Bill Dodge ‘Blings’ Out an Indian Scout
When Indian announced its 2016 custom-build program called Project Scout, Jason Foster of Mission City Indian in Boerne, Texas, got involved. Jason needed a little assistance, though, and for that he approached Bill Dodge of Blings Cycles.
“He asked for my help,” Bill says from his Daytona Beach, Florida, shop. “I thought Jason wanted me to make a couple of pieces, but the next thing I knew the Scout was in my shop.”
This Indian is Bill’s first experience with the machines rolling out of the company’s Spirit Lake, Iowa, production facility. Bill’s been around the custom motorcycle industry for quite a few years. He was shop foreman at West Coast Choppers, and in 2005 he opened Blings Cycles in New Jersey. The shop moved to Kentucky, and soon after, Bill finally landed in Daytona Beach, a location that puts him at the epicenter of Daytona Bike Week events.
“Since the late 1980s I’ve been modifying Harley-Davidsons,” he tells us. “From Knuckleheads to Evos, I build everything.” Of his particular style, he adds, “I just like to make things different.”
And that’s how he approached the brand-new 2016 Indian Scout. For this build, Jason’s only stipulation was the motorcycle had to have mid-controls. That was it. Everything else was up to Bill’s imagination.
“I wanted something that looked like a racer, but not a flat tracker,” Bill explains. “And people kept telling me Indian Scouts were cumbersome at low speeds, so I wanted it to handle better than stock.”
In order to make that happen, the Scout was immediately taken apart. A pickup truck full of Indian pieces was sent back to Jason, as Bill kept only the Scout’s engine, instruments, frame, gas tank, and some of the wiring harnesses.
Bill started by grafting a Suzuki GSX-R1000 front end to the Scout’s frame. As Bill produces his own aluminum triple trees, he machined a set to fit the neck and the GSXR tubes. Meanwhile, he added a frame-mounted steering damper to the lower tree for extra stability. The rake remained unchanged, but Bill shortened the overall length of the bike by 1/2″ in the trees. The stock instrument cluster was cut away and welded into a set of Bill’s risers, and these clamp down a ProTaper handlebar. Bill made the grips, and the clutch lever was sourced from a Honda CR500 dirt bike. A custom bracket holds the fly-by-wire throttle control, and the front brake lever and master cylinder came from an ATV. A Hella headlight complemented the de-cluttered style of the front end.
To give the Scout an aggressive stance, Bill opted for his Blings Cycles R9 wheels, 21″ up front and 18″ at the rear. The swingarm was not shortened, but it was shaved of a few brackets, however, in order to help clean up the lines before a pair of Fox shocks were bolted into place. All brake rotors are matching Blings Cycles R9 items, but the dual front calipers are stock Suzuki, and the rear is a product from Indian.
In order to provide Jason with the mid-controls he desired, Bill worked with a local machinist to CNC a unique primary cover on the left side, and a right-side engine cover incorporates what Bill calls Blings Cycles Slash Controls and footpegs in one piece. He hopes to soon have these components in regular production.
Dispensing with Indian’s belt final drive, Bill machined down the stock front pulley. He then opened up a 25-tooth Harley-Davidson Shovelhead sprocket, and pressed the two together before permanently welding them up. That rear sprocket is from Blings Cycles, too.
While Bill is proud of his wheels and the use of his triple trees to mount the GSX-R fork, it’s the tail section that is his favorite part of the build. “I just step back and eyeball the bike, and in my opinion the Scout needed more style in the rear; it has cool lines, but they get lost, so I think my tail section helps reveal them and radically changes the bike,” he says.
Working with sheets of aluminum, a wooden hammer, and leather metal-forming shot bag, Bill hand-shaped the tail section. He also made the seat pan from aluminum and had Duane Ballard stitch a custom leather cover. The pan connects to the tail section before it all gets bolted to the rear subframe with four fasteners.
Talented leather craftsman Duane Ballard stitched up this great looking seat for the Indian Scout Bill Dodge customized.
Speaking of the frame, Bill says nothing was changed on the Indian cast aluminum chassis. “Those pieces are coated from the factory in something that doesn’t like to come off,” he adds. He tried a high-quality chemical stripper; it only made the coating soft without removing it. Sandblasting wouldn’t touch it, either. Bill resorted to hand-sanding every nook and cranny to reveal the aluminum and had it all made shiny by Perfect Polishing Inc. in Daytona Beach.
The 69″ Indian Scout engine is stock, but changes include an air cleaner from Cory Ness and a Dynojet Power Commander. The exhaust is a custom piece of work. Bill cut and welded together stainless pipes to make the two headers and the collector that moves gases through a heavily modified SuperTrapp canister. The aluminum can was shortened about 8″, and the internals have been dissected and replaced to give the Indian a distinctive sound.
The paint on the Scout’s tank, swingarm, and tail section is a classic deep black with contrasting White Diamond Pearl applied by Chad Chambers of Chad Chambers Customs in Daytona Beach. The gold leaf Indian script is also Chad’s work.
To get the Scout to run cleanly after the air and exhaust modifications, Bill enlisted tuning wizard Zach Johnson of Kendall Johnson Customs. “I’d ridden the bike around a little bit, kind of pampering it before I decided to really get on it,” Bill says of the finished Scout. “When I did, it put down a 60′ strip of rubber in first gear. When I shifted into second, it put down another small strip before going right into a wheelie.”
Bill is more than happy that he was involved with Jason’s Scout from start to finish. Although it didn’t clinch a title in the Project Scout program, it did earn first place in Modified Custom of the US championship round of the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Competition at the 2016 Progressive International Motorcycle Show—pretty good for the first Indian Bill has ever laid hands on. – AIM
This story was originally featured in American Iron Magazine Issue # 347 along with a plenty of other great stories like a father and son who race against each other on supercharged street bikes, Billy Lane’s feature on the 1915 Harley board tracker he built for Buzz to race on, and a review of Harley’s 2017 Road King Special. To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com.