Alma ‘Indian Four’ custom

Indian Four custom motorcycle
It looks like an Indian Four and it rides like an Indian Four, but this motorcycle has never been anywhere near Springfield, Massachusetts. Sitting in the frame is a one-liter NSU car engine, mated to a four-speed gearbox and shaft drive from a European pre-war motorcycle. The frame is a one-off, built to accommodate the tall SOHC engine; on a genuine Indian Four frame, there’s an additional straight tube running under the gas tanks. But the look is just right, helped by a vintage 1920s headlight and a repro Indian front end and fenders. The detailing elsewhere is lovely: the tanks, flywheel housing and engine sump are beautifully cast in aluminum. The forms for these were made by owner/builder Mads Bartholin, who spent literally hundreds of hours on those three parts alone.

Bartholin is an industrial designer and this project took him eight years—rather than the two he anticipated—partly because he was perennially broke, and partly because he got married and had kids along the way. The Alma Four apparently handles well, given that it’s based on a vintage American behemoth. And thanks to the air-cooled NSU Prinz engine, reliability is not an issue. (The motor was also used in the Münch Mammut, by the way.) Purists may scoff, but there’s something oddly appealing about this motorcycle. It’s a mix of vintage and modern componentry put together with great skill and a sensitive eye. And there’s something to be said for a bike of any description that starts first time in the morning.

With thanks to Kim Scholer. Photographs by Jeppe Sorensen. See more about this bike on The Vintagent.

Custom Indian Four

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Solley/646377245 Ian Solley

    There is a 1931 Henderson 4 like this for sale this weekend at Bonhams auction in London – guide is £30-£40K. http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/pubweb/publicSite.r?sContinent=EUR&screen=lotdetailsNoFlash&iSaleItemNo=4497877&iSaleNo=18362&iSaleSectionNo=1

  • Claudiolus

    you can read all about the build on this awseome project at http://www.virtualindian.org/xmas04/alma4.htm
    i met the builder, named Mads over the holidays and I can vouch that he is truly a genius gone mad! Be careful what you name your children!

  • mark

    Seems like every day I am reminded of why I love this site!

  • Kozzy

    Beautiful.

  • Coreigh

    The ‘purists’ can ‘suck it’. This is a work of art and if some one gets bent because they don’t like that the bike borrows its sense of style from a vintage bike then they just don’t get it, they’re trying to appreciate the wrong elements of this machine.

  • kim scholer

    I doubt the purists will get particularly worked up because of this bike, as it has been carefully designed to look like a 1920s straight four, and built to a high standard (unlike some botched-up Indian Four look-a-likes I’ve seen out there over the years).

    Now if one had to choose between owning a Springfield-built Indian Four and this one….

  • kim scholer

    Forgot to mention that the engine has 300 bhp potential (more cc’s, oil cooled cylinder heads, twin double Webers etc. etc.).

  • Tin Man 2

    Kim, 300BHP from a 1 litre engine, on the street? Sounds a bit too much for me. I think the stock engine would do me just fine. If I wanted a High Strung racing engine I would have it in a modern frame.

  • http://www.car137.com Glenn Edley

    It would be a hard choice between the Indian and this but I like the sound of a bike that starts first time every morning ….

  • WRXr

    Sure the look of the bike is derivative. This doesn’t stop it from being one of the best things posted lately. Not another chopper. Not another cafe racer. And not another CAD.

  • megola

    believe I saw this bike at barber’s not to long ago. how that’s what bike building is all about, Love it
    if it’s the same one the engineering is very clever .

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Russ-Taylor/710606004 Russ Taylor

    300bhp, really?

    Absolutely love it, another bike on bikeexif on my wants list that’ll probably cost me a few hours research tonight into learning about Indian 4s and probably how expensive they’ve become.

    C’mon ebay find me a 1ltr nsu engine! :)

  • Matt

    Good lord that’s a sweet bike. Yet another example of why this website is so frickin’ great…

  • WRXr

    Maybe sell this as a kit??

  • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com/ hoyt

    one for the ages. thanks for the info.

  • David Keeling

    That’s impressive, but my taste runs to the more modern… so this kinda caught my eye via luxury culture – it’s a wrx powered bike that looks part bimoto, part confederate in design. Pics and a full explanation on http://www.roguemoto.com
    It’s wild! The pictures gallery is on flickr and worth a look
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/qmoto/sets/72157622516318731/

    • http://www.bikeexif.com Chris Hunter

      Funny you should mention that David, because I’ve just done a piece on that bike for The Cool Hunter.

  • twelvecubicinches

    glad to see that bike finished. i’d been following it, off and on, on the old Virtual Indian site:
    http://virtualindian.org/9techfour.htm
    http://virtualindian.org/10alma2.htm
    http://virtualindian.org/11alma3.htm
    http://www.virtualindian.org/xmas04/alma4.htm

  • kim scholer

    Russ Taylor: NSU engines are cheap here in Europe. The one for this bike cost about US$ 350 (but then the sump and the cluch/flywheel housing also cost $ 350 each to cast).

    WRXr: A complete kit was thought about, but in the end not worth the trouble. Still the builder doesn’t mind sharing info on how to modify the engine for motorcycle use.

  • Chris Alders

    I keep coming back to the site staring at the pictures. It’s beautiful!

    A dream bike, brilliant..!