My first encounter with Indian was when
I was 15; I was going through an old family album and I found one picture
of this massive motorbike with some guy dressed in old riding leathers.
When I asked my mother about the picture, she said that was my Grandfather,
and that was his Indian motorcycle. He was in Taiwan back when it used
to be a Japanese colony, he was cruising the country on, I don't remember
exactly, but I think his bike was probably a Chief.
Now, after waiting almost 30 years, I finally
got my own Indian motorcycle. I moved to this area, about 30 miles from
about 10 years ago, one of my neighbors here is an old man who's hobby
is restoring vintage cars and motorcycles. He is a magician, turning pieces
of scrap yard rust, into shining restorations that you would be forgiven
for mistaking for brand new. I spent many hours watching the man at work,
whenever I had a spare minute, learning all I could about restoring bikes.
One day, 10 years ago, the old man came
to me asking if I was interested in buying his brother's Scout 101 from
him. His brother, also a vintage restoration nut, was finding the Indian
too much for him to ride as he has rheumatism quite bad in one of his legs,
and had finally decided to part with it, hoping to find a new owner who
would take good care of his baby.
Immediately I arranged to go and see the
bike, never having ever seen such a machine before in Japan. When I first
set eyes on it, well, it is hard to describe: I have had many motorbikes
before, but this was a totally different kind of creature. He took me to
his garage, dusted off the layers that had been collecting over the last
ten years he had not been able to ride it, and kicked it, just a couple
of times, to life. The Indian awoke from its long sleep like Aladdin's
lamp, with a big plume of white smoke, but instead of a genie, out of the
cloud came my Indian. I got goosebumps all over, and that was that. I decided
on the spot without asking the price that this was MY bike.
The 101 Scout after restoration.
101 Scout in front.
Scouts belonging to friends.
how I got my Indian, but that's not the beginning of the story. This bike's
original owner had been a doctor, but during World War II, the army confiscated
every last piece of metal they could gather from civilians: pots, pans,
everything, including motorbikes, were all melted down for munitions, airplanes,
and ship building. But because he was a doctor, fortunately he was allowed
to keep his bike. That's one lucky escape. In those times motorcycles were
a real extravagance, the money invested in one bike was enough to buy a
house. Some people understandably could not part with their cherished possessions,
and as a last resort had to bury their bikes underground to avoid them
becoming part of a ship's propeller or the like. After even as many as
fifty years there have been stories of people investigating possible sites,
to find buried treasures of motorcycles!
Now, in present times, because of the rarity
of such bikes, spare parts are virtually non-existent in Japan, so my Indian
was something of a Frankenstein's monster, with all kinds of improvisations
to keep it running. Also there is no information about these bikes here,
any knowledge that was, was never written down, and now lies under the
ground with the long gone original owners. So one day, I was fixing the
Indian in the front of my shop, when out of the blue this guy stopped by
who seemed to know quite a lot about Indians. We were talking about the
difficulty of finding parts in Japan, when he mentioned to me, the 101
Association in US and one Mr. George Yarocki.
That's how I came to find out about 101 Indian scout, and have been able
to put together my bike back to near its original style. I never saw this
man again, before or since, perhaps he was some kind of Indian angel.
Still there is a long way to go, but slowly
but surely I'm getting there. After I got infected with Indian syndrome
I ended up with 7 Indians in my garage. It is a very contagious sickness.
So be careful. I don't really know how many Scouts are in existence in
Japan. I have seen quite a few Chiefs, but rarely ever a Scout. Too many
would like to organize some kind of Indian club here in Japan, meanwhile
my Indian scouting will continue. If you know of anybody in Japan who owns
an Indian, please let me know. Any information will be greatly appreciated.
Cool Sport Scout racer imported
from Texas. Now converted to street duty with a front brake.
Click to watch the video
(and there's lots more cool
videos there too!)