Indian Motorcycle Plans

When Minnesota based Polaris announced they purchased Indian Motorcycle, the acquisition raised a lot of questions regarding the way the OEM manufacturer would design the new models, in what range of prices, how the iconic brand would cohabit with Victory and when the new Polaris/Indian motorcycles would be announced?

What we know for sure today is that Polaris is deeply committed to rebuilding the brand with great motorcycles and there is absolutely no doubt in the industry that the company has the capabilities, engineering knowledge, sourcing and design resources to build a quality and strong line up. But the main issue for all of you is not about Polaris technical abilities but about the way to use them to keep the Indian brand true to its long heritage iconic image.

Last week, at the first Polaris Indian meeting in Nashville, a few things were said by the management. It took time to move the Indian factory from Kings Mountain NC. to Spirit Lake, Iowa, so don’t expect any radical announcements in the next few months, probably until Summer next year. The 2012 model Indian Chiefs will not be available until December or January, will keep the same price structure, and being a transition line to the new Polaris/Indian motorcycles, will probably only feature minor improvements or fixes and will be limited to fewer models with only three 2-tone paint combos plus solid black and solid red. Consequently, one can expect 2012 shipments to decline during the transition process, then accelerate once the brand is relaunched. It’s probably the reason why some Kings Mountain Indian dealers have decided to close, unable to financially sustain themselves during one year until the transition is complete.

Regarding the 2013 models, still expected to appear during Summer 2012, Polaris goes in the marketing direction of positioning Indian as a limited edition ultra premium motorcycle brand faithful to its heritage of high performance and reliability. So, don’t expect the new models to compete in the lower end of the market. With its Victory cruisers and touring bikes, Polaris pursues a market of riders putting a lot of miles on their motorcycles. It seems a wise marketing approach to “map” the new Polaris/Indian motorcycles “somewhere else” in terms of riders expectations.

First the new line will have to acquire its own DNA or unique aesthetic, in direct filiation with the “stereotyped” image of the brand. Then, the new models must provide premium qualities of speed, endurance and finition. The following comparison has been used to describe Polaris long term strategy: Volkwagen owns Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley and occupies 4 very different markets never competing with each other. Ok, I am pretty certain that the new Indians will provide premium qualities, but at this time Polaris executives are still brain storming about the right design to package all this (they are right now recruiting a Chief Designer to help.) All designs and drawings published online these last days by some other websites to show the next Indian are fake. Nobody knows, even the Indian engineers are not sure… Regarding distribution, from my point of view and because the new Indian has to become a premium, classic niche brand, I expect Polaris to offer the new models only to its top-tier Victory dealers in the most desirable markets, while keeping some of Indian’s remaining North American and international dealers. Expectations are so high that I would recommend to Polaris to take all the time they feel necessary before announcing anything new, even if it would take 2 or 3 years. There are only 2 options. Reviving Indian to its glory days or definitively killing the brand. Nothing between.

33 Responses to “Indian Motorcycle Plans”

  1. 1 Racetrack Style Aug 2nd, 2011 at 11:52 am

    “There are only 2 options. Reviving Indian to its glory days or…”

    Indian’s glory days are as rich in racing and innovation as they are in the Chief’s big fenders, so they don’t have to solely market nostalgic cycles.

    The Eller Industries attempt at continuing the Indian brand was on the right track with 3 prototypes: a Chief, a performance cruiser, & a performance sport bike.

    Best wishes

  2. 2 Mr. Potts Aug 2nd, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    If they are going to keep the “Premium” label, the prices are going to stay sky high! I can’t see too many Indians being sold for $30,000 and up! It did’nt work for the previous owners and it won’t work for Polaris! I’ve always wanted an Indian but not at these prices. If I’m going to spend that kind of money for an Indian I’ll buy an original!

  3. 3 Rick Fairless Aug 2nd, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I was at the Polaris / Indian / Victory dealer meeting & I can tell you that Polaris is 100% dedicated to returning the iconic Indian Motorcycle to it’s glory days (pre 1953). Polaris is a 2 BILLION dollar a year company & they are putting their full engineering / design / manufacturing force into developing Indian into an affordable & bulletproof motorcycle brand that we can all be proud of. I believe that Polaris buying Indian Motorcycles is some very good & encouraging news for our motorcycle industry. We haven’t had much, if any, good news in our industry in the last few years & believe me, this is very good news for the motorcycle industry. This will put more people to work in our industry & it will give us custom guys (& gals – Hi Athena) something else we can customize & develop parts for! Polaris is a smart company & they know what needs to be done for Indian Motorcycles to be successful & you can bet that right this minute they are hard at work developing the new Indian Motorcycle brand. It’s gonna be a heck of a ride & I have my saddlebags packed & I’m raring to go! I’ll C-ya at the top!

  4. 4 Kustoms and Choppers Aug 2nd, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    I hope they make some bikes that look like a Vintage Indian but they should have a new style as well. Though If I got one It would be turned into a chopper right away.

  5. 5 Todd8080 Aug 2nd, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I’d say that Polaris’ first priority should be to design a motor that isn’t based on Harley’s Evo (as Eller did) and lose all the other Harley-interchangeable parts on their bikes, which is just about everything.

    The two [main] reasons I have zero respect for the Gilroy & Kings Mountain “Indians” is 1) that they’re nothing but Harley clones with aftermarket fenders stuck on them and 2) both companies used the phrase “Since 1901” not only in their marketing but displayed directly on the product. They need to look up the meaning of the word “since”.

  6. 6 NutCracker Aug 2nd, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Good luck to Polaris – I hope they make it work out. They’re a well-managed company so I’m sure they did their homework before they made the investment. It’ll be interesting to see what they churn out. Can’t wait to see. Go America!

  7. 7 CafeSportyTC Aug 2nd, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    personally i hope indian comes out with a modern , beautiful interpretation of the old inline 4’s. I think that would attract many to the brand. Ive talked to many people about Indian , and almost none of the conversation didnt involve mention of the 4 cylinder and how that was truly a graceful and beautiful machine. just my 2 cents

  8. 8 Luis Aug 2nd, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    That inline 4 is one of the cooler looking motors. Every time i see one in a museum i think i would be cool to see a modern interpretation of it.

  9. 9 Neo Dutch Aug 2nd, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I vote for an inline 4, not just another Heritage Softail clone with silly mudguards.

  10. 10 Neo Dutch Aug 2nd, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    And make it about the bikes, not over priced stupid and pointless accessories.

  11. 11 Mike Aug 2nd, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    I have my doubts, while Victory has hit a home run with their new touring bikes, their custom Vegas Jackpot contiunes to sport ridiculous paint schemes, which inhibits sales to many potential buys who do not care for those extreme bright colors with decal designs on their bodys.

    If they come out with a chatruese Indian priced over $25k and up, say good night Dick, they are cooked, mediocre sales at best.

  12. 12 Rick Lossner Aug 2nd, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Nothing but good news…. if you can’t afford one, there are Victory’s that fit the bill and run of the mill HDs .. God Bless Indian Motorcycles :

  13. 13 Woody Aug 2nd, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Big +1 to all the I-4 powerplant comments, likewise Todd’s. All of the recent versions have just been Harley clones with no soul. It’ll take more than graceful fenders to make a new Indian, there will have to be something special that simply grabs you and makes you say, “sign me up, I gotta have one”. I haven’t felt that since Honda showed the first Valkyrie. Triumph came close later with the Rocket3 but no cigar.

  14. 14 bigitch Aug 2nd, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    “they are right now recruiting a Chief Designer…” no pun intended i hope

  15. 15 1550tc Aug 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Wipe the slate clean is what i hope they do, if its possible………..those Gilroy Indians were a joke nothing but a Rick Doss & CCI parts bin bikes..i’d start with a 53 bike with all the modern engineering, kinda like a resto mod car………

    Also HIRE CHIP FOSSE ASAP ……. why not hire he best designer of our lifetime PERIOD!! ,………nobody takes the look of the cars from the 30-40-50’s and knows how to make that era’s cars look cool in 2012 and beyond, take a look at most of his best work and its with cars from that era ……..a modern restomod bike shouldn’t be that hard for Chip to design?

    Didn’t Chip did some design work for the GilroyIndian guys?

    The 03 round engines id keep

    I still love when the Gilroy boys had 200 demo bikes daytona and they were selling 2000 bikes a bike a year

    Rick in the next 5 years its going to be a fun time for a lot of dealers like yourselves….Victorys touring bikes make Streetglides look like YUGOS……..the indians will be a niche & exclusive type bike for you Victory dealers.

  16. 16 Stephanie Aug 3rd, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Cyril nailed it- this is Polaris’ biggest opportunity to fail. Fingers crossed they do the right thing.

  17. 17 oscar hedstroem Aug 3rd, 2011 at 7:03 am

    be patient – maybe they (polaris) did not yet know or fully understand the weight and obligations deriving out of such a unique brand.
    quick analisis : it’s NOT the fancy fenders , nor the taillight or hairdress. it’s the history which founded a)the V2 engine (1907) and b) the endless victories . moreover the relaibility.
    the most famous issue which made the basic spirit of indian, is endurance (since 110years!)… no brand will ever have what just this image can transport. it’s real motorcycling with spirit, enthusiasm, innovation.
    there’s no competition.

    i started the whole thing technically and George (Hendee) the the rest. we won and will win !

  18. 18 TRexSG Aug 3rd, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Indian…110 years? They closed in ’53? The name was bought and they built Indian mini bikes. Sold the name again and built “Indians” that were HD Clones with S&S motors. Finally tried again and failed. We don’t need a “High End” HD clone. You can buy the HD CVO and and you have the real thing. If Indian is going to succeed Polaris needs a vision (pun intended) and a market.

  19. 19 Aug 3rd, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Indian motorcycles are beautiful, are the most classic motorcycles it’s a symbol of the United States in my opinion, and the article is great

  20. 20 Hondo Cat Aug 3rd, 2011 at 9:02 am

    I would think if Polaris is going to spend some serious cabbage on Indian they should look to the heritage that, in my view, made Indian iconic and not simply cosmetic. That would be innovation and engineering firsts, e.g., their history of firsts such as first Big Twin motors, the first two-speed transmissions, the first adjustable front suspensions, the first electric lights and starters, etc.

    Secondly, the folks at Indian were strong believers in the theory that racing improves the breed and supported that belief with the most comprehensive factory competition program in the business. The racing venue is not as important as the commitment to racing itself. There are plenty of venues, e.g., land speed racing on the salt, drag racing, road course racing, hill climbing, dirt track, etc. Back in the day, Indian sponsored entrants in virtually every major motorcycle event in America and abroad.

    Innovation, engineering and racing!

  21. 21 Sark Aug 3rd, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Make a new inline four!

  22. 22 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Aug 3rd, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Indian in its original era was a Gentleman’s mount and a highly respected brand.
    Since 1953 there have been many attempts to resurrect the brand which has almost always been doomed from the get go.
    The best news for Indian for many a year is Polaris purchasing the brand. It is the best shot that Indian has ever had since its demise in 1953.
    I believe under Polaris regime, it will once again be a highly respected brand.
    Congratulations Polaris.

  23. 23 1550tc Aug 3rd, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    hey Mike not to blow smoke up your ass BUT your the first guy they should get on board in some way when they re launch the line

    this whole 1953 and 110 years….quit with it already and the marketing spins …just give us a fresh bike, ……i vidily recall seeing a light green and ivory one with tan bags, seat to match …….unloading off a ferry in WA much like this

  24. 24 Buck Aug 3rd, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with Mr.Potts & Todd 880….quit marketing them as the “Old” indian continuing on,and admit they are re-entering the market,..& are striving to re-gain the glory they once enjoyed. They are not Indian {since} 1901!

    And lower the price…many motorcycles are unfortunately in the 20K & + bracket…but few are in the 30K range. And when they are?…you get more than two-tone paint & fringe on the bags!

  25. 25 Lyle Aug 3rd, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    And don’t claim they are America’s first motorcycle (Indian wasen’t) or America’s first V Twin (again wrong).

  26. 26 Eric J. Aug 3rd, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Polaris doesn’t seem to care if any of the current dealers are closing. Just an Observation.

  27. 27 Mike Tomas Kiwi Indian MC Co Aug 4th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Polaris is a smart and well run company and probably has its hands full cleaning up the brand. They know how to form good alliances with top notch folks.

  28. 28 John White Aug 4th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    The Gilroy Chief 1999 to 2001 was certainly a soft tail clone with a S&S V-Twin which is an Evo. However, the 2002-03 Chief was not a soft tail nor did it have the S&S engine. These bikes sport a mono shock all-new frame with features and benefits that cannot be called “Harley cloned”. The PowerPlus engine was a pushed-to-100-cube Evo on the inside and a “Bottle Cap” on the outside. This monster of a big was not well liked by serious Indian folks of the 1901 to 1953 era but big, tall riders love them. That 2002-03 Chief along with the nearly idential KM Chief, have a wheel base a full eight inches longer than a Road King. Yes, it is a big heavy behemoth well liked by those 6-foot tall plus and weighing in at 250 lbs or more.

    Gilroy owners should be extremely pleased that Polaris is not dropping the Gilroy design that became the King’s Mountain design. This means parts will be available and therefore the Gilroy Chief lives.

    Polaris needs time to develop their own version of the Indian Chief. Polaris emailed a survey to many riders, asking them for opinons on engine appearance so they are certainly moving towards an all new bike. I hope it does not end up being a Victory with a Indian logo on it. Some say this will not happen. The engines in the suvery were 50 degree engines. They looked like Victory engine cases with re-dressed cylinders and heads. What ever it is, it does not look like a Harley 45 degree Evo clone. Will it be a dry sump like the Evo or a wet sump like the Victory? Will it have 45 degrees or 50 degrees? This is exciting times.

    I am sure happy they are going to keep the Gilroy/KM line for a couple more years.


    Polaris industries motorcycle program is the most profitable that it has ever been, though it does not compare with Harley (Harley sold 212,000 bikes and Polaris sold 6,000) their profits are up by 57% and they plan to expand both he victory line and Indian motorcycles in an attempt to snatch away some market share from Harley. This is based on the following sources, which includes Cyril.

    Thanks Cyril for keeping us updated.


    John L. White
    Indian Legacy Riders

    sources: (6000 vs 12000 and 57% profit) (plan to snatch market share from harley)

  29. 29 Matt Aug 7th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I would really love to see the original American v-twin flourish and grow as a brand but I am a little skeptical of how only offering high premium bikes will be profitable in this economy. Sure there will be those retro fans with the means to buy them but unlike Harley who left their progressive/performance roots behind decades ago I think it would be nice to see Indian pick up where it left off originally and embrace their champion racing legacy by branching out into a sport v-twin or even a 4 like their original racer. Triumph comes to mind as a good example of a world class company that has a rich heritage but never lost it’s competitive edge or took it’s eye off the future. With Polaris at the wheel I think Indian has the potential to be that kind of brand in America but only time will tell I suppose.

  30. 30 Smitty in OH Aug 7th, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    Victory is modern with contemporary lines. Indian is heritage with classic lines. The two are complementary, without having rebadge anything Victory.

    This whole “Premium” thing is a huge disappointment. Why bother, if just to take the same approach for a 3rd time and price them out of the working man’s reach? The very people that could bring REAL hardcore loyalty back to this American brand, the people who’s Grandpa’s used to own one so they want one, the people who would take it to bike night, park it with the Harleys and spread the word that Indian is back – will have to keep buying used HD’s or new Japanese motorcycles.

    What made the name Indian great was respect – from a recognizable design, reliability, quality, and being priced within reach so as to be seen riding down every Main Street, USA. Polaris will not earn immediate mainstream respect (and sales) from “INDIAN” with a continued elite, niche offering. Because, despite looking like one, it’s nothing like the original if it’s an executive’s luxury toy.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the current Indian line is gorgeous. I’ve got the calendar hanging up at work and would have one today…if it were 1/2 the price. But I don’t ride an Indian to work, I don’t take one to bike night, and few friends know anything other than Indian Motorcycle Company circa 1950’s. Polaris has a great reputation and I would buy a “new Indian” from them tomorrow at $15K. But if I have to spend $25K-$30K, I invest in a restored original and echo that the company that made them is still gone.

  31. 31 mike Aug 8th, 2011 at 9:12 am

    indian only imported minibikes and dirt bikes and put the name on them. So did harley

  32. 32 Brett Aug 8th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I am a Gilroy 2003 Indian Chief Springfield owner. I am also part of the Iron Indian Riders & a member at the Indian Motorcycles Community forum.

    I can tell you this, the Indians from Gilroy & KM, even with the problems that came with the bikes, have a very special place for those who own them & these people are very very loyal. They are waiting to see what Polaris does & there could be considerable backlash if Polaris doesn’t do it right.

    As was pointed out, the Indian of 2002 & up are no HD clone. The Powerplus 100 & 105, when the fixes are done, is a GREAT engine. My Chief makes Ultra Classics look small & I love that! The thing is a tank & it is different. I also have an HD Softail Standard, but the Chief is special to me.

    Indian owners also have their own ralleys. There is Branson with the & the Barn. We are a family & many are hoping for Polaris to make a bullet proof bike, but I really believe they don’t want to see changes to the Chief. If they want to make changes & bring out models like the Scout & Spirit or whatever else, great, but the Chief is supposed to be a rival to the Roadking & have big fenders & be a touring bike.

    Let the bottle cap Powerplus LIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. 1 Indian Motorcycle Plans at Cyril Huze Blog – Custom Motorcycle News | Motorcycles Pingback on Aug 4th, 2011 at 1:38 pm
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