Anyone who has owned a full-on custom bike will tell you that it’s probably spent more of its life parked up, being worked on or new changes being made than it has spent out on the roads being ridden. It’s the nature of the beast and gathered around these pieces of machinery, amazing friendships are formed as the static two-wheeler acts like a campfire over which we can bond. There are of course men of but a few words and they often speak loudest when they allow someone to lay hands on their personal ride. That’s how this 1925 Indian Chief ended up in the possession of Jeremy Cupp, the uber-talented owner of LC Fabrications, who was gifted the hundred-year-old machine and did the old owner more than proud with this incredible creation.

As Jeremy tells it, “there was an old fella’, a local legend really, who I’d made friends with in my travels. Supposedly to be invited to pick through his stash meant you were pretty much family to him. His prize possession was his ’25 Chief, somewhat complete, which lived in the man’s bedroom. He’d joked that someday I’d probably end up with it, as he’d love to see it turned into something really special.” And around those parts of Virginia, Jeremy is the man to see if incredible motorcycles and first-class fabrication are what you’re after, his work is on par with anyone in the world.

A few years and the old fella’s health was failing, he popped into LC Fabrications and asked if Jeremy would come over to his home when he had time. “When I arrived, there in the front yard, was the Chief waiting to be loaded. He hadn’t much to say, as he never did, and I usually obliged by not saying too much either, but I understood completely.” With the Chief back at his shop, Jeremy knew this would have to be some of the best work he’d ever done, he wanted nothing more than to make the old man proud.

Not wanting to lay an angle grinder on such a special thing that had survived a century, and with many parts missing, Jeremy decided to pluck out the powertrain and use it as the basis for a custom creation. With a love for the vintage bikes of old, like board trackers and speedway bikes, this Chief would be sculpted in the image of a ‘Wall of Death’ like machine. “Immediately I had two personal obstacles to overcome, leaf springs and red paint. The way I see it, an Indian needs both, and I’ve never been a fan of either. I had to design a leaf-sprung front end that I could live with, and it sort of gave birth to the colour and metal finish scheme I’d hoped to achieve.”

Starting at the front of the bike, the leaf spring design is simply a work of art, here you get to see and appreciate the extraordinary skill that Jeremy has when it comes to metalwork. From every angle with which you take it in, there is something new to see, and the one-off design is a pure example of form and function combining into a single beautiful piece that also happens to flow perfectly into the machine that it serves. From the glimmering leaves themselves to the flawless welds and the internal cabling, every detail has been thought through and executed to a level only a select few are capable of achieving. 

“The polished billet front end would blend from modern and shiny to more traditional and patina as you move to the rear. The paint was easy, I like black, so I Googled “black red” and it turned out to be a standard colour on the RAL colour chart….done!” Jeremy smiles. With so many unique finishes, Jeremy opted to give the fuel tank one of its own and crafted the entire piece from Aluminium. Again you can see the man’s skills on display, with the lightweight alloy featuring both beautiful lines and a look that appears as if it could have been crafted by a Cupp counterpart, 100 years earlier.

“Most of the other parts I plated with electrolysis nickel, followed by gun blue and then a quick rub with a Scotch-Brite pad.” The seat and the tank topper were also custom crafted in-house, and when you realise that Jeremy did everything from the one-off frame, to the handlebars, light surrounds, hand and foot controls, and grips you begin to appreciate just what a talent he is.

“Some other things I’m proud of on this bike are the dual rear drums with cutaway back plates to reveal all the working parts, the swinging rear axle dropouts, which were based on a bicycle design, and the ratchet shifting.”

The engine in all of its vintage glory also received the custom Cupp touch, with a hand-crafted metal filter feeding the pair of 600 series Amal carbs. The exhaust system too was brilliantly built at LC Fab, looking again like it could have been done 100 years ago by a master craftsman and the factory magneto now hides a coil and electronic ignition.

“The continuation of the seat onto the tank is part of the wall of death design, giving a place to sit and stand and thrill. While building my own version of such a bike, I couldn’t help but think of my friend, Charlie Ransom.” 

For whom Jeremy has named the bike, a tip of the cap to a living legend. Sadly the old man himself never lived to see the bike completed, but we can all stand in testimony as to the incredible chief that Mr Cupp has created in his honour.

LC Fabrications – Instagram | Photos by Harleigh Cupp ]