Baker Drivetrain: Indian Larry Legacy Deified

Written by  Story by Buck Manning, Photos courtesy of Anthony "Scout" Underwood Monday, 03 October 2016 10:00
Published in Ultra Customs
You’ve seen this frame before ⎯ no, not one like it ⎯ but this actual frame. That is, if you’re one of the legions of Indian Larry fans who watched the Biker Build-Off tribute bike to the much missed Brooklyn builder coming together under the aegis of respectful builder friends. The TV shenanigans of a ten day build-off (taking absolutely nothing away from BBO builders facing an impossible time situation) were illustrated in the on-air scenes where Bert Baker of BAKER Drivetrain helped twist the Indian Larry-style downtube for the tribute bike. Needless to say, this was not the actual one used in the Love Zombie build, but done for television purposes. But fortunately, that piece of historical custom memorabilia didn’t end up being tossed aside. “A couple of months after they did the filming, that downtube came in the mail with a frame attached to it and so we felt obligated to finish the rest of the bike,” says Anthony “Scout” Underwood, self-proclaimed Brand Vandal and Director of Marketing for BAKER Drivetrain. The arrival of this frame fit in nicely with BAKER’s own annual bike build for the photo shoot they do for the company’s calendar and also for the boys in R&D to have something to experiment with. “It gets too political if we farmed out a build ‘cause we can’t alienate our customers, so we do it ourselves,” says Scout. “We also do some R&D along the way and explored a few new product ideas of which a couple of them are going to market in the future. These projects are a great moral booster and truly enlighten our guys on what our customers have to experience as they build a bike.”


Starting with a Wild Child frame constructed within the bowels of Indian Larry Legacy, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what direction this build was going to take. There’s been many a Larry tribute bike done already, but most that I’ve seen have little or nothing in common with Larry’s ideas other than using him as a theme. BAKER R&D’s Chad Behrendt, Tom Peek, and Ryan Sanderlin, set about to build the real thing, not a half-baked universal bobber with a few of Larry’s graphic trademarks stuck on for validity. First up was getting a combo fuel-oil tank direct from Indian Larry Legacy. Besides being authentically cool looking with its myriad of caps and oil lines strewn about, the lack of a conventional oil bag hanging under the seat showcased one of the R&D developments BAKER was working on, but more on that later. Milwaukee Iron was tapped for a fender, which R&D modified to fit, and is held up by a clean, chromed strut/sissy bar they made. A set of politically correct (remember they had to not offend any companies with their parts choices) stock length narrow glide FXR forks hang out at a good handling 30-degrees. Performance Machine’s Vader wheels are enveloped with Metzeler ME880s, a classic-sized 90/90x21 in front and a reasonable 200x18 in back. PM also supplied the stopping power with their 4-piston calipers and wheel matching rotors worked by PM master cylinders for a good looking, good braking system.

With the rolling chassis in place, it was time to choose a method of making it roll by itself. “We wanted somebody really close to tailor the motor how we wanted to see it, shovelhead-style with a lot of polished parts, and to work well with the new parts we were making in R&D,” says Scout. “Greg Gates (of Gates Performance Engineering Inc.), the mad scientist of the motor world, is literally a mile or two away and Bert wanted to use as many locals as he could.” Needless to say, it was a wise choice as Greg turned out a 106” split rocker box beauty featuring his “Hi Squish” chamber cylinder heads with titanium valves and performance cam sitting on Axtell/Gates cylinders. Greg also modified an S&S G carb topped with a Goodson air cleaner and chose a Mallory ignition to light it off, eventually producing a very healthy 105hp and 117ft-lbs of torque at the rear wheel. The lads from R&D finished it with a wrapped exhaust and Larry’s trademark rear-mount oil filter. Being able to have a classic shovel look and not having to forsake high performance to get it, sure makes for a winning combo.

After placing the Gates mill in the frame, the R&D boys started installing the proto parts they’d been developing. “We were working on mid-controls, but that’s a larger project because it’s part of a proprietary belt drive that we’re still working on,” says Scout. This primary is connected to the obvious showpiece of this bike, the BAKER transmission which becomes a visual focal point for a number of reasons. This is where the fuel/oil tank comes into play. Having open space over the tranny allows BAKER to show off its new 6-into-4 kicker transmission and taking it a step further, R&D made a Lexan (often referred to as transparent aluminum) top cover to show off Bert’s pride and joy, and seeming reason to be, the internal guts of a tranny in all their constantly meshing glory. “We’ve got enough Lexan to sell clear top covers and that’s something we’ll have available soon,” says Scout. For more info on the 6-into-4 tranny and kicker cover check out the Up Close sidebar.

Local boy and custom legend Ron Finch was called upon for the gorgeous paintjob. “He’s a professional and great to work with. Historically, his paintjobs are just tremendous and they’re out there, but he worked with me,” says Scout. “It is a corporate bike and our color palette at BAKER is mostly black. We try not to get too wild and he respected that, but it still looks like a Ron Finch paintjob.” A set of 10” baby apes on 2” DBBP-Design risers completes the look and reaches back to a knockout Paul Cox Leather seat mounted on one of his comfy Rigidaire systems.

“We’re all a fan of the man. That’s why we called the bike I.L.L. Deified,” says Scout.


This bike feature originally appeared in Barnett's Magazine issue #59, December 2007.


Builder: Bert Baker
Baker Drivetrain

By now you’ve all read some version of the Bert Baker story, of how he was a Senior Project Engineer for manual transmissions at GM and there he met his lovely wife to be, Lisa, and how his street riding replacement for a self-canceled promising motocross career, a 1994 Nostalgia, was stolen at Daytona and gave him the insurance money that eventually was the seed money of what would later end up being BAKER Drivetrain. Phew. Personally, I find it hard to believe all the corporate stuff, because if anybody was born a hardcore motorcycle riding, life-loving guy, that’d be Bert. He’s a brilliant, likeable guy who seems to have System of a Down constantly playing in his head while he’s working on all aspects of life, all the time. He’s such a consummate gearhead it’s surprising he hasn’t trademarked the term. Whether the gears are turning in his head or in one of his transmissions, Bert is Gearhead Job One.

I asked Bert for his thoughts on the late Indian Larry and this is what he said: “Indian Larry was truly a renaissance man comfortable in his own skin. He was a creative, brave, passionate, and compassionate man who stuck to his own style and who stuck near his friends. He simply did what he wanted as an artist and eventually the world came to appreciate him. He lived how he wanted and got away with it. Because of this, he stands for being truly a liberated biker in the most profound sense. Fortunately, in his last days Indian Larry was able to enjoy the rewards of his vocation. The late Indian Larry was, and still is, bigger than life.”

These were fine words about his lost friend and strangely they are an apt description of my own opinion of Bert Baker.


Owner: Bert Baker Jr.
Fab/ assembly: BAKER Drivetrain R&D
Build time: 4 months
Engine: 106" Gates Performance Engineering shovelhead
Cases: Gates
Flywheels: S&S
Rods/ pistons: Gates
Cylinders: Gates/Axtell
Heads/ cam: Gates
Ignition: Mallory electronic
Carb: S&S Super G/Gates
Pipes: BAKER R&D
Air Cleaner: Goodson
Transmission: BAKER 6-into-4 kicker
Primary/ clutch: BAKER R&D
Frame: Indian Larry Legacy Wild Child
Rake/ stretch: 30-degrees/2"
Forks: 35mm Narrow Glide
Fork length: Stock FXR
Wheels: Performance Machine Vader
Front Tire: 90/90x21 Metzeler ME880
Rear Tire: 200/50x18 Metzeler ME880
Brakes: Performance Machine
Fuel/ oil tank: Indian Larry Legacy
Fender: Milwaukee Iron/ BAKER
Bars/risers: 10" apes/ 2" DBBP-Design
Headlight/ taillight: Adjure 4.5"/ Beacon 1
Hand Controls: Performance Machine
Grips: BAKER R&D
Foot Controls: BAKER R&D
Painter: Ron Finch
Graphics: Wicked Air
Polishing: South Haven Finishing
Seat: Paul Cox Leather/ Rigidaire System
Special thanks to: Indian Larry Legacy, Paul Cox, Greg Gates, Alto Products, Ron Finch, Performance Machine, DBBP-Design, and South Haven Finishing.

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