As discussed yesterday, Indian Motorcycles, once the leader in motorcycle manufacturing, has had a rocky past. After multiple owners and multiple bankruptcies, the brand is back. This time, however, perhaps there is hope that it will be back for good.
Why? Because the new owner of the Indian brand is not some fly-by-night operation. This time, it’s Polaris Industries, a company once known only for it’s off-road expertise, and now a respected player in the American-cruiser market for their Victory motorcycles.
On April 19, 2011, Polaris announced that it had acquired the rights to the Indian Motorcycles brand. “We are excited to be part of the revitalization of a quintessentially American brand,” said Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris Industries Inc. “Indian built America’s first motorcycle. With our technology and vision, we are confident we will deliver the classic Indian motorcycle, enhanced by the quality and performance for which Polaris and Victory are known.”
The Indian engines will be made at a Polaris plant in northwestern Wisconsin. The plant was scheduled to close but now will remain open, albeit with far fewer than what it once had.
The last incarnation of the Indian motorcycles had a price tag upwards of $30,000. It is expected that with Polaris’ manufacturing expertise, this price could drop substantially. Their Victory cruisers, which boast 1731cc liquid-cooled engines, start at around $12,000.
How the new Indians will be received from motorcyclists in California and the rest of the country remains to be seen. Given the strong products Polaris has turned out in the past, I think there’s reason for the Indian faithful to have hope that this time, the bikes may be around for awhile.