Win this Saltire Motorcycles Indian Scout — a tribute to the world’s firefighters…
There has always been a deep connection between the world of motorcycles and firefighting. Look at the parking lot of nearly any firehouse in the world, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a bike there. Motorcycle clubs such as the Brother’s Keepers MC and Red Knights MC provide a two-wheeled brotherhood for firefighters and EMS workers, while one of the most iconic photos of 9/11 shows NYFD fireman Tim Duffy riding his personal Harley-Davidson into the rubble of downtown NYC shortly after the collapse of Tower 1.
Enter our new friend Calum Murray of the Scotland’s Saltire Motorcycles, whose father — a policeman — used to fix and sell old motorcycles for an extra source of income. Young Calum began working at a motorcycle shop at 14, completed his apprenticeship as a mechanic, and began a life that’s alternated between custom bike-building and extensive travels on two wheels:
“I’ve been blessed to ride many routes across the globe, oftentimes by mistake and in the hands of a force that’s greater than myself, and somehow, I continue to come out the other side with a smile on my face and with a story to tell.”
Since 2006, Saltire Motorcycles has grown from a 4,500 sq/ft workshop to a 44,000 sq/ft motorcycle village in Edinburgh. The impetus for this build started with an idea of Calum’s:
“I had a deep urge to build a bike that would convey the same qualities found in a luxury watch, a bike that would imbue that sense of precision and quality one can sense when admiring these high-end time pieces.”
Most of Calum’s early sketches ended up in the wastebasket until one of his business partners, Dave, suggested a slightly different approach: base the build not on a single watch, but the style, values, and heritage of a particular brand:
“This was a wee stroke of genius from Dave, and it was born out of a recent experience he’d had whilst buying a gift for his son in law, who was on the brink of becoming a fully-fledged firefighter with the Northumberland Fire and Rescue service.”
The company he’d settled on was William Wood Watches, named after the founder’s late grandfather, who served the British Fire Service for 25+ years, winning commendations for bravery. Jonny Garrett, founder and grandson of William Wood, recently interviewed in The New York Times, was keen on the idea:
“The collaboration was forged, and the objective became very clear: Let’s build a bike that embodies the urgency, integrity, panache, and heroism of every firefighter that has served humanity over the course of time, past, present, and future.”
Taking a 2021 Indian Scout as their base, Calum and team set out to create a machine that would incorporate a vast array of artisan details from the world of firefighting. Highlights include the fire-engine red paint, freehand pinstriping and goldleaf, bespoke wooden ladder rung and bar ends with materials sourced from a local fire engine museum, and a saddle that incorporates not only real fire hose, but five stitched diamonds — one for each of the five children that William Wood and two comrades saved from a 1966 house fire, earning the Certificate of Merit — the first ever awarded to members of the Newcastle & Gateshead Fire Brigade.
What’s more, within the thermostat housing, you’ll find the working innards of a limited-edition Triumph collection watch!
“The real beauty being that when the beat of this motor is throbbing the heart of the watch will be winding and moving in perfect harmony.”
Nicknamed “Always Ready,” this build would be impressive on its own, but there’s a charity angle, as well:
“The greatest ‘why’ for this build? Jonny [William Wood Watches founder] and I agreed that we would submit the build to a public Prize Draw and that all profits would be donated to The Fire Fighters Charity. 300 tickets @ £100 each = £30,000.00 resulting in a donation in excess of £10,000.00.”
Interested in purchasing a ticket and supporting The Fire Fighters Charity? Here’s the link:
Below, we talk to Calum for the full story on this one of a kind Indian Scout.
“Always Ready” Indian Scout: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Jeez..! that is a HUGE question, where to start?
I’m a 57-year-old man, who’s spent the majority of his life doing nothing other than playing with motorcycles, listening to music, climbing mountains, meditating, and hanging out with like-minded souls.
I’ve been blessed to ride many routes across the globe, oftentimes by mistake and in the hands of a force that’s greater than myself, and somehow, I continue to come out the other side with a smile on my face and with a story to tell.
My father was a police officer and back in the day they weren’t very well paid (I don’t know if they’re well paid these days or not), but because making ends meet wasn’t easy, my dad had to revert to alternative sources of income. One was music (he was on the road regularly with his three different country bands, and I was his roadie); the other was buying old broken motorcycles, fixing them up, and selling them.
The former was interesting and enjoyable to me, and the latter was enthralling; however, the combination was a lifestyle waiting to happen for me – on the road/motorcycles/music/making your own way/freedom – you know the story.
Zap forward to my 14th birthday, 1978, and I land a weekend job in a motorcycle store, making coffee, polishing bikes, and if I’m lucky, I get to drill and mount number plates on new bikes going out of the store.
Zip forward to my 16th birthday and I’m in there for my apprenticeship as a mechanic (there’s an in-fill story that includes an interview for the police cadets, but that’s on the pile now) – life didn’t get much better.
- 1985 – Apprenticeship over, fully qualified and knowing EVERYTHING (not).
- Late 1985/early 1986 – I head off to the continent on my Z13 for an explorative tour.
- 1986 – Back in Scotland, I enter the realms of self-employment and join a local custom bike building business (actually the business I paid to paint my first build, aged 17).
- 1993 – Lots of stuff happened but I’m already writing more than you want to read – I sell my half of the aforementioned business to my business partner and go ride about, jumping on a bicycle I head to the continent for a different kind of extended, perhaps endless tour.
- 1996 – Back in Scotland, I create a new business, ‘’Moto-Cal,’’ get married, have kids, and TRY to settle down. (FAILED)
- 2006 – I close the old business and create “Saltire Motorcycles,” in the desire to create a REAL business, and did a pretty damn good job (albeit with a few challenges on the way).
- 2011 – Saltire moved from our 4,500 sq/ft unit to a 15,000sq/ft unit and quickly outgrew it.
- 2014 – Saltire expanded into the remains of the surrounding facility, creating a 44,000 sq/ft motorcycle village that still blows my mind to this day.
- 2022 – Talking with you guys 😊 We have an extraordinary mix of skills and abilities in this business and I’m honored to be involved with all that we have to offer, but that’s just my take on it, why not come and visit for yourself?
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The bike is a 2021 model Indian Scout.
• Why was this bike built?
I had a deep urge to build a bike that would convey the same qualities found in a luxury watch, a bike that would imbue that sense of precision and quality one can sense when admiring these high-end time pieces. I have no idea where this urge came from to be honest; I just knew something was bubbling and this was the theme. Using an Indian Springfield as the base bike, I found myself sketching and doodling, but all that was occurring was frustration, as each design became kindling for my stove; it was really hard to incorporate the sense of luxury I wanted to convey without turning a work of art into another passe Steampunk production.
Shortly thereafter, I found myself venting my frustrations to the long-suffering Dave, one of my business partners, and before I knew it, he slammed me with a fresh perspective, and I was transported to an entirely different version of the idea.
“It might be a daft idea,” says Dave — immediately he had my attention, coz my ideas were driving me crazy — “but instead of making the build about a luxury watch, why not make it about a watch company and their values?” I’m delighted to report that this flippantly “daft idea” brought my mind to an absolute halt, which is a wonderful experience for a person who suffers from ideaphoria.
This was a wee stroke of genius from Dave, and it was born out of a recent experience he’d had whilst buying a gift for his son in law, who was on the brink of becoming a fully-fledged firefighter with the Northumberland Fire and Rescue service.
As ever, Dave had done his research, and in doing so, he came across William Wood Watches, a fantastic company that has an approach and a website that is best left to speak for itself.
There was a real sense of something special in the air, so we reached out to Jonny Garret (the founder of William Wood Watches and grandson of the man himself). Jonny was stoked at the proposal, and the “daft idea” grew wings.
The collaboration was forged, and the objective became very clear: Let’s build a bike that embodies the urgency, integrity, panache, and heroism of every firefighter that has served humanity over the course of time, past, present, and future.
The greatest “why” for this build? Jonny and I agreed that we would submit the build to a public Prize Draw and that all profits would be donated to the Firefighters charity. 300 tickets @ £100 each = £30,000.00 resulting in a donation in excess of £10,000.00
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Whilst there was now a direct influence from the world of firefighters, I was still keen to keep an eye on the original subject matter, by incorporating elements of the skills involved in the creation of a master timepiece.
It’s one thing to create a tribute motorcycle that tips its cap to firefighters, it’s another thing to incorporate elements of firefighting equipment into the build, and a whole new level to incorporate the workings of a special watch into the build – I was excited…
My team of creatives and I had clear mission parameters and the birthing process of brainstorming began (or mind shower if you prefer) So many things to consider:
- The man himself ‘William Wood’
- The watch company and Jonny Garret’s values of upcycling materials into their watches
- Firefighters across the globe through all of time
- The strong synergy of camaraderie found in firefighters as is found in motorcyclists
- Jonny inserts brass William Wood Coins into the back of his Chivalrous series watches; these coins are made from melted down vintage 1920’s firefighters’ helmets – this gave us an era to anchor upon for the build.
- We also wanted to acknowledge the fact that the base bike for the build was an American motorcycle, so it felt appropriate to bring the gold leaf style and design from American fire trucks of a similar era.
- This transatlantic combination initially felt like an incongruence to us, but we quickly found it to actually be the very juxtaposition that typified the essence of the message being conveyed.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Oddly enough, the toughest part of this build was down to the fact that we decided NOT to customize the bike… the bare bones of the Scout were to remain pure and there was no chopping or slicing allowed; it was all down to subtleties, story, and style.
And, as hard as it was to hold back with the hacksaws, I believe we smashed it…
Bodywork – Base painted in a bright fire engine red, embedded with a triple fleck metallic, then passed to our incredibly talented Ross Hastie for some freehand pinstriping, incorporating 24-carat gold leaf work, then back to the paint shop for deep lacquer and polishing.
Handlebars – The original bars were switched out with genuine replacement Beach bars, thus creating a comfortable rider state for optimal attentive control whilst riding, but also offering a cross bar for us to create a wooden ladder rung placement for the rider to mount their very own William Wood Bronze Edition watch.
Handlebar ends – The original bar ends have been replaced by bespoke wooden bar ends, turned, and styled to embellish this build, but also with a view to receiving a William Wood Brass coin insert. Pure class.
Saddle – The saddle is the work of our inimitable Stuart Bailey, without whom we’d be lost in the realms of saddlery. His eye for detail is beyond compare and he took things to a new level with this saddle. The incorporation of firefighting hose was painstaking, especially when considering the rate of expansion and contraction in heat and cold, but as ever the challenges presented new ways to learn and create – Job Done. In the center of the seat you can see the WWW brand logo, and around it you can see five diamonds, one for each of the children he and his colleagues saved.
Rear Rack – The rack is a genuine accessory that we elected to fit in a desire to accentuate the functionality of this unit. We embellished the rack with a wrap of the same wood used throughout this build.
Main Frame Inserts – These frame inserts are a simple and subtle acknowledgment of our contribution. Saltire Motorcycles is fortunate enough to have its own back of house sub-division “Alba Customs” but this build incorporated both elements, so we placed a brass insert on either side of the frame to acknowledge our own in-store collaboration.
Tire Valve Caps – Delicately placed into each tire valve cap, you can find a subtly placed watch crown, just a quiet nod to the painstakingly time-consuming elements of work that nobody sees when making a master timepiece.
Central Thermostat Housing – Here you can find the working innards of a limited-edition Triumph collection watch, carefully and beautifully crafted into a very special piece of wood, which in turn has been equally carefully crafted into the original thermostat housing. The real beauty being that when the beat of this motor is throbbing the heart of the watch will be winding and moving in perfect harmony.
Woodwork – The wood used throughout this build was sourced from a local fire engine museum and all elements were taken from a ladder that was originally mounted upon a Leyland Fire engine from the same era as manned by William Wood himself.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
The bike is named “Always Ready” as this denotes the state of mind and being for all those who commit their lives to the emergency services, and we wanted a name that would reflect this state of poised urgency.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I can’t offer any comment on how this particular bike will ride, as it’s brand new and never been fired up. What I can tell you, is that it will perform and handle as well as any Indian Scout out there, however the significant difference will be that of the mindset of the rider. When you sit on this bike, there is a real sense of being placed into the cockpit of a vehicle that will deliver the goods, whilst demonstrating utter class, comfort, and purpose. That’s the best way I can describe it, but you only have to sit on it to KNOW what I mean.
• Please tell us about the Always Ready Prize Draw – how can folks enter?
Follow this link, register your interest, then buy a ticket when they’re released.
Follow the Builders
- Facebook: @saltiremotorcycles1
- Web: saltiremotorcycles.com
- Instagram: @saltiremotorcycles
- Tickets: williamwoodwatches.com/collections/alwaysreadymotorbike
- NYT Fashion Feature: www.nytimes.com/2022/03/08/fashion/watches-william-wood-london.html