It’s no joke. Detroit Randy is cooler than you and me— and that’s not just because he’s riding around the mean streets of Detroit on a priceless 1929 Indian Four that’s been converted to electric power. It’s because he’s riding around on a priceless 1929 Indian Four that’s been converted to electric power, and he’s had the good sense to not remove nearly 100 years of patina from the iconic motorcycle.
Indian built the Four from 1928 (under the “Ace” name) until civilian production ended in 1942 at the start of WWII, but it’s been hugely influential in the motorcycle world ever since (if you doubt that, check out the Triumph Rocket 3 or upcoming Zaiser Arrow electric motorcycle). So, when “Detroit” Randy got his invitation to be an “Invited Builder” at the 2022 Born Free show in California at about the same time a ’29 Indian showed up on his radar, he knew what he had to do. He had to build something to, “shake the foundation that you stand on.”
If you’re a V-Twin/H-D “core buyer” then: prepare to get shook.
It’s All There
Part of what makes this electric Indian build so wild is the fact that Randy kept the original internal-combustion engine in place. The electric drive motor is mounted behind the block, where you’d expect the transmission to sit, while the batteries live in the leather saddlebags. It’s so obvious, so subtle— and, to my eyes, just a perfect way to keep the spirit of the old Indian Four alive while running it on clean, silent power. And that may be a good way to look at it: as the ghost of an old Indian that was defined by its engine. It still does everything it used to, but its heart just isn’t beating anymore.
If you’re looking for the road-going equivalent of hot-rod perfection, kids … I think this might be it. And, before I send you off to watch videos and leave comments, I want to send a bit of free advice to the Indian crew. Ready? Here goes: if you send me an email April 1st I will assume it is fake, no matter what’s in it.
Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
“Detroit” Randy | 1929 Electric Indian Four
Source | Images: Indian Motorcycles.