1942 Indian Scout Riding Around Australia

What kind of motorbike would you choose to ride all the way around Australia? Probably not this old motorcycle…

THIS Indian Military Scout is not the kind of bike you would choose to ride around our Great Southern Land, but this particular Scout’s 50-year-old owner, social worker and author, Julie Jasper, is doing just that to raise awareness for youth affected by trauma. It might not be the most comfortable, or safe, but it sure will attract the most attention.

The trip isn’t laid out as any kind of Cannonball Run so Julie has given herself 12 months to complete the clockwise tour with plenty of stops for fundraising along the way.

“I’d been riding around for 10 years on a little 250 and I wanted to get my dream motorbike, and I’ve always loved Indians; I love old things. So I contacted Brendon (BF Customs) and we both started looking. We got in touch with Murray Morrell, an Indian expert, and he put us in touch with a guy who was getting rid of his Indian.”

Murray had restored the bike some 19 years in the past and had left it in good stead.

“I rang the owner and said here’s the deposit. I don’t even want to look at it. Don’t let anybody else look at it!”

Buying the Indian sight-unseen and bringing it back to the BF Customs workshop after a brief 50 km of riding and a severe lack of sleep saw Julie ride the old Scout ‘into’ the workshop—the combination of the left-hand throttle and foot clutch sent Julie and the Indian straight into Brendon’s wall of toolboxes at full speed which stopped the bike but not the screaming engine. The fully laden toolboxes then toppled over and onto Julie and the Scout while it continued to wail at top revs! The results being a badly broken leg for the now very awake Julie, an extended cleanup of the workshop for Brendon, and a surprisingly undamaged Indian!

“When you think about it and the (fighting) energy that was put into it (being) for World War Two. It was actually built for fighting,” Julie added.

“The bike fought us the whole way,” said Brendon. “With every part we bought for it there was a problem that went along with it.”

Nevertheless, this gave Julie time to work on her book, Flying Solo: One Woman’s Journey to Self Discovery. Five months, in fact, to write some chapters while her leg healed and Brendon worked on the bike which is to be known from now on as ‘Ms Ella the Third’. The book will be continued to be written on the road while Julie shares the experiences of the journey around Australia.

BF Customs got to work re-building the wheels to suit the wider tyres Julie wanted fitted, while keeping the hubs and re-lacing some 16-inch black rims with stainless spokes.

The guards were made to suit while the angle of the floorboards was changed to suit Julie’s riding position better.

The seat was redesigned and repositioned to bring it back and down to a more comfortable position also.

The pipes were made to be more sweeping and match the look of the bike. 

Everything else was kept as original as possible but also as minimal too. That’s not to say it is an easy bike to commandeer in the first place. With manual advance/retard ignition, kick start, foot clutch, and suicide shift only being the start.

Most automatic operations taken for granted today were manual back in 1942. For example, if you want to ride the bike with the headlight off, there’s a switch on the generator that reduces the amps produced so the battery doesn’t get fried. Also, if the oil pressure doesn’t come up after starting the engine, the rider is required to stop the engine, lay the bike over on its side to loosen the plates in the oil pump, and then stand it back up and restart the bike. All these quirks and stipulations Julie has learned the hard way in the lead-up to her epic journey’s start date.

If you were wondering what the silk feathers on the headstock were and thought it had something to do with the bike being an Indian you’d be partly right, but it’s not the entire story.

“Most people’s bikes have your bell for good luck,” Julie explained. “This has had an Indian Shaman ritual done on it so it is pretty well protected, which is in the book.”

Looking between the tanks there’s a leather strip designed by local artist Scott Mahar which represents “a totem with my own animal spirits and my tattoo on it. Kazz Mazz in Perth made it.”

The fresh paint has been airbrushed also by Scott to mimic a tightly drawn pigskin adding to the native American theme.

Highway cruising with the current gearing sits the bike at 45 mph so Brendon and Julie are looking into some taller gears to cover more ground per day on the tour.

As long as the old war Indian keeps putting up the fight for Julie’s cause she hopes to be enjoying your riding company or catching up in a town near you soon.

Thanks go to Brendon from BF Customs, Murray Morrell for the parts and a lot of advice (plus he’s going to be Julie’s online mechanic while she’s out on the road), the Indian Motorcycle Club of WA, Scott Mahar, and Kazz Mazz.

Indian Scout motorcycle

words & pics by Brad Miskiewicz

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