June 22, 2012

The Indian Trike

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Written by: Cinda Welch
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Determination to Live.

Determination to Ride.

 Photography Courtesy of: Carmen Rose Redd

It has been said, “You can’t keep a good man down” , and this is certainly true in the life of Bear Redd.

In 2005, a near fatal motorcycle accident almost claimed his life. The paramedics and the doctors didn’t seem hopeful that he would survive, much less, ever be able to return to a life of work and motorcycling.  Bear certainly did not let any of this stop him.

On July 9th 2005, Bear was riding his Heritage Softail from Blue Ridge, Georgia, to Rabun County, to meet his family for a grand opening of a local business.  He was cruising along; at about 45 mph when he noticed a SUV stopped waiting to enter Highway 76, near the marina, just outside of Hiawassee. It seemed as though the driver looked right at Bear and decided to pull out onto moving traffic anyway. With traffic buzzing on both sides of him, Bear was faced with an immediate decision.  Not wanting to involve other lives and no time to lay the bike down, Bear tried to slow down and prayed for the best. Upon impact, Bear was thrown over the hood of the SUV about 35 feet into the air and landed on the other side of the 4 lane highway near a guardrail.

When Carmen, Bear’s wife received a phone call from an Emergency Room nurse, informing her of the accident, her heart seemed to stop. She and Jeremy, her son, immediately rushed to be by his side and were informed by the state Bear was taken to Chatuge Hospital where he was then life-flighted to Atlanta Medical Center (previously Georgia Baptist) to their trauma unit. Upon their arrival, Bear was talking to them as if he had never lost consciousness, when itrooper reporting the accident that he was certain he would be dealing with a vehicular homicide.

In fact the doctors were very concerned as to whether or not he could actually survive the multiple injuries. Both wrists were crushed, a foot was mangled, a leg was broken in 4 places, a broken hip, a dislocated femur, a hairline fracture to the lumbar 4 vertebra and a broken nose. Not only was the femoral head dislocated, but the surgeons were unable to find its actual location. After calling in an ultrasound, it was found to be lodged in the gluteal muscles, creating an all new set of complications. The one major upside in all of this, was that he did not sustain any major head injury.

Bear spent five weeks in ICU in an induced coma, and another week on the floor before being discharged home  totally non-ambulatory. Over the following 6 months Bear was bound to a hospital bed, assisted by a Hoyer lift and home health care. Eventually the rods that seemed to be sticking out everywhere were removed and he was able to begin maneuvering about in a wheel chair.

Over the next several years, Bear endured fourteen surgeries, which included two hip replacements and an artificial femur.  Surprising everyone with his survival and later his ability to walk, Bear, an old-school  gear-head with a passion for riding, working on motorcycles and restoring old trucks, was determined that even against the doctors’ advice, he would ride again.

In 2006 with this determination in mind, Bear visited a friend in Monroe, Georgia, who owned a motorcycle shop. His intentions were to try out one of the new “Boss Hoss” choppers. Lucky for him, Carmen went with him on this trip, for while he was chatting with the guys, she was looking around the shop. She came across a few pieces of a trike that had some breath-taking Native American mural airbrush work on them. She asked to see them and hoped that this would intrigue Bear, as he is of Cherokee and Seminole descent, and secretly prayed that this might convince him to forget about his notion to buy a chopper and consider the possibility of a trike.  Several days and sleepless nights later, Bear became the owner of the “Indian Trike”.

The body of this machine is custom fabricated from a 32 Ford Coupe.  The base coat of color was applied by a custom shop in Monroe, Georgia. Mickey Harris, of Cosby TN came to the shop in Georgia and worked 40+ hours airbrushing  the murals that cover the trike body, dash and fenders. Then the custom shop sealed the deal with a clear coat finish.

The trike came from the factory with a small block 350 engine, which Bear insisted would be the first thing he changed.  He said, “If I have to ride a trike, it has to have a big block engine!” So the first thing he did was change the 350 engine to a 600 horse power Chevrolet 502 big block engine.  He continued this modification of  the engine by adding GM high performance aluminum heads, bowtie rods and pistons, a Lunati 672 lift cam shaft, an Edelbrock performance intake and a Holley 650 CFM Carburetor. The transmission is a shorter version of the GM 700 R4 and It has a shortened 9” Ford rear-end with coil over suspension in the rear.  Bear installed a customized exhaust system to improve the performance, sound and look of the trike. He used stainless steel pipes  with wide custom tips and turned them out in front of the rear wheels, instead of the standard pipes that run out of the back.

You wouldn’t think that there would be much more that could be done to improve on the beauty of this trike, as the amazing murals of ghost buffalo, spirit animals, the Grandfathers sitting around a bonfire, and countless other scenes make this a true work of art, but Bear and Carmen did stop there. After searching the internet, Carmen discovered a company and had a custom acrylic resin gear shifter knob cast to resemble a bear Fetish carved from stone. On a trip to Sturgis, they added Indian Chief Mirrors and Bear added two-toned leather braid work to the handlebars.with wide custom tips and turned them out in front of the rear wheels, instead of the standard pipes that run out of the back.

While attending one of the Boss Hoss Rallys in Dyersburg, Tennessee, Bear once again got inspired to make more modifications. He heard that by extending the front end, the Trike would be easier to handle around curves and would contribute to a more comfortable ride, which would be very helpful in light of the challenges that his injuries had created. So, he decided to rake the front end by extending the front forks by approximately 2 feet which resulted in a 45 degree rake. This forged an unexpected, yet welcomed, change to the overall appearance. It began to resemble a stretched “chopper”.

These many changes have proven to be successful in both the look and the feel of the Trike. The first Boss Hoss Rally the Redd’s attended with the Trike they took home Best in Show and The People’s Choice Award.  The second Boss Hoss rally they attended, their Indian creation won Best Trike.  This ever evolving project has also won The People’s Choice Award and Best Paint at the Cherokee Survivors Rally, in Cherokee NC, and it has taken People’s Choice at two Thunder in the Smokies Rallies.

Bear’s love for riding was born on the back of his parents’ Vespa Scooter and was encouraged by a Harley riding Macon Georgia motorcycle patrolman. Bear has endured many changes in his life. As a teenager he began working on farm equipment with his grandfather, where he took this knowledge and assisted his father’s pulpwood business by working on his trucks for him. Bear enjoyed this so much that he later went to college to become a diesel mechanic and eventually owned his own fleet of trucks in Rhine, Georgia.  After meeting his lovely wife, Carmen, he moved to Rabun County and took a job with North Georgia Technical School as the Lead Instructor for Commercial Truck Driving. Although the horrible accident changed his life forever, it did not stop him from living, achieving and creating new dreams.  With Carmen by his side, Bear now owns and operates War Pony Customs, where they offer parts and accessories, repairs, restoration, customizing, road-side service and bike towing. War Pony Customs also host a wide range of events each year, many of which are charitable.

Bear and Carmen Redd exemplify passion, determination and Driven Lifestyle.

To view more photos of the Indian Trike visit:

About the Author

Cinda Welch
Cinda is also a founder of Driven Lifestyle Magazine. Formerly known as a part of “Team Welch”, Cinda along with her late husband Greg Welch and daughter Natasha Welch Thompson were long time audio SPL competitors and Kicker Car Audio team captains. Together, they held numerous World Records and Championships, also toured with car audio Legends like Alma Gates, and engaged in marketing campaigns for their sponsors. Cinda has been involved in retail, marketing, management and ownership in the automotive industry as well. Most importantly, she has been an enthusiast of the custom automotive culture for over twenty years, including antiques to the extreme latest automotive trends of today. Appreciating the workmanship, talent and vision of all forms of customs, Cinda views the most important aspect is not necessarily the make or model driven, but rather the lifestyle and enjoying the culture. Cinda will be handling accounting, print copy layout, graphic design and some writing at Driven Lifestyle Magazine.

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