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2013: The Year of Indian Motorcycles?

AMA Hall of Fame Inductee Erwin “Cannonball” Baker and his Indian

It is the oldest motorcycle brand founded in the United States. It invented the v-twin motorcycle engine, but it also manufactured in-line fours. It swept the podium at the Isle of Man TT, and had an unparalleled racing record among American manufacturers during the early part of the last century. We are talking about Indian Motorcycles, and 2013 is the year everyone will talk about Indian, from cruiser enthusiasts to road racers, and everyone in-between. Why?

Let’s start from the beginning. The first Indian motorcycle was manufactured in 1901, a single cylinder. Indian built its first v-twin motorcycle in 1905, not for the street but for racing. That’s right, racing. It was racing Indian was known for, not cruising or strolling. Great characters like “Cannonball” Baker set records, and Indians swept the podium at the Isle of Man TT in 1911. Indeed, Indians found the podium nine times at the Isle of Man, and dominated board track racing with riders such as Jake DeRosier, who won at least 900 races before his death from injuries at the age of 33.

After purchasing the Ace Motor Corporation in 1927, Indian manufactured a bike it called the 401 for the 1928 model year, featuring an in-line, four-cylinder engine. Indian manufactured at least one four-cylinder model through the 1942 model year. The four-cylinder received many innovative technical changes during its lifespan, and was eventually honored with a US commemorative stamp in 2006.

When new ownership took over Indian in 1945, operations went downhill, and the company eventually went bankrupt in 1953. The next several decades saw many attempts to revive the brand, but none of them had the resources necessary to duplicate the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art machines that were so successful racing early on. Heavy cruisers with heavily valanced fenders were the theme of these mostly underfunded efforts.

The Indian Powerplus had great success on the race track.

Less than two years ago, Polaris Industries acquired Indian Motorcycles. Polaris owns Victory Motorcycles, and now has extensive experience manufacturing two wheelers. Victory Motorcycles have topped JD Power quality ratings more than once, and have a well earned reputation for innovation, particularly when it comes to styling, in the cruiser category. Although less than 15 years old, Victory Motorcycles has also earned a reputation for quality engine design and manufacture, and high performance within the cruiser category.

Polaris industries is the first owner of the Indian brand in modern times to have the financial resources to return the brand to its roots, i.e., class leading technology and design. Polaris made its name in the snowmobile industry, and as a manufacturer of ATVs. Now, however, in addition to motorcycles, Polaris has entered the electric automobile segment.

1920 Indian Scout

Polaris has annual sales exceeding 2.5 billion dollars, and has seen profits increase rapidly in recent years. Polaris also has a significant business supplying vehicles to the military.

Polaris has some of the latest design and testing equipment for new products. The best CAD design facilities, and testing facilities that can duplicate accurately different environments and elevations, as well as accelerate wear characteristics in a laboratory setting. Its reputation for quality products is no accident.

Victory motorcycles will live on, but Indian motorcycles will be positioned above Victory, and Indian will have its own staff. Although Polaris has owned Indian less than two years, 2013 will be the last model year of the legacy models, with entirely new models, designed and engineered by Polaris, to be introduced in late 2013 for the 2014 model year.

1928 Indian 402

Recently, MD had the chance with other journalists in Long Beach to meet with Polaris and Indian executives to discuss their plans for the brand. Polaris is very much aware of the performance heritage of Indian. Obviously, the models inherited by Polaris upon its purchase of Indian are purely cruisers, without performance pretensions. Although the company will not reveal any details, we expect that to change.

Conceivably, Indian motorcycles could produce modern, cutting-edge sport bikes and maintain a direct tie to its heritage. Although this may happen eventually, we expect the first Polaris-designed Indians to fall within the cruiser category, but nevertheless pay homage to the high performance heritage with unique technology, and performance goals not commonly found in the segment. Indian has a sound file on its web site, which allows you to listen to its first Polaris-built engine. We think it sounds like a twin, with a somewhat lighter flywheel and higher redline than most large cruiser engines.

Given the quality, design, fit and finish of current Victory machines, we have extremely high expectations for the new Indian designs. Don’t expect a cookie cutter cruiser line-up to be unveiled by Indian next Fall.

Could Polaris eventually return Indian to the top of the world stage in terms of technology, design and performance? Only time will tell, but we think Polaris has the resources, and track record to do it. We know Polaris itself expects nothing less. We could see it in the eyes of Indian’s new staff, and sense it when they spoke about the responsibility of moving this storied marque into the future.

124 Comments

  1. TomS says:

    Since first hearing of Polaris’ acquisition of Indian I’ve been curious about where they’d take the brand.

    Regardless of Indian’s early racing and engineering prowess, H-D now pretty much owns the big-V-twin paradigm, with Victory claiming a small chunk of that market with their better reliability and interesting styling.

    If Polaris is placing Indian “above” Victory in that same market, it will be a small market indeed, catering to the same well-to-do weekenders that were polluting the roadways and bar parking lots with Iron Horses and similar “custom” v-twins until the economy tanked and those bikes were selling used for 25 cents on the dollar. Granted that Polaris would bring reliability and some measure of utility, isn’t that whole scene over?

    I’m hoping that Polaris will do something more interesting with the Indian brand, though. What would that be? Maybe a modern interpretation of a cafe racer? I can’t see Indian as head-to-head competition with the UJM sportbikes. Maybe a Ducati / Aprilia fighter?

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    • Norm G. says:

      maybe a ducati/aprilia/TRIUMPH fighter. they have but one choice, and that’s UP market.

      in the old willie sutton paraphrase…

      Q: “why did you rob banks…?”

      A: “cause that’s where the money is.”

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    • carl says:

      I think they should forget another V-twin and go the inline four like vintage Indians. With that platform make a great touring bike which could give the rider a major comfort, which the Goldwing lacks because of the engine configuration makes riding position limited. You can’t beat Harley cause people are buying into a perceived lifestyle not really a bike.

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      • Norm G. says:

        re: “You can’t beat Harley cause people are buying into a perceived lifestyle not really a bike.”

        YAAAHHHTZZEEE…! it’s the moto equivalent of the “gym membership”. whether you use it or not…? rest assured we’re debiting your account $20 bucks the 15th of every month. :)

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    • Crusty Kris says:

      It would be nice if the made a bike like the 1000cc Superhawk. V-Twin, fast, light and attractive. My guess is it will not happen.

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  2. Don Fraser says:

    I find it interesting that Polaris can build light weight snowmobiles with long travel suspension, own the side by side 4-wheeler market with excellent product, build a decent alternative to HA/DA that are slowly gaining market share, and all you arm chair CEO’s are telling them what to do.

    Honda just showed you what is selling with the release of 3 different models of a low cost bike, a cool bagger that didn’t cost them much to bring to market, and a cheap, but cool on-off road 250.

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    • WNGD says:

      Honda DID NOT come out with any cool bagger.
      The f6b is an extremely poor attempt to position a badly stripped Wing for the bagger buyer and not one I know is considering it seriously. Being a Wing, it will be comfortable for riders that are not too tall and handle like a dream for a large bike.

      But a cool bagger??? Not a chance.

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  3. Todder says:

    I hope that Victory comes out with something fresh. It would be nice to see more u.s. born motorcycles which aren’t just boring cruisers. And yes, I ride both a Victory CrossCountry Tour which I do love. Luckly I’ve also got the Triumph Sprint when I feel the need for something different…

    I really would like to know what these guys are doing in 2013, their flat-tracker looks neat:

    http://www.ushighland.com/

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  4. ham says:

    Ya…who wants another brand of bike. Lets just stick with what we have. In fact lets just keep the same colors and options. Nothing new will ever work. There simply is no room for innovation……………NOT!

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    • Z1 says:

      This is not innovation. It is trying to milk a once-proud name…one more time. Polaris is so devoid of any excitement for their Victory brand, they think they can buy it with the Indian name.

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      • Gary says:

        And, in your opinion, who is today’s most exciting manufacturer and why?

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      • Norm G. says:

        re: “Victory motorcycles leave me cold, about as exciting as a root canal. The only reason that riders choose a Victory is because they don’t want to be associated with Harley (as I’ve heard from so many Victory owners).”

        now now, wait a second. that might be true, but have you ever ridden one…? it’s no “orgasmatron” or nothin’, but they ain’t bad. a bud has one, and it’s quite the looker ta boot.

        re: “That seems to be a poor excuse to choose a motorcycle.”

        in the context of a planet where it’s the AUTOMOBILE that’s won the war for control of the roads, some could argue all excuses fall under this heading. i bet you could even find a BMW or Honda exec to say this off the record.

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        • Crusty Kris says:

          I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to ride a Victory and found oit rather boring, offering nothing new to the motorcycling world. I wish they would do something out of the ordinary and surprise me. How abut the next bike be something other than a heavy V-Twin and not resemble Harley or Indian? That would be great!

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  5. casatomasa says:

    Given Polaris’ roots and origins were born off-road (snowmobiles and quads) It only makes sense to go off-road with motorcycles. I know they had a brief relationship with KTM, but now is the time given the popularity with all things dirtbike and pound for pound $ for $ nothing delivers more proformance than that genre. Americans need an American dirtbike. Once established then move on to performance Adventure bikes. This all can be one with or with out he Indian marque,(waste of money) besides I like the sound of “Barkenfrargle Motorcycles”….just sayin

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  6. paulysr says:

    So it basically sounds like a Victory with loud pipes on it, but even if all they do is bolt a Victory engine into the Indian frame it’ll be a big improvement. Hopefully when they get done fixing up the Indians someone will have time to start working on a street legal Tularis!

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  7. kjazz says:

    …shouldn’t this be called the “Native American Motorcycle Company”….??

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  8. T. Rollie says:

    If this puts more investors’ money into circulation in our economy, I’m all for it! We need more money floating around the economy to get folks back to work again. We don’t need investors’ or big business’s money locked away in vaults. Spend it!!!! On Motorcycles!!! On new designs that are exciting!!!

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  9. rebersole23 says:

    Make it stop. Not another Indian story Please. Bury the Brand, the Bike and the Memories.

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  10. Andrew says:

    Polaris should buy MV Augusta and sell sportbikes using the Indian name. The combination of cruisers, rockets and possibly dirt bikes would be pretty cool for an American Motorcycle company.

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  11. Crusty Kris says:

    I really wish we could drop the whole Indian revival thing. How many times do we have to repeat this act to learn that it’s a dead horse? The market for these bikes is comprised of the same folks that used to spend $35,000 on a custom chopper and now they are broke and looking to Vespa for their next two-wheeled adventure. It would be smarter for Polaris to build a true sporting motorcycle than resurrect a valance fendered pig with an oversized v-twin because “that’s what people are buying.” I’m waiting to see what Polaris comes up with and hope that Arlen Mess doesn’t get invited to the party.

    • Z1 says:

      I strongly agree. And the Briggs & Stratton sound of the new engine does not inspire me. Like you ask, how many more times is this once-proud name of a one-time great American maker going to be dragged through the mud in an abortive attempt to revive it? And contrary to what this article says, road racers will NOT be talking about Indian in 2013…laughing, maybe, but not talking.

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      • Crusty Kris says:

        So true! Victory has been castrated as a motorcycle company from the beginning, deciding to build only retro-cruizer junk, with no sporting intentions whatsoever. I think that it would be a long shot to expect Victory/Polaris/Indian to build anything other than a doddering, POS bike that can’t keep up with bikes ¼ it’s size.

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  12. Jamo says:

    First off, Victory is not doing well,and never has done well. They hardly sell new, you seldom see one on the road and resale values are in the tank. You can’t trade them in on anything. Now, Polaris thinks upping the price and changing the name is going to help? I doubt it.

    The concept of competing head to head with Harley is so flawed because Harley has enormous aftermarket support that Victory or Indian – or Suzuki or Yamaha or Handa -will never have for their crusiers. It’s the individualizing/customizing/paint and riding position variability that drives Harley buyers, although you might not realizre that until you “get” Harleys, which none of these types do.

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    • Auphliam says:

      You might want to check your facts…Victory is doing just fine.

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    • JIm says:

      You very well should review what is going on in terms of volume and resale values. If you happen to go to any rallies you will see a significant number of Victory bikes compared to even just a few years ago. As far as resale values, they seem very similar to the other American made motorcycles as taken as a percentage of the original value. Victory is now the number 2 as far as bikes sold in the US. As far as after market, they have also made great strides, but still do not match what is available for HD. As far as riding comfort, the Victory bikes are hard to beat. The HD bikes seem really tight for space in comparison.

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      • Todder says:

        I’m in the 6’3″ range and agree that HD was really cramped on the RoadGlide, Electra and RoadKing. Stock forward control floorboards really helps out, so many different positions I can switch to. I would’ve had to invest more coin for limited comfort on the HD. Plus the lady likes the backseat.

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  13. Auphliam says:

    Indian “purists” crack me up…so high and mighty with the negative commentary regarding any modern attempts to resurrect this marque.

    Yes, they had a great racing heritage…for about 20 years. The rest of their history is marked with poor business decisions. This company has changed hands more times than a cheap suit. Hell, both the original founders of the company were gone by 1916…they left due to disagreement over how the company was being run. By 1930 they were being run by a car company. Is that the “heritage” you seek? or are we just counting the years that sound good for nostalgia?

    If ever there was an opportunity for this marque to finally be successful, it is now. It has been over 90 years since a company with the engineering, design and manufacturing capabilities (and capital to back it) as large as Polaris has owned it. I, for one, am very excited to see what they do with this opportunity.

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  14. Todder says:

    I hope that maybe some retro standard built with some newer technology paired with some Royal Enfield influences help make a future Indian I would want to purchase. I dream of something that competes against a triumph scrambler or norton commando, but at the same time has better suspension. I’m sure it could be just as affordable.

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  15. Ray Seidel says:

    Common error in this story is Indian went bankrupt in 1953. They did not. They were aquired by the Brits who shut down production of new bikes in America, but continued the dealer network for years to come with rebadged British bikes as “Indians.”

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  16. Bob says:

    If they built something with the aesthetic integrity and concept of an Egli Vincent, fuel injected, with modern metallurgy and top notch suspension, they would have a winner.

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    • Mark Pearson says:

      I don’t know what marketing label to put on them, but there are certain timeless, sporting bikes like the Vincent, café racer, CB750, early superbikes and Speed Triple that will always have a cult-like following. Attainable bikes that are good looking, perform well on the street and track and relatively easy to own and modify. Too bad the new Indian won’t be one of these bikes.

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  17. S.E. says:

    I will just have to wait and see what Polaris does with the new Indians….i’m still getting my Indian Chief. Love the classic look.

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  18. Allworld says:

    I can only hope and pray that Polaris, looks to Indian’s roots and decide RACING is at its core.
    They already produce cruisers and touring bikes, Victory. Victory is a brand that gets stronger every year and competes with HD. HD had Buell and MV Agusta and blew it, now Polaris has a shot of creating a SPORT bike line that can and should compete on the world stage. It is time for an American motorcycle company to produce high performance sport bikes, and Indian should return to the Isle of Mann and Daytona not as spectators but as competitors.
    Till then I will wait for Eric Buell to continue to rise like the Phoenix rising from the ashes and show them how it’s done.

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  19. Dave Kent says:

    Sounds like a typical big bore VTwin on a staggered crank with the requisite heavy flywheel (evident in the painfully long upshifts). Yawn. At least they didn’t use a single pin crank to cater to the “potato, potato” crowd. Yawn.

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  20. Les says:

    So Polaris owns Indian. Sounds like a double down on the yawn factor.

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  21. stacius says:

    It’s been my observation that motorcyclists are a very conservative lot. Despite the constant demands for something lightweight and powerful, there’s plenty of great bikes that have been made that died in the American market.
    Kawasaki W650, anyone?

    Buells are wonderful bikes, but you don’t have horsepower bragging rights with one. Although I do notice XB’s are going for 5K and more in my neck of the woods.

    Personally, I’d rather wait and see. After all, it’s Polaris that’s got skin in this game and I’m sure they wouldn’t have even bothered if they didn’t feel they could make something worth the effort.

    I’m quietly hoping for something along the lines of the Moto Guzzi Griso, which (to me, anyway) strikes a nice balance of tech, comfort, speed and style. If only it was about 3K cheaper new! Anyway, a real “Gentlemen’s Express would be lovely.

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  22. Sporty Bob says:

    It will be nothing more than Polaris’ 13th iteration of the Victory Vegas.

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  23. Hair says:

    I hope that they get this right,Because someday I hope to buy a Polaris Snowmobile. It would be nice if they were still around to sell me one.

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    • soi cowboy says:

      Polaris sleds and atv’s have been subsidizing victory for the last decade (10,000 units a year is 200 million gross per year) In what business plan does a presumably more pricey Indian outsell Victory? Middle-aged bikers who have 30k to blow on a toy are a dying breed.

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  24. kirk66 says:

    One inline 4 with a displacement between 1800-2500 cc that has a wet weight under 600 lbs and runs an adjustable suspension will sell.

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  25. If I had free reign at Pol/Vic/Ind I would buy the cleanest T160 Trident I could find out of a museum somewhere, totally copy/re-engineer, and closely re-produce it while engineering the Brit quirks/flaws out of the drive train. To this old man, the FORM of that bike was something special…

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  26. mechanicuss says:

    i would be interested in a medium-to-large-sized twin – as long as it departs from the garish goofy ness styling cues (such as those starship enterprise polaris cruiser headlights, and those stinko tourers with the butt-ugly bodywork), which make me want to spew chunks. if the new indians are just re-badged polaris clones it won’t work for me, anyway.

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  27. JR says:

    I find it interesting and sad that there is now “nothing for sale” (except used) that matches the compact design, light weight (around 400 lbs. wet) high torque, 1203 or 989 cc air/oil cooled V-twin, American Made, good gas mileage, simple to maintain, belt driven, pure fun motorcycle and affordable.. like the fun to ride Buell XB machines. Why is this? Who made the stupid decision to end their production?

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  28. stinkywheels says:

    Ooops, forgot to mention, air cooled, like Guzzi, Ducati ,Enfield, Triumph.

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  29. stinkywheels says:

    Sounds like a nice freer revving twin. I kinda wish Eric Buell didn’t march to his own drummer so far out in left field, kinda. I’d love to see an affordable American sporty type bike. 100 HP twin or triple, 420/sub500lbs, quality rightside up forks, twin shock, 5 gal gas tank, with nice stying. I’ll probably have to be a lot better than I was this year for Santa to make me one.

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  30. mark f. says:

    Why even think about another retro cruiser? Seems like that would sap sales from the Victory line and be just another HD competitor… yawn. There’s a reason all the previous attempts at Indian revival failed. And forget about competing on the “cutting-edge sportbike” level right off the bat – better to follow Triumph’s example and work up to that point.

    How about something new? Forget about category. Just make a performance bike/roadster, something with excellent power, great handling, light weight, clean styling, and heaps of attitude. I’m thinking along the lines of the Street Triple, or an updated and beefed up SV650 (850cc?), or a not-quite-so-retro Guzzi V7 racer with real power. An XR1200 with 150 lbs cut off, or the CB1100R that Honda never made. Or (drool) the Guzzi MGS-01 concept. Not exact copies, obviously, but something with equivalent character.

    Japan has come close a few times but always seems to curtail performance or dresses the bike in either odd styling or blandness. Make a modern, lightweight, powerful motorcycle with maybe some minor retro cues but primarily with a healthy dose of personality.

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  31. John says:

    Who really cares if all they’re going to make is a bunch of antique, slow, heavy motorcycles for people who shouldn’t be riding at all.

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    • Honyock says:

      I fervently hope that nobody, never, nohow will get to decide whether or not I “should” be riding. Even if the machine is heavy, slow, expensive, and shiny.

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      • HalfBaked says:

        I already ride an antique, heavy, slow machine and they will have to pry it from my cold dead hands. I don’t give any kind of a damn if some smart mouth kid thinks I should be riding or not.

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  32. Jim says:

    Make something like my SV650 so I can race it in BoTT

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  33. Mark Pearson says:

    The motorcycle industry has to be one of the most competitive in the world market. For Polaris to compete against Harley head on and survive, much less top them, tells me they’re run by some shrewd business people. I don’t doubt Polaris can successfully sell Indian motorcycles.

    As for sporting Indian motorcycles I’m not getting my hopes up, at least with my wallet. I have to focus on bang-for-the-buck which means used Japanese bikes where I can get at least the same technology and performance, if not design, for much less. Someone like Fischer is who I’m rooting for.

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    • Jake says:

      re: “For Polaris to compete against Harley head on and survive, much less top them, tells me they’re run by some shrewd business people. I don’t doubt Polaris can successfully sell Indian motorcycles.”

      One of the ‘keys’ to H-D sales successes is to “never underestimate the American buying public.”
      Polaris never ‘under-estimates’ even more… :o)

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  34. Alex Fleury says:

    I agree with Dino. There is a market for a lighter good handling performance oriented cruiser. I loved my old Kawasaki Eliminator. I am in the process right now of building a Bobber style bike with the basic bits coming from a 1987 GSXR. I want a cruiser style bike that has good suspension, good brakes light weight and good power. That’s why I am building my own. The manufacturers aren’t building one !!

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  35. Don Fraser says:

    Harley obviously knows their market, concentrates on it, and has been very successful. The market for performance twins is way smaller and is covered pretty well by Ducati, with KTM and EBR doing some neat stuff. The MT-01 is no longer available in Europe, so what does that tell you. The Honda VTX 1800 never really did much and is an excellent bike. The Suzuki M109 sells when they are heavily discounted. An expensive light weight performance cruiser? good luck

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  36. Jamo says:

    Will the new engine be water cooled?

    I can’t see nostalgic Indian cruisers ever being anything but a curiousity. They’re too expensive, for one thing, and the aftermarket will never support an industry for Indian like it does for Harley. The numbers won’t be there.

    Polaris should build a modern motorcycle like BMW, or a scooter or a Honda NC700-like, or an electric, a practical real world thing. It should try to get in on the ground floor of something, instead of always trying to take over Harley. That was a good idea 17 years ago, but they flubbed it with Victory’s design. It won’t work now. Big cruisers are falling from fashion.

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  37. SausageCreature says:

    I’m wondering if you guys could help me out. I’m on my way to the courthouse this afternoon to change my name. I want instant credibility, but can’t decide which direction to go.

    If I change my last name to Windsor, I could lay claim to the throne of England. On the other hand, changing it to Hendrix would make me an instant rock star. I just can’t decide!!!!

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  38. dino says:

    I can’t see them fighting the modern sportbikes, but there could be a big market for lighter Cruisers.. Victories are a good start, but if they can shave another 50-100lbs off the victory designs, a modern V-twin could kick some butt… Like the old racers were stripped down twins. Why not?

    It would still have to “cruise” and be comfortable, but get rid of most of the steel, iron, etc and use more modern techinues (maybe not as “modern” design as the Victory Vision?) and they could once again create a new Cruiser market like they did with Viuctory.

    Good luck boys!! Rooting for ya!

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  39. Gary says:

    I’m not a fan of cruisers, but because of Indian’s heritage and because we have been so sadly lacking in American motorycle manufacturers, I’ve been hoping they could get something re-launched since they started many years ago. Now that they have some real backing behind them, I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.

    I also hope and expect there will be some real differentiation between Indian and Victory and hopefully that will free Victory up to go in some interesting directions with Indian holding down the “Traditional American V-Twin” fort.

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  40. Dave G says:

    Maybe Polaris can start another new trend with V-twins…keep them quiet.

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  41. Z1 says:

    Ridiculous. No, the Briggs & Stratton sound of the new engine does not inspire me. How many more times is this once-proud name of a one-time great American maker going to be dragged throught the mud in an abortive attempt to revive it? And I can assure you, road racers will NOT be talking about Indian in 2013, as you assert.

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  42. endoman38 says:

    Wasn’t the Curtiss the first v-twin?

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  43. Dave says:

    To launch a model that speaks to performace but also to the name “Indian” I can only see something like a dirt tracker styled street bike, similar to Harley’s XR1200 but hopefully lighter weight/higher tech. I cannot imagine the Indian name on the side of a modern 600cc sport bike.

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    • Austin says:

      I agree, but a modern interpretation. That is what I think of as Indian. Not so retro though, but what would it look like it flat trackers evolved to today. I also think Triumph has got it right, some vintage bikes, but some really great modern bikes. I love the new triumphs, and Indian could do the same thing. As a designer regurgitating old designs is lame to me. Come up with something new. Indian, it you are listing, I could design you some sweet new bikes. = )

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  44. fast2win says:

    My guess is the 1st bike is a new cruiser though much more refined and all new. They should showcase some type of prototype racer though if they want to really let the market know they are going to be more than just another cruiser. Polaris already has that.

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  45. As the External Relations Manager for Indian Motorcycle I want to thank Motorcycle Daily for covering the brand. 2013 will be a big year for Indian Motorcycle for sure. The much anticipated new motorcycle will be revealed, and we show that Polaris Industries will indeed deliver on the promise of the brand. There are many technical options available for a new product, and there is certainly a vast history of Indian on which to reflect. The Staff at Indian Motorcycle and Polaris Industries is forging ahead with all of that in mind, and we are working hard to not only create the new Spirit Lake era for the brand, but do so with a perspective as stewards of this great American brand. There will certainly be more news to come and we are as anxious to tell it as enthusiasts are to hear it. Here is to 2013 – Happy New Year to all the riders out there and have a safe and fun riding season no matter what motorcycle you choose to throw a leg over.

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    • JasonB says:

      I’ve been waiting for 16 years hoping Victory would produce something exciting. Instead they’ve spent 16 years confirming what the Japanese manufacturers had already proven, superior product won’t sway the sheep from HD in the cruiser segment. It would be nice to see an American manufacturer build a proper performance motorcycle again but I have no expectations that Polaris will do that with Indian. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’m proven wrong but I won’t be holding my breath.

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      • carl says:

        As a Victory CCT owner, I bought this bike mainly for comfort above everything else. I miss the goldwing’s stomp, there are ENOUGH V-twin bikes out there, it would be great to see a inline 4 cylinder engine with the comfort of the CCT which is what the wing lacked, room to stretch.

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        • JasonB says:

          It would be nice to see ANYTHING but another regurgitation of a 50 year old motorcycle design produced by a reputable US manufacturer. I’m not asking for a ZX-10R killer their first outing, but lets leave history where it belongs, in the past.

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    • Norm G. says:

      oh that’s right, i’d forgotten Rob P. (more famously known from Aprilia’s early days in america) was with the company now. okay, maybe they DO have something up their sleeves…? :) ’cause it does beg the question, how can a “high performance heritage” and “unique technology” be blended with the modern day perception of indian’s cruisers. what i mean is, it’s not like it hasn’t already been done, and much of it with the Victory line.

      walking the display at motorcyclepedia http://motorcyclepediamuseum.org/index.php/exhibits/itl-menu), it appears the transistion from lithe, sporting motorcycle to LAND BARGE (not that land barges aren’t people too) occured around WW1 and WW2. the changeover is nearly overnite and it’s pretty dramatic. i would assume this influenceof “bulking up” came from meeting military needs and has dominated the brands appearance (as it did with HD) ever since.

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    • Crusty Kris says:

      As the “External Relations Manager” for Indian Motorcycle, I hope that you know that a performance motorcycle is not a 80 year old design with fat tires, a 1700cc engine and a little plastic illuminated Indian head on the front fender. A modern, forward thinking performance Indian motorcycle would more closely resemble a modern DUCATI than a Victory with nostalgic sheet metal that weighs 650#. Been there, done that, so lets move on. The original Indian motorcycle was cutting edge in performance, so please wrap you head around the term performance that includes light-weight, acceleration and handling. No conchos, please.

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    • Asphanaut says:

      I’m looking forward to what you guys come up with. When Polaris bought the name I told my riding buddies that I hoped Polaris would recreate Indian’s racing heritage rather than just putting 700 lbs of fancy metal on two tires. I bought a ’99 V92C new and still have it in my garage but it mostly sits there on its trickle charger watching me take out my Suzuki SV1000s – which is loads more fun to ride.

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    • Tom K. says:

      Lots of constructive input here for Polaris to chew on. I’ve got to give Robert (and Polaris) credit here, when was the last time you saw a spokesman for a major manufacturer actually speak to potential customers on an open forum? Kudos to you, sir. Don’t forget about the “American-made, good handling, big torque, reasonable weight, respectable hp, good looks, all-day comfort, superior quality, and financially attainable” part repeated over and over in this thread, will you? And, make mine ruby red.

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      • Crusty Kris says:

        “American-made, good handling, big torque, reasonable weight, respectable hp, good looks, all-day comfort, superior quality, and financially attainable” Gee, you’re not asking for much, are you! It will probably be a huge Voctory V-Twin with plastic Indian style valve covers “that handles good for it size and weight”.

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        • Tom K. says:

          Quit busting my Dallas Cowgirl fantasy session by whispering “They’ll all look like Rosie O’Donnell in ten years!”

          By the way, the January 21st issue of Forbes has an interview with the CEO of Polaris, Scott Wine, in a 3-page article titled “Return of the Indian”. While mostly a Polaris overview from a business-leadership tack, it does touch on Polaris’ vision for Indian, citing “modern” technology, utilizing redesigned frames and engines while still maintaining visual cues that will link the new bike with its brand heritage. Think Dodge Challenger.

          I only hope they bias the new bikes toward the performance(good power and handling) end of the spectrum and less on the “eye candy” end (worst case, OCC). Just so long as they don’t resemble Rosie.

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  46. Tom R says:

    The boutique Buell brand not withstanding, a “performance” line from an American manufacturer would be an intersting alternative to consider. I look forward to seeing how Polaris develops it. A motorcycle with distinctive character and modern, balanced performance is what I hope to see from them.

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    • dino says:

      Agree… Victories are a higher performance than Harley, but still very “traditional”.

      What is the latest with Motus?? I was looking forward to some fresh news about their V-4 sport touring bike.. Half of a Corvette V-8 in s bike… Giidyup!

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      • Auphliam says:

        The lates on Motus is “Holy Crap are they expensive”.

        $31K for the base model and $37K for the R

        Nice bikes, but they’re little more than rich kid toys at this point.

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        • Crusty Kris says:

          I doubt that I will ever see an actual MOTUS on the street in my lifetime. There are not many riders around with that kind of money to spend on a bike that will be a footnote is the annuls of motorcycling. Too expensive, very little in the way of service centers and comparable/better performance to be found at any of the performance bike manufacturers. I suppose MOTUS offer a unique bike if that is enough for someone.

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  47. Gary says:

    Well, I wish them luck. But yet another V-Twin no matter how it sounds or revs, is not on my need list, especially if the prices are anywhere near what the MSRP are now for the Vintage models. I know these are supposedly premium models, but most of us out here I think are not going to go for those prices regardless.

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  48. MGNorge says:

    The sound clip does as it is intended, to keep interest alive and people speculating at what might be coming. But sound is sound and unless you buy bikes based on sound alone we’ll just have to wait and see.
    To think that Indian could rise to the top of the heap as pertains to technology and innovation is rather whimsical thinking but you never know? Unlike in its heyday, there are some very high tech motorcycle companies on the scene today and once given the word by management can build almost anything too. Could be fun?

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  49. mpolans says:

    “…and had an unparalleled racing record among American manufacturers during the early part of this century.”. The only thing more outdated than this statement are the engineering and marketing concepts put forth in every effort to revive Indian (including this one) since its demise in 1953. Unless radical changes are made, like all the others, this one will also end in failure.

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    • Auphliam says:

      Really? Including this current effort? You haven’t yet seen any of this current effort. How can you label it outdated?

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      • mpolans says:

        There have been past articles on Polaris going with the tired old concept of high end v-twin cruisers with swoopy fenders. A tried and true recipe for failure. If anything, they should follow one of the few successful examples of a revived marque, Triumph.

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        • blackcayman says:

          I don’t care if they make $40K Classic Fendered Show bikes, there are some who want that. HELL YES!!!! they should also follow Triumph and “birth” a whole new line of real modern motorcycles. That HD slavishly stuck to old technology is one thing. That another American Motorcycle Company would the exact same thing is beyond comprehension.

          Triumph was something great. They came back with a vengence! They make their classics and they make real modern bikes! Seems pretty logical to follow the example of a successfully reborn company….Doesn’t it?

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    • Jim says:

      Haters gonna hate…

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  50. Tom K. says:

    I agree that it sounds like a big twin, and also that it seems to rev more quickly than your typical cruiser engine, it has a great sound to it. I was also impressed at how smoothly it seemed to shift gears, no haavy “clunks” or long throws. My guess is a good acoustics guy could calculate the shift points in the clip.

    There is a You-Tube helmet-cam video of an MT-01 the sound of which, in my memory, is quite similar. This could be the bike many people have lamented that Harley could build but chooses not to – I was enamored with the ~’93 Tokyo Show MT01 concept (and a little less so wiht the real-world interperetation), but was very disappointed it didn’t come to the States. A hundred hp and a hundred foot-lbs. in a sub-500 lb. package that doesn’t bottom around most corners would make a wonderfuly-fun street bike, I hope Polaris picks up where Yamaha gave up.

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