Every once in awhile we come across a bike a bit different and may not be what you expect to be seen in the pages of HOT BIKE. When Mike Tomas owner of Kiwi Indian built a bike for the One World Choppers exhibit, which showcased foreign-born bike builders, we felt the bike would make a cool feature for Street Chopper. However, once we saw all the work that went into building the Arrow Space Indian we had to put it in the pages of HOT BIKE. When the time came to photograph the bike, Mike showed up with one hell of a bike and a story to tell. So we let him give us the story on the build.
At the Cincinnati V-Twin Expo trade show in Feb '07 Michael Lichter made me an offer that I could not refuse, it was his "One World Choppers" exhibit for Sturgis. I felt honored to have been asked to represent New Zealand, this was a big deal for us. Since leaving school (almost 30 years ago) I have always been dedicated to the Indian brand. I have seen many attempts made at reviving the brand come and go mainly because none have ever understood what Indian is really about. However, for me I enjoy bringing to life a part of America's past motorcycle history. There is history to everything that we are doing today and I feel someone has to keep the history alive so it might as well be us.
Now that we had the invite the tough part of the project was the concept of what to build to showcase our abilities, talents and products. I needed to get my head around a project that was cool, old school, and unique, which is what Kiwi Indian is all about. I started a list of what features the bike should have, leaf spring fork, rigid frame, sissy bar, 21 inch front and 18 inch rear wheel, narrow tires with old style tread, peanut gas tank, remote oil tank (un-Indian), tank nose art graphics, narrow rear fender, no front fender, straight exhausts, ape hangers, left hand throttle (typical Indian), right side hand shifter, foot clutch, custom seat, steering dampener and some design theme worked into the frame.
Designing a bike with our engine offers a lot of freedom in the design process since our engine is 2-1/2 to 3 inches shorter than that of a Harley based engine. We're one of the few motorcycle engine manufacturers who actually make a proprietary engine in the USA. When you get on any Kiwi Indian bike you will immediately notice the low center of gravity and the unique and easy handling of our bikes; light, nimble, smooth, and just plain fun. This is what motorcycles are all about and what most builders overlook and don't build into their bikes today.
I wanted the frame to be as structural as possible and I thought it would look better if we made the rockets with a hole through them and had them chrome plated and then slid them over the frame locking them into place with set screws (grub screws down under) and then welding the frame tubes to the neck and rear axle mounts. While it is a lot of work, I felt the end result would be surprisingly brilliant if I could ever pick the right shade of red as the color was going to be key in making our chrome rockets "pop." Nobody knows how much I really hate picking colors and picking the red was a big chore. I went through every brand of car dealership, domestics, foreign, I finally saw the red I was after, on a '07 VW Jetta in Salsa Red. That was it, no doubt about it.
Trevelen gave us a cool oil tank, which we had to use on the build as it was a special gesture from him. However, for the longest time we could not find an appropriate spot for it. We finally found a suitable spot right above the battery and box. In that location it would reduce the direct visibility of the battery yet sit centrally above it, fill in a dead area, and look very cool while supporting the rear fender. The oil tank fins added a certain touch to this bike.