The Indian Motorcycle company might be one of the world’s oldest, and certainly was a dominant player in the early decades, but it’s easy to forget their 50 plus years of struggle. So, when industry giant Polaris took over the brand hopes were high of a return to the glory days. Wisely they started slow and built a solid base, before energising the entire industry with the rip-roaring FTR. Then at Easter time this year, they dropped a nice surprise, the all-new 2022 Chief not only had been built with customisation in mind but a Custom Build Program was announced that included the legend himself, Go Takamine. Now we can finally reveal his creation, a glorious Brat Style’d bobber, built for a Hollywood superstar.
For decades, Go has been building some of the most incredible old school Indians and such is his genius and style, that he has a home base in both Tokyo and Los Angeles. His personal Indian Sport Scout can be seen cruising the streets of LA or ripping it up at any number of vintage dirt track meetings. His workshops too, are almost a shrine to the Indian brand, but missing from the stable has always been one of the company’s modern machines. So, you know the master had to have been pretty impressed with the 2022 Chief to finally be tempted to tackle the new age.
Along with his popularity, this is why so many have been eager to see the bike that now sits before you. Could a modern Indian really capture the raw motorcycle charisma of their classic cousins? The answer is clearly yes, and Go was always going to be the man to set the standard, sticking to his less is more belief and delivering a knockout build that features a host of his Brat Style touches. But the process would all start with the delivery of a brand new bike to Go’s LA workshop and a chance for the man himself to envisage a path forward.
A vintage aesthetic was always going to be on the cards, but the bike had to feel it too, and deliver that unmistakable experience of riding something real and mechanical; too many modern bikes have no soul! So the first step was to revise the suspension and part of that was to simply do away with the rear shocks and convert the bike to a rigid. A custom pair of solid struts were fabricated, and beautifully mirror the lines of the frame for an ultra-clean look.
For the front suspension, custom fork shrouds were made in the classic style of old.The bodywork was next on the chopping block and the front and rear fenders were both shown the door. “Rather than creating a flashy look, I wanted to create a simple customization,” Takamine says. To help to achieve this the rear fender is replaced with one taken from a ’37 Ford, that would normally cover its spare tyre. Its beautifully rolled lines have to be appreciated up close and Go has added to the styling by incorporating an ornate end piece that once found a home on a 1940s Indian Chief. Custom made struts match the look and have been topped off with a line matching mini sissy bar.
The fuel tank may at first appear to be standard, and Go was a fan of the factory lines from the start, so rather than throw it away he opted to work with what he had. With all the juice drained out of it, the tank was cut down the centre and narrowed by two inches, before being mounted back on the frame with new fixtures to drop it further over the backbone. The colour scheme is a classic, to match the black frame the dark hue is used in conjunction with silver, and the beautiful scallops on the tank are then pinstriped in antique gold to match the logos.
To give the chariot its perfect saddle, a generous base was bent up that pivots off the front and is sprung at the rear to give it just the right height to match the controls, before being stitched up in rough-out leather. With those controls being a set of Brat Style bars held in place with vintage brass setback risers.
Going for his signature clean aesthetic, Go found a compromise with the innovative touchscreen and Ride Command gauge, mounting it to the side and retaining the factory switch blocks to control it. These also give the rider control over the Brat tail light and vintage headlight with inlaid brass coin. The footpegs feature more of the vintage Indian pieces, so to the belt guard and the engine, with a custom aged piece made by Go for the timing cover.
That engine is a beautiful beast straight from the factory and is one of the Cheif’s key selling points, delivering performance as good as it looks. So not wanting to play with it too much, a set of custom headers release the gases via twin reverse cone mufflers for a meaty sound.
So who is this Hollywood star? Well Nicholas Hoult of Mad Max and X-Men fame happens to have become a bit of a biker and when a friend in the industry heard his favourite builder, the legend Go Takamine was crafting an Indian, he had to have it. Turns out even the rich and famous escape the worries of the world on two-wheels, and what a brilliant brat to do it on.