virtuele Indiese 2010 Kersfees Spesiale Uitgawe – Neil Grieve’s Norton-Chief Hybrid

13 Feb 2015 | skrywer: | Comments Off op virtuele Indiese 2010 Kersfees Spesiale Uitgawe – Neil Grieve’s Norton-Chief Hybrid
Indian CHIEF ROAD MASTER Touring

Got my first bike, a Kawasaki 100cc, in Nairobi Kenya around late 1975 or early ’76. On a road near my school was a house I passed every day. One day I saw a motorcycle in the garden with the word Indian on the tank and a For Sale sign taped to the seat.

A couple of mates and myself went to see the bike which belonged to a guy named John Bisley. He let us try to ride it having bump-started the thing and pointed out the foot clutch (actually a suicide clutch as it was just a small lever directly bolted to the worm!), hand shift and left-hand throttle. Needless to say we all fell off but the thing wouldn’t stall.

It turned out to be a 1950’s Triumph Thunderbird swinging-arm frame with an almost new 741 engine and gearbox unit. Indian rear wheel and brake and cut-down rear mudguard. Fuel and oil tanks were Indian.

Unfortunately there was no room for the kickstart block to bolt onto the back of the gearbox as the swing-arm was in the waywhich made for interesting push starts, especially in town!

A school friend visiting Kenya was impressed with my little bike and asked where he could buy a bike. I took him to see the Indian which he bought on sight. Having never ridden a bike before he took to the Indian no problem. He also got a partially dismantled engine in the deal.

Three months later when his work was up he offered me the bike and I had a day to raise 1000 Kenyan shillings (oor £50 dan), so I visited my local second-hand store and traded my Kwaka and an old stereo for the cash.

Bought the bike and proceeded to ride it home on my maiden voyage. By the time I got home I was hooked and immediately set off on another ride. Some time later and after many many miles, I decided to change the bike for the better.

I traded the Triumph frame for a Matchless G3L rigid frame and tele forks.

The local Kawasaki agent, Cycle Importers Ltd, had a roomful of Indian spares in the crate with tropical wrapping, the contents of which I was only parially aware. I know he had NOS tanks, uitlaat, carb parts and distributor parts. In his shop window was a brand new 741 motor, complete and covered in Cosmolene.

I had seen it before but knew it was the last one so I bought it, again for 1000 shillings. This I put in the new bike which could now accept the kickstart as it was a hardtail. This was a sweet handling bike with a crisp new engine!

Indian CHIEF ROAD MASTER Touring

The only thing apart from washing off the Cosmolene was that the clutch plates had seized together and needed separating, washed and reassembled. I eventually sold this bike when I left Kenya in 1978.


Move forward 10 years to summer 1988. I am walking to my lock-up garage when I hear a familiar sound. I round the corner to see a guy on a 101 Indiese Scout! This turned out to be Alan Forbes.

He then showed me what he had in his garage, an immaculate 1931 Indiese 4. I had my leg in plaster from a bike accident but he offered me a ride on this beautiful bike. I took the 4 up the road a couple of miles and back and that was it. hooked again!

A couple of months later I bought a basket-case 1947 Chief from Alan and ended up working at his Motolux shop, getting paid primarily with Indian parts. It took four years to complete but that bike was ridden everywhere as it was my only transport at that time. weer, regretfully, I had to sell the Chief in 2005 for financial reasons.

That was the time I thought I’ll build that Featherbed Indian special I always used to talk about with my mate Dougie.

741/Triumph in Kenya in the mid 1970s.

1947 Chief in Scotland in the mid 1990s

Indian CHIEF ROAD MASTER Touring
Indian CHIEF ROAD MASTER Touring

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