When Clayton Schaefer from Street Spirit Cycles received a phone call from a customer asking whether he would “café my Indian?” his first thought was “there’s no way, it would be a sacrilege!”. He just couldn’t imagine taking the sawzall to a piece of motorcycle history. “But as we went back and forth I learned that we weren’t just talking about any Indian”, says Clayton. ”We were talking about the Indian that bankrupted the company: the slow, awkward, 213cc cousin of the beloved big twins”. You see, the Arrow 149 was one of the last bikes to roll out of the original Indian factory floor before they went out of business. It seems the development costs and teething problems of this little motorcycle may have actually been the final nail in the coffin. So with that in mind Clayton took on the job – but decided to leave the sawzall alone.
Triton. The name raises the hairs on the neck of any dyed-in-the-wool café racer. Often cited as the genre’s ultimate engineering expression, it came into being due to the fact that the 60′s best engine and frame just so happened to exist in two completely different bikes. Norton’s Featherbed frame was more than a match for their temperamental 650 and 750 twins, yet Triumph’s T120 650 engine was well known for reliability and a fondness for mods, but alas it was trapped in an average frame. Then hey presto, the Triumph-engined, Norton-framed ‘Triton’ was born. And the Tribsa, the Norbsa, the Norvin… and the Trdian. No, we hadn’t heard of it either, until a few days ago. And now we can’t get enough. Meet the world’s first Triumph Indian, Peace Frog’s rather amazing new ‘Trdian’.
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Another piece of motorcycle history I admired at the Deus shop was this old Indian Scout. I know it’s not a cafe racer but it would have been one hell of a ride back in its day.
In the 1920′s the Scout gained reputation for strength and reliability, which led to the old Indian saying: “You can’t wear out an Indian Scout, or its brother the Indian Chief. They are built like rocks to take hard knocks; it’s the Harleys that cause grief.” Them are fightin words!
I found this shot of a beautiful old 4 cyclinder Ace Motorcycle from 1920 and had to post it. The Ace Motor Corporation didn’t last long after numerous owners. It changed hands for the last time in 1927, when it was purchased by the Indian Motocycle Company. The Ace name was discontinued after a few years. Indian motorcycle production continued for another 25 years until 1945.
Watch the vid if you want to hear how they sound and ride.