1922 Indian Scout “Wall of Death” Tribute
Engine no. 51T520
“The Wall of Death was originally called the Silodrome, but carnival attendees are a fickle bunch and they were easily distracted by the competition over in the freak show attractions – so the name was changed to the far more dramatic sounding “Wall of Death” and attendance rates shot through the roof.
For the uninitiated, the Wall of Death is a large wooden cylinder laying on its side so it had the appearance of a short grain silo (hence the name Silodrome). Motorcyclists would ride around the walls at speed using G-forces to stay glued to the sides and the audience would stand around the top rim watching on in awe and often holding out small bills and coins as tips that the riders would collect as they went around.
When it came to choosing a motorcycle suitable for the Wall of Death, the two most important things were weight and reliability. Too much weight and you’d lose the agility needed and poor reliability could see you fall right off the wall if your engine seized or cut out suddenly.
Trial and error saw the early V-twins from Indian Motorcycles become the de facto standard for Silodrome riders on both sides of the Atlantic and as far afield as Australia and New Zealand. The Scout was the preferred model thanks to its lightweight, reliable 600cc engine – both of which had been fine-tuned on the early race tracks of the United States.”
The Wall of Death tribute on offer here has been very meticulously restored. Purchased a few years ago, inspired by the wall art that adorned the owner’s storage garage, the bike has been part of a discerning collection of cars and motorcycles. It has been on static display in a climate-controlled environment but will be in need of some re-commissioning before returning to its perilous vertical pursuits.