Moen's Warparth-kinda bike -or the $2500 "Scout"            6-30-00
Revised 8-8-00: Edit + Scout engine pix
Revised 8-9-00: Added a little bit to the pic captions + slight edit of 8.8.00 text
Here's a rundown of my "Warpath" project. This is a bike that's to be build as cheaply as possible while still being made properly and ending up looking and working the way it should. It is not really an Indian as such, but more "a homebuilt bike, inspired by Indian". Still, it's one way of interpreting the VI credo of "Living Indians". Indians are becoming too expensive for many to enjoy and we need to get a little radical to get everybody, who wants, on the road in style. 

This page is meant as inspiration for anyone wanting an Indian engined bike at half the price of the cheapest genuine offerings (or less). The page is also meant as a start on getting parts made to make the construction of such bikes easier, even when starting with nothing in the parts pile. There is no reason why such a bike couldn't be made to look more like an Indian, as Indian forks, wheels and body parts could be used. That would probably be more expensive, though, and if that's what you want, you might be better off saving for the real thing. Unless you already have some Indian parts, of course!

I'll try to get some pix of the parts I use, if anyone's interested. For now there's a couple of blurry polaroids (links to the left of here) of the chassis loosely propped up with another engine thrown in it. I'll try to get some with the right engine soon.

Don't know when I'll get around to actually building the bike as even the comparatively low cost of it is overwhelming for my pathetic economy. If someone was to help me with the machining of the special parts needed, it could happen pretty fast, but I'm not in a position to pay much for it, so I don't feel too comfortable asking anyone for that. Besides, I'm not sure how useful it would be for other Warpath projecteers that I had parts, specific to my setup, made. Not much of what I need is really general to other projects unless they use the same parts as I do -or unless we made the possible "production" frames replicas of the Ariel... Still, it will happen one way or another, and I hope to have it running next year.

Anyone interested in this kind of bike, could get a bunch of good ideas (not to mention a theoretical basis for why these bikes are so great) from Tim's "Chopper Corner" columns in the VI mag. August's article will move beyond the theory and into cutting things up and welding them back together. And Tim's frame is an Ariel just like mine! :-)

Grizzy's "Geronimo" Chief-engined bike in issue 1 and 2 of the VI is also a great source of inspiration.

Originally I had in mind trying to get a set of Lyle's Warpath engine cases for this bike and build an engine with Sport Scout cylinders (which I have) and racing heads from Jim Wall. Lower end might be HD 45" wheels, which I also have, as well as most of the other parts needed. 

However, I think I might end up with that engine in the more stock Scout chassis, I'm getting closer to being done with, and the engine from that (53" 741 stroker) in the chassis below. Just to complicate matters... Still, my running around in circles doesn't really affect the numbers involved in the exercise below: A low-budget scratch-built Scout-based fun bike.

New!  8-8-00: By popular demand (thanks, Jim), here's something more on this project. Generally speaking, I've been (& I am) kinda reluctant to post too much info on my stuff. Not because it's secret, but because I run the risk of not only offending the more right-thinking Indian enthusiasts among us, but also of becoming known as what is technically called "a wanker". I.e. all talk and no action.... My main excuse is the insane amount of time the VI takes. It may not show, but putting out the magazine is more than a full-time job. Seriously, I work an average of at least 200 hours a month on the magazine and related stuff, and since I've got to try making a living on the side, that doesn't leave much time for the bikes. I'm not complaining, mind you, I love doing the VI mag and I fully believe it's well worth any amount of time it may take, but it means other things get pushed aside.

OK, excuses over, let's get down to bizniz. After looking at the costs below, I've kinda reconsidered some of them. To try painting a realistic picture of what such a bike might cost if you started from absolute scratch, I put "high-end" prices on the parts. Actually it isn't very hard to find almost all of it WAY cheeper. All you have to do is: 1) Set your mind free; decide how "genuine" your bike will have to be, and start looking at stuff accordingly (a $25 Honda 750, as one Lister  just bought, might start looking good all of a sudden. Useful wheels and forks and such). 2) Go to places where useful stuff is likely to turn up; non-Indian swap meets, non-Indian bike shop dumpsters etc. 3) Look at your existing belongings and figure out if some of it could be swapped for useful parts (or sell it on eBay for money to buy Indian parts if you wish). Something like that should make a big dent in the bill for a bike like this. You could probably safely cut the cost below in half, and shoot for a $1250 "Scout". With some clever dealing, you could probably even build it for free...

I would really, really like to hear some opinions on the cost! Both the odd parts and the 741 engine rebuild. Write me at and I'll post it here asap. 'Course, I'd also really, really like to see/hear about YOUR Warpath plans/project/dreams! Just write me before you blow up my hard drive with a zillion blurry polaroids.

I got around to taking some more blurry polaroids and scanning them. This time I propped-up a Sport Scout motor in the Ariel frame. As you will see from the pix, it fits neatly.

Some loose thoughts provoked by the new pix:

Frames. Seeing how neatly the Scout motor fits in the Ariel frame, and considering that that frame is quite typical of Brit single frames in the engine bay area, the choice of ready-made frames is probably just about endless. If you wanted rear suspension, both BSA, Norton and several others offered "plunger"-suspended bikes similar to the Indian setup. If you wanted something a little more modern, I'm fairly sure a stock Scout motor/trans (or something like my setup) would fit neatly into any of the '60s Brit swingarm frames. Measure your powertrain and go look at some frames. 

History: One aspect of this Ariel frame business, that I've completely forgotten to mention, but which was one of the reasons I was happy to find an Ariel frame in the first place (and being a pre-war frame makes this even neater), is that just after WW2, nobody in Europe could afford new bikes, and this went on for quite a number of years (into the '50s). They still had to go racing, of course, so some clever solutions were employed. One shop got around import restrictions by taking home Triumph T100 engines for "lawn mowers", and I have heard of Danish dirt track racers who got hold of surplus 741 engines and fitted them into, you've guessed it, Ariel frames. I haven't been able to find pictures of such bikes, but my guess is they used a Brit gearbox as well. Just a little link to the past on this project of mine. No doubt similar stuff went on elsewhere. I have heard of several US Scouts that got Brit gearboxes, and fitting "odd" wheels and telescopic forks was pretty common. So don't feel bad about building a "non-genuine" Scout with your Warpath project. No matter how many factory-correct restorations you see today, the oldtimers rolled their own all the time, all over the place.

Trans. A Scout gearbox fits nicely into the Ariel frame, and most other Brit frames, but I ran out of polaroids before I could show it. I plan to mount my Triumph gearbox solid (as opposed to the stock primary chain tensioning arrangement of pivoting the gearbox around its bottom mount), and run an adjustable idler on the engine plate behind the primary belt/chain. You could do that with a Scout trans too. But as you would need a primary cover for the clutch release worm, you could simply start with cutting a stock inner/outer primary in half and mount the ends on the engine and trans. Then figure out a way to bridge the gaps. Some ideas: Get an aluminum welding buddy to weld in aluminum bits. Or use fiberglass to close it up (and then paint the resulting mess in some nice color for a "vintage" look). Or use sheet metal, pop rivets and RTV silicone... If a few of us could settle on some common frame, we could get some proper covers cast. Lyle's great article shows how to make patterns, and I'm sure he could be bribed to run off some casting from the patterns (or someone else could).

More on frames & primaries. If we could settle on, not a common frame, but just a common distance between the engine and trans mainshaft, that would mean that the new primaries above would fit any setup with this distance between engine/trans (if nothing on the frame got in the way, but I don't think anything is likely to). As the Ariel is typical of Brit frames in the distance between engine and trans shafts, we might be able to use my project as a starting point for new primaries to fit many Brit frames. AND we could then use the primaries for ground rules for new purpose-built frames. The new frames could be anything from budget rigid models, similar to the Ariel (but all-welded) to swingarm, plunger or whatever suspension you'd like. The primary covers could be designed (not too hard) to both fit Scout trannies and allow for the chain-on-the-left British gearboxes. Personally, I'll probably stick with the open, or semi-open, belt or chain and the Trumpet trans, as I like that better, but if anyone needs it, I'd be happy to help get the Scout stuff made.

Time: I can't really se this project of mine going anywhere in a hurry. I have the 741 stroker Scout, which must be finished first (or I'll drown in unfinished projects), as well as the Chief, I'd like to get on the road for next year, but maybe I'll get to it over the winter. I could, however, if anyone needed it, probably take it a few steps further pretty soon. At least to the point where we could get measurements for engine plates (any new frames could then be made to fit these plates too) and primaries. But to do that I need help. I don't have any machining facilities myself (plus my local "helper" is so slow he isn't really a lot of help), and I don't have time to hacksaw out engine plates and such. So let's look at it this way. If anyone thinks it is worth taking this further, with the aim of making all that stuff above possible, I need someone to help me make a set of engine plates to start with. After that I would need a busted inner primary (I've got outers) to cut up for the Scout trans version. And then I could give it a break while I did other things (and y'all got a head start on your Warpaths!) and pick it up later. Comments?


Click here for details:
(Let the whole page load first)

Cost so far.
Engine Options.
741 Engine rebuild.
Total Cost.
Other Engine Options.
"Production Version".

Blurry polaroids here:

Pic: Chassis
Pic: Chassis 2
Pix: Scout motor, Ariel frame and Triumph gearbox. New! Nine pix, so this page loads kinda slow. 
Pix: Chief bobber beginnings
(Nothing to do with this, just found the pictures while looking for the others).
Pix: Triumph (This has even less to do with the Warpath, but it shows the general kind of bike I'm partial to).

Comments welcome at:

Chassis (All parts used from swap meets etc. Prices are what I paid, but see comments above)
Frame Ariel rigid, front tube cut but fixable gift (~ $150?)
Front forks Bultaco (or might use Norton, similar cost)  $75
Front wheel Honda 450(?), 18" (spokes), tls drum  $50 (incl forks)
Rear wheel Suzuki (? model), 17" alu rim (spokes), cush drive  gift (~ $25?)
Rear brake DIY, probably Triumph parts. Hub needs machining ?
Other wheel parts Bearings, brake fix, tires & tubes (Extra: s/s spokes? front 19" rim?)* $100
DIY wheel parts Axles, spacers (stainless would be nice) ?
Gas tank Danish "Skylon" moped (Sports model, even!). Needs cap & petcock $12
Oil tank Cylindrical alu, rubber mounts  $30
Rear fender HD Sportster (no front fender...)  $20
Seat LePera (HD rigid BT)  $100
Foot pegs/pedals DIY (stainless would be nice) ?
Handlebars/controls Misc swap meet stuff  $20 or so
Misc parts  Fender stays, brake torque arms, engine plates, headlight mount (stainless would be nice) ?
Headlight Russian tractor (really!)  $10
Tail light Unknown vintage car  $10
Total cost chassis (less DIY parts) ~ $500.00 (- with cheap/DIY seat ~ $400.00)

I didn't count the extra stainless spokes/rim*, as they aren't strictly necessary and/or could be added later, or included if there was a break on some of the other parts. They probably add up to $200. The "DIY" parts (?), some of which I need help with as I have limited machinery, might add anything from a year's free subscription to the VI (huh?) to $500 or more.  Sponsors/machinists welcome! :-)

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Transmission, econo version (belt drive would add around $400.00 but would be very nice)
Gearbox Triumph 4 speed footshift, '54-'62 (gears etc are almost always fine)  $80
Fix Bearings, bushes, screws etc $100 or so
Clutch Triumph pre-unit 650, single row chain. New hub and centre, plates $170 or so
Drive Modified Scout engine sprocket, o-ring chain #520 ?
Primary cover DIY guard ?
Total cost trans (econo) ~ $350.00 + DIY parts

The reason I specified a '54-'62 Triumph trans is that the top mounting points on this (as opposed to the earlier versions for rigid frames) fit better into my plan to solid mount the gearbox and run an adjustable idler for chain/belt tensioning. If you get one of the earlier trannies, or a BSA or Norton or any of a number of other separate trannies, you'll just have to do it slightly different, but it's no big deal, so just get what's available at a good price and not totally worn out.

Special parts here isn't much more than the chain shroud (or primary cover) and the mating of Indian/Triumph engine sprockets. Well, I have an idea for sealing the bearing rollers of the clutch drum, but that would just be one small part to be turned on a lathe. These parts may come to $50 for a total transmission system cost of around $400.00. (just a thought, but maybe Rob & Duff will make KING clutch plates for this? There's an awful lot of Triumphs around too, who could use them...)

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Rolling Chassis with Transmission

So that's $500-1000 for the rolling chassis and $400 for the trans, meaning the bike less engine and charging system costs $900-1600 depending on options and help with machining (belt drive would make the cost soar to $1300-1900). So far there's not a single Indian part, so it can hardly be called an Indian, but the engine changes that a little, I think. Not making it a Real Indian, but a "home built bike, inspired by Indian". And, no matter what it's called, it should be as much fun to ride as a Real Indian!

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Engine Options

The cheepest would be to get a 741 motor. Often the carb and generator are removed when you see them at swap meets, and as these parts apparently are very desirable, the price of a motor without them should be negotiable! No big deal, there's a ton of other carbs (costing a fraction of a Linkert) that can be used and just about as many generators. The going rate for one of these "stripped" motors in Europe is around $300.00, and that often includes parts or all of the trans and primary too (tradeable stuff! it might pay for the machining above), but let's just budget with $300.00 for the motor alone.

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Engine Rebuild

You may be lucky enuff that it doesn't require much more than a good cleaning and replacement of the robbed parts (I've seen a few such engines), but on the other hand it might be completely worn out too. Finding a good engine in the first place can save you up to $1000 (much more if you farm out the work), so it may be worth looking hard and paying a little more for a good 'un.

But let's assume you need to rebuild the thing. If the flywheel shafts are good (rare), you'll save money by using them again, but if not, it won't cost a lot more to swap your 741 wheels & rods for HD WLA ditto, and get a 45" motor out of it with big bore pistons. These pistons give you 37" with the stock wheels. The special shafts needed for the HD wheels are a story in their own right, but there will be info in them on the VI soon.

For the top end you will need: pistons & rings, valve guides, valves, springs and any parts missing. This costs around $250.00 (very approximate prices). Rollers and pins for the valve lifts cost around $150.00 and you may need new shafts too at $20.00. Then you need the cylinders bored, which will add around $50.00, and of course any stripped threads etc fixed. Let's say all of this costs around $450.00.

For the lower end you (probably) need new shafts and crank pin, but the nuts etc might be reuseable. Count on $300.00 incl thrust washers and rollers. Bearing housings can be honed to quite large oversizes, which may cost you $100.00 or so. That's $400.00 for the lower end. I haven't included trueing the flywheels, as you may be able to do that yourself with the aid of the VI Flywheel Workshop article (issue one). If not then the cost of this might be balanced by savings elsewhere.

New oil pump gears and probably some fittings and stuff add maybe $100.00. If you're lucky there's a distributor on your swap meet motor, as the cost of these vary wildly. Let's pretend you got one for now (an option is one from a FIAT or VW car, I think, but I forget which model). New cap, points, condenser and maybe some small parts add $50.00.  You will also need gaskets ($50 or cut your own) and some nuts & bolts ($50?), so all of this comes to around $250.00.

Then you need a carb (hopefully you got a manifold but if not, several Listers are making their own and you may be able to trade some parts for one). SU carbs off small Brit cars are great for all kinds of bikes, but almost any other carb in the 1"-1.25" (25-32mm) range should be fine. Cound on $30.00 including a jet or two or whatever's needed (SUs need throttle shaft bushings). Odd carbs are cheep.

For the exhaust, the cheapest is to get a handful of odd pipes from the swap meet (who -other than us- needs one HD pipe or three for a Honda four?), cut 'em up and weld 'em shut. Mount a nice swap meet muffler, and even if you have to pay a welding buddy, it will cost you no more than $50.00 or so. You can also get 741 pipes in unplated steel for around $75.00, so in any case the exhaust should cost less than $100.00. If you find a set of used 741 pipes or are in a position to make your own from scratch, the exhaust can be almost free, but as I skimped on the flywheels, let's just include the 100 bucks here.

Generator options depend on how you plan to mount and drive them. Probably the easiest would be to hang it in front of the engine like stock and drive it off the engine sprocket like stock too. You can use roller chain (like stock) but if you're not running a primary cover you might need to fabricate some sort of shroud, and you will need to lube the chain occasionally. Get a small car alternator. They can be had from $10 and up and put out more power then you'll ever need. You'll need to fix a sprocket to it but íf you use the mounting from the car it came from, you're one up on the factory as you will now have means of adjusting the drive chain without problems. You could also graft a v-belt pulley onto the engine sprocket and use that, but take care that the primary chain don't sling lube all over the belt. Count on $50.00 max for all of this.

I think that's just about it. $300.00 for the motor, $450.00 for the top end and $400.00 for the bottom end. $250.00 for the oil pump and ignition and $200.00 for carb, exhaust and generator. Total around $1600.00.
I haven't gone to a great deal of trouble looking up prices, so I may be a little off on some of them, but I think this paints a fairly accurate picture of a full rebuild, where you only farm out stuff like cylinder boring, and do the rest of the work yourself.

If anyone's got more accurate prices, let me know and I can post them here.

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Total Cost

So, without the parts I left out (paint, plating.. plating? naah..), battery and probably a few more minor details, you've got yourself a bike with all rebuilt or good parts for $2500-3200. (and cheaper with some trading and scrounging for free parts. The numbers here are based on starting with nothing). Not exactly free but cheaper than most.

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Other Engine Options

There's no end of them. From any mix of Sport Scout and 741 to a full Warpath motor, using Lyle's cases and other parts. It's hard to price these, but the rebuild part would be much the same as above. You could look at it this way: A bike like this can be built for $900-1600 + engine.

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As for getting a license plate that would depend a lot on where in the world you are. In some US states you can get a title on the cases, and in some European countries you can get one on the frame. No matter what, there's probably a way to do it.

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"Production Version"

As the supply of Ariel frames must be somewhat limited (altough a lot of other frames, rigid or sprung, could be used -BSA A7/10 "plunger" frames may even be able to hold a complete Scout power train, stock trans and all), it may make sense to look at a purpose built frame to take chassis parts like the above and/or Indian equivalents. There has been some talk about such frames on the VI mailing list already, and I'm sure there's going to be more. Either there, on this page or in the magazine. Probably most small-time frame builders could knock off a rigid (or simple swing arm) frame to suit the Scout engine/Brit trans combo, and any mix of Indian or otherwise forks, wheels, and body parts, for around $500. That would bring the total cost to some $3000-3500 depending on the engine and what you've got to begin with. The cost of getting and fixing the engine is really what makes or breaks this whole thing, but if you do most of the work yourself, and trade for whatever you can, I'm pretty confident that you can do it for the sums mentioned or less (see comments above).

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