Most people have never even heard of a Ducati Indiana. Even Ducati enthusiasts rarely know what they are, even fewer have actually seen one.
To see the IndySS Gallery click HERE
Built during what I tend to think of as Ducati’s equivalent to Harley’s “AMF period” it was based on a Pantah motor and was at the time, the answer to a question nobody asked. Look at one and the logical conclusion is that because it was designed for the cruiser market it’s the DNA link to the Diavel. This is not the case. Introduced in 1987, the Indiana made its way off the production line sent out to seek a market that just wasn’t there. Produced in low numbers in three different configurations (750/650/350) and only produced for 2 model years, they still managed to stack up on dealer floors. There really is just something about it off balance, to my eyes the bike just isn’t “Ducati-like”. They are kind of cool but , well, what would you DO with it?
That was the question posed to Tony Prust of Analog Motorcycles when he got an email out of the blue about putting his unique spin on one. The back-story was that a relatively original Indiana had been sold to a collector but the bike had been damaged in transit and was no longer “original” and now ripe for a project build. It got sold from there to it’s current owner, Del Thomas, who had sent it to a shop that mostly worked on cars. That shop had envisioned a Harley style design which wasn’t coming out to the owners satisfaction. Enter Analog Motorcycles, named in honor of the simpler version of musical sound with a similar philosophy when it comes to motorcycle design. For this bike Tony had a vision. First things to go were the plans for forward controls and Triumph shorty shocks. “I wanted the people who know Ducati’s to recognize that it was an Indiana” he said, “On the other hand, not many people know what they are or that Ducati ever came up with a Cruiser before the Diavel”. “I call this the IndySS because the paint was inspired by the early 900SS silver and blue paint theme, in particular the stripes”.
When asked what “genre” the bike now fits in Tony explained there really wasn’t one. He likes to mix and match. When pushed he said “Bobber muscle bike maybe?” The one thing he did know was that he wanted it to handle like a Ducati so the first set of business was to install a set of Gazi Sport Lite series rear shocks, then lower the front end to give it “proper geometry”. Next, he said, get to what Analog Motorcycles considers it’s core design strength – identify what it doesn’t need and get rid of it. Then hide or simplify what it does need. So the big ugly gauges were removed – no more tach, speedo only, and the bulky old school Brembo master cylinder were replaced by sleek and stylish radial Magura pumps.
Next he cut the frame behind the rear shock mounts leaving the whole tail section suspended by the seat pan, one piece, no sub-frame. Side panels were replaced with perforated aluminum, powder coated black. And all covers (clutch,belt,valve,cam and stator) were removed, stripped of the original chrome and powder coated wrinkle black.
Mechanically the motor remains stock, tuned in the capable hands of TJ from Ducati Milwaukee, who stuck to just getting the bike back to safe to rev specs, which consisted mainly of new belts, seals, and a valve adjustment.
Seeing the IndySS in person and knowing what it started life as, I am struck by how close Ducati came to really having something special on their hands. It’s lines from a distance are classic early Yamaha VMax. And while anyone can see much of the original bike has been changed, what’s most impressive is how much wasn’t. This is still clearly a 1987 Ducati Indiana, which some might argue was Ducati’s ugliest Ducling. Of course in the fairy tale the homely little bird suffers abuse from all around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan. My guess is if the IndySS could talk it might tell a similar tale…
Want to see it in person? The Indy SS is currently on exhibit in the AMA Hall of Fame in Pickerington Ohio as part of the 2 Wheels + Motor: A Fine Art Exhibition. For more information: http://www.motorcyclemuseum.org/Exhibits/TwoWheelsPlusMotor.aspx
For more information on Analog Motorcycles: http://www.analogmotorcycles.com/