In 2004, legendary custom motorcycle builder Indian Larry died of head injuries during a motorcycle stunt. The untimely death rocked the world of custom choppers, especially Indian partner Larry, Paul Cox and Keino Sasaki. After collaborating on an Indian tribute bike to Larry, the two artisans went their separate ways. However, after nearly 15 years apart, Indian Motorcycle has reunited the two manufacturers for the 2022 Chief Custom Build-Off campaign.
Starting with an all-new Dark Horse Indian Chief, Cox and Sasaki knew the streamlined platform suited their style and strengths.
“The Chief was already a bit retro, but with modern touches that would make a cool take on a first chopper,” Cox noted. “From there, we chose specific tasks to take on and got down to business. Keino wanted to take care of the manufacturing and the gas tank exhaust, and I chose to build a custom front end.
Similar to the iconic Indian Larry chopper style, the team of master builders removed the front brake system, ditched the hand levers, and adopted a suicide clutch. The pair also mounted the rear fender directly to the swingarm. While the creative decision effectively eliminates passenger accommodation, it also achieves the appearance of a tire-hugging chopper without sacrificing rear suspension. Cox and Sasaki also reuse the front fender ornament from the brake light fairing mounted on the fender.
Of course, the team couldn’t replicate the Indian Larry’s twist down tube on the 2022 Chief’s cradle frame, but Cox’s Girdraulic front and steering damper setup is inspired by much of its predecessor. Unlike most helicopter builds, the duo also had to accommodate the leader’s advanced electronics and the TFT Ride Command display. Sasaki’s hand-shaped gas tank perfectly integrated the round four-inch touchscreen into the design while the pair hid much of the electronics under the seat.
“I painted the bike, including Keino’s hand-made gas tank, in my custom Soylent Green metal flake,” Cox added, “and hand-shaped a leather saddle for the bike, complementing the paint with the black rimmed wheels. “
The old school look Cox and Sasaki get with Indian Chief 2022 would certainly make Indian Larry proud. Indian Chief Cox-Keino will make his debut in Michael Lichter’s Custom Motorcycle Gallery at the 81st Sturgis Motorcycle Rally before returning home to Nikko Hurtado’s Black Anchor Tattoo Salons in Hollywood and Hesperia, Calif.
Fortunately, Cox-Keino Chief is only the first custom in the three-part series. Later this year, Indian will also unveil the “Bratstyle” version of Carey Hart and Go Takamine on the platform.