During World War II, the US Army requested experimental motorcycle designs suitable for desert fighting. In response to this request, Indian designed and built the 841.
The Indian 841 was heavily inspired by the BMW R71 motorcycle, as was its competitor, the Harley-Davidson XA. However, unlike the XA, the 841 was not a copy of the R71. Although its tubular frame, plunger rear suspension, and shaft drive were similar to the BMW's, the 841 was different from the BMW in several aspects, most noticeably so with its 90-degree longitudinal-crankshaft V-twin engine and girder fork. In order to reduce costs, the new V-twin shared several internal components with the existing Indian Sport Scout, resulting in the same bore and stroke of 2.87" x 3.50" (73 x 89 mm).
The 841 had shaft drive and foot-shift/hand-clutch and weighed close to 550 lbs.