Indian Motorcycle Update

indianmotorcycleridingVia your comments I know too well that Indian is a brand every biker is passionate about. In this Blog I read all kind of comments (especially after I reported on my Kings Mountain factory visit and expressed positive feelings regarding the new venture), everything from skeptical comments to unconditional encouragement and support. Now is the time for facts and numbers. The 45 employees North Carolina plant produce about 16 motorcycles a week and Indian Motorcycle is on track for selling 800 Indian Chief motorcycles this year (700 was the initial objective given to me one year ago to break even in the 1st year of business). Plans are currently made to double production in 2010.

Mark Moses, owner of the Flagship Indian Motorcycle of Charlotte has sold at least one model every week since the first bikes rolled out of the factory in January. He sold 3 last Saturday. The company now has 10 US dealerships already opened with locations in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Phoenix, St. Paul, St. Petersburg, Omaha, Wichita and Paducah. Two others in Scranton, Pa. and Dallas-Fort Worth, Tx should open later this year. As I reported here a few days ago Indian Motorcycle has also announced the appointment of its first exclusive importer/distributor in Europe  to promote the selling of the Indian Chiefs, Indian Motorcycle Accessories and Indian Motorcycle Apparel in France, Monaco, Luxembourg and Belgium. Indian Motorcycle.

22 Responses to “Indian Motorcycle Update”

  1. 1 Sheridan Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Good news for Indian Motorcycle, let’s hope the momentum keeps going.

    Hopefully the future plans for expansion in 2010 include your suggestion Cyril of a developing a bike aimed at the other end of the price spectrum, more able to take on the Sportster perhaps…

  2. 2 Jeremy Mar 30th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Cyril defended the Chief as 1st bike, then a Scout priced in the mid/low ten’s for the second production year. He is right. Hope Indian is listening. I never thought that the 1st year was the critical one for Indian. The second year will be. With a new Scout Indian could attract young bikers that Harley is unable to communicate with, and traditional baby boomers fed up with the Milwaukee arrogance.

  3. 3 Joe Mielke Mar 30th, 2009 at 10:14 am

    I was able to look over some of the new Indian line up this weekend at the Donnie Smith show in St. Paul MN. What a disappointment those bikes are. They used a lot of cheap low end parts. My wife rides a 2000 V-Star. The star is a great around town low maintenance motorcycle for the price. But it uses a bunch of cheap parts also. I started counting the parts that are shared with the new Indians and my wife’s v-star then I just walked away. I would have expected better from a company that was trying to resurrect this classic and renew its image and name. The motorcycles may ride thousands of flawless miles and my thoughts may be very superficial. But I was disappointed I assumed they had done more to improve the product.

    I looked over the Chief Vintage quite a bit Saturday. I guess if I was going to pay 35 grand (which is a lot of damn money!) for a bike I would expect to have a bike that impressed me or blew me away. Not remind me of a $6000 V-Star.

    On the flip side they leave ample room for the aftermarket to provide better parts.


  4. 4 Marty Brunnel Mar 30th, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Joe. Are you sure there was a NEW Indian line up at the Donnie Smith show???

  5. 5 fred Mar 30th, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I’d be surprised if there was no new Indian representation. There is a brand new Indian store in St. Paul Mn. a stones throw from the Donnie Smith show. HEY ART!!! Did your dealeship attend the show?

  6. 6 Bobfather Mar 30th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Yeah, for $35k you can have a ground up custom built that would be magazine feature worthy bike, not only great looking but also be a great bike to ride. Oh, maybe that’s just my thought process.

  7. 7 Pop Mar 31st, 2009 at 6:35 am

    Look, I’m not tickled to death about the pricepoint either, but I have been through the Indian wars since 2003 when I bought the Gilroy product so I have been close enough to the soap opera to understand the plot.
    The comparison to a custom build, one off or limited production is apples and oranges. If you follow the high end auction market you’ll find some of last years centerfold rides and biker tv builds going for pennies on the dollar. In the long run some of those bikes will reemerge as examples of various builders best efforts and those examples are bound to appreciate in value. On the other hand, many of those ground up customs will end up cannibalized for other builds or worse turned into garage queens becuse they are unsuited to the riding needs of the owners.
    The Indian mark is in a singular category. There is buckets of history, and everybody has an Indian opinion and an Indian story. Nobody in 1953 thought that the flatheads would fetch five or ten times the MSRP 60 years later and the in lines were considered failed engineering due to the heat issues so while they were sharp lookers they were derided while praises were sung to Milwaukees OHV. today a primo panhead may see 100k if it’s legacy includes celebrity ownership or some freaky historical attachment that pumps up the value of that single motorcycle but primo inlines of undistinguished history are fetching twice that.
    Whether Indian survives or doesn’t, the long term gamble with 35 large is a safer bet on a valenced Chief than on a tricked out bar hopper.
    As to the comparison of the rides I can only speak to my needs and my backside which is forty years in the saddle. My Chief is not the most comfortable machine or the most agile, but for a cruiser it straddles the line of multiuse motorcycle better than any long nose fat tire or bobber I’ve had.
    Ride and need are subjective. I wouldn’t argue that the new Indian is for all tastes. I won’t spend the money myself. It is for some tastes and it is a legendary mark. If this incarnation delivers the quality that it insists is built in, then the person that buys a 35k Indian today will quite possibly have a 35k Indian years down the road, factory or no factory. You can’t say that about many things anymore.

  8. 8 rodent Mar 31st, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Oh, hum.

  9. 9 To RJ - From Snoboardgirl Mar 31st, 2009 at 10:07 am

    My husband works for the new Indian Dealership. They have put a lot of time and energy into building a quality shop, and my husband’s #1 priority (Been a motorcycle enthusiast since age 16) is to give the best customer service and product knowledge, and to give Art Welch the best service year he has ever had. Art already has a wide customer-base who has supported him from the 800 sq. ft. shop he once occupied. He did quite a bit of research about the possibility of becoming an Indian Dealership and took every measure necessary to ensure a successful opening. That opening surpassed their expectations – including an open house with over 1,000 people. Additionally, while they are Indian, the service department can service ANY model bike (and I know that first hand, including vintage models).

    As a correction, there are 11 dealerships (including this one in MN) across the nation. They are on schedule to produce approx. 665 bikes – assuming they fully produce. Each dealership will then get about 60 bikes, to which I already know approx. 10 have been sold?

    They received factory direct training – the bikes speak for themselves-only 2 people assemble each bike by hand and each bike has over $15,000 alone in chrome (which many bikers desire).

    Yes, you can purchase factory direct-but for any motorcyclist that would choose to purchase an Indian, spending upwards of $30,000, many want to SEE the bike in person and many want more information from someone who the bikes and can visually point out things for the customer. Additionally, the customer and the shop can build a relationship for future service and needs, and beyond that, Art as an Indian Dealership has the unique opportunity to continue to sponsor rides/runs and his commitment the community through cook outs, helping schools, children’s hospitals, etc.

    As for price point, from my personal viewpoint, the bikes are worth the $ and as rodent indicates, it is all about what you need. For example, my husband would probably prefer his pimped out custom 1977 Yamaha XS650 that he bought for about $75 and then custom painted etc. But I know one thing, my husband knows motorcycles. He’s worked on everything from single cylinder bikes, to Yamaha, Honda, exclusive work with Excelsior-Hendersons, every brand of Harley, Suzuki’s, KTM, Ducati’s, Beamers, you name it……and the Indians are special bikes. As noted above, the chrome alone (which if you spend $15,000 on a soft tail for example and add in all the pipe and chrome)’ve added another $10,000 right there…custom bags, custom anything else…add that one…and really, you’re coming up the same price as the Indian but the Indian bike and assembly and quality and mechanics of the actual bike, compared to many other motorcycles, are what set it apart.

  10. 10 Corrected - Posting Mar 31st, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I was told 11 … but it appears 7 confirmed legal dealerships. I stand corrected. Not sure if I misunderstood about the ability to sell something from Indian or not. But I apologize for my inaccuracy. There is a limit of 750 units, but I heard the # they were aiming for approx. 670.

  11. 11 Troy Mar 31st, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I think it is great that Mark Moses, owner of the Flagship Indian Motorcycle of Charlotte has sold at least one model every week since the first bikes rolled out of the factory in January. Mark has an amazing building that will take awhile to pay for at only one bike a week.

    A 2009 Indian Chief Roadmaster is $33,999.00 before tax & BS. I don’t want to compare Indians to Harleys like some would compare Ford to Chevy, but you could get a Electra Glide Standard for $ 16,999.00 & a Fat Boy for $15,898.00 & have $1,102.00 left over for table dances over the price of the Indian.

    The choice is yours.

  12. 12 Jeff Nicklus Mar 31st, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Yawn …….

    Over & Out,


  13. 13 James(Kiwi) Mar 31st, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Nice looking bike, with a Harley clone Engine.
    What’s the point unless they are designing their own engine for the future.
    Would you by a Chev with a Ford engine…..bad analogy..sorry

  14. 14 Brett Mar 31st, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Indian has a long road to haul. Say what you want about Harley, when you talk to many people about Indian, they bring up the many failures it has had to stay in business.

    Then you go by the price tags….$35K, that is $15K more then the list price of a stock Harley bagger…no not some screaming eagle or whatever, but just the regular bagger. Sorry, but the Chief doesn’t rival what you get with an Ultra Classic as far as the bags & fairing & stereo.

    I am not a bagger guy. I ride a Softail standard. It was $13,999 when I bought it. I believe the list for a Night Train is $15,000. That means if a Scout is $17,000 or $18,000 – like the last time Indian was around…..then you are talking almost $3K more for pretty much the same bike.

    I understand there are some people that just want an Indian. They are willing to pay the extra. I wouldn’t mind one, however, the extra money & the fact you need to worry about if they are going to be around if 3, 5, or 10 years…….Indian should be pricing their machines to compete with a Harley or even the bigger Japanese bikes.

    My latest bike I bought in 2003. In 2002 I was looking at both Indians & Harleys. The fact that Indian was out of business again in 2003 made the decision for me.

    I wish them the best, but they will need to be around for 15 or more years before a spend more money to get the same bike.

  15. 15 To Each Their Own Apr 1st, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    As one poster said, it all depends on what you like. Sometimes I feel the comparison (Indian to Harleys) is how people attempt (as seen above) to compare Ford and Chevy. Both have their upsides and downsides. Individuals tend to like one “brand” over another. My goal is not to persuade other people to choose an Indian over a Harley, I’m merely suggesting people get out there, ask store owners, mechanics, etc. questions and educate yourself about why the bike tends to cost more. Why not ask a certified mechanic even over a sales guy? Some of the information might surprise you and at least help to understand why they have the heavy price tag. If Harleys are your thing, that’s great. The big picture is riding motorcycles ..and riding what YOU like.

    One caveat I have about Harleys (and always have) is that alot of Harley (and I am tending to make a blanket statement here) people tend to think they’re the mecca of motorcycles. However, from a mechanical and technological standpoint, Yamaha is by far the leader in technology-they’re a company that takes risk to advance the sport. Harley is brand recognizable – (and for a good reason)…they produce a quality product. That being said-Harley is not the end all, be all to motorcycles. There are so many other GOOD QUALITY brands that deliver great performance (I mean, think Hodaka here). And I’ll concede-they’re cheaper. But don’t understimate Indian just yet.

  16. 16 Lyle Apr 1st, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    They were at the Donnnie Smith show. Although I didn’t see them in person as I ended up fighting the flood up in Fargo, I did receive a “care package” from the show that included Indian’s new literature. I noticed the local dealership is sponsering this years “Flood Run.” which sort of confuses me as the flood run isn’t sponsored by anyone as it was started by some guys who rode down the river to help one of their’s Dads fight the flood. But at least they have a presence. Lets hope it stays. They have their work cut out for them if they want to get a genuine reputation.

  17. 17 Lyle-here's some info Apr 2nd, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Hey Lyle – I applaude you for fighting the flood in Fargo. I went to college in the F-M area and was a sophomore during the flood of ’97. It was horrible. Classes were cancelled and we were sandbagging, watching for any breaking of dikes overnight at people’s homes and watching boats go to and from neighborhoods that we used to run in. It was a very sad time..and even worse in Grand Forks. Your efforts are appreciated by a community that I still feel very much apart of.

    This year, the flood run IS actually sponsored by Indian of the Twin Cities.

    Beyond that, if you visit their OLD website-, you’ll see that Art and his crew take on many charitable activities in relation to motorcycle riding. Now that they are Indian of the Twin Cities, they fully intend to keep the reputation of community service and helping others, along with promoting motorcycle riding as a sport and hobby!

  18. 18 Lyle Apr 2nd, 2009 at 9:46 am

    The best way to ride the Flood Run is to show up in Prescott WI and ride ahead of the pack. No backed up traffic and no paying. That’s how 90% of everyone who rides it does it. I’ve been riding it since the 70’s and it never was a “sponsored” ride back then. It seems everytime cyclists get together and things turn into an informal annual event, someone feels the need to turn it into a bureacracy. I give to enough charities as it is and would rather ride “free.” No harm done with a secondary pack of charity riders I guess.

    Regarding the literature I reviewed last night just before I passed out, I was pleased to see not any hype about “America’s First Motorcycle” (a falsehood) and not too much “Since 1901” (misleading) so I think they are going in the correct direction in that regards as before statements such as those were detrimental to their credibility. Now if they would just get rid of that Harley Davidson designed drivetrain. (Although I do realize they need to start somewhere.) But they look like customized Harleys without any of their own charactoristics that made the originals different. However they are using some good components such as Brembo brakes. And if your right about the Twin City dealer, at least they are motorcycle folks and not car dealerships like the others. Good luck to them. The next few yers will be interesting. I am more optimistic about them than I was just a few months ago. And the fact they are meeting their projected production is good. Hopefully their target clientele won’t get saturated. I wish them will. Maybe if they keep going in the right direction (to me) I’ll buy one when by the time I retire.

  19. 19 Art Welch Apr 6th, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Wow! Thank you everyone for the kind words.. REALLY! It’s very good to hear encouraging things about our dealerships and how we are doing. Thank you Cyril as well for the previous posting of our grand opening of our dealership in St Paul. We WERE at the Donnie Smith show, and although we were happy to be there, we still had our critics. One thing we HAVE been noticing.. is that the customers who have been buying the bikes, are flat out paying out cash. No financing. CASH. No questions asked and NO haggeling over prices. We’ll add in a perk or two, but the bikes have been received extremely well. We ARE sponsoring the flood run this year, and will contimue to do so the next few years. And as for community events, we do a ride every year to help out kids with school and education. As many of you have heard or know, St Paul Harley is next door to us.. the biggest Harley Dealer in the Midwest, and a lot of people have said to us, “Wow must be balls-y to set up next door.” Truthfully, We are not really Harley’s competition.. at least i don’t feel that way.. I believe our bikes prices start a few g’s away from where theirs end. A lot of people have mentioned that the bike prices are too high.. but i will tell you, not a single person that has bought from us has given any reaction or balked at the price. We will be holding a demo ride day May 2nd weather permitting. I will be there to answer questions, and I invite you Joe to come out and test ride one! Or come out before then.. I’m only here 65 hours a week!! and loving it!

    Art Welch


    Thank you RJ

  20. 20 EBass Apr 6th, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I would pay a lot of $$$ to get my hands on the mailing list of the rubes who paid $35K for these yawner bikes. I have a few bridges, Rolexes, and a slacker single Mom sister in law I’d like to pawn off on them.

  21. 21 john May 4th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    …for ebass and Joe….have you guys LOOKED at this bike? There’s gotta be 15K in what would be Harley “options”! I don’t get Joes comment on the cheap parts….since when are dual floating rotor Brembo brakes and a Baker 6 speed cheap? I probably spent six grand dressing up my street glide with these two items alone. Yeah, I bought a new Indian, but I bought it because it really is a great NEW product with it’s own powerplant and after taking it home, there’s nothing left to “buy” for upgrades….they’re already on the bike so I can enjoy riding it instead of bringing it to the dealer to “add” something else. You’re correct, to each his own, but I’d rather be one of the few instead of one of the many…..


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