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2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the original Indian Chief, hence why the bike company just updated it. But that’s not the only thing it’s doing for the cruiser’s centenary. Indian has geared up with several veteran bike builders to create customized versions of the 2022 Chief. And we recently spoke with one of them: Carey Hart.

Carey Hart somehow finds time to squeeze in motocross, family time, and customizing V-twin bikes

Carey Hart in his workshop garage with a hot rod on a lift
Carey Hart in his workshop garage | Indian

If you’re a fan of motocross racing, you’ve likely heard of Carey Hart. DirtBikePlanet describes him as “a freestyle motocross pioneer,” and in 2000 he became the first rider to land a backflip on a 250cc bike, Fox Racing reports. He even has a trick named after him. He’s been riding since he was 4 years old, following the example set by his dad, grandpa, and uncles. “Some kids get a baseball glove and a baseball bat for their fourth birthday,” he told me over Zoom, “I got a dirt bike.”

Although he’s retired as a pro freestyle motocross rider, Carey Hart still works regular dirt-riding time into his schedule. And he’s often joined by his wife, pop singer P!nk, as well as his daughter and son. Among the various motorcycles in the family garage, six of them belong to P!nk, he told me.

Carey Hart with wife P!nk and son Jameson Moon at the Monster Energy Supercross VIP Event
Carey Hart with wife P!nk and son Jameson Moon at the Monster Energy Supercross VIP Event | Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Speaking of garage space, right now Hart himself has 15 dirt bikes and 15 V-twin motorcycles on hand. Because when he isn’t tearing up the dirt or spending time with his family, he’s riding his V-twin bikes. He also helped start a line of tattoo parlors, a CBD business, and runs a charity called Good Ride. And when he isn’t doing any of those things, he’s working on his customizing skills.

Hart’s customizing career started almost on a whim

While Cary Hart has raced motocross and dabbled in flat-track racing, he “stumbled into” making custom bikes, he says. In 2015 he was invited to be the Grand Marshal for the Sturgis Rally, which he describes as “sort of a bucket-list thing.” And as part of the position, he received a Road Glide. Having worked on his own race bikes and tinkered in his spare time, he decided to customize the Road Glide a bit.

Shortly thereafter, he was contacted by Bagger Magazine, asking him, “So, how serious are you about this motorcycle-building thing?” To which he, in his own words, “blurted out, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m super into it, I’m super serious.’” Bagger then invited him on the Hot Bike Tour, which he accepted. And it was only after the call was over that he thought, “What the hell did I just get myself into?”

Since then, Carey Hart “immersed” himself in developing the necessary skills for building custom V-twin motorcycles in his spare time. And while right now his riding time is split 50:50 between dirt bikes and V-twins, he hopes that as he steps away from the dirt, his street-riding time increases to make up for it.

“For me, it fills the void of traveling the world and raising hell and riding motocross. I’m not going to be able to do it [motocross] forever…but I still get that same fulfillment in V-twin.”

Carey Hart

By his own admission, Carey Hart “can’t stand still,” and he needs “something to quiet down the voices.” As someone with ADHD, I can commiserate. But he “truly loves what [he’s] doing in V-twin right now,” and is learning something new about fabrication and customization every day. And he’s bringing those skills and motocross background to the 2022 Indian Chief Custom Program.

Motocross “is a huge part” of Carey Hart’s customs, but he wants to challenge himself with his next custom 2022 Indian Chief

Carey Hart has made several custom Indians in the past, including a Challenger and a Chieftain Dark Horse. And while he’s participating in the Indian Custom Program, he’s already built a customized 2022 Indian Chief.

But regardless of what kind of bike he’s building, “my #1 interest is always performance,” he says. And he always tries to bring in racing to his builds—and not always motocross racing. Hart’s motorcycles often feature motocross-style handlebar and footpeg setups, but some bear paint schemes taken from ‘90s MotoGP bikes. And his last custom 2022 Indian Chief features a titanium exhaust fabricated by “a buddy” of his at Fab28, MCN reports, inspired by ‘90s dirt-bike exhausts.

A gray 2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse with Rogue Collection accessories in a garage
2022 Indian Chief Dark Horse with Rogue Collection accessories | Indian

In regards to the 2022 Indian Chief itself, Carey Hart had great things to say about it as a blank canvas. “It’s very customizing-friendly,” he says, “slim and mean” with few extraneous features. And it has “an insane power-to-weight ratio.” Hart also “really loves” the frame design, both its rigidity and the fact that it’s made of steel. Steel is easier to work with and weld than aluminum, which is why designer Ola Stenegard used it for the 2022 Indian Chief, Cycle World explains.

Although Carey Hart’s next custom 2022 Indian Chief will undoubtedly have a performance tie-in, he wants to challenge himself a bit with it. However, it won’t be as “busy” as the last Chief he built. He’s thinking more like a “street renegade, beat-up-the-asphalt-type bike.”

When will the world see the finished product?

As excited as we are about Carey Hart’s custom 2022 Indian Chief, it’s not finished yet. Hart only got the stock bike the day before he and I talked over Zoom, due to scheduling conflicts with another build. And before he tackles a build, he likes to put the bike up on a stand and look it over. First with a few beers, and then the next day with some cups of coffee.

That being said, Hart stressed that he didn’t have to stay in any ‘box’ with this new 2022 Indian Chief build. And he’s stoked to get the chance to probe his boundaries and test his skills. Once a racer, always a racer.

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