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Reuters Reports Harley Not Among Bidders for Ducati, But Polaris Is

A month ago, we relayed a Reuters report that Harley-Davidson was expected to submit a bid for Ducati, which the Volkswagen Group is interested in selling. Reuters sources now contradict this.

Apparently put off by the high price, Reuters’ sources indicate Harley did not submit a bid. For the first time, however, Polaris Industries (owners of the Indian Motorcycle Brand) was identified as a bidder. It appears there will be another round of bidding among select participants. Take a look at the full Reuters’ report for more information on the bidding process. It may be a while before we know of Ducati’s fate.


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84 Comments

  1. spike says:

    I have heard that the Ali Baba group out of China is interested in motorsports. Could they be a player?

  2. richard says:

    phew..thats a relief…not the right company to represent Ducati !

  3. Dave says:

    Another motorcycle news site is reporting that Bajaj motor company of India believes they will win the bid for Ducati.

  4. Kent says:

    Very happy to hear that HD is out of the running. Their track record with other companies is criminally stupid.
    At least Polaris understands that there’s more than one style of motorcycle in the world, and has been reasonably successful.

  5. Your Uncle Bob says:

    Those things go way too fast. You’re going to kill yourself.

  6. Fred says:

    I’d be quite surprised if the Chinese don’t put in the winning bid.
    The 2005 Benelli buy out was quite a successful venture for the Qianjiang Group with gaining Engineering Knowledge with a known name. Make the parts in China to Euro specs, then assemble in Italy.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The 2005 Benelli buy out was quite a successful venture for the Qianjiang Group with gaining Engineering Knowledge with a known name.”

      gotta admit Geely do own “Swedish Meatball” Volvo and Miller Motorsports Park (for the moment) while Continental Engines (general aviation think Cessna, Cirrus, etc) is owned by AVIC International of China. even Cirrus itself is owned by CAIGA a sub-divsion of AVIC.

      re: “Make the parts in China to Euro specs, then assemble in Italy.”

      https://tinyurl.com/ybz5ogwl (skidding tires sound)

      say what…!?

    • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

      While I understand that a few of the Benelli’s are still assembled in Italy (the larger ones above 600cc), most, and more and more are being assembled in China now for price competitiveness to other brands. And apparently, the Chinese are doing a pretty good job with quality now.

      • Dave says:

        Chinese production is on par with the best in the world. An important thing to remember- every piece of “cheap chinese junk” you’ve ever experienced, was approved by a western buyer or product manager. They’ll make whatever they are paid to.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “apparently, the Chinese are doing a pretty good job with quality now.”

        (hot off the presses) McPint’s broken leg says “weellllll…”

        https://tinyurl.com/y88sr56d

        re: “Although at the time there was a long delay in getting the data from John’s bike due to the ECU being damaged – the ECU had to be sent all the way to the supplier in China to extract the data from it – we put in a countermeasure of a new spec of ECU for the TT to ensure the problem wouldn’t happen again.”

        you only need screw Honda over once. now you can bet your “bottom Yen” you won’t see the Japanese making THIS mistake again. as the last CEO discovered (the hard way) the Big Red collective is no longer going to let their hard-earned reputation be tarnished.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “the Big Red collective is no longer going to let their hard-earned reputation be tarnished.”

          ps: quite staring at F1, they’re working on it…!!! (middle-age Alonso voice)

  7. Grover says:

    WhenI first saw a Diavel I wondered if Arlen Ness was moonlighting at Ducati. Can you imagine a whole line of Ness Ducatis? Lowered Monsters with extended forks and a 300 tire out back…try not to remember that his influence remained with the Victory line til’ that boat went belly up. If Polaris wanted to have a sporting bike in their line they could have put the land barges on the back burner and developed a line of performance bikes that would rival anything offered today. Like others have said, Baja would be a better caretaker for Ducati. Let’s hope for the best bidder for Ducati and let Polaris be profitable with their two-wheeled, fringed motorhomes.

    • sbashir says:

      Except for the baggers and touring bikes, the rest of the Victory line was pretty normal.

  8. 5229 says:

    if Polaris industries were to purchase Ducati that would be one sad day.
    And I think I will leave my reason why up for speculation.

  9. Mick says:

    Baja is also bidding. They own 48% of KTM. A KTM/Ducati partnership would be a significant force in the motorcycle industry.

    • sbashir says:

      It will be a good matchup because their product lines do not overlap. And Bajaj has left KTM pretty much alone (probably because they only own 48% and respect Stefan Pierer’s running of the company). With Ducati if they own 100% and do not like the way the business is run, it will be a different story.

  10. allwirkd says:

    It would be nice to know who else submitted a bid for Ducati. Polaris is giving a mixed message here; the shut down Victory to be able to concentrate on Indian rather than developing new products for two brands. So why would you close a brand you own to buy another manufacture.
    I would like to see FCA or Ferrari buy Ducati.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: So why would you close a brand you own to buy another manufacture(?)

      A: cause one brand has a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) while the other brand does not.

      see, contrary to popular belief/common behavior 99% of the questions we ask are NOT “rhetorical” (aw crap). that’s right, they actually HAVE answers. the problem comes when we turn our brains off/don’t do our homework to find out what the answer is, most times it’s RIGHT THERE.

    • downgoesfraser says:

      FCA?????????????They are barely afloat. Seen any Giuglia road tests lately?

      • allworld says:

        LOL, yeah this way Ducati could do the engineering.
        Still the Giulia is a good looking car.

  11. Frank says:

    For the older generation who remember the dodgy electrics and unreliable engines, Ducati is not an inspiring brand nor one that can demand a premium price. Harley have a history of losing lots of money when buying other companies so expect their shareholders are happy to avoid another potential disaster. If you look at historical brands, Triumph are doing pretty well with sporting icons like the Street Triple and retro stuff like the revamped Bonnies. Always thought that Harley should have done a lightweight version of the Sportster, they would be better off spending the dosh sorting out the inherent vibration so they would not need all the iron to absorb it.

  12. Proheli says:

    I want Ferrari to buy Ducati.

  13. Norm G. says:

    re: “Polaris Industries (owners of the Indian Motorcycle Brand) was identified as a bidder.”

    i will allow this (also). no it’s not Piaggio, but as the cool kids say “whatev”.

  14. Tim says:

    Thank you, Harley, for not buying and destroying an iconic brand. I’m not anti-Harley, they are what they are and they’ve been very successful at it. However, they are clueless when it comes to making or marketing anything light and fast.

  15. downgoesfraser says:

    VW bought Ducati as a trophy for their CEO. Now need money to pay fines and settlements over Dieselgate. The future for motorcycling is in India, China, and Indonesia where they are actually used as transportation and not garage decorations.

  16. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    It seems to me that somewhere in the near past, I had made the comment, that I thought Polaris should take a serious look at Ducati. It appears they may have listened to me :-). Polaris needs a more performance line of bikes, I had hoped that Victory might have swung that way after they acquired Indian, but alas, they seem to have kept building the same old V-Twin cruisers which have more than enough competition with many other brands. If they would run Ducati, like they so far have Indian, it may be a win-win. Time will tell.

  17. WSHart says:

    Harley learned their lesson with MV and hopefully Polaris will learn from Harley’s stupid mistake.

    Polaris would be foolish to waste money on Ducati. For those still whining about HD and Buell, Harley supported that double-visionary fool too long. More idiot than savant when it came to running a business and building what people want, Buell instead chose to foist what he wants on the motorcycling world. And few bought the Koo-Aid. Ducati is far greater than Buell ever was but I still think it would be a mistake for Polaris to buy them.

    They need to take care of the businesses they already own.

    • MotoMaster39 says:

      Ducati is in a different universe compared to Buell. The main reason people didn’t want to buy Buells is beacuse they had HD engines… Thats like building a formula car and throwing a VW beetle engine in it..Total waste!

      • paquo says:

        also people had to stomach going into nasty harley dealers just to see the bikes, and those dealers wanted nothing to do with the bikes or anyone not dressed in a pirate suit

      • Jdilpkle says:

        You obviously have never owned a XB. My 50,000 mile XB9 runs rings around 170hp sportsbikes on tight twisty roads. Granted, on straightaways its no rocket ship for sure, but after two or three 180 hairpin corners, its bye-bye Ducky.

    • Tim C says:

      I’d respectfully disagree with your opinion about Mr. Buell, but your opinion sucks and there’s just no getting around that.

  18. motorhead says:

    And another thing: Polaris executives appear to be asking themselves: “What bike can we sell to kids and teen-agers? And to dads? What bike can we sell to twenty-somethings? How about thirty-somethings? How about to racers? How about baggers? Bikes for old geezers? Bikes to club riders? To tourers? or to high-performance bikers? To track riders?…”

    Meanwhile, H-D executives ask themselves: “What new bike can we sell to an old rider who already has a Harley, or already wants a Harley?” No wonder H-D will fade away within a few years.

    • sbashir says:

      “Appear to be asking themselves”. And what proof do you have of that? All they are producing are cruisers, same as before.

  19. motorhead says:

    Polaris, with Ducati and electric bikes among their strategic acquisitions, will become the only successful full-portfolio American bike maker. Meanwhile H-D executives will milk their single product from Milwaukee until the last Hog member dies out. Then some investors will pick up the H-D trademark for a few million, and start the whole “let’s revive this famous brand” fitful process all over again. Fifty years later H-D will come back, just as Indian did. No?

    • sbashir says:

      You are describing Indian’s history, not HD’s. Harley has been in continuous production for 114 years. Polaris does not have Ducati nor the money to buy it. The Brammo acquisition is shelved along with Victory. All they are making are cruisers. There is no “portfolio”. Harley has over 40 different models from 500cc to 1868cc including trikes and is getting ready to produce the LiveWire.

      • todd says:

        I think you’re off by an order of magnitude. Harley has only four different bikes. 40 different paint colors and fenders, yes.

  20. JR says:

    It’s interesting to read about what’s going on in the motorcycle industry. Just a few years ago I read an interview with the CEO of Ducati where he stated “they are not buying what we are building”. I also believe that when it comes to motorcycles and riders like myself who have been involved for many decades, that what we like are motorcycles that are, powerful, easy to handle, easy to maintain, don’t cost an arm and a leg, and look like a motorcycle should. This is why Harley Davidson has been so successful for so many years. Now for a twist in all that was the Buell XB’s whereby they took the Sportster engine and made improvements, along with features such as the fixed rear axle and belt idler pulley. So my suggestion would be, improve on the base models features, regarding weight, power, and reliability while keeping it still affordable so it will sell in the long run.

    • Uffe says:

      Powerful, easy to handle, and easy to maintain. That’s why people have been buying HD.please tell me that was written in irony. People have been buying into some kind of American made bad a$$ illusion. Guess people have woken up to reality.

      • VLJ says:

        In your list of his unintentional ironies, you forgot “don’t cost an arm and a leg,” which may be the funniest of all.

        Anyway, I just posted a lengthier, more detailed version of the same basic response, only it vanished as soon as I hit ‘submit.’

        I’m sure it will pop back up eventually.

    • VLJ says:

      “I also believe that when it comes to motorcycles and riders like myself who have been involved for many decades, that what we like are motorcycles that are, powerful, easy to handle, easy to maintain, don’t cost an arm and a leg, and look like a motorcycle should. This is why Harley Davidson has been so successful for so many years.”

      This is what made H-D so successful for so many years? Hmmm. Let’s see here…

      “Powerful”? Not even a little. Given their displacement, H-D’s have always been pathetically anemic. Hell, they’re pathetically anemic even without the displacement qualifier.

      “Easy to handle”? Bwaaaa. Compared to what? A wheelbarrow?

      “Easy to maintain”? Sure, as long as they’re working. Historically, H-D has nearly always been ranked among the least reliable brands, which is all the more damning when one stops to consider just how extremely under-powered and mechanically simple H-D’s have been down through the years.

      “Don’t cost an arm and a leg?” Throw in a heart, spleen, and prolapsed rectum, and you’re about there for any halfway decent modern Harley.

      “Look like a motorcycle should?” Yep…in 1957.

      Allow me to help you out here. H-D was not successful because their bikes were powerful, reliable, well handling, or affordable. Quite the opposite, in fact. They were successful despite their bikes failing to be any of those things. Bottom line, H-D’s success was the result of one thing, and one thing only: marketing.

      “American-Built Iron That Makes YOU, Mr. Weekend Warrior, Look Like a Badass! Lifestyle, Hoss! Lifestyle! Hells Angels! Sturgis! Easy Rider! Skynyrd! Sons of Anarchy! One-Percenters! Tattoos! Biker Chicks! Lowriders! Assless Chaps! Screaming Eagles! Desert Sunsets! World War II! Budweiser! Chrome! Leather Fringe! Potato-Potato-Potato! Fat Boys! Fat Bobs! Fat Wives!’MURICA!! EFF, YEAH!”

      Don’t kid yourself. That’s all it is. That’s all it’s ever been.

      • Tim C says:

        Wheelbarrow…prolapsed rectum…fat wives

        ROFL seriously

      • paquo says:

        Oh my , all star rant brought a smile to my face

      • sbashir says:

        All your comments are based on hatred, not fact. Do you own a Harley? Have you ever owned a Harley? If not, what makes you so qualified to talk about Harley motorcycles?

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Seriously, powerful, good handling and inexpensive are three adjectives that have never been applicable to Harley Davidson motorcycles in modern times. Though to be fair, I’ve never ridden the new semi-watercooled bikes.

          But I agree they obviously look like what a large portion of motorcycle buyers want, are easy to maintain despite the relatively poor reliability ratings and are very “American.”

        • VLJ says:

          sbashir, I don’t hate Harleys, but I do understand them. I also sold them, so I know who buys them, and their reasons for buying them.

          You want facts, not hatred? Fine.

          Facts:

          Harleys don’t handle well, compared to bikes that do handle well. They are not powerful, compared to powerful bikes. They are not particularly reliable, compared to most anything except Italian bikes and Urals. They are ungodly expensive, compared to nearly anything else out there, and that’s before people dip into the bottomless money pit that is the H-D Accessories Catalog.

          Those are plainly spoken facts. Go ahead and make an honest attempt to refute them with industry-supported facts, not just anecdotal nothings. When you can’t come up with anything, simply admit that you’re shooting the messenger, not the message.

    • sbashir says:

      I agree with you but too many Harley haters here.

  21. MotoMaster39 says:

    Does this mean we get Ducati sport touring bikes with Rotax engines?

  22. Left Foot Down says:

    Polaris’ product lines, snowmobile, ATV, and UTV all have a broad range of consumer niche applications, from supersport to touring to beginner except their motorcycle division. Ducati fits perfectly into their philosophy and paradigm. Whether or not their manufacturing ethics and efficiencies can speak Italian is problematic.

  23. Tom R says:

    That makes way more sense than H-D.

  24. Craig says:

    Where’s Eric Buell when you need him? No dis on the man at all here… he gave all he had to make it happen. Just seemed like a funny thing to say…
    Making it in the MC world is NOT easy!!!

    • austin zzr 1200 says:

      met him at a motorcycle show in Dallas a few months ago. The coolest, most laid back dude you’d ever meet. I was too much in awe of him to take a selfie

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Making it in the MC world is NOT easy”

      the “niche business of motorcycling” is not to be trifled with…

      it does NOT suffer fools.

  25. PN says:

    Great. And good for Polaris.

  26. aron says:

    I read that wrong and thought for a second that polaris was bidding for Harley.

  27. Larry Kahn says:

    I’d find it interesting if Triumph bought Ducati. Too much money for Bloor maybe but if the price was dropping…

  28. austin zzr 1200 says:

    Best news I’ve heard all day! Hallelujah!

  29. Vrooom says:

    I have more faith in Polaris’ ability to successfully operate Ducati. Harley is hurting right now, with second quarter sales way down year over year, and they’re stock price having dipped dramatically because of it.

    • beasty says:

      I’m not so sure about Polaris’ ability to successfully operate Ducati. They didn’t successfully operate Victory, and while this is speculation, unless Indian expands their line, Polaris won’t successfully operate Indian.

      • austin zzr 1200 says:

        I put all the blame on Arlen Ness and his tribal mania

      • Jason says:

        Two very different scenarios:
        Victory was Polaris’ attempt to start a brand from scratch against very strong competitor that owned the market.

        Ducati is a turnkey purchase of the market leader in premium sportbikes.

        • Dave says:

          “Victory was Polaris’ attempt to start a brand from scratch ”

          That’s just as true of Indian. It’s a brand name nobody under 60 knew anything about, that had not been branded on a motorcycle for 60 years.

          It’s interesting to read all the takes on HD doing poorly, because browsing through Indian’s line, it’s hard to see many appreciable difference. The Scout has an impressive engine, but these are the same kind of ride experience that HD sells.

      • JVB says:

        Victory was a cruiser competing in a very challenging segment mired in nostalgia. Victory made some interesting products, such as the HammerS. Indian’s acquisition only confirms that the nostalgia aspect of the cruiser market is more critical than innovation. Buell’s death was also a casualty; like it or not. Harley is not diverse, and Polaris is building a broad foundation.

        We were all looking forward to the potential Pikes peak bike making it into a sporty segment for Victory, yet Ducati completes a whole lot of portfolio beyond one bike. Polaris would be the best fit Ducati could have hoped for. Maybe Ducati management will eventually learn that after Polaris, only bankruptcy remains. If Ducati cannot work with Polaris, then what makes one believe they will cooperate with Indian or Chinese companies that only want their brand.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      I’m still rooting for Bajaj/Pierer as the best fit from within Motorcycle space….. FCA if a larger, deeper, automotive conglomerate is indicated.

    • johnny ro says:

      I have faith in Ducati management to operate Ducati. VW was a shareholder/investor right?

      I have faith in Polaris to add value to the equation. Not HD.

      Why would anyone think Ducati is unprofitable and being passed from one savior to the next with bankruptcy waiting in the wings?

      I think people tend to make money when buy and sell it.

      • NRHretro says:

        I don’t know just what Ducati’s financial status is, but if they are truly self supporting, would they be owned by another company? Or even for sale? Why would they be on the market?

        Just wondering.

      • Norm G. says:

        Q: Why would anyone think Ducati is unprofitable and being passed from one savior to the next with bankruptcy waiting in the wings?

        A: they’re Italian.

        no slate. while the “passion” idealogy from the culture begets inspired design and engineering it unfortunately takes it’s toll on finances. God bless his heart, but the man who penned the 916 and the MVF4 (Tamburini) did precisely what he was put here to do, he was never gonna make it as an accountant.

      • sbashir says:

        All Italian brands (including the Italian government) are long on passion and short on business sense. Look at Piaggio, Benelli, MV Agusta, et al.