In 1936, Clarence “Pappy” Hoel purchased the Indian Motorcycle franchise in Sturgis South Dakota and formed the Jackpine Gypsies that same year. Two years later, in 1938, the Sturgis Rally was born with 19 participants. Originally called the “Black Hills Classic” the event was, in its early years primarily centered around racing, hill climbs and stunts and was attended almost exclusively by Indian Motorcycle owners. Now after being absent from the town that hosts the largest motorcycle rally in the US, reports have surfaced that an Indian Motorcycle dealership will be open before this year’s rally. According to a report in the Rapid City Journal, the new dealership will be launched by Bruce Eide, who currently sells Indian motorcycles at the Vern Eide Motoplex in Sioux Falls. The Sturgis showroom will be located at 2106 Lazelle St. and open around May 1, said Pat Kurtenbach, president of the Sturgis Economic Development Corp. While Indian hasn’t released an official press statement, Indian Motorcycle Sturgis has launched a Facebook page and the website www.indianmotorcyclesturgis.com.
Editor Scott Cochran – It occurs to me what a long, strange trip its been.
But, at least I’m still riding.
Ok…I stole that first line from the Grateful Dead’s song, “Truckin.” Written by the band and released in 1970, that song defined a generation and the psychedelic culture of the 70’s.
“Truckin” reached #37 in 1971 and was the only chart success the Dead achieved until “Touch of Grey” was released in 1987 and eventually broke into the top ten.
The story of the Grateful Dead and their music, does have some direct correlation to motorcycling. The leader, Jerry Garcia was a Harley rider as well as Ron “Pig Pen “ McKernan. Their first manager, G.H. “Hank” Harrison was also a motorcycle rider.
In the beginning (1965) the band even used the name “The Warlocks” which was also adopted by a motorcycle club that founded in 1967. The Dead eventually changed their name, not because of the MC, but because of another band in the area was also using the name Warlocks.
The Grateful Dead played over 2,000 concerts (Guinness Record) during their career, and by many estimates played to more than 25 million people, (600,000 at one show!) more than any other band.
But, by the measure of commercial / popular music, radio play the band never sold enough records to be considered wildly successful.
But its fans, The Dead Heads, were the reason for the band’s longevity and the money making machine it eventually became.
A hard-core group of fans, who will stick with you through thick and thin are worth their weight in LSD, (not that I would know what LSD is worth…)
And that’s where I’m going with this months ramble…. Fans.
Harley-Davidson, like it or not, has enjoyed (through the years) the loyalty of a group of customers unequaled by any other motorcycle manufacturer.
The reason, I believe, is not based in the machines, anymore than the Grateful Dead’s rabid fan base was because of the music.
The reason thousands of people followed the Dead around the country and tens of thousands of people inked the Bar and Shield onto their skin is…The Culture.
It’s what the brand said about them. Who the customer wanted to be and who the customer wanted to be identified with.
Whenever you see a “Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac” even though that vehicle is the symbol of the Right-wing upper-middle-class American bourgeoisie (Don Henley’s words) you can be sure the owner is someone who wants to be associated with the 70’s counter-culture movement. Someone who sees themselves as a “hippie” stuck in a white collar world.
The same (sort of) thing when you see a Harley-Davidson bumper stickers on a Honda Prius.
Until recently, Harley-Davidson could lay claim to being the only motorcycle brand with enough heritage to satisfy the owner who wanted something more than just a motorcycle. Today Harley-Davidson’s dominance in that space is being challenged by a revived Indian Motorcycle.
Looking back to 2008, it would have made more sense for HD to buy the intellectual property rights to their old nemesis Indian, instead of spending $109 million dollars on MV Agusta.
I’m guessing it would have been a better investment than the Italian motorcycle maker turned out to be. (not to manufacture Indian motorcycles but to keep anyone else from doing it) But, you can’t prove a negative so speculation is useless.
The common belief is that healthy competition is good for everyone involved.
Competition breeds innovation and prevents companies from becoming stagnant by relying on outdated manufacturing processes and market assumptions.
Indian is certainly bringing new ideas to the heavyweight cruiser market. Their five (5) year bumper to bumper warranty is the first (I know of) in the industry and has convinced many tire kickers to take the plunge, even though there may not be a dealer near them.
Once Indian has established dealers in most major metropolitan areas, the turf wars will really heat up, and it will be interesting to watch the brands as they compete for one another’s customers.
Or….maybe they’ll be able to increase the pie for both brands and sell more motorcycles overall than either would have been able to do alone.
I hope that’s the case.
It’s been a long strange trip for the brand that started in 1901 as Hendee Mfg Co. in Springfield Massachusetts.
And I’m not alone in thinking that Polaris is the last company who has any chance to revive the brand to its glory days.
But if the resurrection is to be successful, Indian will have to find a way to connect with enthusiast who values the intangibles as much as a reliable motorcycle.
The dealers will have a lot of that responsibility on them. They must work hard to foster a “community” of owners and realize their mission is more than just moving units out the door. Their mission must be to establish and nurture the “culture” of Indian motorcycle ownership.
If they do that, and Polaris commits to staying in for the long haul, then maybe, just maybe the pie will increase and we’ll introduce the Zen of motorcycling to a whole new generation.
Until next month, ride safe, and always take the road less traveled.
In honor of Tat Tuesday, (also known as Fat Tuesday) we wanted to bring you this story of a unique tattoo.
Lonnie Hannah has been riding Harley-Davidson’s for a long time and he’s been a loyal customer. But, his connection with Indian motorcycles goes back longer to when his father built an Indian from spare parts. Now Lonnie, (who started working for the new Indian motorcycle company) is getting the ink to show he’s ready to change brands.
Yes, this is a promotional video from Indian, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks like the Harley/Indian rivalry is back, in a big way. Is the market big enough for both? What do you think?
The Indian Motorcycle Engineering, Design and Development team as well as Scott Wine, CEO of parent company Polaris Industries have all signed a one of a kind Indian Chieftain gas tank. This piece of history is being auctioned to benefit the local Twin Cities YMCA, and is mounted in a Plexiglas display case. View the auction here https://give.ymcatwincities.
At the Indian Motorcycle display inside the International Motorcycle Show (IMS) at the Javits Center in New York City, Indian Motorcycle®, revealed a fully customized, Indian Chief Classic conceptualized and designed by Indian Motorcycle’s Industrial Design team. The “Big Chief Custom” is the first custom Indian Chief created around the 2014 models introduced with great fanfare at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally this past August.
Spearheaded by the head of Polaris Industries’ Industrial Design team Greg Brew, a small and dedicated team undertook the task of customizing a stock 2014 Indian Chief Classic. It features an array of Genuine Indian Motorcycle aftermarket accessories along with a custom paint scheme and billet girder front fork. This Big Chief Custom was designed to spark owners imagination on how to customize, enhance and personalize the 2014 Indian Chiefs.
One special highlight of the custom build is the billet aluminum girder front end that recalls the early Indian models. Designed, machined and built in-house, the girder fork features fully machined uprights and sand-blasted billet cross members with a custom 23-inch front wheel. The custom front valance fender maintains the classic look of the Indian Chief. A custom shock and headlight complete the front end package. Custom paint was applied in-house by team member Steve Leszinski with a multicolored theme from prior generations of Indian Motorcycles. Another nod to the long history of Indian Motorcycle is the springer style seat, though updated through a cantilevered design. Combined with the standard single rear shock, the Big Chief Custom promises to be a smooth ride.
The “Pinnacle Series” of Indian Motorcycle accessories on the Big Chief Custom includes the Cam Cover, Primary Cover, Chrome Grips and Beach Bars. The robust sounding Stage 1 exhaust sports Fish Tail Tips. Other custom accessories include War Bonnet Floorboard Pads, a Heel Shifter and chrome Rear Fender Bumper.
The “Big Chief Custom” will be on display in the Indian Motorcycle exhibit as part of the 2014 International Motorcycle Shows tour. Remaining tour stops include Novi, Michigan; Washington, DC; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; and Seattle, Washington.
The Display features the 2014 line of Indian Chief motorcycles including the Chief Classic, Chief Vintage and the Chieftain — Indians’ first-ever bagger. The display also includes the Spirit of Munro, a custom tribute to the legendary Burt Munro, and a display of vintage Indian motorcycles dubbed “Springfield Row” that will change from show to show. Additional features include an accessory and apparel display, a cut-away Thunder Stroke 111 engine and a rolling chassis that showcases the advanced technology underpinning all Indian Motorcycle models.
New York, NY — December 9, 2013 — Indian Motorcycle®, America’s first motorcycle company, today announced a series of compelling reasons members of the U.S. Armed Forces should make plans to visit the International Motorcycle Show this Saturday, December 14 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
On Saturday only, Indian Motorcycle is sponsoring free admission to the show as one small token of its appreciation to the dedicated men and women of the U.S. military. All personnel with a valid military ID will be admitted to the day’s festivities courtesy of Indian Motorcycle by presenting their credentials at the VIP Service Center.
Here are just a few of the many reasons military personnel won’t want to miss the day’s events:
Experience Indian Motorcycles – Past and Present
Stop by the all-new exhibit to check out the entire line of 2014 Indian Chief models including the Indian Chief Classic, theIndian Chief Vintage and the Indian Chieftain. Indian Motorcycle will feature a host of historically significant motorcycles including the ‘Spirit of Munro’ Streamliner, a one-of-a-kind custom vehicle built by Indian to pay homage to Burt Munro who famously rode into the history books on an Indian in 1962 at the Bonneville Salt Flats. Attendees will also enjoy “Springfield Row,” a line of fully restored pre-1953 era Indian bikes including a 1935 Indian Chief originally featured on HISTORY® Channel’s ‘American Pickers’ series, a 1948 Vintage Indian Chief, and more.
Check Out the ‘Jack Daniel’s Operation Ride Home’ Custom Bike to Benefit the U.S. Military
On Saturday, Indian Motorcycle will display a one-of-a-kind custom bike it has created to benefit U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families. In support of Jack Daniel’s ‘Operation Ride Home’ program, the company pulled the ‘No. 7’ serial number Indian Chief Vintage out of the first 1901 numbered motorcycles from its assembly line and partnered with Klock Werks in Mitchell, SD to create a special motorcycle. After this weekend, the bike heads to the Scottsdale, AZ Barrett-Jackson auction in January in support of Operation Ride Home and U.S. military families. Show attendees who wish to contribute to Operation Ride Home may donate in a special Jack Daniel’s whiskey barrel inside the Indian Motorcycle display.
Experience the Patriotism and Pure Power of Trumpet Virtuoso Dr. Jesse McGuire
Throughout the day on Saturday, trumpet player Dr. Jesse McGuire will play rousing renditions of patriotic-inspired music in the Indian Motorcycle display. Dr. McGuire has performed for three U.S. presidents, and his amazing rendition of the National Anthem has been heard across the country at dozens of major professional sporting events.
Take Advantage of a $1,000 Military Incentive on the all-new 2014 Indian Chief Lineup
Indian Motorcycle is proud to offer members of the U.S. Military a $1,000 incentive on the purchase of any of the three exciting new 2014 Indian Chief models. Stop by the Indian Motorcycle exhibit this weekend to learn more, or to take advantage of this special program in honor of the proud and dedicated members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Hear the Roar of the Thunder Stroke 111 Engine
Throughout the event, Indian Motorcycle will highlight the inspiring design and power of the new Thunder Stroke 111 engine, the heartbeat of the 2014 Indian Chiefs. The exhibit will feature a cut-away version of the new engine to demonstrate the engineering prowess behind the new power plant, and attendees will hear the roar of the new engine through the accessory Stage 1 exhaust available for all 2014 Indian Chiefs.
See the Brand-New Custom Indian Chief Classic
Attendees at the New York IMS show will be treated to a special new bike: A custom 2014 Chief Classic designed by the Indian Motorcycle Industrial Design team led by Greg Brew. Incorporating a number of accessories currently available for the Chiefs as well as a custom paint scheme and several unique features, this bike is sure to inspire the custom builder in everyone.
Explore the 2014 Lineup of Indian Motorcycle Apparel and Accessories
Selections from the new 2014 Indian Motorcycle apparel line will be available for purchase, including casual wear, hats and holiday gifts. Fully accessorized bikes will also be on display highlighting the array of accessories for the 2014 Chiefs.
Most brands don’t give you a full fledged sales pitch at the demo rides. Indian, on the other hand, takes advantage of the opportunity to inform their prospective customers of the benefits and features of the brand. As the model offering expands, it’s not going to be something they will be able to continue to do, but kudos to the marketing staff for doing it while they can. As you can see in the video, it’s informative and designed to sell the value of owning the Indian over other brands. Additionally, the presentation does a good job of explaining why the bike feels so well balanced (right side drive) and how Polaris used the latest technology to enhance the ride experience.
In 2011, Polaris bought the Indian brand. Then they moved the plant from North Carolina to Spirit Lake Iowa and began gearing up for production. This past March, in Bike Week they released the engine and now in Sturgis they’ve unveiled these bikes. What do you think? Winner or dud?
We’ve embedded two separate polls. One for Harley-Davidson owners and one for everyone else. We”re curious to see the difference in opinions from those who own the Bar and Shield versus everyone else.
Hello to my friends in the Powersports Industry. One of my most proud career moments is upon us – the release of a short film that captures the enthusiasm, work ethic and commitment by those connected to the Indian Motorcycle brand through the Spirit of Munro tribute motorcycle. Below you will find links to the film itself as well as a behind the scenes mini documentary that lets you visit with some of the amazingly creative people behind this work.
I must give credit and the utmost respect to my friends who made this project possible. As I have managed the program and proudly unveiled it in Daytona Beach in March, it has grown to be seen and appreciated at an International level and has been lauded with many kind words and the support of Indian Motorcycle fans. Jeb Scolman of Jeb’s Metal and Speed in Long Beach California was tasked to build this machine around a prototype Thunder Stroke 111. Jeb did so with three solid months of 18 hour days, taking only Christmas day off, building a truly stunning tribute machine to Burt Munro and the spirit of those who choose to do rather than just watch from the sidelines. It’s a remarkable piece of work that must be seen to be appreciated. It will be on display in Sturgis this summer as we launch the new Indian Chief.
Also requiring credit are Polaris Industries media team members David Shelleny and Mark Nevils who took on pushing the film project through Polaris Industries. Commitment is one thing – but it takes money to make something as beautiful as this film – and they asked favors of suppliers and pushed our managers for final approval and a budget – the results are worth putting their necks on the line as you will see. Adam Brummond and the crew from The Factory did an outstanding job in interpreting our shared vision in the final piece, also calling favors and assembling a committed, talented and rugged crew. Credit Barry Hathaway for some remarkable photos and his own commitment to the project as he documented the secret build for months as well as shot the images of the bike in motion. Todd Eagan accepted the challenge of riding the untested bike on the dry lake. The first time power was applied in gear was on that dry lake. Jeb’s work shone through as the bike tracked perfectly straight. While we certainly were not going for high speeds for the film – Todd told me after two runs “It’s perfect and man does she want to GO!” We estimate speeds on subsequent runs just topping 100 miles per hour. And yes, there is plenty left.
This complete film project was shot in only two days. It took guts to makes the commitments, skill to tell the story and faith in people that it would represent what is truly a key piece in the long history of motorcycling. This is the first motorcycle to be publically seen powered by the Thunder Stroke 111, and the Spirit of Munro film captures the legacy of this great brand while pushing it forward to the future. - Robert Pandya
“We are honored to make today’s important announcements at this time, as it was roughly 112 years ago that the very first Indian Motorcycle prototype was demonstrated to the press on the streets in Springfield, Massachusetts,” said Vice President of Polaris Motorcycles Steve Menneto. “We’re especially proud to reveal that our inaugural model will be the iconic Indian Chief. Riders around the world will be thrilled to know their choice in American motorcycles will now come in the form of an all-new Indian Chief.”
In addition to announcing the first model to come out of the Spirit Lake, Iowa production plant, pricing for the all-new 2014 Indian Chief will start at an MSRP of $18,999. Inventory is expected to be available at Indian Motorcycle dealerships throughout North America later in the year. Additional Indian Motorcycle dealerships will be opening across the country this summer to accommodate bike demand and service needs.
This pricing sends a clear message that Indian intends to compete for a larger motorcycle share than industry analysts first thought. It has been widely rumored that Indian would focus on the “luxury” motorcycle market segment with bikes that start in the $25 to $30,000 range.
“When Polaris Industries acquired this brand two years ago, our goal from the outset was to leverage our engineering, manufacturing and operational prowess as a market leader in powersports to design and build a truly exceptional motorcycle that represents the perfect balance of legendary heritage and brilliant, state-of-the-art engineering and technology,” continued Menneto. “All of us at Indian Motorcycle are very proud to offer the 2014 Indian Chief at a starting price of $18,999. We set out to make the power and heritage of this beautiful new bike available at a price point that is competitive and more accessible to people who are looking for authenticity and choice in American motorcycles.”
At this price point, Indian will compete directly with Victory and Harley-Davidson in the large cruiser segment.
The new Indian Chief will be revealed at the 73rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which runs August 3-11, 2013. Specific details on the launch timing will be announced this summer. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the world’s largest motorcycle rally, was started in 1936 by an Indian Motorcycle club, the famed Jackpine Gypsies. Indian Motorcycle is proud to reclaim that heritage and share the historic reveal of the 2014 Indian Chief with the rider community at the 2013 Sturgis Rally.
For more information please visit www.indianmotorcycle.com, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/
ABOUT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE
Indian Motorcycle, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE: PII), is America’s first motorcycle company. Founded in 1901, Indian Motorcycle has won the hearts of motorcyclists around the world and earned distinction as one of America’s most legendary and iconic brands through unrivaled racing dominance, engineering prowess and countless innovations and industry firsts. Today that heritage and passion is reignited under new brand stewardship. To learn more, please visit www.indianmotorcycle.com.
ABOUT POLARIS INDUSTRIES
Polaris is a recognized leader in the powersports industry with annual 2012 sales of $3.2 billion. Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets innovative, high quality off-road vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris RANGER® and RZR® side-by-side vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles and on-road electric/hybrid powered vehicles.
Polaris is among the global sales leaders for both snowmobiles and off-road vehicles and has established a presence in the heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle market with the Victory and Indian motorcycle brands. Additionally, Polaris continues to invest in the global on-road small electric/hybrid powered vehicle industry with Global Electric Motorcars (GEM), Goupil Industrie SA, and internally developed vehicles. Polaris enhances the riding experience with a complete line of Polaris and KLIM branded apparel and Polaris accessories and parts.
Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII”, and the Company is included in the S&P Mid-Cap 400 stock price index.
Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime at www.polaris.com.