It's not every day that you get a phone call from a major manufacturer and have them ask you to build a custom bike. It is even more rare to receive that call shortly before the 75th Annual Sturgis Rally. IndianMotorcycles.net got just such a call from Indian Motorcycle a short time ago, and we jumped on the opportunity to build such a bike.
The parameters were vague, but the goal was clear: "Build a hill climb bike." This was going to be our first build and we had to do something really special. Literally as soon as the phone call ended, the notebook came out, the basic components were laid out and our preferred vendors were listed. Photoshop was fired up and the the stock machine was chopped and contorted into our basic plan.
Within a few days, vendors were called, the design was sorted, and the dismantling of the stock bike was underway. We only had a few weeks to get the bike apart and back together in a shape that would wow the crowds at Sturgis, a place where many of the best bike builders in the world congregate to show off their creations. Here we were, two guys with a backyard shop, working on our off hours to put together something cool.
We were so lucky to work with some of the best vendors in the industry. A simple email and phone call to explain what were were up to had each one of them just excited about the project as we were.
RPW USA was the first to sign on to the project and the team over there was an absolute delight to work with. We literally sketched what we wanted the exhaust system to look like and they brought it to life in record time. The "Jack" pipe was born and should be available for purchase this Fall (2015).
With the exhaust system in process, we turned our attention to the next major change to the bike: extend the swingarm for hill climb duties. This led us to one of the best in the business. BTR Moto stepped to the plate with a custom swingarm that was stretched a full 10" over the stock length. During our research we noticed that the bikes during the infancy of the sport ran beefy chains on the rear tire in the absence of a purpose-built motorcycle tire. Obviously, we had to make the chain-wrapped rear tire part of our bike.
While the bike was fully disassembled, we were able to shed any and all superflous bits and weight. It was time to sort out the suspension, and for this, we turned to Traxxion and opted for a set of their AK20 cartridges so that we could have some adjustability in the front end. In the rear, we turned to Fox for a custom built, remote reservoir shock setup to contrast the vintage look of the bike.
The stock foot pegs and bars had to go as well. Aeromach had the floorboard solution that we needed. We figured that rocketing around on the dirt might be made easier with the aid of a heel shifter setup so that a simple stomp would get us up and down the ladder of gears in the box. After an exhaustive search, we couldn't find the bars that we loved, so we opted for a basic western bar and then add our own crossbar to it, by firing up the welder.
For our fueling solution, we opted to go with the controller that many of the members on the forum have been using to great avail. A quick phone call to Dobeck Performance put an EJK Gen 3 controller on the UPS truck heading our direction.
Since we had stretched the swingarm, we obviously could no longer use the stock belt drive setup. This led to a bit of an issue. Since the Scout is brand new, there were not a lot of options for lengthened belts, meaning that we had to find a chain alternative. Again, not a lot to be had in the aftermarket. Enter Zipper's Performance. Word on the back streets of the industry was that they were working on a chain conversion. An email and a phone call confirmed this to be true. A few weeks later, we were bolting it up to the stock cushion drive.
With the tins bobbed and repositioned, bike sprung, we had a roller. But there was an issue. We, had bunch of ugly black tins with raw and welded edges, raw metal parts here and there, a new bobber seat from Indian, fresh Firestone rubber off of a Willys Jeep, pretty wire wheels, but the bike didn't have a whole lot of character.
With a quick call to our local and amazing powder coater, Ricochet Customs was ready to shoot all our raw and chrome pieces with the spot-on color-matched powder. Within a matter of hours, Krystal had the parts back to us, and ready for the final assembly with not a minute spare as we had to get the bike up to Starr Studios for Sean to work his magic.
After a few days, and some teaser photos coming from Starr, we were packed up and ready to make the bonzai drive up to Sturgis. Neither of us had seen the finished product until we walked in to the Studio and saw the bike. We loaded it up and continued our 24 hour non-stop drive up to South Dakota.
After about 32 hours of almost constant alertness, the bike was delivered, the plans for the display were set, and photo shoot dialed, we were able to catch our breath and lay down for a minute. We had done it. @4Nines
and I had done something that is on a very select few's resume... We had built a custom motorcycle for Indian Motorcycle to go on display at the 75th anniversary of one of the most important motorcycle rallies in the world.
A big thanks to the following vendors for helping us make it happen.