Words: Fuelish Media
Photos: Steve West / Sean MacDonald
Influential rapper/actor/activist Killer Mike knows from experience that you can undoubtedly level yourself up with determination and a good work ethic. Growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta, he worked his way up to a better life. At age nine, Killer Mike noticed rap music and decided this would be his career. “It was this group named Run-DMC, and when they hit the scene, I was like whatever they were doing is what I want to be doing,” he confesses about his chosen path in life. “I told everyone I want to be a rapper.”
He started rapping during his teen years, which led him to slay at all local rap battles called “Green Lights.” Mike slaughtered the competition and quickly gained a reputation for his lyrical prowess. “A guy named Double D, a prominent DJ, who is still in Atlanta today, he said, this kid is a killer, he’s killing y’all. After I came back, my name was Killer Mike from that time on,” Mike relays about his moniker.
Though Killer Mike is devoted to the rap hustle, he also has a long passion for all things on wheels. “My grandmother got me a Hot Wheels every time we went to the store as a kid. If I shut the f*** up and didn’t cause too much trouble, I knew I was getting a Hot Wheels.” Then when his grandfather gave him a go-kart powered by a plow engine, he was truly hooked.
As he became successful, Killer Mike could afford a few cars, including a pair of ’68 and ’69 Firebirds for him and his wife. Other notable vehicles in his collection are ’61 and ’96 Chevy Impalas, an ’87 Buick Grand National and a 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat. “My wife always told me I couldn’t buy a motorcycle. She said you can’t have another wife, and you can’t get a motorcycle.”
Because of his wife, he stuck to only four-wheeled vehicles in the past. However, he was recently given the opportunity to collaborate with Indian Motorcycle, legendary supercross/freestyle motocross rider Carey Hart and rapper/bike customizer “Big B” to personalize a bike to his liking. Since the deal was a great opportunity, his wife couldn’t say no, and Mike was on to designing his first-ever custom motorcycle.
“Indian makes a faster, sleeker, crazier, doper bike, and they wanted to put the word out, so I got with them,” Mike mentions. And since he was looking for a comfortable and powerful bike to cruise with his wife, he settled on an Indian Challenger Dark Horse. This bike is nothing to scoff at with a 122-hp, 60-degree V-twin engine. It also has a telescopic front fork and Fox rear shock to ensure an ultra-smooth ride for traversing any bumps in the road.
As far as bike brands go, Indian Motorcycle has been around since 1901, making it America’s first motorcycle company. The Indian brand had remained strong until 1953, when imported bikes were rebadged for the company during a leadership change. Acquired by Polaris in 2011, the company was revived. More resources enabled the brand to be an innovative leader again.
Though this bike is great in stock form, Mike can’t leave any of his vehicles alone. All of his rides have personal touches, such as sinister black-painted exteriors, so it was a must to make his new bike match. “My Hellcat is a nasty mother’fer, and I wanted my bike to look the same and as if Batman was a Black guy.”
To start off, the performance was upgraded with an Indian air intake and Stage 2 Performance Cams. Taking it further is a custom Fab 28 Industries stainless steel exhaust. As far as infotainment goes, this bike already came with a 100W system, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and a 7” touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and navigation. Because Mike is heavily into music, he elected to upgrade the audio with Indian’s Powerband Plus options, including amplified left and right saddlebag speakers.
The front speaker cover rings were painted bronze, while the rest of the bike was covered in either gloss or matte black by Airtrix. For some extra performance and style, the bike was equipped with BST carbon fiber wheels. A two-up Saddlemen leather seat with a passenger backrest tops it all off.
When Mike received his bike, he was blown away by the performance and sound of the engine, as well as the menacing look of it all. “Now that I know Indian bikes fit my fatass and just how dope they are, it means a lot to me. Especially being built by people that give a sh*t. I’m excited!”
If you’re in the Atlanta area, keep your eyes peeled for Killer Mike rolling through town as he plans to ride this bike as much as possible. For guys like Mike that grind every day, there’s no better way to show your passion for the life you’ve made than blasting past others while on two wheels.