JEREMY CUPP'S 1925 INDIAN CHIEF NAMED "RANSOM"
There was an old fella', a local legend really, who I'd made friends with in my travels. Supposedly, being invited to pick through his stash meant you were pretty much family to him.
His prize possession was his '25 Indian Chief, somewhat complete, which lived in the mans bedroom. He'd joked that someday I'd probably end up with it, because he'd love to see it turned into something really special.
Fast forward a few years later and his health started to decline. He stopped into the shop one day to tell me he had something for me, and that I needed to come see him at his home. I had no idea what it could be. As I'd thought about the conversations we had years earlier all of it was just a pipe dream...
When I arrived, sitting there in the front yard, was his grail, the Indian 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.
Now that I had the Indian in my possession, I felt like it was gonna have to be some of my best work, something that would make him proud, and something that wouldn't bring too much attention to him... Just the way he liked things...
It wasn't until after he has passed on a short time later that I was able to get started, and I regret he never got to see it finished.
Photo by David Carlo
THE INSPIRATION FOR CUSTOMIZING THIS NEARLY 100 YEAR OLD MOTORCYCLE
The bike was missing a lot of parts, though what was there had survived nearly 100 years without being altered. I couldn't bring myself to cut anything, so i decided to use the powertrain and build from scratch my version of an Indian Chief.
I've developed a habit over the last few bikes of drawing inspiration from early race bikes, hillclimber, board trackers, speedway racers etc. I came across a wall of death bike that was used in Germany back in the 30's that just spoke to me and decided that would be this builds inspiration.
TWO THINGS I DON'T LIKE: RED PAINT AND LEAF SPRING FRONT ENDS
Immediately, I had two personal obstacles to overcome, leaf springs and red paint. The way I see it, I've never really been a fan of either but an Indian needs both.
The first thing I had to design was a leaf sprung front end that I could live with, and in doing so it sort of gave birth to the color and metal finish scheme I'd hoped to achieve. The polished billet front end would blend from modern and shiny to a more traditional and patina look as you move your eyes to the rear.
The paint was easy, I like black, so I googled "black red" and it turned out to be a standard color on the RAL color chart....done! I made the tank from aluminum as well to help continue the contrasting finishes. Most of the other parts I plated with electroless nickel followed by gun blue and then a with a quick rub with a scotch brite pad.
SOME OF THE BUILDER'S FAVORITE FEATURES
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 ratcheting shifting, which uses a few Triumph parts mounted on the top of the case.
I was also able to stuff an entire electronic ignition, including the coil, inside of the original magneto housing. The continuation of the seat onto the tank is part of the Wall of death design, giving a place to sit or stand and give off a thrill.
THE STORY BEHIND THE NAME "RANSOM"
While building my own version of such a bike, I couldn't help but think of my friend, Charlie Ransom. Right around this time, I'd learned Charlie had left the spectacle of wall riding to live a quieter life... and it seemed no one had noticed.
Charlie to me is a living legend, a walking, talking piece of American history... and one of the few truly Genuine people I've met in this life. Charlie has left a mark on me and my family as well, and he belongs in a hall of fame somewhere, but seemed to have slipped away nearly unnoticed. When the time came, I whipped out some gold leaf and alphanamel to pay tribute to Charlie in my own way by putting his name "Ransom" right on the tank.
Words by Jeremy Cupp
Photos by Kyle Shaub
Photo by David Carlo
1925 INDIAN CHIEF "RANSOM" BUILD LIST & TECH SHEET
Owner: Jeremy Cupp
Year/Make/Model: 2022 one off
Fabrication: LC Fabrications
Build Time: A long time
Year/Type/Size: 1925 Indian Big Chief
Carburetor: Dual Amal 600 Series
Exhaust: One Off byLC Fabrications
Air Cleaner: One off byLC Fabrications
Photo by David Carlo
Year/Type: One OffLC Fabrications
Type / Brand: Billet Leafer byLC Fabrications
Rear wheel 19"
Front Wheel 19"
Front Size: 19"
Rear Size: 19"
Paint by: Lc Fabrications
Plating/Polishing: DGM Chrome / Lc Fabrications
Powdercoating: Defensecoat RVA
Front Fender: Nope
Rear Fender: Nope
Gas Tank: One off LC Fabrications
Handlebars: LC Fabrications
Grips: LC Fabrications
Hand Controls: LC Fabrications
Foot Controls: LC Fabrications
Headlight: LC Fabrications
Taillight: Lc Fabrications
Turn Signals: Nope
Seat: Lc Fabrications
MORE PHOTOS OF 1925 INDIAN CHIEF "RANSOM"
4 cell Antigravity Battery and LC Fab Battery box
The integrated foot controls in the floor boards are so cool!
Check out that custom headlight.
Lots of stuff jammed in that magneto, 12 volt electric ignition and coil.
Beautiful custom grips