John Shope’s De-Baggered 2016 Indian Chieftain Dark Horse

This Dirty Bird Concepts Indian custom is all about corners and speed

Big-wheel, long-bag tourers will always be a part of the custom scene. Just like long choppers with fat back tires, the big bagger aesthetic is here to stay. It’s fading fast into the background but there’ll always be someone somewhere who wants a huge front hoop and extended bags on their Street Glide. John Shope understands the big bagger better than a lot of people, seeing as how he and his Dirty Bird Concepts create a lot of them. Having said that, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

John is tired of poser-licious mega-baggers with stretched saddlebags and gigantic front wheels.

Okay, so maybe it’s not a secret anymore. “I’m just tired of baggers,” he said. “I just want to ride. For my personal riding, I don’t want the long poser bags. They don’t ride.” That’s why his personal bike, this 2016 Indian Dark Horse, hath no saddlery. “I wanted to build a cornering monster and something to blow the wind off of me, with a badass stereo too,” he continued.

John Shopes de-baggerized bagger.

John Shope’s de-baggerized bagger. No, that’s not him after finding the fountain of youth.

Paul Morton

That’s the mindset he brought when he began morphing this Indian into a straight-up custom. John focused on upping the grunt, improving suspension, and adding a great fairing and an awesome sound system. This being Dirty Bird we’re talking about, he of course stylized it with a generous sprinkling of his shop’s parts.

All of which is cool for more style. Deep cornering is more of a suspension issue than an aesthetic one though. That’s why the stock shocks and front springs had to go. Indian’s suspension is fine for normal riding but we’re not talking about what most people call normal. “We added Progressive shocks in the back, a rake kit to kill the front wobble, and stiffer front springs,” John elaborated. “I can lay that thing down in the corners. It’s not a club bike, there’s no air ride. Because you can lay it over like a Dyna, it’s awesome.”

removed saddlebags

Extended bags and hard cornering get along about as well as fat rabbits and hungry wolverines. That’s why John went against the trend of longer bags on this Indian.

Paul Morton

flat black bagger

Sinthium laid down the flat black for John’s personal ride.

Paul Morton

custom made fairing

John’s pretty amped on that full fairing: “We make that fairing for those Indians. You can buy it from us.”

Paul Morton

cam work and Carey Foss exhaust

The combination of cam work and Carey Foss exhaust gives him plenty of pep at a twist of the wrist. “It’s built to go into corners and weave in and out of traffic,” John says. “I ride that sucker to work. I don’t pull over for nobody and they can’t catch me. That’s how that goes.”

Paul Morton

cleaned up back fender

Of course John cleaned up the back fender. No need for it to be ugly.

Paul Morton

John Shope custom airbox

John didn’t turn the mill into a drag racer but he did optimize the power output. The airbox is his handiwork.

Paul Morton

Guys Upholstery’s handiwork on motorcycle seat

Guy’s Upholstery’s handiwork on the seat and the tank.

Paul Morton