Street Chopper - - Ignition - WORDS: MARK MASKER PHO­TOS: PAUL MORTON

What the hell’s your game, John Shope? Af­ter years of be­ing one of the lead­ers in the cus­tom bag­ger genre, you’ve started chang­ing shit up on us. It’s as if you’ve seen that the big-wheel thing is over and it’s time to branch out into build­ing other bikes. First it was your line of cus­tom Scout ac­cou­trements, then it was that green Sof­tail you three-peated your way to vic­tory with at last year’s GEICO Hot Bike Tour, fol­lowed by that new line of Dyna parts, and now you’ve gone full hooli­gan on us with these two 2016 In­dian Scout tracker bikes. Not only are they ex­cel­lent race- bikes, but they’re also text­book ex­am­ples of what smart bike builders do: When a fad dies, branch out and make parts for all kinds of scoots.

Rac­ing and cus­tomiz­ing are both very com­pet­i­tive an­i­mals, of­ten team­ing hand in hand to make cus­tomers take no­tice. It’s a rou­tine as old as mo­tor­cy­cling it­self, with both Har­ley and In­dian lead­ing the way in the early days. You race, you get no­ticed, and peo­ple buy your parts for their bikes. That’s why In­dian was ea­ger to get in­volved when one of the best and bright­est in the cus­tom bike game got into rac­ing.

John had al­ready lined up Kuryakyn’s spon­sor­ship for his rac­ing ef­fort when In­dian reached out to get in­volved. Kuryakyn had told the folks at In­dian what was up, and the story pro­gressed from there. John al­ready had a good re­la­tion­ship with the fac­tory due to his line of cus­tom Scout parts. Mov­ing ahead with a new line of tracker stuff was win-win for ev­ery­body. “I saw those other guys do­ing it and fig­ured, ‘You know what? I can do this,’ ” John says. “I’ve done mo­tocross. It’s a good pro­mo­tion. I want to make the parts for Scout own­ers. If I have to beat my body up to get them to no­tice them, so be it.”

John’s fin­ished rac­ers are what you see here.

His shop, Dirty Bird Con­cepts, made the top trees, mid- con­trols, the fork brace, and pipe, among other things: “We made that whole ass end for it,” he says. “It’s pretty crazy. It took for­ever. You gotta set these bikes up. There’s no front brake. A lot of changes have to be made to make them race ready. You can’t just take a Scout and go out there. Well, you can but not if you want to be com­pet­i­tive.”

Just look at the foot­pegs. The right one sits low while the left is po­si­tioned higher. It makes the con­tin­u­ous left turns on the flat-track eas­ier. Also, Dirty Bird Con­cepts is ac­tu­ally mak­ing and sell­ing said ass end for those who want the tracker look on their own In­di­ans.

In­dian kicked over two 2016 Scouts for the job. That way, when one is away or off­line, John can still run the other for prac­tice. Jeff Reynolds helped John put these ma­chines to­gether and races the other for the team. The hooli­gan game has changed since it heated up a few years ago though. “It’s tougher than I thought it would be,” John says. “Those guys are crazy— they’re pros. Hope­fully I didn’t bite off more than I can chew.”

Given John’s pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence rac­ing mo­tocross and his wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence de­sign­ing and fab­ri­cat­ing parts, I’m sure he’ll work it out. Or maybe his son will pi­lot one of these Scouts for the team some­day. John likes watch­ing the other classes race, and his son is get­ting into it too. “I have a vin­tage 500 I race, and my son is start­ing to race,” John says. “It’s evolv­ing into a cool fam­ily deal.” SC


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