“I’m Detroit, and I ride my Electric Indian Four.”
That’s how Randy “Detroit” Hayward describes himself and his vision—which is surely one of the most unforgettable Indian customs out there. It started life as a 1929 Indian Four—and now, a full 93 years later, it’s rolling on Detroit streets with naught but the sound of the drive chain as rider and bike roll by.
Growing up, he learned to treasure the tools that his family members had used. The Hayward family came up from Georgia, having been sharecroppers there, and eventually settled in Detroit. Hayward’s Endian build is a reflection of a whole lot of history, all neatly rolled up into one mind-blowingly modern antique American machine. In the 21st century, technology has caught up enough that Hayward was able to bring his vision of the 1929 Endian (Electric Indian, of course) to life.
As you’d expect, some people absolutely love the idea of bringing a bike from the early days full circle in the 21st century. Others, well, they’re less enthusiastic. You’re always going to have a certain number of people who want things to stay exactly as they were with no changes, and that’s just how humans seem to work. If you’re the one doing the building, though, no one says you have to listen to them!
The thing about bikes—and bike people—is that we often say we don’t want to do things just like everyone else. After all, if we just wanted to be normal, we’d all have a Camry and give up this motorcycle nonsense completely, right? The way Hayward tells the story, he wanted to create a rolling illustration of how everything old is new again, and electric motorcycles are certainly no exception.
As EV enthusiasts will gladly tell you, intrepid inventors and forward-thinkers have tried to make electric vehicles happen for decades and decades, going back almost to the humble beginnings of both the automobile and the motorbike. Combustion wasn’t always a given.
When people started stuffing motors in things and trying to speed up transportation, a lot of people tried and tested a LOT of ideas. Some worked, perhaps only needing some refinement here and there to become practical and feasible (enough) for the time. Others, for various reasons, fell by the wayside.
In some cases, what was present-day technology in that moment just wasn’t ready to support an idea that was too far ahead of its time—until, in the case of electricity, it was. Even now, EV proponents are racing to improve and refine things like range and energy density in batteries—and the evolution of motorcycles continues.