Custom 2016 Indian Scout Inspired By The Past
By Greg Williams • Photos by Mark Velazquez
Imagine stepping into a time machine. Those interested in the fate of the human race might choose to leap forward. Others with a sense of nostalgia might prefer to rewind and revisit. Sam Kiley of Indian Motorcycle of Northern New Jersey didn’t have a time machine at his disposal. But he dug into the past for inspiration when building a machine for the 2016 Project Scout Dealer Contest.
Taking elements of Indians from the 1920s, he updated the details with a slightly more modern taildragger look. “We started off with two concepts,” Sam says of his design process. “One was a hot rod drag bike theme, the other a dual sport idea.
“Neither concept was really grabbing me. But when I was looking through a book on Indians by Buzz Kanter, I saw an early Chief with long fenders and no skirts. That’s when the inspiration hit.”
Sam stripped down a brand-new 2016 Indian Scout and photographed the bare machine. He then scanned the images, tracing over them with some of his design ideas, which included swapping out the stock size 16″ rims with larger 18″ wheels, both front and back. After drawing in fenders, he realized the shop had a set of takeoff Chief fenders that might suit the build.
Early in this process, Sam’s co-workers all laughed when he cut out cardboard discs to fill in for a set of wheels. With the cardboard stuck inside a set of 18″ tires front and rear, Sam laid the Chief fenders in place. He liked the look but not the full skirts that set the modern Chief apart from all other motorcycles on the market.
Out came the grinder with a cut-off disc on the spindle. Sam pared away the skirts, adding to the rear fender a set of inner struts fabricated using 1/4″ flat steel stock. Neither front nor rear fender was chopped for length. The flare at each end is exactly how it came on the original Chief. Sam added filler panels around the inner edge of each fender, cut and shaped to follow the contour of the wheels. A Ford taillight was frenched in place, and the rear fender was further modified when Sam widened the left side to act as a belt guard.
Speaking of rolling stock, Sam upgraded the cardboard discs to Xtreme Machine Execute rims in black-cut Xquisite finish. The front wheel measures 3.5-18″, the rear 5.5-18″. Both are wrapped in Avon tires. Rotors are matching Execute style. Meant to fit Harley-Davidsons, the Extreme Machine wheels called for Sam to machine spacers in order to line up in the Indian chassis.
Sam contacted Jeff Schwindt of AirFX Air Ride systems in Terre Haute, Indiana, to talk about the Scout. Jeff was familiar with Indian Chief’s suspension components, but hadn’t yet built a system for a Scout. As they were talking, Sam realized an air ride system wouldn’t allow the Scout’s kickstand to operate effectively. That’s when Jeff offered to fabricate one of his proprietary air-operated Landing Gear centerstands for Sam’s Scout.
Sam measured how high and how low he wanted the Scout to go, removed the rear shocks and front forks, and sent them to Jeff. A week later, Sam says, he had the completely modified suspension components back in his hands, the compressor, valves, and air tank included.
“I didn’t really know where all of those pieces were going to go,” Sam explains of the air ride control components. A place to install them opened up when Sam removed the stock Indian airbox. “It’s tight, but I got it all to fit,” he says.
In place of the airbox, Sam fit a universal cone-style air filter. Wanting more air to reach the intake system, Sam embarked on an ambitious project. Armed with a drill chucked with a 4-1/2″ hole saw, Sam cut through the top center of the Scout’s gas tank. Once completely through, a piece of 4-1/2″ diameter steel tube was welded in place, creating a channel for air to flow. To allow the Scout to breathe even more freely, Sam formed a piece of sheet steel into a low scoop, finally MIG-welding it in place atop the tank.
For the seat, Sam started with the 1920 Solo Saddle, an accessory available from Indian. The tan leather cover was removed, and the metal pan shaped and trimmed before new hard mounts were made to locate the pan closer to the frame, tucking the rider closer into the Scout. When that chopping and cutting work was done, the pan was powdercoated black and sent out for a new ostrich-hide cover.
Custom handlebars were made from a set of 1″-diameter universal bars of unknown origin. To get the stock 7/8″ Scout switchgear and throttle to fit, Sam cut off the outer ends of the 1″ bar, welding in place smaller diameter ends. Reshaping and polishing the brake and clutch levers modified the hand controls, and universal bar-end mirrors top off the package. Replacing the Scout’s footpegs is a set of Chief Billet floorboards, mounted with custom-made brackets.
Sam selected matching Headwinds Concours Mariah Rocket headlight and signal lights, modifying the headlight’s mounting bracket to fit the Scout’s fork. All that was left was an exhaust, and Sam made one up using leftover tubing found in the shop’s take-off bin.
The frame and handlebars were sent out for black powdercoat, as were many of the new mounts Sam had created. Fenders and tank were delivered to Bob Folz of Toon Town Kustoms in Riverdale, New Jersey, for a stunning paint job using House of Kolor black Metajuls and silver paint. Bob also hand-painted the famous Indian headdress, and the silver stripe is set off with a red pinstripe. With support from the entire Indian Motorcycle of New Jersey team, Sam had the Scout done in nine weeks.
“The bike is nimble and light to ride,” Sam says of the finished Scout, which has since gone to live with its new owner, Devon Katzev.
“We built a show bike that rides very well and garners attention wherever it goes.”
Sam turned the calendar back to bring this bike to the here and now, and it’ll look just as good in the future. AIM 350
This custom Indian Scout was featured in Issue #350 of American Iron Magazine.