The Indian MM5A, often just called the Indian Mini Mini, has the distinction of being the smallest Indian motorcycle ever made.
As the story goes, one of the ill-fated revivals of the Indian Motorcycle brand in the ’60s decided to bring in a line of minibikes targeted at kids.
Apparently the theory was that if they got hooked on motorcycling at a young age and developed undying brand loyalty for Indian, that they may grow up to buy some of the bigger bikes Indian was selling.
There’s no telling if this strategy would have worked as Indian went bankrupt in 1977 before any of the young Indian MM5A riders could reach adulthood, but curiously the modern incarnation of Indian has just released their own brand new minibike targeted at kids – possibly with the same strategic thinking.
As with all new Indians that were being sold in the United States in the ’60s and ’70s, the Indian MM5A Mini was essentially just a badge engineered motorcycle from Europe – in this case an Italjet Mini Mini Bambino.
Above Image: The Indian MM5A was an ideal starter bike for children, many kids raced them with great success.
Indian intended the MM5A Mini to be ridden by younger children, some so young they hadn’t yet mastered the art of riding a bicycle, so it could be ordered with optional training wheels. When fitted to the swingarm these training wheels would still allow the bike to lean up to 25º in corners.
In order to ensure that these kids weren’t going to be able to seriously hurt themselves a very small intake was used to limit the amount of fuel and air getting into the engine on each stroke.
This could be easily remedied by parents who were handy with the tools of course, and this adjustability of the power output helped to keep the bikes relevant to kids as they got older and more capable. It also helped absolve Indian of any responsibility if one of these power-tuned little bikes did result in an injured child.
As sold by Indian off the showroom floor the MM5A Mini had a 50cc single-cylinder engine capable of 1.5 hp and a top speed of between 10 and 12 mph depending on rider weight. The bikes were estimated to get approximately 200 mpg, but I pity any child who had to do that sort of mileage on one.
The MM5A stands just 18 inches tall and it tips the scales at 57 lbs, and it uses a centrifugal clutch (with no transmission) to make life easy for those just starting out.
Above Image: This bike has a hand-painted Indian logo on the tank, done by the father of this bike’s original owner.
As you may expect on a bike from this era it has front and rear drum brakes. It rides on 8 inch spoked wheels and it has both front and rear suspension, with traditional forks up front and twin shock absorbers and a swing arm in the rear.
The exhaust is swept up high to keep it out of harms way and it’s covered with a large heat shield to help save those young legs from burns, however I’m sure there are plenty of grown adults out there with Indian MM5A exhaust shaped burn scars on their inner thighs.
It’s not known exactly how many of these were made however there does seem to be a healthy aftermarket for them, with restored bikes coming up for sale regularly and reasonably good parts availability. They only cost $249 USD when they were brand new, they’ll set you back a little more than that now but they’re still highly affordable.
If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing on Mecum, it’s due to cross the block in March and at the time of writing there’s no estimate.
Images courtesy of Mecum
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.