The RT 4/13 was created through a special collaboration between Dean Micetich of Dice Magazine and Indian Motorcycles. Unveiled at the 2022 Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival the heavily modified Indian Chief was built using a 2 stage approach. Under the direction of Micetich, custom motorcycle builder Scotty “T-Bone” Jones of Noise Cycles developed the design for the bike. After that, it was handed over to race bike builder and fabricator Zach Hindes of Joe Gibbs Racing to create their vision.
The 2022 Indian Chief is powered by a 1890cc Thunderstroke v-twin producing 79hp and 120Nm of torque. That’s decent power for a cruiser, but it’s no featherweight at 294kg. The single front brake is also fine for cruising highways but it’s certainly not what you’d want out on a race track. Then there’s the styling. The Chief is a cruiser in every sense. From its seating position to the handlebars, footpegs, fenders and fuel tank. This meant that Dean had his work cut out for him if he was to turn the behemoth into a svelte racer; luckily he knew just the guys to do it.
Stage 1 of the RT 4/13 project saw the donor, a bone stock 2022 Indian Chief, transported to the workshop of Noise Cycles in Nashville, Tennessee. Dean then assigned Scotty the daunting task of transforming the cruiser into a classically styled race bike.
Scotty kicked things off by stripping everything off the Chief that wasn’t going to feature on the finished bike. Once he was done all that was left was a rolling chassis and the v-twin powerplant. This was then photographed and traced onto paper so Scotty could begin his creative process using pencil on paper. His design took styling cues from cafe racers and endurance race bikes with streamlined bodywork and a balanced bone line. Satisfied with what he’d laid out on paper, he began fine-tuning the geometry of the new bodywork directly on the bike.
Using 2-dimensional plywood templates clamped to the frame Scotty figured out the sizing and correct positioning for all the new bodywork. He then built a wireframe buck of the new tank so that it could be supplied to the fabricator.
With the styling, stance and bodywork geometry figured out, the Indian Chief was packed up again and shipped to the workshop of Zach Hindes in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Zach’s first task was building a new subframe and swingarm for the Chief. Since the bike was destined for track use he opted to over-engineering everything. The dimensions for the new set-up are a mix of flat track and sport bike geometry and everything was welded together using beefy steel pipe. During this stage, Zach also introduced the idea of converting the rear end to a monoshock system. Along with looking the part, the monoshock offers more precise damping, improved handling and a reduction in weight. Holding the rear of the shock in place is a modified version of the Chief’s original swingarm.
For the bodywork, Scotty sourced a 1970s FRP front fairing and tail unit. Using his concept drawings as a guide, Zach determined the best placement for everything and fabricated all of the hardware to mount it in place. Once on the bike Zach and Dean fine-tuned the bodywork to achieve visual balance and expose some of the bike’s trick design details.
The new fuel tank is a hand-beaten aluminium unit Zach built from scratch. Styled after Norton’s Manx tank from the ’50s it features deep knee indents and cutouts at the front to prevent the clip-on bars from coming into contact. In addition to the fuel tank, Zach built a one-off set of header pipes for the project and modified the front forks to allow the fitment of a twin-disc setup.
To compliment Scott and Zach’s efforts, Dean pulled favours from a few other experts in the custom scene to complete the Dice Magazine RT 4/13 project.
For the wheels, he reached out to Roland Sands who machined him a custom set of alloy rims. Up front, there’s a 17-inch rim that’s been designed to accept twin discs. In the rear is a 19-inch unit and both have been wrapped in Dunlop’s Sportmax Q3+ rubber for aggressive track and street riding. Sands also supplied a set of adjustable rear set footpegs for improved road clearance.
Sitting at the end of Zach’s custom 2-into-1 headers is a titanium Growler muffler from UK exhaust experts Racefit. And to complete the bike’s transformation from cruiser to racer, the Indian now wears a comprehensive brake package from Beringer.
All that’s left now is for this Indian Chief racer to cut its teeth out on a track. If it goes anywhere near as good as it looks no one’s going to be left disappointed.
DICE MAGAZINE / INDIAN MOTORCYCLES
Photography by Scott G Toepfer