Indian Larry’s custom motorcycles blend Harley chopper and hot rod designs.
Larry Desmedt or “Indian Larry” designed and built custom motorcycles in his New York City shops between 1991 and 2004, when he died of head injuries. He suffered them while performing a stunt after the taping of a television show in Concord, North Carolina. With names like Grease Monkey and Wild Child, Indian Larry’s motorcycles blended Harley chopper and hot rod designs while demonstrating his artistic ability to bend metal into unusual shapes. Desmedt received the nickname of “Indian Larry” because he often rode Indian motorcycles before opening his custom design shops.
Appearance of Indian Larry Motorcycles
Indian Larry based his motorcycle designs on the 1960s classic Harley chopper look with a larger front wheel and high handlebars. He installed a small gas tank and seat sloping toward a smaller, but wider, rear wheel along a single rod. He used thinner front tires, shorter front ends and built the bikes closer to the ground than other motorcycles. He brightly painted gas tanks and rear fenders to reflect the theme of the motorcycle’s name. Indian Larry liked to use metal flake paint and even painted designs on primary belts.
Indian Larry Motors
Indian Larry equipped many of his motorcycles with pan shovel motors of 74, 88 or 103 cubic inches. These motors combined the characteristics of panhead and shovel motors. Used on classic Harley Davidson motorcycles of the 1950s through the mid-1980s, the valve covers of these motors looked like roasting pans or upside down shovels, which prompted their names. A few Indian Larry designs used V-twin motors with two carburetors or incorporated the classic Harley knucklehead motors with valve covers resembling a fist with a pair of knuckles.
Other Unique Features
Unlike other motorcycle designers, Indian Larry installed oil filters behind the transmission instead of in front of the crankcase. He installed kick starters until he broke his foot using a kick starter and switched to electric starters on subsequent designs. He didn’t like gauges and his motorcycles lacked even a basic oil pressure gauge. His bikes also had no front brake and a foot clutch.