The Indian MM5A, also known as the Indian Mini Mini, was a mini bike designed for little children (4-5 year olds) to become familiar with motorcycles, but also the Indian brand. There were two marketing goals with this bike – encourage older riders to share the Indian experience with their children, and also prime the pump for the next generation of riders to want Indian motorcycles. Training wheels were an optional extra that could be mounted on either the axle or the shock mounting bolt. If you chose the latter option, the bike could still be leaned over approximately 25 degrees before the training wheels touched.
Everything about this bike is small. The top speed was 10-12 miles per hour – so slow because the intake manifold is absolutely minuscule. The engine is a 50cc unit made by Morini, producing all of 1.5 horsepower. It weighed just 57 pounds, and was equipped with a centrifugal clutch, no transmission. You got a twist throttle and two hand brakes, one for each wheel. It’s just 18 inches tall and the MSRP was a scant $249. In fact, the only number that was big was the estimated miles per gallon – a whopping 200!
Manufacture of the original Indian products was halted in 1953.
Brockhouse Engineering acquired the rights to the Indian name in 1953. They imported Royal Enfield motorcycles from England, mildly customized them in the US depending on the model and sold them as Indians from 1955 to 1960.
In 1960, the Indian name was bought by AMC of England. Royal Enfield being their competition, they abruptly stopped all Enfield-based Indian models except the 700 cc Chief. Their plan was to sell Matchless and AJS motorcycles badged as Indians. However, the venture ended when AMC itself went into liquidation in 1962.
From the 1960s, entrepreneur Floyd Clymer began using the Indian name, apparently without purchasing it from the last known legitimate trademark holder. He attached it to imported motorcycles, commissioned to Italian ex-pilot and engineer Leopoldo Tartarini, owner of Italjet Moto, to manufacture Minarelli-engined 50 cc minibikes under the Indian Papoose name.
After Clymer’s death in 1970 his widow sold the alleged Indian trademark to Los Angeles attorney Alan Newman, who continued to import minicycles made by ItalJet, and later manufactured in a wholly owned assembly plant located in Taipei (Taiwan). Several models with engine displacement between 50 cc and 175 cc were produced, mostly fitted with Italian two-stroke engines made either by Italjet or Franco Morini, but the fortunes of this venture didn’t last long. By 1975, sales were dwindling, and in January 1977, the company was declared bankrupt.