Carey Hart’s Indian Bagger Transformed for Pikes Peak
Defying conventional thinking breeds creativity. And it’s something that commands respect. Taking chances, and, of course, having fun doing so, is the ethos Carey Hart applies to life. And building custom Indians. When he decided to transform a box-stock 2018 Indian Springfield bagger into a Pikes Peak racer, it was a project most wouldn’t even fathom taking on. But for Carey Hart, it’s a welcome challenge.
Hart, known the world over for his illustrious freestyle motocross career, immersed himself in the V-twin world around 2013 and hasn’t looked back. Building custom motorcycles with his buds became his new focus, especially when applying the performance side of things from his motocross career to the custom Indians he’s been churning out over the past few years.
Hart didn’t plan on building a Pikes Peak road racer when he got his mitts on this project mule. It all kind of happened by accident; initially he just wanted something that was lighter, faster, and handled better than stock, while retaining that V-twin power cruiser stance. When the proverbial wheels started turning into making the road race cruiser dream a reality, Hart’s plan started to come together. It was with his first Springfield build project where he incorporated the styling of a World War II bomber into his sidecar-equipped Springfield. After stripping it completely down to frame and engine, he noticed things about that platform during that project that he knew would one day convert into a performance cruiser.
“That was the first time I got my hands on a non-fairing Indian bike,” Hart recalls. “Once I got that bike all stripped down, I liked the aesthetics, but I wanted to lighten it up, get all the bulk off it, and rebuild it with performance parts.” When he received his latest 2018 Indian Springfield for this project, he already knew the general direction he wanted to go.
Hart, and his longtime partner in crime Bryan “Big B” Mahoney, got to work on the Springfield. They started by removing the factory swingarm and replaced it with a lighter aluminum piece from Trac Dynamics. Of course, the belt-driven setup had to go, and a Zipper’s Performance chain-drive conversion took its place. Brock’s Performance was called upon to supply a set of Blackstone Tek (BST) carbon fiber wheels—the first set built for the larger Indian cruisers—that would, of course, be shod in some tacky Dunlop tread.
The motor would require a tad more oomph, too. It was decided that the Indian 116″ big bore kit, which adds 20 percent more horsepower and 15 percent more ft-lbs. of torque, would be the most reliable choice. The 116 kit includes new cylinders, big-bore pistons, larger throttle body, and more. Jay from Fab28 Industries was called on to hand-make a titanium 2-into-1 header that collects into a custom FMF muffler.
As Hart and Big B got deeper into the project, he enlisted the help of some friends. Which as it turns out, happen to be pretty good at fabbing and designing custom motorcycles. Jake Cutler from Barnstorm Cycles Evan Favaro from Speakeasy Motors and Satya Kraus from Kraus Motor Co. got the call. “Do you want to get out of the cold for a week,” Hart says. “I’ll fly you guys out, make sure the fridge is stocked with beer, and let’s just go have some fun and tinker on this bike.” And that’s genuinely where it started. “The cool thing about these guys is that they’re all young and building bikes for them is not really about competition,” Hart says. “It’s more about wanting to do cool stuff together.” That’s kind of an ethos applied during Hart’s racing days. He missed that type of camaraderie, which isn’t necessarily present among custom V-twin builders. “Not that I’ve been around a long time, but I don’t see that really in V-twin, and there’s a lot of that in racing. Teams test together. Mechanics develop parts together, and the best man wins on the weekend.” Applying that philosophy of bros before woes, Hart assembled a team he’d developed a friendship with because they were like-minded, and he generally just liked hanging out with the dudes.
Once the guys agreed and showed up, it was go-time. And with that, the fridge contents were emptied. Then the actual work began. They were bouncing ideas off each other, collaborating, creating, designing, there was really a lot of creativity going down at Carey’s shop.
Cutler and Favaro were going to tackle the sheetmetal. Kraus, Hart, and Big B were going to work on the aesthetics, the stance, the suspension, how it was gonna shape out in a racing type setup. “Satya and I were doing a lot of the fabricating. And Jake and Evan were doing a lot of the sheetmetal, which was very time consuming. But to watch those guys do their craft is amazing,” Hart recalls. What would be a weeklong collaboration basically ended up with the almost finished product.
Cutler took the perfectly good factory tank and decided to cut holes in both sides. He’s actually a very meticulous fabricator, and he knew the knee cutouts would add a lot of function to the ride quality of hugging that bike oh-so tight around the 156 turns at Pike’s Peak. It also adds the right styling aesthetic to the race-inspired machine. Cutler also hand-made the dash from scratch. Favaro built the front cowling in Hart’s shop. Just the right amount of wind deflection, and a whole lotta panache. Favaro also hand dabbed a cool one-piece side panel and reworked the rear fender with a helping hand from Cutler. As for Kraus and his role, well Hart and Kraus have worked on several projects together over the years. “Satya is one of the first people in the V-twin world who I became friends with from a bike building standpoint,” Hart explains. “We just hit it off right away. I feel like we both have the same agenda and goals to push the performance side of V-twin.”
Once everything was fabbed, tacked, finish-welded, and smoothed, paint played an integral role in keeping with the racing theme. Hart enlisted longtime friend and skilled painter, Chris Wood from Airtrix, to tackle the duties. “I got hooked up with Chris probably about 10 years ago, and he would do some of my helmet painting for motocross. We ended up being neighbors,” Hart says. “He’s just badass, man. I love his style. His whole creative outlook on things. And anytime I do a project the two of us just sit down over a beer or two, have a chat and come up with the ideas.” In fact, Wood has designed all of Hart’s signature helmets with Bell, and he’s done all of Hart’s V-twins to date.
And let’s not forget about Big B. Hart and B, both from Las Vegas, have been working together for years. Big B is really the one that keeps Hart in line. “He’s sort of the backbone for keeping me organized with getting the parts on track and providing an extra set of hands,” Hart says. “He’s also a person that when I get stuck in the middle of something, he’s brutally honest with me. And he’ll tell me something looks bitchin, or ‘no, that looks f*g stupid, start over.’” Hart says that his life has been pretty crazy lately, chasing his wife and kids around on a world tour, and that Big B is the guy he can count on to get things handled while Hart is globetrotting. “He saves me a ridiculous amount of time so I can stay focused on the projects that I have to do. But we also have a lot fun with this,” Hart says. That part is clear. Just take a look at either Hart or Big B’s social media channels for the shenanigans. “It’s a passion of ours, and we’re not going to pretend we’re something we’re not, and we’re going to have fun doing it,” Hart explains.
When the bike was finished, it was decided it would be unveiled at the One Show in Portland, Oregon, this past February. The bike was very well received. “It was really cool to see there was such a positive response,” Hart recalls. “I think that my favorite thing was overhearing conversations like ‘What is that? I mean, I know it’s an Indian, but what the hell is it?’ It really just kind of baffled people that it was a Springfield, and it’s cool to show what you can do with these motorcycles.”
As for next steps in Pikes Peak prep, Hart plans to spend some time at the track with his new road racer. “I’m going to take it out to Buttonwillow and do a couple shakedown track days on it, and see if it’s penciling out properly,” Hart says. “Then, I’m going to hook up with Jake Zemke from GP Suspension and do some suspension testing—just play with the stance of the bike.” Then the guys at Fox shocks are gonna help Hart out with shock lengths to ensure the bike is properly balanced and copasetic, it will most likely be ready for Pikes Peak. “After I do some testing on it and if it does what I think it’s going to do, without putting my foot in my mouth, my goal is to race Pike’s Peak.” AIM