We recently had the chance to speak with Bobby Seeger Jr. while in St. Louis when he had brought two of our favorite Indian Larry bikes to the Cycle Showcase event. The quality of an Indian Larry motorcycle is sincerely something you just need to see up close to appreciate and we were excited to take this moment to snap some photos of the bikes to illustrate just that. While its easy to see a custom bike and think "well that's a good looking chopper" when you really begin to look at the engineering that went behind making an Indian Larry bike you realize, these bikes were actually made to be ridden and ridden every day. Everything about their builds puts an extreme emphasis on performance and durability. What good is a custom motorcycle if you can't ride it further than the local bar? Indian Larry bikes are made to be ridden across the country and hold up while doing it. Larry originally set out to build bikes that would stand the test of time and along with a team of great folks Bobby is making sure that Larry's legacy not only lives on but lives forever. Continuing to offer small batch made quality parts and high quality bulletproof builds the emphasis on quality over quantity is something that is a lost art in the realm of custom motorcycle parts today. We sat down for a nice strong cup of coffee in a local shop with Bobby and his dogs and found out a little more about where Indian Larry motorcycles stands in the present and what brought Bobby to carry on his legacy for all these years to come as well as some of the other things that keep him going day to day.
So to start off, is Indian Larry Motorcycles still rooted in Brooklyn, New York?
Absolutely, yes. Brooklyn New York and it always will remain there. We are going over 20 years in Brooklyn now, so yeah that's where it will stay.
How true to Larry's original style would you say the current bikes are now that you are building?
100% to the style of what Larry was building, just better quality you know. Things have changed and evolved from what they were prior to his death in 2004. A lot that has been changed we feel is only for the better, obviously our main goal is to keep the integrity of the brand up. That's our outlook, what's gonna be better for quality over quantity.
Yeah and that makes sense I mean every business I think has to evolve in some way so it does seem like if Larry would have built a bike or a part today, that it would almost be hard to make the distinction whether it was built then or now because of course, he would have evolved with the times as well.
So like in the past when he was alive he didn't make frames just on that alone we now make all of our frames you know what I mean? So like instead of modifying old frames we did all the right math to make them exactly like he would have modified them, except 100% we make them in house which is nice, because I mean there's only a handful of people that make all their own stuff like that.
What do you think about the current custom motorcycle scene today?
Well honestly, I'll tell you I don't really pay much attention to it. I really don't like most people and the ones that I don't like know that I don't like them you know? I don't make no bullshit about it, I mean I like ridable motorcycles. You know some people will make fun of dressers and things like that, I love them. I think they are great but I don't ride anything but our bikes. Unless of course like in the past I've broke a couple and had to borrow one being out on the road to do stuff but Hey it's all right.
Well it's like we don't have a season you know what I mean for us we ride all year round. That's another thing, people are all about the season or you know we don't watch motorcycle shows we just do what we want and people either like it, they buy it, they borrow it, they steal from it, you know whatever. We enjoy going out whether it's one of us or 2 or 3 or even 20 and if somebody is out of line they don't get to come out no more, were very cut-and-dry.
I believe truly that every bike is a tool and a lot of people maybe don't see it that way and get stuck in a niche and take the mindset like, "I only ride this or I only ride that" so I guess it's kind of refreshing to see someone say very unapologetically this is what I ride, deal with it.
Well in regards to your team could you name some of your current coworker lineup and is that current lineup part of the force that is helping keep Indian Larry motorcycles on the forefront today?
Ahhh yeah, so it's the same as it's been for the past 10 years. This kid Sebastian, he makes all of our frames and then really John the painter (John Asarisi) his nickname has always been "John the painter" since he was a kid. He could do a portrait of you on the wall in pencil, airbrush, oil paint, it doesn't matter. He is self taught in fusion 360, he designs all the parts, he designs everything, so let's see, we've got Sebastian making frames and we have another guy Oscar who does a lot of 3-D molds and cast parts or a little things we are gonna get cast. These guys are aces as far as guys go. They are ACES cause they don't give a shit. They don't give a shit about nothing. They are just always there, ready to work. John's working every day, every single day.
Well they are clearly driven and "in it to win it" in regards to keeping this all alive. I mean the quality is clear in everything you guys produce.
John is 50 years old and he hops around like a 25 year old. Lunch time he is in the gym lifting weights, has lunch and then keeps on working.
Well how do you feel about the generational blend in custom culture today positive or negative?
I don't think there's much being brought to the table. I mean it just doesn't seem like it. Seems like a lot of people have lost interest or like the biggest thing to their bringing to the table is their color of paint, which is nice but, it seems like they're not really "bringing it." There's an awful lot of people that are doing things and they wanna do it overseas just for the money and I am all for it, I'm like "Hey, that's great but we choose not to."
We are aware that you have suffered many losses, your mother at an early age, Larry in a tragic accident and your son to a rare disease. How do you fight through these tragedies and what is your driving force that has helped you through all of this?
Well it's not me that died it's all of them that died, and so like that's not really a worry you know? Every day I just get up, put my pants on and go forward. There is no deep thinking, there is no like "oh I need someone to hold my hand" ya know?
Essentially everyday you have a job to get done and you go out and you do it then?
I just accept that this is the way it is. What else am I to do? I can't sit around and just question everything and go "Oh my God" nope, not at all. I get up and I go, "OK today, I'm going to have a cheeseburger for breakfast and will see what happens after the cheeseburger." Sometimes I lay in a hammock sometimes actually start doing something.
That's a good way to look at it cause it's like, you know people can take things that happened to them in their lives and they can make it often just something that it doesn't need to be and then there's so many other people that do exactly like you said, they get up every day and they put their pants on like everyone else and they just keep on going.
Exactly, exactly. Yeah I don't need all that I can survive on my own.
Well in regards to pressing on in a positive light, can you tell us a little about the Aidan foundation, its purpose, and how people can help?
Alright so the purpose of it is and the end result where we stand is, to educate parents where nobody else is educating them on this specific rare disease. So like the main goal is if this newborn scanning was to get within testing in every state then we've succeeded. Then it could morph into even people out of the country getting tested, to know where it's like $1.50 a test. That's it, every state though state by state is a different story and this particular state maybe they test like 50 people or 50 different diseases when you are born you don't even know it it's just a pin prick, you are a baby and you're screaming anyway, so what does it matter, it's one little pin prick and you can get tested for this and many other diseases right there. We want that test to be included in the general scanning.
So, is this disease then something you found to be curable or treatable if caught early on then?
Exactly! They can. Here's the thing my wife (Elisa Seeger) she lobbied to get this particular disease added to new born screening in New York and she did it in under one year. So then lobby firms came to her and said, Hey we wanna give you a job, my wife said my goal is to get this disease that took our son screened across the country so it's a national screening. So after that then really the goal will be met. After that it's in motion on how to fix, which is taking a pill every day and then your kid gets to live.
Well then how can people help?
Come to fundraisers and the rides. What we do with fundraisers is anything that goes into the rides any money goes into not just pamphlets and things but it's families that don't have the money to relocate because their kids gonna get a stem cell transplant or the kids too far gone, the kid needs a wheelchair and they can't afford it, or even comprehend that their kid is going to die so, it's a matter of well their kid might die in 1 year, 3 years or 3 months even, you just don't know. So we go all right, what's up, how can we help?
Wow, that is incredible, and the foundation it helps out all these people?
That's right! There's no pay. My wife doesn't pull a salary, she doesn't raise enough to even pull a salary if she wanted, which she doesn't want. Her goal is like I said, it's to help. Where you know it's like, the March of Dimes, well their goal is to take. Hell even the Red Cross you know, they are full of shit, they have a lot of lobby firms that are in place to make the deals and make money.
Well it's really admirable where you are obviously taking a negative and turning it into a positive and only asking that no other family has to go through this if you can help prevent it.
For me it's no problem, for my wife she relives it every day. She has to tell the story every day.
Well switching gears a bit back to the shop, can you tell us what classic Indian Larry parts are still available and some info on new items that you've been releasing?
So lots of things, even little things like risers that we redesigned and make right here in Brooklyn. What we did was we went out and bought two CNC machines and we are able to make anything we want so the risers specifically are something that we make in house. We only do small batches, we do 15 pairs, put them on the shelf and that's that. Then we make more. I mean they are $500 ya know?
Well I think that people know that and when some people see those parts on a bike they say," wait a minute, those are Indian Larry parts" and that's impressive because they know it's quality.
Well some people are like that not everybody.
Well you've certainly carved quite a niche in the scene where there's a core group of people that would definitely be considered a cult following.
Here's the thing we don't market ourselves heavy we also really want to have organic growth in terms of that and as far as things like social media goes. I mean really my man died in 2004, how many people get to live much longer after death and here we are in the year 2020! I think we are shy of like 119,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook is something like 260,000. It's nice but we don't do TV shows, we don't do commercials, we don't want to, we get asked and I just say no.
What's the reason behind that, like why wouldn't you want to use every opportunity to promote?
Stress! That would just be more stress.
Is that maybe then not what Larry would have done? Be getting out there like that?
No he would have done it, anything to be famous, to get out there and party, he would have done it.
You have been by Larry's side through quite a bit right? I mean basically from the start?
Well, not all of it, mainly a few years before he died we paired up.
Well through his very active years building and in his prime?
Yeah I mean I knew him a good number of years before.
You really are a big part of the driving force at this point continuing to carry on his legacy though.
Well in a small sense at the end of the day it's really a good team. I really can't emphasize how much John the painter does. He is THE MACHINE. He's like ok, let's do t-shirts today and he pulls off designing some crazy shit and dives right into t-shirts. Just like all kinds of shit, he is always on it.
Well here is a good question, when was your first time on two wheels?
I think I was 7 years old on the beach with my father on a little Honda. I recently came across a photograph of the two of us on the beach and we were on a Honda Mini bike . Pretty neat.
We see this a lot more and more people will message us about having a lot of nostalgia tied to things like old Hondas, dirt bikes, mini bikes and these vintage scramblers and it's neat to see where some of the most avid riders started out. This is honestly a big reason why today we still carry these parts to tie that sense of nostalgia to these vintage bikes and help keep as many of them out there as we can for future generations to enjoy.
Well, after all that what was your 1st bike build then?
It wasn't until the early 2000's it was just one of our bikes before that it was a full dresser.
It was a cool little Panhead, I sold it actually just a few years ago for some silly money. I got to keep a tiny bit but the rest of the money all went back into the business.
Can you tell us any more about that build?
So I have suppose that's a good lead into the next question the recent Meccum auctions, the Indian Larry bikes sold for some wild amounts, upwards of $200,000 each, what are your feelings about that?
I actually had nothing to do with that, I mean they weren't mine to sell, so it doesn't bother me. We are gonna make copies of the grease monkey bike anyway, that's something we've always wanted to do and now it seems like the most appropriate time to do it.
Do you feel that auctions of that caliber are maybe just a little silly and that they put an unrealistic price on custom motorcycles in general?
I actually coulda sold them for more money, haha.
That is hilarious.
I could care less for Bambi getting more money honestly. So as it's going on guys are texting me saying, "Hey I would have gave you more money" but I said yeah I know but they're not mine to sell and that was it.
That is just wild, I mean I feel like there's some things you can't put a price on and that's definitely one of them.
Especially when you gotta understand the guy only made 6 motorcycles in his whole life! It's all in perspective of you the buyer, it's like you have the money, you want to spend it, you're gonna buy it. Simple as that.
So one of the motorcycles though is going to a museum that's correct?
Actually both of them the same guy bought them.
Do you think that maybe that makes it a little easier to swallow then knowing people will get to view and appreciate them in a museum setting?
Nah not really. They're going to Utah. I mean how many people are going to Utah? haha.
They'll come to Brooklyn instead! That's what they do, I put a sign out, they bang on the gate, people bang on that gate that have come from every country in the world.
Well I guess we'll see. I'm sure quite a few will make the pilgrimage to go see the original Indian Larry bikes no matter where they are.
So I guess that's a good segue into my next question, at this stage what type of audience do you feel like Indian Larry motorcycles has?
Around the world, its definitely worldwide. I've been fortunate enough to go from Japan to all through Europe, bike shows bringing the bikes, clothes, everything, you name it. Everything from Denmark down into Italy, no problem, we've been all over and people come from all over.
How did you originally become involved with Larry and gasoline alley?
Just because we were friends and he hated the guy who owned gasoline alley that guy was fucking up he was told to go. So he lost his whole thing because he thought he was something he wasn't. In the end he was motivated to move on.
What are some current builds in your shop now that you're possibly excited about?
To be honest I'm more excited about the parts we are turning out, I mean the bikes are awesome they are not going to be much different from bike to bike in my eyes you know and they're gonna be fun. The customers we've sold these bikes to they want them broken in though, so we do like we've been this whole time, we break them in. I mean theres only ever been a few bikes to actually break down so it's really been a good run.
What would be possibly the proudest moment in your career?
Just waking up getting to do it every day is the best. I don't have no trophies.
There is no pinnacle defining moment? No moment where you've said, I have reached the plateau, ....no nothing?
Nothing, this is it. Waking up every day, this is the best. Listen, I've got all my body parts, I'm gonna eat good tonight and if I'm lucky I'll do some bowling, that's it,..... that's the best.
Going to the beach, going swimming, that's it.
Well what is heaven on Earth for Bobby? That's an odd question but I'm sorry you got to answer it, haha.
Is there any beach in particular that is one of your favorites?
Montauk, yeah. we got a little bungalow out there so I'm out there once a week or so. Drive out, spend the day, go swimming, shower, light a fire...…. it's great.
I don't think enough people really realize the benefit of an outlet like that, to just be able to recharge for a bit so that's nice.
Ahhh yeah, listen, 5 days a week, if I'm home sometimes 6 days a week, I do jujitsu. I start at 7:00 in the morning, Monday to Friday then if I'm home on Sunday I go 11 till 1 that is the greatest. So it's that sometimes I'll shoot up to the Hamptons Friday night, stay Saturday drop the dogs off at the house, then I take the train to jujitsu Sunday. I go in I get crushed, its the greatest. I'm not looking to crush or hurt anybody else, I'm just there because it's really therapeutic, ya know, for the mind.
I totally agree, jujitsu really is therapeutic as a good release of energy and sometimes especially negative energy and it's definitely a good way to get that out.
Exactly, it's the best man. So I do a lot, I like to cook, I got the kid, my daughter, swimming in the ocean, the bike shop, I take the day as it comes. Sometimes if the day don't seem so great I go OK it's time to go to the beach, if it's too good well then you stay working whatever, sweep the floor.
Well last question, is there anything you would like to emphasize, talk about or share with our readers?
What can I say we are just gonna keep doing what we are doing. People are either going to like it or not like it. The block party is like it has been, the 3rd Saturday in September every year, a few 1000 people show up in the street, guys get to do whatever they want, people sell their stuff, there's band's music, beer, everything! We do bike nights in the city then we race around and yeah there's also the Aidan rides those are like boom boom boom. We're going to have two in Canada this year, so we will be branching out. Anything to just get in the leg work, let the foundation grow. I do whatever the leg work is to get the word out there. If one person new comes to it then great, if nobody does, OK. They buy a T-shirt great, if they don't ,Hey, OK we're still gonna be here at the end of the day.
Well thank you for your time and the coffee and we look forward to the block party this year!
Photos and words by - Mike Vandegriff