All Hail To The Chief
All Hail To The Chief
There is an elite class of motorcycles out there that has the ability to slow, nay, and halt the roll of any given passerby. This low, long stunner is most definitely a proud member of that almighty squadron. The electric, glowing, yellow finish on the huge 30inch Gorby’s Machine Arrowhead wheel and covers surely play their part in attracting a good deal of moths to this bike’s flame, but there is plenty more in store for true fans of custom bikes once they’re stopped—especially those partial to Indian motorcycles.
This ’14 Indian Chief belongs to Eric Powell, cofounder of VicBaggers Inc. For those not in the know, Eric and business partner Jacob Ferguson teamed up to design and produce parts and accessories exclusively for Victory motorcycle owners. Eric has been wrenching on motorcycles and just about anything else with a motor before he even hit his teen years, and
Jacob has an extensive background in machining and fabrication. Their forces fused rather naturally, and they have successfully secured their own spot in the Victory parts market over the years.
Once Eric learned that
Polaris purchased and released its first Indian models back in 2014, he cashed in on his
401(k) and bought the bike brand new from Falcone
Purchasing the bike wasn’t so much an impulse buy as it was as a golden opportunity to build new parts for a new motorcycle platform.
Of course, he was excited to grab and build the bike for himself, but the release of new Indian motorcycles posed such a great stage for the guys of VicBaggers to step to the drawing board and get down to business on restyling ideas. Just as many onlookers who are lured in by the striking front wheel are totally captivated by the styling of the rear end. The rear fender is a onepiece, allsteel tail made exclusively by VicBaggers, as are the saddlebags, which are fully functional, even though they appear to be built just for lowslung looks. The resulting combo is lethal as is, but to increase the caliber of appeal, pinstripe artist Mike Ralston was brought in to leave his mark on the fender and bag rear centers. Those hip to bead rolled art will recognize the work of the oneandonly Jamey Jordan on the sheetmetal panels adorning the sides of both bags.
The skeletal Indian chief puts an identifiable face to the bike among those who speak of the “Crazy Horse,” as that is the nickname this motorcycle has been given from its builders. “We started calling the bike Crazy Horse due to the bike being an Indian, obviously, but also because we had planned on unveiling the finished product near the Crazy Horse monument, which is located
in the Black Hills of South Dakota,” Eric says. “Also, the fact that we decided to jump into a bike build of this magnitude in the last six weeks leading up to Sturgis was pretty insane of us.” That amount of time leaves little to no room for error or setbacks, but these guys have a good sensibility when it comes to mapping out and planning ahead. As you can see, they were not only able to cook up the prototypes that would soon be production model items, but Eric and Jacob were able to seek out highly talented and recognizable artists to lend a creative hand in the process. “As onlookers get closer to the bike, they really begin to see the craftsmanship that went into this project. There is not another Indian like it on the planet and very few bikes of any brand that are even remotely similar.”
Judges seem to agree with Eric’s sentiment since the bike has racked up numerous award wins and honors at some of the most influential events throughout the country. Its grand release at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally reaped a hearty harvest of multiple victories during its first showing and has since piled them on at Bikes, Blues and BBQ, as well as the Lone Star Rally, just to name a few. Bagger Militia has also crowned it the “Hottest Bagger of the Year.” Sure, winning trophies and plaques is fun and reassuring, but that wasn’t the true objective behind this build for the guys at VicBaggers, even though they have accepted each win and nomination graciously and humbly.
But with a great deal of success comes a great deal of attention along with it, as there has been a good amount of talk and controversies surrounding the bike since its introduction to the show circuit. “The fact that this is a firstyear bike of the newest wave of Indian production bikes makes it a truly sought after machine,” Eric explains. “Its image has been used on rally shirts from Daytona, Myrtle Beach, and Sturgis and continues to be an icon of controversy with its image being used without consent by promotional companies.” For a bike that has made such a huge impact in the motorcycle community, many could say that both the authorized and nonauthorized use of the bike’s likeness could be construed as mere flattery. Whatever the case may be, the Crazy Horse found itself at the center of discussion and has received heavy exposure, which in itself only raises awareness of its glorious existence and speaks highly of the tight orchestration VicBaggers is capable of, especially while they were under the gun.
Nothing about VicBaggers’ Indian creation is average or “business as usual” in many respects, and Eric would be the first one to admit that fact. “What we keep looking back to in hindsight is the timeline that we gave ourselves,” he says.
“It was totally impractical. With the entire backbone, fuel tanks, complete tailsection, trees, front suspension, custom machined lights and fuel caps—not to mention that the bike had to be completely rewired, a bunch of body work had to be done, and there was a new paint job to be done to top it all off— this was a job that could’ve been stretched over a greater period of time. We are still surprised that we got it done in time, and it would’ve been impossible to do without a great team, and everyone involved gave this bike their full care and attention.”
The end result of the madness surrounding the momentous build has been a nonstop whirlwind of praise and admiration for a job incredibly well done. There couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate the return of the Indian Motorcycle than to embark on groundup construction/reconstruction of a bike such as the Crazy Horse. Now, instead of being solely focused on Victory motorcycle parts and accessories, VicBaggers has now invested their efforts into creating product for Indian models, which is a great resource for fellow builders and bike fanatics alike, even though the crew at VicBaggers is experiencing a level of busy that sometimes jumps off the charts. But their longer days and nights and increased time in the office are the sacrifices they’re making for Indian Motorcycle enthusiasts and lovers of twowheeled works of art across the globe. If this kind of crazy isn’t what you imagine as being a good time, you may want to reconsider your entire outlook on life.