Sometimes motorcycles are designed, sometimes styled, sometimes they’re built with detailed plans, … but every now and then, they just grow. This custom seems to be the result of a challenge, “Let’s see you make something from that!” but in reality, the only challenge came from the builder himself, Dr. Robert Harms, who decided restorations had become “creatively confining and … [he] wanted to engage in projects that required a greater physical and intellectual skill set.” This Indian Kawasaki is just one result.
This is a fun bike, the more you look, the more you see, like the fully functional Ford airbag mounted where the tank would sit (the sensor is on the front fork), the taillight mounted inside a piston, the now solid plunger rear suspension acting as part of the swingarm controlled by a single shock. The list goes on and on.
Who says you need a plan to build a motorcycle? What you need are tools, a parts pile (omelet pan, saucepan), a healthy dose of creativity and a willingness to roll up your sleeves and see what works. Yep, you guessed it, it takes a “doer attitude.”
I’m tempted to call this art, but it’s a fully functional, ergonomically correct motorcycle, so it’s more than just art, but however you classify it, this is cool.
Well, who better to tell you about the bike than the builder?
From Dr. Robert Harms:
All [of my] bikes are fully functional and thoroughly tested. NOTHING is done for appearance only. Nothing is a shortcut because “it’s a show bike” as none of them are shown or displayed. All lights work, they start and stop and the dimensionality and ergonomics are correct and realistic.
Essentially all parts are either made, adapted or extensively modified. Nothing other than hardware comes off the end of a UPS truck. Parts are predominantly cheap and come from a multiplicity of sources and did not necessarily begin their existence on donor motorcycles. My major parts source is probably my lifetime stash, augmented by eBay .
All of this is built alone with the assistance of a 9″ and a 10″ South Bend, a small Enco Mill and a J model Bridgeport.
The Indian Kawasaki
This bike was the least planned in a series of unplanned bikes. I had purchased several new 2007 Kawasaki KLR 650’s that had been in a warehouse fire. After assembling one for my use and parting out two others I was left with a complete new smoke damaged motor. I also had a ’49 Indian Scout plunger frame and a DKW Earles front end in the to-be-used-someday pile.
When I began I had a vague idea of a Scout with the KLR and the DKW front end. It progressed from that point in a 10 month series of twists and turns.
The frame was modified to accept the KLR but it became immediately apparent that the tall KLR was not only “too high” but water cooled both of which presented design strictures.
After the aforementioned starts and stops and dead ends, the frame was modified to accept the motor by removing the center backbone tube and replacing it with paired of siamesed tubes that carry the water to and from the side mounted Suzuki radiator. The frame was later converted to swing arm after the OEM Indian plunger rear was welded solid, exorcised from the frame and converted to a swinging section using a KLR rear swingarm pivot. The rear wheel ( Yamaha Seca 19″ front) uses GSXR brakes The rear swingarm (Indian) box assy is now controlled by the sole HD shock which is mounted laterally under the seat. The DKW front end was widened to accept the Seca wheel with GSXR brakes and converted to a leaf spring suspension using a modified trailer spring. The front shocks are fabricated Houdaille style friction units.
The small tank at the top of the frame is the water circulation tank built from a cast aluminum omelet pan sourced from eBay. The rear gas tank (Indian camelback style) was made from sheet aluminum and TIG welded. The toolbox door was originally a derby cover from a damaged 101 Scout primary cover. The actual toolbox , like the headlight (turned from a cast aluminum saucepan) and most other parts were made on site. You may also note the piston taillight (real piston) and the 1927 Matchless shift gate and the dimensionally shrunk “Dawes” cast tractor seat.
Thanks Doc, for the up close look at this amazing bike. Projects like these just motivate more potential builders to get building instead of thinking about it. Very neat. – kneeslider