Mescalero Indian Apache Chopper

As far as I know, Roland Sands is the first professional builder to use the 111″ Thunder Stroke Indian engine to build an old school chopper. And I acknowledge it looks pretty good on this type of machine. It must be the Thunder Stroke features inspired by the Power Plus motor of the 1940’s, like multi-directional finned valved covers, downright firing exhaust and right-hand drive.

It may surprise many that Roland Sands, whose trademark work is mainly custom Flat Trackers and Cafe Racers, went in this chopper direction, but there is a very good reason. It is designed to pay homage to a bike called “Peyote Puffer” built by his father Perry (founder of Performance Machine) in the 70’s. “I’ve always dug that bike, and this was my first opportunity to build something inspired by it. Obviously the finish is completely different as well as the character. This bike is a road bomber meant to go straight with your lady on the back”, says Roland.

When you will read that Mescaloro is a federally recognized Apache tribe of Southern Native Americans with reservation located in central New Mexico, you will better understand the type of retro treatment applied to this big rake chopper. The chromoly frame is a plunger suspension unit with the front setup with a Girder using an Öhlins shock absorber.

As it was done in the past a Mustang gas tank has been welded to the frame, then molded to it. The huge and comfortably padded 3″ tall sissy bar is made from high polished stainless steel and mated to a King and Queen seat. Bent mid ape-hangers mean Chopper with a big C. On the rear fender, a traditional Indian-head running light with a red LED keeps things (somewhat) legal.

Engine was highly polished and for more retro authenticity a foot clutch and long jockey shift were fabricated and installed. Mescaloro could not roll on other than Indian and RSD tested race wheel competition setup. Heavy Hammer flat track 19/3″ rear wheel and hub set up straight from Indian’s FTR Championship race program, as well a factory TT front hub set on a custom 21”/2.15″ traction wheel. (photos @RSD)

Custom seat by Rich at Bitchin Seat Company,
Barnett custom cables and clutch pressure plate,
Burly Brand saddlebag & tool roll. Paint by Airtrix.
Patina by Brass Junkie. K&N head breathers & oil filter
(photos @RSD)

33 Responses to “Mescalero Indian Apache Chopper”


  1. 1 Boomer Dec 11th, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Nice but we need a full bike picture of the right side too.

  2. 2 Bryan Fuller Dec 11th, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Pretty Bitchin… Nice job RSD!

  3. 3 Mdkuder Dec 11th, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Nice and yes who’s the jack wagon that didn’t take a pic of the right side!

  4. 4 domino Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:07 am

    like that it is inspired by his Dad’s old bike …
    …. Domino Dave….

  5. 5 BD Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:16 am

    nice work but FUGLY

  6. 6 Dick Hirschberg Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Everything except the unecessary business with the neck/downtubes

    Too precious

  7. 7 Xenu Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:49 am

    The fake flathead fins look better hidden by the stock tank,
    I don’t see any connection to Native Americans at all.
    Otherwise, a nice ode to 1972.

  8. 8 Guzzigreg Dec 11th, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Same old same old,yawn.

  9. 9 Chuck C. Dec 11th, 2017 at 11:19 am

    great looking bike Roland.

  10. 10 Chief Waldo Dec 11th, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Small typo, but I’m thinking that sissy bar is 3′ tall, not 3″!

  11. 11 richards Dec 11th, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    It’s that ugly engine that gets me. It’s bulbous…it’s obese…it’s those (fat) fake heads…When I see any stock indian or a custom it’s always the same. My eyes are drawn to the engine and I’m immediately turned off.

  12. 12 highrpm Dec 11th, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    i guess my easy rider implanting makes me think the bike — as good as it is — might be a tad better with 6″ shorter high riser and another 6″ lower top of queen back rest. as is, the back rest is too dominant for my tastes. good showcase for indian’s 111.

  13. 13 Seymour Dec 11th, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Here’s the other side view you are looking for https://www.rolandsands.com/blog/753/the-mescalero

  14. 14 takehikes Dec 11th, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Well. Nice try but as usual these days overdone. Keep it simple Roland….rake and flake.

  15. 15 Opera & Iron Dec 11th, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    Leave it to Roland to pull off this old school, new school mashup.

  16. 16 Guy Dec 11th, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    The engine is ugly, the seat is horrible and as for that big back wheel, well I don’t think you would print what I think of that. I usually love RSD stuff, but this is a mess.

  17. 17 Guy Dec 11th, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    I do like the forks though, just in a different bike.

  18. 18 ozzie21 Dec 11th, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    YUK……just YUK…

  19. 19 Chris Dec 11th, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Clean and lean. Nice touch with the Indian head on the rear fender. That seat/sissy bar is a beauty. Wheels look like the same units used on the Indian Flat Tracker and look great here. Well done, Roland.

  20. 20 golfish Dec 11th, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    A family friend works as a designer at RSD, I should see him on Christmas.
    Maybe he’ll have some pictures.

  21. 21 donny brasco Dec 11th, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    well I couldn’t afford to trash a new Indian and turn it into that, but that, said it’s cool because no-one else has done it.

  22. 22 Fzzzz Dec 11th, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    That top end is so huge it’s almost cartoonish. It looks better in the stock bike, all hidden by the gas tank. Nice work on the bike though.

  23. 23 Holeshotbob Dec 11th, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I think that thing is perfect!

  24. 24 ARTHUR HAMILTON Dec 12th, 2017 at 6:31 am

    NICE BIKE….GREAT LINES

  25. 25 Francesco Dec 12th, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Très belle machine pour les jeunes!!!

  26. 26 Shanedrive Dec 12th, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Had to go to Sand’s site and look at the pics there. This baby is still EFI. It’s not by any stretch a small feat to hide the wiring involved w/this much less an ECM/ECU. This baby is stil TBW (throttle by wire). Call it what you will, I’ve been waiting to see someone pack all the technology into a chop. Most don’t understand what it takes to pull off this feat and they never will. As an engine builder/technician—to me, within this bike lies some major talent Artsy stuff aside. Handling the technical details is art in itself. The devil is ALWAYS in the details.

  27. 27 ChopperBill Dec 12th, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Nope, doesn’t work for me.

  28. 28 Tom Ryan Dec 12th, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    In some pics the heads really do seem massive. I wonder how the bike would look if larger 1 1/2″ od tubing (Bourget style) were used in the frame (also slightly stretched 2 to 3 inches) to make the engine seem a little smaller, along with lower handle bars, headlight style, slightly larger gas tank, and a smaller seat with only a 1 foot high rear sissy bar?

  29. 29 rebel Dec 14th, 2017 at 9:04 am

    yea TOM and a couple sizes larger wheels to bring down the size of the engine, nice effort though.

  30. 30 Stephen Dec 14th, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    I have always wondered when the Indian motor would turn up in a custom chopper. I always thought the Indian motor looked good in the Chief and it still looks good in a custom. To those who say it looks too large, how do you think a Milwaukee 8 is going to look in a custom with its water cooled heads? Where will the radiator and associated plumbing go? I agree with Shanedrive, hiding all the tech is an art.

  31. 31 The Bear Dec 19th, 2017 at 12:38 am

    Ooh yes. Nice one, Mr Sands. Hey, who are you working for these days?

  32. 32 beentheredonethat Dec 22nd, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Camel bike, committee bike, out of touch with the 70’s bike

  33. 33 Angelico Jul 20th, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks for finally writing about > Mescalero Indian Apache Chopper at
    Cyril Huze Post – Custom Motorcycle News < Loved it!

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