"This year marks 100 years since the U.S. declared it was entering the First World War. As the country braced itself for the conflict, Indian Motorcycles significantly ramped up efforts and dedicated virtually the entire production line to the war "
Indian Motorcycles – The Legend Lives On
We headed for the hills of Derbyshire - but the weather thought otherwise...
When we were making our last film on the Mazda MX5 in the sunshine of Umbria, both Matt and I commented that we’d be looking back to this particularly picturesque postcard perfection and remembering how lucky we were with it as a location for a shoot.
In many ways, the mighty double act of sod’s law and justice were always going to get their own back, and so they did in a timely manner by delivering biblical rain to the East Midlands to coincide with our latest petrol powered project.
Filming bikes in the rain is far from ideal, and so a day of torrential downpours somewhat scuppered my plans to spend our time filming 3 modern day Indians and their respective keepers in the beautiful surroundings of the peak district. Indeed the biker town of Matlock Bath was to be our base camp, from which we’d explore some carefully chosen roads with outstanding views and general loveliness. In reality, rain very much stopped play and we were forced to spend much of the day at the home of Rick Parfitt Junior (racing driver, rockstar and Indian fanatic) looking out of the window and liberally peppering the atmosphere with frustration fuelled expletives while eating crisps and watching touring cars on the telly. However, a break in the clouds did come at which point we quickly headed out with the bikes to some soggy roads on the outskirts of Nottingham, seeing what we could get before the heavens opened again.
Our 10-wheeled convoy consisted of a Scout 60, a Chief Dark Horse, a Chieftain Limited and a white Overfinch Range Rover, in order to make sure that even the hard of hearing would know we were coming. I feel like I’ve moaned a lot about the weather so far, which I can’t deny, but we probably had more laughs that day than on any other shoot I can remember and it was smiles per gallon as soon as we started up the bikes. That noise! Like Satan slowly belching but in a wholly good and contented way. Suddenly the moist surroundings were irrelevant and the natural upturn of mouths towards ones ears continued for the rest of the afternoon.
Indian is the oldest motorcycle company in America. A company with a rich heritage producing beautiful bikes from their inception in 1901, all the way to 1953 when things went wrong. Various people tried to revive the fortunes of this iconic brand for more than 50 years with varying degrees of failure until they were acquired by Polaris in 2011. Since then it’s been a completely different story, and they are now making beautiful engineered retro-styled bikes that are growing in popularity and are showing a steady upturn in sales. There are other manufacturers making noisy American bikes, but the beauty of Indian is their legacy, their iconic brand of Americana and the fact that you don’t see many of them on the road. For us to have 3 of the beasts in one place was bound to turn heads, not just because of the way they look, but also because you’re aware of their presence approximately a mile and a half before they come into view. Neighbourly relationship enders they most certainly are, and you can see straight away why certain sections of the two wheeled persuasion are infatuated by them, as were we along with our band of merry men that day in Nottingham.
So the cast in order of appearance: Rick Parfitt Junior who’s currently racing a Bentley Continental in the British GT3 series, when he’s not touring the world with his rock band. Flynn Stronach, guitarist with the brilliant beatbox combo ‘Duke’ and part time mentalist, and last but not least, bike nut and PR man Steve Cain makes up the 6 wheeled threesome. The aforementioned trio like nothing more than meeting up for a ride out, which Rick describes beautifully as a grown up version of the bike rides with your mates after school that we all did as kids. There is something very simple, joyful and pleasantly uncomplicated about getting onto a bike and going off for a ride with your mates and this feeling was conveyed perfectly by the expressions on their faces as we were doing our tracking shots. Well, you could see it on the faces of two of them as Flynn had his visor down the whole time, but I can only imagine he was smiling and chuckling to himself inside.
In the same way that dogs often look like their owners, one’s choice of motorcycle must surely say a lot about your character. Loud and attention seeking, these are not designed for the shy and retiring who’d rather blend into the background. They turn heads wherever they go and that’s the point. They look great and sound phenomenal but genuinely have the grunt, substance, heart and technology which is why sales are steadily growing and brand awareness is on the up. Ubiquity is not the aim, but recognition and growth certainly is and you can see why when you spend some time in the world of the Indians. I’m much more aware of the deep popping growl of said machines since making this film.
You look forward to seeing one, and that’s the point and that’s what makes them exciting.
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