#24 Mike Tomas
1944 Indian Chief
Gi’day everyone or in Maori its Kai-ora (Kee or ra),
I was born in 1960 and raised in New Zealand. I fell in love with Indians when I was about 15 years old (1975) against my parents wish, no motorcycles. After leaving school I entered into an apprenticeship specializing in engine rebuilding. I worked under some very knowledgeable tradesmen where I got the experience of working on heavy duty diesels, cars and antique car babbitt bearings. A well rounded trade indeed. Since I now had an income (44 bucks a week) I was able to save up and buy my 1st Indian which was a WWII model 741 (a gutless example of an Indian) and started the restoration process. Then a couple of years later a 1924 Chief.
In 1982 (age 21) I decided to travel around the world and eventually I got to N America, Canada to be specific. I bought a motorcycle and travelled across Canada and then into the US. I fell in love with the US and never left. Here I found it was ok to be old (not me but others) to ride a motorcycle and in S Calif I could do it all year round.
Quite a few people encouraged me to start my own Indian business so in 1988 Kiwi Indian Parts was born which blew up into something bigger than I had ever imagined. It has been in Riverside Ca ever since (34 years).
My passion is Indians and even though it is my business, it still is my passion and hobby. I love all aspects of Indian motorcycles, especially riding them.
I used to be the young gun in the business and have pushed the Indian business beyond just parts and restorations. Why not build brand new Kiwi Indian engines for people who want to ride a lot which then lead into frames, forks and then why not build brand new replica and custom Indians. My bullcrapping belief of talking myself into it was if people buy shitty artwork then why wouldn’t someone buy a brand new hand crafted beautiful Indian. After all its America. You dream it, build it and they will come and that they did. For the record my bike that I am riding is all original which I bought from Peru in 1990.
My Indian riding has taking me to many parts of the world (Mexico, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Japan, Canada, China, Australia and New Zealand). Unfortunately, Covid through a spanner in the works as I was on a roll to do Europe. I’m a loner and I ride most of the time by myself with no back up vehicle so the Chase seems like a good fit. I like to challenge myself in endurance and adventure riding which reminds me of a fitting phrase, “Do the best you can until you do better. Then when you do better, push yourself to do even better”.
Today at 61 I’m still pushing myself and my business to further the advancement of antique Indian motorcycles by creating more and more advanced parts so people can bring them back to life and enjoy their ride just as I have been able to do.
I had a huge personal set back on July 22, 2014 when my 20 year old son Ross was killed. Needless to say my wife Carolyn and were devasted and completely gutted. Life took on a whole new perspective from that day on. Ross rides with me in spirit everywhere I go.
I have a wonderful wife Carolyn who understands what makes me tick and has never ever said no. I have no doubt she’s thought many a times “how stupid or crazy” when I’ve informed her of my next ride.
My riding these days is less about the challenge but more so about enjoying the ride, experiences and the people around me. Don’t look for me to score points because that is not my groove. Being last is where all the fun is. Peace out