Polaris Comments on Indian Motorcycles Future

August 10, 2011
Bryan Harley
Bryan Harley
Cruiser Editor |Articles|Articles RSS|Blog|Blog Posts|Blog RSS

Our resident road warrior has earned his stripes covering the rally circuit, from riding the Black Hills of Sturgis to cruising Main Street in Daytona Beach. Whether it's chopped, bobbed, or bored, metric to 'Merican, he rides 'em all.

The handlebars on the 2010 Chief Roadmaster are slightly higher than its competitors while the riding position is easy-going and upright.
Polaris Industries commented on its plans for its lastest acquisition, Indian Motorcycles, at the 2012 Victory Motorcycles press launch.

Victory Motorcycles has clarified its plans with newly-acquired Indian Motorcycles. Both companies are owned by parent company Polaris Motorcycles and for the first time in its 110 year history, Indian will be owned by a company with a $2.5 billion dollar portfolio.

Don’t expect any drastic changes soon. Steve Menneto, Polaris GM, revealed to Motorcycle USA at the recent press launch for the 2012 model line, that Polaris will run the two brands as separate entities. Polaris believes the Indian name gives them a premium presence in the heavyweight motorcycle niche. Menneto emphasized production on the two brands will remain separate. Different product management, different marketing teams, different engineering teams, and separate inside sales teams. Ross Clifford will be the new Managing Director of Indian Motorcycles while Gary Gray will be the new Product Director. 

Polaris intends on limiting the number of dealerships in order to have a tight distribution network “sized for success.” Offering premium service at these dealers will be a high priority. The focus of Indian Motorcycles will be the die-hard enthusiast who appreciates its long-standing American heritage. Initial efforts will continue to cater to more affluent riders.

Polaris influence won’t be reflected in the 2012 Indian models. Considering Indian was already in the midst of producing its 2012 models coupled with the fact that Polaris is moving manufacturing halfway across the country from North Carolina to Iowa, this is no surprise. The results of the acquisition will show up on the design side by 2013 at the earliest, with engineer Mike Song imparting his creative vision on the next generation of Indians.

Motorcycle USAs Cruiser Editor gives the 2010 Indian Chief Roadmaster a big thumbs up for its chassis and transmission but a thumbs down for its brakes.
Bryan had the oppertunity to check out the 2010 Chief Roadmaster. Check it out in our 2010 Indian Chief Roadmaster First Ride.

Mark Moses, owner and GM of Indian Motorcycles Charlotte, attended the first dealer show under the new ownership and mentioned in his newsletter plans to build a 110 Special Anniversary Edition Chiefs. Each will come with a special leather jacket and other commemorative items. Only 109 will be available to the public because the 110th will be kept by Polaris in honor of the first Indians to be built at Spirit Lake, Iowa.

Moses’ newsletter also mentioned the following: ”Moving is always a hassle, more so when it’s an entire factory. So don’t expect any quick moves or radical approaches. Changes will be evolutionary, not revolutionary. While many elements are still in development stages, the pricing structure for new Indians will be the same.

Indian will remain a limited edition ultra premium motorcycle. It will not compete at the lower end of the market. Consider that Volkswagen also owns Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini and you begin to get a glimpse of the long term strategy.

We will not see 2012 model Indian Chiefs until December-January and there will be fewer models and color combinations. (Only three two-tone paint combos will be available, plus solid black and solid red.)”
As for future plans, we asked about the possible return of the Indian Scout or of returning the Indian name to professional racing. The only answer we got were smiles.