After experimenting with electric starting, and getting the Cradle Spring Frame worked out, Indian introduced its first Big Twin side-valve engine in the Powerplus, a remarkable machine for 1916. At that time most, not all, American motorcycles were rigid frame with inlet over exhaust engines.

And for their transcontinental ride in the summer of 1916, the VanBuren sisters, Adeline and Augusta, chose two Indian Powerpluses. Their ride departed Brooklyn, New York, the Sheepshead Bay race track, to be exact, on July 4, 1916 and included a ride up Pikes Peak in Colorado; over 14,000 feet in elevation. Theirs was a cultural and political statement, most would agree. At the time, women could not vote in elections, and were denied military positions such as motorcycle dispatch riders. With the ride, they set out to prove they were equals in physical ability, especially motorcycle riding, and sought to change policies, elevate women’s status to that of men. Their ride, a huge challenge on roads of that day, was a success technically, but most would agree they moved the gender equality needle only a bit.

Augusta and Adeline Van Buren

Augusta and Adeline VanBuren

In commemoration of the VanBuren sisters ride, the Sisters Centennial Transcontinental Ride of nearly 100 women left Brooklyn, New York July 3, 2016, 100 years later. The riders stopped at the National Motorcycle Museum on July 11 and headed west to California, following the VanBuren sisters route as much as possible.

A little background on their state of the art motorcycles……
Irish immigrant, racer and engineer Charles Franklin and Charles Gustafsen, formerly with Reading-Standard motorcycle company, focused on this new engine in hopes it would increase performance and durability and therefore bolster sales. It was also meant to be less expensive to manufacture. The Powerplus carried over electric lighting, the Cradle Spring Frame and a three-speed transmission from the previous Indian Model C. Now moving away from pedals, floorboards added comfort. In respect of keeping down the dirt thrown up by the tires, stylish fully valanced fenders were added.
In May of 1914 Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker, who had already achieved numerous records on track and on public roads, set a transcontinental record on an Indian. About this time America was preparing to enter World War I. Motorcycle manufacturers were not subject to parts or materials rationing, and were invited to supply motorcycles. While Harley-Davidson worked to preserve and expand its dealer network, Indian aggressively thrust its efforts toward military sales, and for the first time somewhat ignored its dealers in war-time. Indian sold more motorcycles to the military than Harley-Davidson and after the War sales to the public were about even for the two brands.
To learn more about the 2016 Sisters Ride, go to http://sistersmotorcycleride.com/
Powerplus Specifications:
  • Engine – Side-Valve V-Twin
  • Bore & Stroke – 3.30″ x 3.50″
  • Displacement – 61 Cubic Inches / 998 cc’s
  • Carburetor – Schebler
  • Ignition – Battery & Coil
  • Horsepower – Sixteen
  • Primary – Chain Driven
  • Transmission – 3 – Speed, Hand Shift
  • Final Drive – Chain
  • Brakes – Rear; Internal Expanding/ External Band
  • Front Suspension – Leaf Spring / Link
  • Rear Suspension – Indian “Cradle Spring Frame”
  • Starting – Kick Starter
  • Wheelbase – 59 Inches
  • Weight – 355 Pounds
  • Top Speed – 65mph
  • Price – $370

Graciously on Loan to The National Motorcycle Museum by Wanda Schumacher

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