Motorcycle Monday: Fake 1948 Indian Chief

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Did a famous YouTuber get taken on a vintage motorcycle deal?


One of the bigger motorcycle YouTubers out there is Bikes and Beards’ Sean Kerr. As the owner of SRK Cycles, which is in a period of transition at the moment, Sean has access to the kinds of bikes many people dream of riding, let alone owning. Plenty of people, myself included, were thoroughly entertained when Sean not only purchased a janky 1948 Indian Chief but got it running and rode the thing home. If you remember, I featured the odyssey for the February 7 Motorcycle Monday and people seemed to really enjoy it.

See the journey of this Chief being ridden by Sean here.

That’s why it was shocking to see Bikes and Beards drop a new video hinting that the Indian Chief might be a fake. It happens, but you expect someone like Sean wouldn’t be taken so easily. While the guy has said over and over he’s not an Indian fan and so isn’t a complete expert on the brand, one would hope someone as experienced as him wouldn’t get taken in so easily.

It sounds like the doubts started when people commented on the original video showing off the ’48 Indian Chief. Sure, it had some questionable appointments like the Cleveland Indians badge with the screwheads for eyeballs and the little bike bell on the handlebar, but the man only paid $14,000 so what do you expect?

Well, people were claiming all sorts of things. One person said the tank on the Chief was definitely not from a 1948 Chief. People will swap out tanks, so that might be. However, another person went further, claiming the frame isn’t from a ’48. Sean was concerned, so he took his newly-purchased motorcycle to have it assessed.

Everyone in the comments section of social media sites like YouTube are experts in whatever they want to say they’re experts in, so this really doesn’t surprise me one bit. Thankfully, Sean sought out a friend whom many of you should know, Matt Walksler at Wheels Through Time. As the owner of perhaps the best motorcycle museum for vintage American bikes, the guy is a true expert, and we’re not talking about the social media variety.

Right off the bat Matt questions how someone could tell the veracity of a vintage motorcycle from a YouTube video. Since he not only owns the museum but another popular motorcycle YouTube channel, the man has likely encountered such “experts” commenting on his content as well.

Sure enough, Matt does what you can’t do just from watching a video: he checks the frame number. Immediately, he knows it’s a 1948 Chief, so that debunks the one “expert” online assessment. Then he quickly ascertains the engine is original. Yes, it’s a numbers-matching 1948 Indian Chief, which is a big deal when it comes to value, something Sean seemed legitimately concerned about.

Matt goes through the rest of the Chief and examines the other components. Some are original and others aren’t, which is really no surprise. There’s even some Harley stuff in the mix. Check out the video for the details, it’s pretty interesting to watch.

It’s amazing what turning to an actual expert can do for anyone. This is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t take what random people online say as gospel fact. Some of them might be right – I’ve found some incredibly helpful advice in forums and social media groups – but there are also the narcissists who can be so very convincing yet know little to nothing. Just beware making big decisions with your motorcycles or other vehicles based off claims made by people online and use in-person experts who don’t have a vested interest in your ride, whenever possible.

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