Custom Indian Chief Revealed at Wheels and Waves

Indian Motorcycle, in collaboration with Wheels & Waves, commissioned four European builders in December 2021 to design their vision of an Indian Chief for the resurgent Wheels and Waves festival. More than 35 000 people voted for their favorite design and, in combination with a panel of Super-Voters, ‘GRIND Machine’ by Tank Machine x Rise Designs was announced as the top-ranked entry. Completed in just three months, ‘GRIND Machine’ made its public debut at the opening of the Artride exhibition during Wheels and Waves on Thursday June 30 and was awarded to prize draw winner, Fabien Orquin, on the festival’s main stage on Saturday July 2.

Day of Tanks

Clément Molina founded Tank Machine in 2015 with a focus on motorcycle design, customization and the development of Plug & Play Kits. Already well known for his many outstanding customizations of Indian Motorcycle models, his submission for the Indian Chief Design beat strong competition to become the winning concept that would be turned into reality.

Custom Indian Chief

“I was honored to be chosen as one of four custom builders to submit designs for the Indian Chief,” said Molina. “As a specialist that loves working on bikes from Indian Motorcycle, I was really enthusiastic about the opportunity, only heightened by the partnership with Wheels and Waves, an event that I enjoy so much.”

Custom Indian Chief

Chairmen of the Boards

Working from the brief to create a vision of an Indian Chief inspired from the past, anchored in the present, and looking towards the future, Molina teamed up Antonin Bazin from Rise Designs to merge their board culture into the project and reflect the skate element of Wheels & Waves.

“We were really happy to win and have the opportunity to realize the design, even though it was a big challenge to complete the project in just three months for the Artride exhibition,” Molina continued. “But the process was so enjoyable, thinking about the bike, the details, working with different materials like skateboard decks, fabricating new parts and then fine tuning everything. It’s a pleasure to reveal the completed bike at Wheels and Waves and to then hand it over to Fabien. It’s great to know he truly understands and appreciates the time and effort that has gone into the build. He is the perfect new owner for me – an engineer, an engine technician, and a really good guy.”

Custom Indian Chief

VIP Treatment

Randomly selected from the thousands of public voters, Fabien Orquin, an automotive engineer from the French city of Rouen, won a VIP trip to the 2022 Wheels & Waves festival to enjoy the event and be presented with his customized Indian Chief.

“When I was told I had won, I just couldn’t believe it, it was incredible,” said Orquin. “I am so happy to know that this amazing motorcycle is going to be mine, especially because it is the design I voted for. It was also great to meet Clément and hear about the design and build process. Everything about the bike is amazing, every time I look there is another detail to discover.”

The Design and Engineering teams at Indian Motorcycle always had customizers in mind when bringing the Indian Chief to life. A key tagline being ‘Keep it simple so you can easily work on it and customize it’ and a feature of the Chief that Tank Machine took advantage of.

Custom Indian Chief

“There are so many nice pieces of the stock bike, especially the central and most beautiful piece, the engine,” said Molina. “The Indian Chief is really easy to strip back to a great base and the idea was to remove a lot of things, keep only the essentials and then build back up with a different balance, adding details that really change up the look of the final machine.”

GRIND Machine’s unique look begins with the big block Continental TKC enduro tires wrapped around black Excel spoked rims that work with new bars, new rear suspension, and one-off seat unit to change the stance and overall lines of the bike. 

Tank Machine created new wider handlebars and lower risers for a vintage style that is echoed by the gaiters applied to the forks and rolled up poncho attached to a custom bracket by webbing straps. At the rear, Öhlins piggyback shocks with longer top mounts lift the bike slightly and add a color accent as well as providing a high-quality ride. 

Custom Indian Chief

Naming Names

The one-off seat unit, all designed in house, features the names of the project’s partners discretely machined into the base and the seat pad enhances the retro bobber look with a brown leather top with waxed material sides. A bottle opener hanging from the right of the seat is a nod to the after-ride party atmosphere of Wheels & Waves and a detail that really connected with the new owner. “My hobby is brewing my own beer, and when I saw the bottle opener, it really made me smile,” said Orquin. 

Keeping the stripped back bobber look clean are hand-fabricated minimalist fenders, mini-indicators on the forks and seat unit, mini taillight and a LED headlight with ring running light. A secondary guarded PIAA yellow light adds a cool retro touch.

Custom Indian Chief

The board ulture of Ride Designs is reflected in the use of skateboard deck wood and grip tape adorning the center of the fuel tank and either side of the seat unit which are mounted with metal brackets inspired by skateboard trucks. The influences of Wheels and Waves are further heightened with Vans waffle handlebar grips and custom-made foot pegs that take inspiration from BMX grind pegs.

Photo Finishes

Also designed in conjunction with Rise Design is the aluminum engine protection plate behind the front wheel in a brushed metal finish that is also applied to the exhaust heat shield, CNC machined fuel cap and engine parts to give an old bike look on a modern machine. Textured and matte finishes have also been applied to various covers and particularly the frame where the matte finish reveals the beauty of the shape and welds of the classic-style steel frame. Adding to the retro race look, the standard headers were wrapped and mated to shorter SuperTrapp silencers.

With a paint scheme from Rise Designs that features a brushed metal base, weathered green stripes with red accents, the finishing touches to any custom are the interesting details that are only noticed on a second or third close look. For GRIND Machine, these include the decorated red throttle valve inside the custom bell housing, the cut back primary drive cover, and the creator’s logos machined into the black pulley cover and engine covers. See the latest Indian Motorcyclery here.

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