countershaft sprocket and bicycle pedals. The “Model H Overhead Valve Racing Type” used the same cylinders and heads as the 1911 version, and the 8-valve twin could be purchased for $350, while the 4-valve single cost $300. The single-cylinder machine was intended mostly for racing on the half-mile horse-racing dirt ovals that dotted every town worth its name.
This authentic 1916 Indian, Serial No. 47H is a spectacular example of a historic competition motorcycle. It features a 4-Valve, 30ci, racing single cylinder engine that shines like the day it was built. The bike sports a competition livery with the single right-side footrest common to dirt-track racing. It also has a rigid girder fork and the two-piece dropped handlebars common to all Indian racers. It is beautifully restored and will be the centerpiece in any collection.