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Oscar Hedstrom

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Title: Oscar Hedstrom  
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Subject: Indian (motorcycle), George M. Hendee
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Oscar Hedstrom

Carl Oscar Hedström
Hedstrom with his first Indian prototype in 1901
Born 12 March 1871
Småland, Sweden
Died 29 August 1960(1960-08-29) (aged 89)
Portland, Connecticut, United States
Occupation Motorcycle Designer
Spouse(s) Julia Anderson (11 April 1898 – until his death)
Children Helen, born 10 May 1901
Parents Anders Petter Hedström
Carolina Danielsdotter

Oscar Hedstrom (12 March 1871 – 29 August 1960) was a co-founder of the Indian Motocycle Manufacturing Company, makers of the Indian Motocycle.

Childhood and adolescence

Carl Oscar Hedstrom was born in the little parish of Lönneberga, Hultsfred Municipality, Kalmar County, Småland, Sweden. His family emigrated in 1880 to the United States, and settled in Brooklyn, New York City. As a young boy, he spent much time riding a bicycle around the city, and was fascinated by its mechanical design.


At age 16 he started working at a small engineering workshop in the Bronx, New York, where he learned to manufacture watch cases and components.[1] He worked as an apprentice in several small workshops, until he was 21 when he obtained journeyman status.

On two wheels

In his spare time Hedstrom built high-quality bicycles that were lighter and more durable than standard bikes. He rented a workshop space in Middletown, Connecticut where he designed and cast engines from his own patterns. He also designed and build a concentric carburetor.[2] While his reputation as a bicycle designer grew, he started to build tandem bicycles with gasoline engines. These were called pacers, and were used to split the wind for racing cyclists. The motorized pacers of that time functioned poorly, but Hedström's design quickly gained a reputation as being very reliable.[3]

At this time he came into contact with the former cyclist George M Hendee from Springfield, Massachusetts, who now manufactured bicycles and sponsored contests. Hendee was dissatisfied with the pacers available, and asked Hedstrom to take one of his to Springfield. Hendee was so impressed that he asked Hedstrom to develop a prototype for a mass-manufactured motorized bicycle.

Indian Motocycle Company

Main article: Indian (motorcycle)

The cooperation between Hedstrom and Hendee resulted in the Indian Motocycle Company. Hedstrom's design was innovative, and successful. Oscar Hedstrom resigned from the Indian Motocycle Company on 24 March 1913 after a disagreement with the board regarding dubious practices to inflate the company's stock values. George Hendee resigned in 1916. Hedstrom resided on his estate on the banks of the Connecticut River until he died in 1960.[4]


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