Larry DeSmedt (April 28, 1949 — August 30, 2004), better known as Indian Larry, was a noted motorcycle builder and artist, stunt rider, and biker. He first became known as Indian Larry in the 1980s when he was riding the streets of New York City on a chopped Indian motorcycle. Respected as an old school chopper builder, Larry sought greater acceptance of choppers being looked upon as an art form. He became interested in the Kustom Kulture scene of hot rods and motorcycles at an early age and was a fan of Von Dutch and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, whom he would later meet in California.
Wide acknowledgment of Indian Larry's talent only came to fruition in the last few years of his life, before his death in 2004 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident while performing at a bike show. Larry's bike, Grease Monkey, was featured in Easyriders magazine in September 1998. Then in 2001, a wider audience became aware of Indian Larry through a Discovery Channel program entitled, Motorcycle Mania II, followed by his participation in three different Biker Build-Off programs. Likewise, it was only during the last few years that Larry had the funding to bring his lifetime of ideas to fruition and show all of his mechanical artistry in a handful of notable chopper builds such as Daddy-O (known to most people as the Rat Fink bike), Wild Child, and Chain of Mystery. In addition to television, popular exposure to Indian Larry's down-to-earth personality and philosophy occurred through his many appearances at bike shows and rallies across the United States.
In 2004, Indian Larry was living in the East Village with Bambi, working at his shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and was appearing at bike shows and rallies around the United States. He was regularly being recognized and approached by fans. When interviewed for the Discovery Channel in July 2004, Larry said, “I just feel like that I’m maybe slightly starting to fit in somewhere and slightly starting to be accepted.”
In August 2004, Indian Larry participated in his third Biker Build Off competition building the chain frame bike, Chain of Mystery. This time competing with Mondo Porras, whom he first met while being filmed for Motorcycle Mania II in 2001. (Mondo, who began building choppers in 1967 with the late Denver Mullins in California, is known for his long down tube, stretch frame choppers. He and Larry had hung out together in Hawaii while appearing at a bike show there two months earlier).
Chain of Mystery: the last chopper that Larry built. He said, "You don’t see bikes like this that often. That’s what I shoot for, something that’s just mind-bending"
Both bike builders met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then spent three days riding through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina to arrive at the Liquid Steel Classic and Custom Bike Series bike show in Concord, north of Charlotte. Larry was scheduled to perform stunts at the event the afternoon of August 28, 2004, such as riding through a tunnel-of-flames.
Larry was always careful to build his bikes with aligned geometry so that they did not veer to the side while riding down the road. One of the benefits derived from this level of bike stability is that it allowed Larry to perform his stunts on his own bikes, such as standing fully upright on the seat while speeding down the road. This is a stunt Larry had done countless times over the years. After standing up while balancing himself, Larry would then outstretch his arms in a "T" configuration, also called a "crucifix" pose. Larry rode through the tunnel-of-flames that afternoon in front of a crowd estimated at 8,000. A short time later, Larry attempted to perform the standing stunt again, this time on his bike, Grease Monkey.
Larry had expressed apprehension that day about performing the stunt. Larry shared with Mondo that he didn't have a good feeling about doing it, but he felt pressure to do it. Bambi said that normally Larry did this stunt after the bigger stunts as "his way of blowing off steam...winding down." As Larry was performing the maneuver, something went wrong. The front end of his bike started to wobble (it is thought because of low speed). Rather than being able to jump down in the seat and regain control, Larry fell off the bike, hitting his head. Larry sustained serious head injuries and he was airlifted to the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Indian Larry died from his injuries on Monday, August 30, 2004 at 3:30am. He was 55 years old. The last words that Larry uttered were to his wife Bambi (who was at the event) saying, "Sweetie, sweetie."