Indian Motorcycle: Reclaiming Former Glory

The rebirth of Indian Motorcycles is something the two-wheeled community has been watching with bated breath since Polaris announced its new model lineup back in 2013. The question for enthusiasts was whether Indian could build bikes that would draw the faithful hordes away from Harley. Fast forward to today and it’s clear that Indian has no intentions of imitating its most stalwart rival. Instead, Indian is leading the drive for a more innovative future of the American-made cruiser market.

At this year’s AIMExpo in Columbus, Ohio I was able to speak with the Head of Marketing for Indian, Reid Wilson, about the future of the brand. With the current year having an 18% uptick in sales over the previous, it would be easy for a company to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Reid commented that this would certainly not be the case for Indian. From the start, Polaris had developed a plan for Indian that focused on listening to what consumers were asking for, innovating to build better and better bikes, and staying true to their mission regardless of what other brands were doing.

Walking to the beat of their own drum has served Indian quite well, and has made the experience of owning and purchasing a motorcycle different than it ever has been. While other manufacturers throw dollops of style at their bikes and dealers, Indian has been infused with it from the start. From the clothes and gear hanging on the walls to the bikes themselves–owning an Indian is cool.

Style isn’t the foundation of a quality bike though, and Polaris has made sure you won’t see many Indians stranded on the side of the road. Putting the necessary development into Indian after the 2011 acquisition was exactly the right move, and it’s paying off in spades with their efforts in flat track racing. It could be a coincidence, but after Indian began its foray into the flat tracker scene, the sport blew up in popularity. Maybe this has something to do with Americans being excited to see the revival of an old pastime, or maybe it’s just phenomenal marketing. Either way, it’s good for motorcycling. When I asked Reid about the possibility of seeing a slightly more affordable road-going version of the $45k FTR 750 that’s currently available, he looked around and, with a mischievous grin, said “that would make a ton of sense.”

Keeping their cards close has served Indian well, so expecting more would be out of character—and out of character is the last thing I want from Indian. Much like the new life they breathed into flat track racing, Indian is helping the motorcycling community appeal to new masses.

Building bikes that the average non-rider can appreciate is a testament to Indian’s quality of design. Bikes like the new Scout Bobber evoke some deep-seeded resonance with the James Dean in all of us, and that’s what makes motorcycling so good. Because it’s with four wheels that we move the body, but two wheels are what move the soul–and Indian is packing a whole lot of soul.

Photos Via: Indian Motorcycles

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