Indian Motorcycle salutes Cannon Ball riders

Publish Date: 
May 23, 2014

MEDINA, Minn. – Indian Motorcycles is congratulating hall-of-famer Don Emde, Joe Colombero, and their entourage of 25 motorcyclists from across the country for successfully completing a 3,350 mile, 11-day tribute ride known as "The Cannon Ball Centennial Ride," which retraced a the historic route across America completed 100 years ago on a 1914 Indian V-Twin.

On May 3, 1914, Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker climbed aboard his 1914 Indian V-Twin and headed east, aiming to beat the existing record for cross-country travel. He and his Indian Motorcycle completed the trip in 11 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes, which was nine days faster than the previous record and four full days faster than any automobile had ever crossed the country. A reporter wrote he was faster than the Cannonball Express Train, and the nickname stuck. The Cannon Ball Centennial Ride retraced that ride this year.

The riders departed San Diego, Calif. May 3, retracing Baker's original route as closely as possible, as he was often forced to ride on railroad, following sections of old stagecoach routes and historic trails like the Santa Fe Trail, Apache Trail and the Lincoln Highway. The Cannon Ball riders overnighted in historic cities along the way, including Yuma and Phoenix, Ariz.; Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Indianapolis, Ind., where Erwin Baker is buried.

To pay homage to Baker and his record-setting trip, Indian Motorcycle took part in the ride on a specially modified Indian Chief Vintage piloted by Indian Motorcycle PR manager Robert Pandya. Affectionately named "Elnora" after Cannon Ball Baker's wife, the bike was an R&D unit that had already endured thousands of miles of engineering and over-the-road testing and was customized for the rigors of the heavy off-road riding required for this project.

"It was an honor and a privilege to take part in such a historic tribute to one of the true legends in all of motorcycling, and riding the only Indian Motorcycle on the trip as the ambassador for the brand and parent company Polaris Industries," Pandya said. "I would like to personally thank Don and Joe for their passion and leadership in making this event happen, and my hat is off to the world-class engineering team at Indian Motorcycle for building a truly spectacular machine. This bike performed under adverse conditions well outside of its design parameters, and I know Cannon Ball Baker would be smiling today if he could see the quality and craftsmanship that is going into each and every one of the new Indian motorcycles that are rolling off the line in Spirit Lake, Iowa."

From a press release. Posted by Holly Wagner