Home News The Indian Larry Way: The Legacy Of Larry Desmedt

The Indian Larry Way: The Legacy Of Larry Desmedt

Indian Larry shop

Inside a white-brick storefront in an industrial area of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, dotted with auto garages and trendy, futuristic coffee spots, Leigh Docherty stood next to a $90,000 gold-and-black motorcycle, hand-painted with an image of Johnny Cash. Mr. Docherty, a pharmaceutical manufacturing technician, was visiting from Port Glasgow, Scotland. He wore a hulking ring carved into a menacing skull. His eyes softened adoringly as he examined the bike’s workmanship.

“Nothing is hidden on it, even the struts, nothing is covered up,” Mr. Docherty said. “It’s stunning.” The bike, displayed in the window, took five months to build.

The place — Indian Larry Motorcycles, home of the New York City “chopper” motorcycle — smelled like motor oil and grease. Up front, some of the famous custom-made motorcycles built by Larry Desmedt (Indian Larry), who died in 2004, and the shop’s current master of design and mechanics, John Asarisi, were on display, along with T-shirts, hats, gear and, on the walls, photographs of Mr. Desmedt.

In back, several bikes were up on planks for repair under the soaring ceilings of the wide-open machine shop, including a flashy green number with a sticker proclaiming “Hipster Killer.” The shop, which because of rising rent moved to North 15th Street from a nearby location in 2015, showcased a few large pieces of machinery, some dating to the 1930s.
“I don’t have the money to buy an Indian Larry bike,” Mr. Docherty said. “But I had to get here. Some of the guys from the bike club back home want me to pack up some stuff, T-shirts and badges.”
Indian Larry bikes are made from scratch. From the handlebars to the kicker pedals, they are soldered, sculpted and painted in the Brooklyn shop, including the iconic Indian Larry down tube, for which two muscular humans strain to twist steel heated to 900 degrees. Even the nuts and bolts are made on the premises.

Indian Larry

Mr. Docherty discovered Mr. Desmedt, a reformed bank robber and addict turned charismatic philosopher, master welder and mechanic, on the Discovery Channel television show “The Great Biker Build-Off.” In 2004, when Mr. Desmedt was filming the series in North Carolina, he died from a fall while doing a basic trick: standing on his bike, arms outstretched. (He had just sped through a wall of fire.) He was 55 and left behind his wife, Bambi Desmedt, a burlesque performer known as Bambi the Mermaid of Coney Island.

While Mr. Docherty examined the bikes, Ed Newbert, an oncology nurse from Boston, walked in. “I figured I’d make the pilgrimage,” he said. He walked two hours from Union Square to get to the shop so that he could sight-see along the way.
Mr. Newbert, who rides a Triumph, said he wanted to see Mr. Desmedt’s so-called Chain Bike, a gravity-defying motorcycle held together with welded pieces of chain link, but it was not on display. “You wouldn’t think it would be strong enough, not only to hold the engine and the weight of a person, but to ride at 70 or 80 miles per hour,” Mr. Newbert said.

With a starting price of $65,000 for a bike, the shop sells just eight or so a year. About 20 percent of its customers are celebrities, including the actors Ewan McGregor and Brad Pitt, said Bobby Seeger, who owns the business with his wife, Elisa Seeger. She was Mr. Desmedt’s business manager.


Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/02/nyregion/indian-larry-custom-motorcycles.html?_r=2&referer=https{6afdcdf14f1f3d0d6d046bdd6bb6844d1d6f78a435ef85ae323b1d28ccc5d3f7}3A{6afdcdf14f1f3d0d6d046bdd6bb6844d1d6f78a435ef85ae323b1d28ccc5d3f7}2F{6afdcdf14f1f3d0d6d046bdd6bb6844d1d6f78a435ef85ae323b1d28ccc5d3f7}2Fwww.google.com{6afdcdf14f1f3d0d6d046bdd6bb6844d1d6f78a435ef85ae323b1d28ccc5d3f7}2F