Being the External Relations Manager for Indian Motorcycle has its perks. As the man who holds this position, Robert Pandya had the privilege of access to an Indian Chief that served as a development bike for Indian’s engineering department. The motorcycle can’t be sold and was headed to the crusher before Pandya got the brilliant idea to give it a touch of off-road capability and use it retrace the cross-country route of Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker.
Tomorrow, May 3, marks the 100th anniversary of Baker’s record-breaking ride across the US on a twin-cylinder 1914 Indian Motorcycle. To celebrate the achievement, Don Emde and Joe Columbero have organized a cross-country ride that will follow Baker’s route as closely as possible. The ride leaves from the original starting point of downtown, San Diego, tomorrow, with projected arrival in New York City on May 14. Joining Emde and Columbero on that ride will be Pandya on his “dual sport” Indian and 22 other adventurous souls.
Pandya’s creation is affectionately called “Elnora.” At the heart of the machine is Indian’s proprietary Thunder Stroke 111 engine, albeit teamed to a new two-into-one exhaust. While the frame appears to be stock as well, the bike now has crash guards front and back to go along with a new skid plate. Gone are the standard Chief Vintage whitewalls, a set of chunky
Crash guards, a bash plate, and heavier grooves in the tires give the Indian 'dual sport' a bit more off-road capability.
It will be a glorious ride into the sunset as Pandya, Don Emde, and 23 others embark on a cross-country journey along the same route as Erwin 'Cannon Ball' Baker.
Dunlops in their place. Pandya and friends took a tire groover blade to them in hopes of gaining even more traction when the pavement ends. It also sports floorboards, a first we believe for a “dual sport” bike. But there will be long days in the saddle, so we understand their inclusion. Luckily, the new sprung solo seat looks pretty comfy. Here’s what else Pandya had to say about the project.
“We stiffened up the suspension and added an early prototype air filter for performance. Most of the mods were eliminating things – the windscreen, saddlebags, driving light and fender skirts. As the bike had seen a rough testing life, the chrome was attacked with a Scotchbrite pad and some 80 grit sandpaper – it might as well be evenly scratched up! The click of rattle cans marked the paint job as a back alley special.
“Loads of help from friends inside engineering, some aftermarket folks including Saddlemen, Danner Boots, Dunlop as well as a custom bash plate and exhaust along with fender modifications care of Jeb Scolman at Jeb’s Metal and Speed in Long Beach, CA. Lots of work was put in by our new press fleet manager Tom “TJ” Jackson and my friend Barry Hathaway, also.”
Pandya said he’ll be “posting up trip photos and words via the Indian Motorcycle
Social media feeds – so watch for those if you are interested.” More information about the ride and route can be found at Emde’s “Finding Cannon Ball’s Trail
” site, including the full Cannon Ball Centennial Ride Summary. So if you see a pack of 25 riders on the road in your neck of the woods over the course of the next 11 days, give them a honk of encouragement as they embark on this memorable cross-country journey.