Today’s world of custom motorcycle building is overflowing with raw and natural talent. It’s a blessing for us, the consumers, the riders — but it’s somewhat of a curse for the builders. How do you stand out in such a rich pool of talent? That’s the task Indian Motorcycle Company set forth for three top-level custom bike builders — Keino Sasaki, Satya Kraus and Roland Sands, in collaboration with skateboard legend Steve Caballero — to see how each would tackle the new Indian Scout Bobber. The Scout Bobber provides a great foundation for artistic expression, it’s a blank canvas of sorts. So it’s no surprise that each shop created a unique work of art that clearly shows what sets them apart from each other and the rest of the industry.
Roland Sands and Steve Caballero
Roland Sands Design
Q: Where did you draw your inspiration from when building this bike?
A: It was really Cab’s direction of what he wanted to go with. I just threw some ideas out there and sketched up a couple things for him. But it really came from flat tracking. [Indian Motorcycle Company] really simplified the original Scout with the Bobber and it’s a good platform to do a street tracker off of. We’re already flat track racing them so we knew where to go with it. And when you put flat track wheels and tires on just about anything, it makes it looks cool.
Q: How does this bike fit into the RSD portfolio?
A: It’s definitely a different build. We haven’t built a Scout street tracker before. But we definitely drew from our race bikes. We narrowed the gas tank, we didn’t raise the bike up, which we do with our flat trackers. We actually kept it as low as possible because Caballero is pretty short — but it has to be comfortable for him. It’s tailored around him, for sure.
Q: Did you have any other design possibilities, or did you know this how the bike would look from the start?
A: We knew what we wanted. The details and the position — everything was really about the direction that [Cabellero] wanted to push. Once I rendered something that he liked, then it was just about getting it there.
Q: What’s your favorite detail on the bike?
A: I like that it’s still fairly stock; it’s still the Scout Bobber. And with a little modification, it just really woke the thing up.
Q: What was your initial approach to this build?
A: With this kind of project, freedom of creativity is given, and that’s where I can try new ideas, new approaches and experimental designs. So I tried to incorporate that throughout the entire bike. So at the same time, it’s one of those projects that’s really fun to do, but also a head-scratcher. Sometimes I looked at it and didn’t know what to do, because [Indian Motorcycle] didn’t give any direction. It was challenging, but I’m happy with the way it came out.
Q: Did you use past builds as inspiration?
A: When I do sheet metal work — I have sketches from previous builds — I combine sketches to see what fits on the motorcycle and come up with a new design. And sometimes there are shapes that I need to do, but I’m not sure I can do it by hand or machine. So there’s a back and forth in the process, and sometimes I’d improvise and change the design.
Q: When you first saw the Indian Scout, did you already know what you wanted to do, or was it more of a freestyle build?
A: I wasn’t sure because I never had a Scout in my shop. So I took the bike apart. I think when they designed the bike, they had the custom bike builder or the consumer in mind so they could personalize their own bike. It has a platform that’s really unique, but it’s simple.
Q: Did you have a few different design ideas before you settled on one?
A: Oh yeah. I could’ve just done a regular bobber, but I wanted to do the sheet metal work. And this cafe racer styling allowed me to do more — I wanted to do more than just a bobber. [Indian Motorcycle Company] told me to do whatever I want, so I’m going to do whatever I want.
Q: Is there a particular detail on the bike that is your favorite?
A: That’d be the front fairing. I spent a lot of time on that one. I just wanted to have a unique front fairing instead, so I was going for the front of a train or car. There’s just something about a motorcycle, where the face isn’t as important as a train or car. Designers spend a lot of time on the front of a car, the grille, and I just wanted to do that for a motorcycle.
Kraus Motor Co.
Q: What was the main inspiration for the design of this bike?
A: I’ve been watching the Scout and what Indian Motorcycle Company have been doing for the past couple years — and just the way they approached the market, and after working with Harley-Davidsons for so long, there’s a new generation of buyers really focused on purchasing American iron. I think our main goal with this one was to really make sure we hit a demographic that we felt wasn’t really being served yet. And Indian Motorcycle Company coming back as this historic force, they have the opportunity to capture this group. So the inspiration comes from the market we see coming from the street level.
Q: What kind of bike would classify this build as?
A: We built this bike with performance in mind, but it’s not a sportbike, it’s not a cruiser, it’s not a flat track bike — it wouldn’t fit in any of those traditional categories. Indian calls this a bobber, so we looked at what a bobber is, historically, and asked: “alright, what would a bobber be today?” It’s our vision of what an all-rounder performance motorcycle would be, and that’s performing on the highway, performing out on the twisties and in the corners.
Q: Was this a freestyle-type build, seeing what worked and what didn’t, along the way?
A: I take a really organic perspective when building motorcycles. A lot of people will draw and sketch things out — and I’ll sketch a little bit, here and there — but I really take a three-dimensional approach. I need to put the bike on a lift and walk around it, get underneath it and see what it’s all about, then see how it handles and how it rides. Then I’ll look at the geometry and how we can improve the performance of the bike, because that’ll really change the styling of the bike too. Aesthetics sort of follow the function, but when I get into a build, I always know where I want to go with it.
Q: It looks like almost every square inch of this bike was reimagined and reshaped, but do you have a favorite detail?
A: There are a few things we did that are pretty cool on this thing. Sometimes, my favorite details aren’t because they’re the most beautiful or it looks the best — usually my favorite details come from the amount of work and energy and the amount of attention it takes to build and develop. On this bike, the rear fender struts. They actually reposition the rear suspension and it brings the bike up into a better stance and changes the overall feel of the bike. It makes the bike a lot more aggressive.