Hail To The Chief

March 30, 2020 | By Mike Seate

One of my favorite aspects of the modern cafe custom movement is its limitless adaptability. Though some old schoolers would strongly disagree, the world has embraced customizing bikes for style and speed on very open terms. So instead of designing and building the speedbike of one’s dreams based one a pre-conceived notion of what’s considered proper or historically correct, today’s ton-up enthusiasts borrow from a broad variety of historical and modern influences. Few bikes run by CRM’s staffers better embrace this ecumenical approach than columnist Robert Pandya’s Indian Chief cafe custom. No, that’s not a typo- Pandya explains in a brilliant column in the April/May issue just how he came up with the formula for transforming a classic, post-WWII air-cooled American V-twin into a true road rocket. His was an unusual choice to put things mildly, being as original Indians are going for serious money these days and most fans of the long-defunct brand know there’s more investment value in restoring a vintage Chief than customizing one. Naturally, we’re all for folks doing whatever the gods of altered motorbikes inspire us to do, whether we’re stripping down and souping up a rare British bike, Japanese classic or, yes, even an Indian.

True to form Pandya, who spends saddle time aboard both new and classic machines, drew inspiration from a variety of historical and mechanical sources to create the bike he lovingly calls Stella’s Mettle, and the story behind the build is as fascinating as the sleek, slimmed down and very aerodynamic Indian itself.The new issue goes on sale later this week, so enjoy the read.