Carey Hart’s “King Killer” Custom Indian

The motocrosser gives Indian’s big cruiser a racy makeover.

King Killer Indian Springfield custom
The King Killer Indian Springfield custom blends club-style touches with roadracing influences.Morgan Gales

A roadracing Indian bagger? We spotted this build briefly at The One Show in Portland last February, and at the time just assumed it was a heavily modded Chief, but the how and why part escaped us. The intent of the build revealed itself under the flickering lights of the Pickle Factory—a bagger that blended club elements with roadrace intent—but it wasn't until later that we discovered it was a Springfield, one of Indian's classic, full-fendered baggers, stripped of its bags and a whole lot of bodywork. Turns out that former motocrosser-turned-custom bike builder Carey Hart had got his hands on a 2018 model and looked to create a custom bike that could flash on the road and on the track. He recruited some of the best hands in the custom biz as his team to transform his vision into reality, and set to work.

Custom Indian Springfield slimmed down.
Carey Hart’s vision for this Indian Springfield was a fast runner, and that meant cutting some of the fat. Barnstorm Cycles’ Jake Cutler’s main focus was to slim down the front end and dash and reshape the tank to allow room for the rider’s knees.Sean McDonald

Hart said the light bulb first went off when he was stripping down another Springfield for a different project only to realize that, under all the tins and bodywork was a bike with surprisingly aggressive geometry and a solid frame and foundation. It seemed ripe for a race-inspired makeover. (Remember, we’re talking about a former motocross guy here.) His top crew of pros and buddies included Evan Favaro from Speakeasy Motors, Jake Cutler from Barnstorm Cycles, and Satya Kraus from Kraus Motor Co., each of whom would bring his own expertise and ideas to the table. The plan was to reimagine a modern Indian motorcycle, to get back to its original racetrack roots, and just to really give themselves a challenge, do the build in time to be displayed at The One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon. Which would give them all of about five days.

Indian’s relaunched Thunder Stroke 116 big-bore V-twin.
Indian’s relaunched Thunder Stroke 116 big-bore V-twin is at the heart of the “King Killer,” and given the fact that this custom has lost some weight compared to the stocker, it’s probably a proper rocket.Sean McDonald

The box-stock 2018 Springfield was, once again, totally stripped down to its core and the mods commenced. Jake’s mission was to narrow the super-wide stock tank and trim the stock dash; the bike needed to lose some heft and Carey also felt more room was needed for racers to tuck in their knees. With Jake taking care of the center of the bike, it was Evan’s job to tie in the front and rear so that the new fairing and the rear fender jibed together. Cutting, shaping, and welding are Favaro’s forte, and the bike took on a completely new look and a sleeker form with a slippery front fairing, which also meant that big rear fender had to be lopped and cut down to size to match.

Motorcycle rear reshaped by Evan Favaro, and high-mounted FMF pipe snugged up against it.
The rear was reshaped by Evan Favaro, and the high-mounted FMF pipe snugged up against it is Hart’s nod to’80s MotoGP racers.Sean McDonald

Kraus was the performance guy and to that end, the “King Killer” got all manner of go-fast and premium upgrades and components, like Beringer brakes, Öhlins suspension, and a high-mount FMF pipe, among other things. Even though the tight deadline made the project a bear, Hart says it was a fun project, with all the buddies still finding the time to get loose, drink beer, and go fishing while they were holed up at Hart’s shop for the week, with the bike evolving along the way. And that, my friends, is the story of how the King Killer Indian motorcycle came to be.

Dunlop race slicks mounted on lightweight wheels and slowed by top-shelf Beringer Brakes.
Dunlop race slicks mounted on lightweight wheels and slowed by top-shelf Beringer Brakes are ready to shred around a circuit.Sean McDonald
The King Killer Sporting classic red, white, and black race colors and a sleek, slimmed-down trim.
Sporting classic red, white, and black race colors and a sleek, slimmed-down trim, the King Killer took home the Red, White & Blue Award for Best American Build at The One Moto Show.Sean McDonald