5 Ball Racing Indian

Article By: Bandit

Photos By: Markus Cuff, Michael Lichter & Bandit

Originally Published In The June 2016 Issue OF Cycle Source Magazine

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afforded the opportunity to ride a new Chief to the SmokeOut, sorta like scoring a new VW bus and driving to the Burning Man in the desert with a pocket full of tabs of acid. While warming up at the Suck Bang and Blow party in Myrtle Beach, I met a young shop owner, Rich Worley. Rich is the owner of an Indian dealership, American Biker, in Charleston, SC. Last year we messed my Classic Chief from stem to stern. It started with whitewalls, a solid gloss black beauty with lots of chrome. Stock, it was magnificent. How could we mangle a perfectly good-looking stock bike and come out on top? I took shots of my 1946 Indian TT-type bars and sent them to Rich. Rob Tusay, the American Biker main Indian expert, went to work with a set of Flanders classic bars matched to new Indian controls. Rich worked with his paint team, while I worked with Paul Aiken of Aeromach and watched the industry for anything new and exciting for the new Chiefs. Paul enjoys trying to come up with new products for any new model. Indian presented an open pallet, and Paul went to work making heel shifters, footboards, luggage racks, shift pegs, license plate mounts, and worked with Highway Hawk on overseas trinkets. Paul designed lowering kits to lower stock or aftermarket footboards, which I found extremely helpful. He worked with me on a set of small footboards, since I considered shifting to pegs. Rich modified the mufflers slightly, added new torpedo tips, and tore them apart for a new recoating process, which allowed us to add the 5-Ball touch. I would like to give them credit, but the powder-coating business closed their doors. Rich shaved the bottom of the rear fender for a more classic Chief line.

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There’s a personal element to this bike, maybe 15. 5-Ball Racing represents a mountain of homegrown Bonneville Racing action to me and to Bikernet.com readers. Bikernet is about to turn 20. We’ve set a few Bonneville records under the 5-Ball name with Berry Wardlaw. The five represents so much, like a tribute to my five wives, and the fourth one, the Redhead of Redheads, recently returned to the fold. 5-Ball Inc. has always been the parent company to Bikernet, but recently it became more when a couple of brothers, Bob Kay and Jeff Najar, came to me with a proposal to put their leather line under the 5-Ball Racing name. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I was also a small part of the team at Easyriders when we set the world land speed record for motorcycles at 321 mph in 1990. We are currently trying like mad dogs to build the first streamlined trike, the Salt Torpedo, built by Kent Weeks and powered by JIMS. And we’re working hard on our vintage effort, the Bonne Belle, a 1940 flathead 45 built by me, Lee Clemens, and inspired by Paughco’s new 45 single-loop frames. The final wild touch was the distinct pleasure of riding the 5-Ball Chief for the first time this year to the Smoke Out. During a late night security conference under pine trees behind the wet T-shirt contest stage, Commander Edge handed a handful of us small tattered chunks of leather. Howard Knight engraved each one in uncustomary ragged lettering. It said, “Meet us for the first Sturgis Underhanded Run on a dirt road behind Spearfish, SD, or die trying.” The plan was to meet in Rapid City two weeks before the 75th and ride like the wind through the Badlands before the crowds descended on SD. Rich stepped up and offered to ride the 2014 5-Ball Racing Chief Classic from the Atlantic at Charleston, SC to Sturgis.

From Sturgis. I had a lousy plan to hook up with the Hamsters in Sun Valley, Idaho as they came from the West Coast in the Bay Area. I was just beginning to learn the benefits of this low-slung Indian. It handled like some dream. I immediately noted how it handled in rain grooves, as if they didn’t exist. At one point on the 90 at over 80 mph I dropped my hand to the gas tank and was startled. No vibration existed. I tried to find vibration, other than the road, and couldn’t find any in the handlebars or even the frame and this was a solid-mounted drivetrain. With the low center of gravity enhanced by Rob Tusay, at American Biker, lowering it 1.5 inches, it was the most stable bike I’ve ever ridden. It glided down the highway, ignoring glitches in the road, even buffeting trucks. My highway choice was perfect for From Sturgis. I had a lousy plan to hook up with the Hamsters in Sun Valley, Idaho as they came from the West Coast in the Bay Area. I was just beginning to learn the benefits of this low-slung Indian. It handled like some dream. I immediately noted how it handled in rain grooves, as if they didn’t exist. At one point on the 90 at over 80 mph I dropped my hand to the gas tank and was startled. No vibration existed. I tried to find vibration, other than the road, and couldn’t find any in the handlebars or even the frame and this was a solid-mounted drivetrain. With the low center of gravity enhanced by Rob Tusay, at American Biker, lowering it 1.5 inches, it was the most stable bike I’ve ever ridden. It glided down the highway, ignoring glitches in the road, even buffeting trucks. My highway choice was perfect for dodging tourists in Jackson, out the back and along the Snake River into Utah. What an amazing trail, and I learned how much energy I saved using the Indian cruise control system. I could set it, kick back, and make a margarita…

When I picked up the bike in Sturgis, mileage indicated 42.3, but I pushed into high gear and 43.7 mpg as I rolled through Wyoming. At one point, it seemed stuck on 43.9. Our performance editor, who was born in ’44, is enamored with the number 44. My mission was clear. I tried aerodynamic positions or holding the 6-speed in top gear in a 25 mph zone. There had to be a way, and there was. There’s always that roll of the dice between a clean comfortable efficient ride and a curvy, picturesque putt with multiple stops. I like my roads like voluptuous women, round and curvy. The Indian pulled like a 111-inch freight train in any gear. It didn’t jerk or lurch, just a steady strong pull. I was finally on track and on the last stretch of the Great Basin, following a meandering river on one side, the Pahranagat. On the other side were beautifully wind etched and naturally carved stones, but I was itching to roll into the city of glitz. I entered Vegas at 80 mph under sizzling skies and making 44.4 mpg. It had to be a good sign. In sixth gear, the engine purred along at 2900 rpms. I pulled up to the Headquarters about 1:00 p.m. and ran immediately into Sin Wu. “You look like hell,” she muttered. WTF? I sliced through 1697.3 miles from Spearfish. I topped out at 44.7 mpg and the total trip covered 4105.7 miles from coast to coast with lots of miles spent searching the Badlands. Total miles on the bike was 4,746. Whatta ride!

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5 Ball Racing Indian Tech Sheet

Owner: Keith “Bandit” Ball

Fabrication By: Rich Worley

City/state: Port Of Los Angeles Ghetto

Year: 214

Model: Indian Chief Classic

Value: $18,000

Time: 9 Months

ENGINE

Year: 2014

Model: 111” Indian

Builder: Indian

Ignition: Night Rider Performance

Displacement: 111”

Pistons: Factory

Heads: Made To Look Flat

Carb: Throttle Body

Cam: Stock

Air Cleaner: S&S

Exhaust: Modified By American Biker

Primary: Gear Driven, Barnet Clutch

TRANSMISSION

Year: 2014

Make: Indian

Shifting: 6 Speed

Frame

Year: 2014

Make: Indian Mono-shock

Rake: 29 Degree

Stretch: 6.1” Of Trail

Forks

Type: Telescopic 46mm

Builder: Polaris

Extension: Stock

Triple trees: Indian

WHEELS

Front Wheel: Indian Spoke

Size: 16”

Front Tire: 130 Dunlop Elite

Front brake: Dual Floating Rotor 4 Piston

Rear Wheel: Indian Spoke

Size: 16”

Rear Tire: 180 Dunlop Elite

Rear brake: Single Floating Rotor 2 Piston

PAINT

Painter: Paints By Rusty

Color: 5 Ball Racing

Type: Matric Urethane

Graphics: BKP Art

ACCESSORIES

Bars: American Biker – Rob Tusay

Hand Controls: Indian

Fuel tank: Indian

Front Fender: Modified – Rich Worley

Rear Fender: Modified – Rich Worley

Seat: Indian

Foot Controls: Aeromach

Headlight: Indian

Taillight: Indian

Speedo: Indian

Photographer: Markus Cuff