top of page
  • Thomas Fishel

Buck’s Indian and their Cannonball Crew

The guys are at it again! Yes, the fever is hitting them full force now that the Christmas holidays are over and the New Year has arrived. 2018, YES 2018!!!! You know what that means…the year of the Cannonball. This time the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run will be bigger, better and more challenging than ever before. The route begins in Portland, Maine and goes to Portland, Oregon, taking a northern route. Talk of snow, cold wet weather and days of, did I mention, COLD weather on this run. Clothes are now just as important as the bike. Keeping warm and dry are priorities. Steve remembers the 18 degree temperature and the mist off of Yellowstone Lake freezing on him and frosting his helmet that morning in Yellowstone National Park on the 2012 run. Being soaking wet in the 2016 Cannonball Run and taking forever to dry all the gear out, keeping the mags running and sparking that day.

Steve (#7) is in the process of building a 1928 Indian 101 for the run. The “Priderunner” (as the students at Romney Middle School named her) will be ready for the starting line in September in Portland, Maine. Steve’s twin sons, Justin (#6) and Jared (#37) are returning and will be riding Lexi and Cali, their 1916 Indian Power Plus bikes for a second time. Excitement is building. Here’s a little history on how our story began in this amazing journey called The Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Run………..

2018 brings urgency of the getting everything in order, and quickly! For the past 365 days or so since the end of the last Motorcycle Cannonball, riders have been on an emotional roller coaster coming off the high of the last run – The Race of the Century – which was an amazing journey. It was Steve’s third Cannonball and Jared and Justin’s first. Riders from all over the world enjoyed the challenge of traversing from coast to coast, Atlantic City, NJ to Carlsbad, CA to be exact, with all the motorcycles being at least 100 years old. Motorcycle Cannonball is an addiction and once you get a taste of the challenge of this coast to coast endurance run, it doesn’t matter whether you were a rider, part of the support crew, a staff member, spouse, follower or just an enthusiast of the event, it becomes a part of you. You are always ready to talk about the experience. You can see them gathered at all the swapmeets, on facebook, during phone calls and everytime two or more Cannonball riders get together, it consumes them. They rehash it over and over and over. It’s just like it’s just happening. It’s in your blood, it can’t be helped. It has taken ahold of you and become a big part of who you are and what you do! It is the Motorcycle Cannonball. Period. No further explanation required.

When Lonnie Islam Jr. envisioned the event no one had any clue what it would become. On that first run in 2010 which left Kitty Hawk, NC and arrived at the Santa Monica pier in California, the bikes were required to be 1915 or older. At the time, Buck’s Indian didn’t have one that old and had to decline Lonnie’s invitation to participate. When 2012 rolled around, the cutoff was 1929 for the bikes and once again, Buck’s Indian was asked to join the event. Steve was excited. A 1929 101 would be perfect, we had that and Steve was sure it would be a piece of cake! That run went from Newburg, New York and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Oh boy, did Steve get served a big piece of humble pie during that ride. Headgasket after headgasket after headgasket plagued him among other things and he gave up 83 miles short of the finish line and told his support crew to turn around and head home. Stick a fork in him, he was done, disgusted and so disappointed, that I am sure it was a long, quiet ride home. But,…..on the plus side, he was hooked! He was determined to build a motor, let alone a bike, to make the coast to coast trip. He says that he assembled motors up to that point. Now, he builds one! A lot of learning, schooling and questions were asked before the next Cannonball. More machine shop equipment was added to our shop. He asked more and more questions, talked to more and more of the old guys who knew what was going on. He has always told our kids that advice is free, get as much as you can, cipher through it and keep what you can use. And so, he began the process of learning how to actually build a motor.

When the announcement for the 2014 Cannonball was made, it was pre-1937. Steve was stoked! He had pieces of a 1936 Chief that he had been gathering for years. Now was the time to build it! Rose came to life through a lot of love and care and she was beautiful. Blue and silver and so full of power! She gave Steve the ride of his life and went from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington and made every single mile! Yes, EVERY single mile!!! It was a fabulous adventure. It’s not just a ride across the country, not just 4,000+ miles, but an endurance ride…man vs. machine. Until you’ve completed this feat, on an antique bike, you just don’t understand the range of emotions that these riders go through. You’ll find a few of these guys crying their eyes out as they cross the finish line, and Steve is one of them.

Then it happened, the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball was announced as the Race of the Century. All the bikes had to be 1916 or older. Every bike had to be 100 or more years old, thus the century ride was born. It was like a brand new sandbox and everyone was wanting to play. It was going to be a history making event as the first time that any motorized vehicles, whether it be plane, train, automobile or motorcycle had traveled from coast to coast on a vehicle that was 100 years old.

Steve decided that a 1916 Indian Power Plus would be bike he would build. Then much to his excitement, Justin and Jared wanted to join in this adventure with their dad and granddad. So, it was decided to build a second bike and the boys would take turns riding it. Then as time went on and more and more parts were gathered, a third bike was born out of the left over parts and pieces. Three, yes, three bikes were built to participate in this history making endurance ride. And so it began for Justin and Jared… the addiction! History was made and there were 16 riders that made every mile out of the 97 that attempted. Hurray! After 16 grueling days on these power plus bikes, which Steve compared to riding a horse, the journey was complete. Buck’s Indian had two that made history and accomplished this amazing journey. Our third bike finished up quite well only having gone down the first and second day for partial miles. What an accomplishment for this three generation crew at Buck’s Indian to complete.

Now, with the 2018 run fast approaching, watch for the next chapter of our story…


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page