Indian Arrow 149

This little bike was recently featured on Pipeburn, so to see the full writeup, head over here and take a look.

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This post is just to highlight a few cool details of the Indian Arrow 149.

This was really a “minimally invasive” build, mostly stripping away what was heavy, ugly, or unnecessary and letting the lines of the bike and the gorgeous engine speak for themselves.

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I also wanted to try and preserve the really lovely patina that had developed on the machine, and this meant I couldn’t resort to the usual “rip it apart and sandblast everything” approach that many restorers take.     

One of the coolest things about working on old bikes for me is the sort of forensic observation of the mechanical interventions that have been performed over time.  As I went about my work on this Indian, I saw the ideas and tool marks of other mechanics that I’ll never meet but who are communicating with me through the medium of this machine. We both spent hours of our lives thinking about it, cursing at it, and bleeding on it in the process of trying to fix it and make it a better motorcycle.

This bike went through at least one and possibly more major overhauls before it arrived at my shop, and it turns out that some of the bike’s issues had been dealt with already.  It was running an improved carburetor and ignition system, and somebody had done a top end job on it.  We could tell because they had welded the aluminum block at all four corners where it had apparently cracked around the cylinder studs during assembly.

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We inspected and adjusted the valve train and resealed the side cases, but otherwise left the motor intact.   Everything else about the bike is as simple and minimalist as possible so that attention remains on the really beautiful and unusual looking motor.         

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