Custom Indian Scout Bobber by Christian Newman: interview with the builder
âI think being an engineer helps me realize my wacky ideas,â says custom motorcycle builder Christian Newman. “A lot of people have a big vision, but it takes a certain kind of mindset and training to be able to take an idea and turn it into reality.”
Newman is Global Engineering Director Derrick Corporation to Buffalo. He has 20 years of experience in the fine arts of design, research and development of new products. When he’s not helping bring energy to your home and vehicles, he enjoys spending his free time riding dirt bikes and building extraordinary custom motorcycles.
Newman found himself in The Wrench: Scout Bobber Build Off at Buffalo Chip during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. There he landed on the podium with the Indian Scout Bobber he had created for the contest, hitting the $ 10,000 construction budget rule. Although his resulting Scout Bobber does not have a name, he is anything but impersonal.
Motorcycles have always been part of the Newman family.
“My earliest motorcycle memories are a mixture of my father giving me a ride on his [Honda] CB550, which I own now, when I was little enough to get on the gas tank, “Newman explains,” and ask him to bring home an unwanted Honda motorcycle with a blown engine just so that my brother and I dismantling on the back porch. to see how things worked.
“He also bought me an all-terrain motorcycle in 7th grade to take me for a ride in the woods,” he continues. âIt was a 1979 [Yamaha] RD90 [two-stroke] street bike, but I rode it in the yard and in the woods. It was a street bike that I treated like a mountain bike. I remember looking enviously through the Dennis Kirk catalog and not understanding why I couldn’t buy all-terrain tires of this size.
The CB550 also launched Newman’s customization career after earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Buffalo.
âI got my hands on my father’s CB550 around 2008,â Newman recalls. âA few years later, I started building parts for it: bars, controls, exhaust, etc. I still have it, and it’s one of the bikes I’ll never sell. It’s a handful to drive because of the controls, but it’s fun to drive and it looks cool. I have taught a few people how to ride a manually operated bicycle with it.
With a budget of $ 10,000 for modifications, dozens of parts of Newman’s Scout Bobber build came from his garage, but not as many as he would have liked due to time constraints. There is also the fact that he is a genuine, hands-on maker with spectacular old world skills, as well as an appreciation for new technologies and techniques. The swing arm immediately comes to mind.
âThe tubular stainless steel swingarm required design, fastening, casting, machining, bending, welding, polishing. Just a lot of pieces that had to fit together. I use a lot of rather archaic technologies, like Bridgeport [mills], torches, an old Andrychow tower. I spend a lot of time cutting sheet steel with a bandsaw or angle grinder, but sometimes to speed up the process I send it to a laser shop.
Three elements of Newman’s Scout Bobber stand out: the front wheel, paint and seat. We told him about each.
Turns out Newman has a bit of a love / hate relationship with the 23-inch hoop leading the way.
Either way, that doesn’t stop Newman from having time on his creation. âIt drives surprisingly well,â he reports. âIt’s fast, light and agile. My Panhead has the exact same tire combo so I’m used to it. It gets a little scary in the rain, but so far no problem. However, I think I’ll change the 23 front for something a little more meaty to give the bike a better aesthetic balanceâ¦ an 18 par 4 front would be so much fairer.
It should be noted that the 23-inch Excel rim is fitted with a Mefo tire and that these two EBC discs come from a go-kart. The calipers are vintage GMA calipers mounted on Newman’s handmade fork legs. âThey work better than a drum brake, at least! he modestly claims. At the rear, you’ll notice the Hoosier tire on a Weld Racing automotive wheel with a V-Twin Manufacturing drum brake. The shocks are Progressive Suspension 413 units.
After Josh Allison at Cry Baby Cycles hand-shrunk tank, Newman sent it to Christopher Galley at Devil chicken design. Galley is a visual artist from Buffalo who grew up appreciating Evel Knievel and Steve McQueen. âTogether, we developed the concept,â Newman says. “This is Kali, the Hindu god[dess] of death on the tank. It was really a play on words – the âotherâ kind of Indian.
The narrow tiered seat is pure 1960s chopper, and the sissy bar is there for passenger safety. Yes, Newman pulls out his Scout Bobber in pairs: âPassengers usually just put their feet on the shock absorbers, it works perfectly! “
Newman found a lot to admire in the Indian Scout Bobber. âI have a lot of love for HD Sportsters,â he says, âand the Scout ticks most of the same boxes, so that’s pretty cool. I like small, compact bikes, in general. I will say that the bike was very easy to work with, or at least to take apart.
âAfter some tinkering, it was nice to be able to unbolt the entire rear subframe and bolt on a whole new rear section, not possible without a grinder and welder on a Sportster,â Newman notes. âThat might be a standard for new bikes today I’m not sure, but when you get into some of the old HD stuff you can take a part out, put it on a table, and then put it back on a table. week later and for some reason it doesn’t fit anymore.I guess that’s an advantage of a modern bike.
However, Newman is frustrated with the Scout engine from a customization standpoint. âOn an old Harley, you have a lot of different parts that bolt together to form the engine. It’s easy to change a part for a whole new look, for example, soldering stuff to Shovelhead rockers, shaving off fins from a cylinder, reshaping or changing push rod tubes. On the Scout, the engine is largely a large chunk of aluminum that can’t be given a makeover without massive engineering. If I had had more time, I would have wanted to design a kickstarter and at least cut the front frame downpipes and narrow them down a bit.
Newman admits to appreciating his constructions to gain public attention. âIt’s always cool to have a bike shown anywhere. I showed some bikes there [Sturgis], and they get a lot of through traffic. The bike was also parked right on the main street for a few days. It was cool too!
Despite Newman’s skills in hand design and manufacture, he has no interest in a career in building custom motorcycles. This decision will undoubtedly disappoint more than one. âI love my daily job and it makes building bikes fun and exciting,â Newman says. âThere is pressure sometimes, but not a ton. I don’t think I would be a good businessman. I would take too long to build everything and I would never make it work financially.
Although Christian Newman is not a professional builder, he has sold projects in the past. âI sold my Shovelhead ’78 turbo and my ’40 Knucklehead,â he says. âThe latter had to finance some major upgrades to the store. I don’t regret having sold them. I have never regretted selling anything. I am not very sentimental and what satisfies me are the accomplishments, not the physical things that I have built.
Christian Newman Custom Indian Scout Bobber Unique Parts List
- Brake distribution T
- Cable conversion
- Footrests and gear levers
- Fork lowers
- Shaped rod with fluid passage
- Frame inserts
- Front and rear hubs
- Front brake lever
- Headlight bracket
- Intermediate orders
- Narrowed tank
- Rear axle and spacers
- Sissy bar
- Skidplate / radiator fairing
- Sprocket Guard
- Stainless exhaust
- Swinging arm
- Triple trees
We tested the Indian Scout Bobber standard