INTRODUCTION: Bob Stark has been involved with Indian motorcycles throughout his entire life. Bob’s father became an Indian dealer in 1918, after returning from military service during World War I. Bob still has a photo of his mother riding in a sidecar in 1923. Since Bob was born in 1934, his parents were involved with Indian cycles long before that.
At the age of 10 Bob started staying around his fathers shop, and developed quite an interest in the Indian cycles. The mechanic considered him a pest, but allowed him to do minor items, such as changing oil & polishing cycles.
By 1946 Bob was riding his own Whizzer motorbike, and in 1947 graduated to a Cushman scooter. By 1950, he had learned quite a bit more about the cycles and got his first Indian, a 741 Scout with skirted fenders. He bought the cycle for $50.00 without his father’s permission and had it for 4 months before his father knew it was his. By 1951, Bob purchased the ’48 Chief, which he still rides. In addition, his father deemed the $50.00 741 Scout to be unsafe. So he traded a new Triumph 650cc even up for it. That was the best cycle deal in Bob’s life. 1951 also was high school graduation, and the start of college.
Some extra money was obtained during the next 3 summers by working on cycles. Bobs father had sold the Indian shop in 1952, so the work was done in the “ex” chicken coop at home. 1955 was the big change, graduation from Case Institute of Technology, Akron Ohio (Now called Case/Western) with a degree in mechanical engineering. This was a year of working days at Goodyear Tire & Rubber and nights on Indians.
A short time was spent in the army during 1956 & 1957. The off hours were spent at Herb Reiber’ s Indian shop in Washington D.C. The ’48 Chief (purchased in 1951) was kept about 2 miles from Fort Belvoir.
After an army discharge in the fall of 1957 Bob returned to Goodyear Tire during the day and worked on Indians at home during the evenings. By 1957 he reopened his fathers shop part time, selling the Royal Enfield built Indians, servicing them, and servicing the older Chiefs & Scouts. By 1958 Goodyear Tire was no longer in the picture as Bob quit to spend full time at the cycle shop. In 1959 health reasons mandated a move to Florida, and more building of cycles at home, while working at Martin Marietta Corporation. 1961 was a move to California, and the nominal home workshop for night work. Later 60′ s meant trips back to Florida as part of the launch crew on the first 2 moon shots from Cape Canaveral. Gary was born during this time frame and started riding between Shorty & Bob by age 2.
In 1970, Starklite Cycle was formed and Bob was back to full time work on Indians. Again, Starklite took on the Indian dealership, this time for the Taiwan/Italian built models. This was different, but the main business was restoring the older Indians and manufacturing parts for them. By now Gary was riding. He got his first Indian at age 5, and his second one at age 7. He was given a ’47 Chief at age 5 and he finished his restoration of it at age 16.
As the years have progressed, Indian parts have become increasingly scarcer. This has led to the need to design and build increasing amounts of Indian parts. In 1989, Gary graduated from California State University of Long Beach with an Engineering degree in Manufacturing Engineering. The engineering has helped both Bob and Gary in the production of what we believe to be the best quality of Indian parts available.
The line now stands at over 3000 items. Shortly has done her part by putting up with all of this for nearly 30 years, as well as handling most of the work in connection with the Indian Motorcycle Club. Gary has started helping her the last couple or years with much of the mailing and typesetting, as he has become very proficient on the computer.
In the fall of 1988, Starklite moved from Fullerton to Perris. The shop in Fullerton was left in the hands of Wilson Plank, who was employed there for 14 years. He is currently operating it under the name of American Indian Specialists and is running it very successfully working on Indians.
As you can see from this brief background, The Stark Family has been involved in Indians from 1918 to the present with virtually no interruptions. Starklite is a family owned business involving Bob, Shorty, and Gary, as well as others. Gary is the third generation to be involved.
The most gratifying part of the business has been the amount of nice people we have met. We consider them friends, not just a customer.