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President - Starklite Cycle

Here’s Why Indian Motorcycles Is Growing While the Competition Struggles

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Indian's marketing director shares with us the secret to the iconic brand's renaissance.

It’s hard to talk about the motorcycle industry in 2017 without talking about Indian Motorcycles. Sales for the Polaris-owned brand have been soaring with double-digit growth while another American cruiser brand which will remain nameless is struggling. Motorcycle sales in the States are down overall but that hasn’t stopped Indian from growing its market share in big bikes from three percent to ten percent in just one year. The boys in Milwaukee still have a comfortable lead in the segment, but the gap is closing faster than anyone could have predicted.

So what’s the secret? What’s the special sauce behind Indian’s success? We reached out to Indian’s marketing director Reid Wilson to find out.

“There are a variety of factors that we believe have played a role in our ability to outperform the industry throughout 2017, no less of which is momentum,” said Reid. “We’ve been able to sustain and build upon the significant momentum we established with key product line introductions in recent years, including Scout and Chieftain, both of which remain consistent performers for us.”

Indeed, the Scout has become a segment leader in entry-level cruisers terms of power, engineering, and style at a competitive price. The Chieftain does everything a touring bike is supposed to do. It’s big on long-distance comfort, modern technology, retro/modern style, and enough special editions to keep it interesting.

“We’ve built on that momentum with a careful balance of commitment to our heritage, coupled with a focus on modern design and performance,” said Reid speaking further to the brand’s momentum. To me, this statement hits the nail on the head for Indian. The brand has found the perfect blend of looking back to its heritage and looking forward to its future. Indian injects just enough “heritage” into its bikes without getting too hung up on it while giving the bikes enough new-school flair and class-leading performance to stay truly modern and competitive. Nobody would mistake a 2017 Indian for a model from 30 years ago, which is something not all American cruiser brands can claim.

That’s a great ethos, so how does it play out in practice? “Examples of this would be successful modifications to some of our popular models, such as injecting the Chieftain platform with a heightened level of attitude through the introduction of the 19-inch wheel and open fender, or the limited edition ‘Elite’ series models for Chieftain and Roadmaster, as well as our popular limited-edition collaborations with Jack Daniel’s,” said Reid. “At the same time, the new Scout Bobber was designed to appeal to a younger consumer that’s seeking a more nimble, aggressive type of cruiser. For that reason, we launched the bike at X-Games in Minneapolis at a huge party we hosted for the top action sports athletes and, overall, the launch has been extremely successful for us.”

Another thing about Indian that’s impossible to ignore is its dominant success in flat track racing having recently won the grand national title. “The investment and commitment we’ve poured into Indian Motorcycle Racing in the American Flat Track series is paying off, reminding riders that our brand remains one grounded in the highest levels of innovation and performance,” said Reid.

We asked Indian what the brand is planning on doing to continue this momentum. “First, and foremost, we will be maintaining our steadfast dedication to the customer, providing a product that consistently delivers in terms of timeless style, unmatched quality, and performance. These characteristics will remain the cornerstone of the Indian brand,” said Reid. “We will also honor the spirit of innovation and exploration that the Indian brand was founded upon more than a century ago, venturing into new categories with new models that push forward and expand Indian’s relevance with a wider range of riders.” To put it simply, Indian figured out a winning formula and it’s sticking to it.

Any brand that’s old enough can hang its hat on “heritage” and “character” and call it a day. But that isn’t cutting it anymore. Indian is proving that it takes more than a “Since 1901” inscription on the engine to sell bikes. The motorcycles have to be truly new and innovative while proving their performance, sometimes by becoming flat track champions. If the competition can’t keep up, it will continue losing relevance until Indian is king again for the first time in about century.
Source: Here’s Why Indian Motorcycles Is Growing While the Competition Struggles

Jack Daniels Indian Scout Bobber Nets $28,000 at Charity Auction

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When Indian Motorcycle unveiled the limited-edition Jack Daniel’s Indian Scout Bobber back in March, the 177 individually numbered models were sold out in under 10 minutes. The motorcycle drew inspiration from the Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade, and it was the culmination of a collaborative build between Jack Daniel’s, Indian, and Klock Werks Kustom Cycles. It’s a tribute to firefighters and first responders across the country and the globe, so it’s fitting that Indian Motorcycle reserved one of its hot-ticket, $16,999-price-tag-wearing motorcycles to be auctioned off. Indian donated the Jack Daniel’s Scout Bobber to Firefighters For Healing, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children impacted by burn trauma and their families. Proceeds raised from the organization’s annual Red Tie Gala will provide care for burn survivors and firefighters in Minnesota. The Jack Daniel’s Scout Bobber was subject to a summer-long auction; the closing price settled at $28,000. “Firefighters For Healing

Source: Jack Daniels Indian Scout Bobber Nets $28,000 at Charity Auction | | Motorcycle Reviews, Forums, and News – AIMag.com

2019 Indian Chieftain Test Ride And Review: Straddling The Line

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2019 Indian Chieftain Test Ride And Review: Straddling The Line

Brand heritage cuts both ways. It can enhance customer loyalty, binding longtime fans to new offerings based on past experiences. It can also strangle development, as the appetite of loyal fans must be fed. Indian Motorcycle found a way to straddle this line with the redesigned 2019 Indian Chieftain lineup.

In case you need a refresher – Indian Motorcycle was originally founded in 1901, predating rival Harley-Davidson by two years. Indian thrived through the first part of the Twentieth Century, then stumbled in the post-World War II years, ultimately caving to bankruptcy in 1953. Multiple attempts were made to keep the brand alive over the next seven decades, with the Indian logo appearing on a variety of motorcycles during that period. From 1999 to 2003, a Gilroy, California-based Indian Motorcycle Company of America (IMCOA) produced a lineup of Harley-Davidson clones dressed as Indian bikes, while preparing to launch an all-new Indian. But it was not to be, as the financial tides forced a sudden closure in 2003. In 2006, private equity firm Stellican acquired the rights to the Indian name and backed a new facility in Kings Mountain, North Carolina to build a continuation of the IMCOA bikes. By 2009, the folks in Kings Mountain had developed a proprietary engine, the Powerplus V-Twin that IMCOA had sketched out in Gilroy, and limited production commenced. In 2011, Minnesota-based Polaris, parent company to the Victory Motorcycle brand, purchased Indian from Stellican and the Kings Mountain investors, and moved production to Spirit Lake, Iowa. Polaris quickly assembled a team of engineers and designers, and developed an all-new Indian Chief and Indian Chieftain, which debuted as 2014 models. In 2017, Polaris announced that production of Victory motorcycles would cease, and that the parent company would instead focus its energies on the future of Indian Motorcycle. The Indian lineup has expanded to include the Roadmaster, Scout, Scout Sixty, Springfield, and several variants. The company recently revealed the all-new FTR 1200, adding a new race-inspired model to its lineup.

Chieftain is a bagger with a fairing, two-up seating and locking hard saddlebags. There will be four versions of Chieftain for 2019: Chieftain (starting at $21,999); Chieftain Dark Horse (starting at $25,999); Chieftain Limited (starting at $25,999) and Chieftain Classic (starting at $24,999).

Chieftain Classic is pretty much a carryover model, featuring the Art Deco styling of the original bike. It shares the mechanical bits (engine, transmission, electronics) with the new Chieftains, but retains the classic tin and 16-inch cast wheels front and rear. The front fender is deeply valanced, and crowned with a chromed illuminated Indian head-dress marker light.

The other three Chieftain models get a newly streamlined and restyled fairing, seat and hard saddlebags. A 19-inch 10-spoke cast wheel in front wears an open fender with an illuminated Indian head-dress ornament that is 20% smaller than the Classic’s. The fork-mounted fairing has been completely redesigned. It is smaller than before, with sharper lines and less trim. The driving lights have been eliminated in favor of a single LED headlamp that is frenched in. Twin turn signals are mounted low on the sides of the fairing, even with the bottom rim of the headlamp. A horizontal vent slot appears below the windshield. A power-adjustable windshield raises and lowers via grip-mounted controls. Side-view mirrors poke out from behind the fairing, sprouting on stalks fixed to the handlebars. The restyled saddlebags are longer and lower than before (but with slightly greater volume, 18.2 gallons vs 17.2 gallons), with sharp lines and edges that match the new fairing. Color-matched closeouts fill the gaps between the bags and the rear fender. The new saddlebags are no longer fitted with a quick-release – you now have to use a wrench to unbolt them. Indian says that their research showed that few owners ever removed their Chieftain saddlebags, so the feature was deemed unnecessary.

A new seat, which Indian calls “Rogue gunfighter,” is a sleek, trim unit with an elevated pillion portion and less overhang than the Classic model. The 5.5-gallon fuel tanks are branded with distinctive applied Indian head-dress badging (as opposed to the painted emblem on Classic).
The total effect of the makeover is dramatic. The new Chieftain suddenly looks thoroughly modern and sleek. While the appeal of the Art Deco Chieftain Classic is still undeniable, it suddenly looks a bit stodgy sitting next to its trim sibling. Without abandoning its roots, Indian has found a way to bring the Chieftain up to date beautifully.
The makeover comes with attendant technology upgrades, too. The base Chieftain gets the same seven-inch touchscreen with a 100-watt audio system with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth and a USB input, while Ride Command, Indian’s infotainment system, comes as standard equipment on Chieftain Dark Horse, Limited and Classic. Ride Command’s GPS navigation system and customizable split-screens work without a hitch, and now include the capability of storing up to 100 navigation waypoints in a Custom Route Builder function.

The 1,811-cc (111-cubic-inch) Thunder Stroke 111 engine is a 49-degree V-twin that is air/oil-cooled, and is tuned to produce 119 lb-ft of torque (Indian doesn’t quote horsepower figures). The engine now features automatic rear-cylinder deactivation, designed to reduce engine heat at idle. That will be welcome during low-speed operation in summer months, when paddling through traffic can be quite uncomfortable. The six-speed manual transmission snicks through the gears smoothly, and clutch effort is light and manageable. Final drive is by belt, which requires minimal maintenance. Three ride modes (Tour, Standard and Sport) are accessible on the fly via the infotainment screen. Thanks to ride-by-wire throttle control, the system maps distinct throttle behaviors to match the rider’s preferences and riding style. Ride mode settings are retained when the ignition is restarted, so you don’t have to re-select your preferred mode each time you ride.
Front suspension is handled by a 46-mm telescopic fork with 4.7 inches of travel, while the rear single shock is air-adjustable and has 4.5 inches of travel.

Of course, there are upgrades available for the Chieftain lineup. If you’re looking for more power, you can swap in a Stage 1 Exhaust, a Thunder Stroke Stage 1 Performance Air Filter, and/or Thunder Stroke Stage 2 Performance Cams. Even more grunt is available with the Thunder Stroke 116-ci Stage 3 Big Bore Kit, which adds 20 percent more horsepower and 20 percent more torque to the package. Styling upgrades and custom fit options, including four styles of exhaust tips, mid-rise handlebar and an extended reach seat, are also available. A powerful new audio upgrade, Powerband Audio, adds amplification to each speaker and saddlebag-mounted speaker options. The system delivers an impressive increase in volume with great clarity.

During a two-day ride in Washington State, I got a chance to ride each version of the 2019 Chieftain, along with a stint on an accessorized bike fitted with the 116-ci Big Bore Kit. The sleek new design and 19-inch front wheel makes the bike feel lighter and more maneuverable (actual weight of the Chieftain vs Chieftain Classic is 790 lbs vs 808 lbs). The stock bike has plenty of power and a great sound, and handles beautifully, tracking solidly through curves and smoothly along straightaways. The suspension is stiff but not harsh, which makes it easy to ride assertively. Over the course of a couple of 200-mile days, the Rogue seat was comfortable, though at six-feet two-inches tall, I would have welcomed the extended reach version for a little more legroom. Riding the hopped-up Big Bore-kitted bike, I loved the additional horsepower, but I would probably leave that option for later, after putting some substantial miles on the bike in stock form. I appreciated the convenience features, like keyless ignition that let me keep the fob in my pocket, and power-locking saddlebags.

Indian will always be measured against its rival Harley-Davidson. If Chieftain has a direct competitor in the H-D lineup, it is the Street Glide (starting at $21,289). Chieftain, with its sophisticated frame and 4.5 inches of rear travel (vs Street Glide’s 2.1 inches), outhandles Street Glide, and comes with standard ABS (a $795 option on Street Glide), and the Thunder Stroke 111 bests the Milwaukee-Eight 107 by 8 lb-ft of torque. Styling is always a matter of taste, and I’d call it a draw. Harley-Davidson has the heritage edge, by virtue of continuous production since 1903 vs Indian’s interrupted and acquired lineage, and that matters to a lot of people.
If you judge a bike on its current merits, the 2019 Indian Chieftain is a winner, and a bike I’d be proud to host in my garage. I’d choose the Chieftain Dark Horse, the most striking styling exercise in the class.

have reviewed hundreds of cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, minivans and motorcycles for a wide assortment of magazines and websites. If it’s got wheels and an engine, I want to drive it or ride it, and then write about it.

The Worlds Fastest Indian Trailer

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If you haven’t watched the movie or trailer for awhile. Give it a look again and remind yourself how much fun this movie is to watch! As a sidenote Anthony Hopkins is great as Burt Munro!

100 Year Old Indian – Getting ready for a ride

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Dale & Matt Walkser preparing a 100 year old Indian for a ride after sitting for over 80 years!

Indian FTR1200 Race Bike to Concept to Production

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Ever since Indian Motorcycle was revived by Polaris, the American motorcycle brand’s lineup of products has been growing fast. However, there’s one thing that all Indians have in common, from the entry-level Scout Sixty up to the luxurious Roadmaster Elite: they’re all cruisers. Since the brand is positioned to go toe-to-toe with another century-old name in American motorcycles, the new Indian Motorcycle has been competing exclusively in those segments, and it’s actually done a pretty nice job scraping out a market share for itself.
But for a while now, we’ve been hearing Indian promise that greater product diversity was on the way. Indian Motorcycle marketing and product director Reid Wilson told The Drive a year ago that the company would be “venturing into new categories with new models that push forward and expand Indian’s relevance with a wider range of riders.” A month later, Indian pulled the wraps off of the FTR1200 Custom concept bike, a motorcycle for the street that’s heavily influenced by the dominant FTR750 race bike that’s won that last two American Flat Track titles.

The concept was a hit and got a lot of attention, prompting Indian to confirm a production model in June and unveil the official FTR 1200 and FTR 1200 S production models this month. We went to the massive Intermot motorcycle show in Cologne, Germany where the bike was unveiled and had a chance to talk to a few big shots at Indian Motorcycle about how one of the most important American motorcycles in years went from a dominant flat tracker to a stunning concept to the first non-cruiser in Indian’s modern history.

One of those big shots was Wilson, the same guy who told us a year ago to expect a more diverse lineup from Indian. “You’d like to think it was a really clear and simple path, but we started working on this bike in March of 2016,” he said. “You make compromises and you figure out the best way to express [the spirit of the FTR750] in a way that is relevant for a street rider for something that will work on an everyday basis, but will still maintain the essence of the race bike.”
So it sounds like a production bike was the plan all along ever since Indian got back into flat track racing. It just so happens that Indian built a very good race bike and a concept that was extremely well-received, both of which aided in building hype around a bike that you’ll actually be able to buy.

Eric Brandt
Flat track champ Jared Mees aboard the FTR 1200 with some very enthusiastic Indian fans behind him.
Wilson went on to talk about how Indian surveyed the globe and spoke with thousands of riders about what they would want to see in a performance-oriented motorcycle from an American brand. Based on that feedback, the FTR1200 Custom concept was born. I asked Wilson about some of the challenges involved in turning the concept bike into a production bike.
“Exhaust is always challenging just due to the regulatory challenges we face. This is a global bike so we have to adhere to a wide array of countries’ standards,” he said, highlighting of one of the most noticeable differences between the concept and the production model. “The FTR1200 Custom is a very pure motorcycle, but it’s not a motorcycle you’d want to ride more than a couple hours at most. But you get on [the production bike] and you could ride this thing cross-country without a lot of compromises in terms of comfort. It’s quite friendly to the customer in terms of comfort and performance.”
Wilson went on to speak of the overall significance the FTR 1200 will hold in the American motorcycle industry. “The significance of this motorcycle is massive. I’m almost 40 and I grew up dreaming about this motorcycle from an American brand my entire life. To be able to work on it is a dream.”

Indian Motorcycle
2019 Indian FTR 1200 S
Next up was industrial designer Rich Christoph, the man who designed the FTR750, the FTR1200 Custom, and the FTR 1200 production bike. He detailed the importance of starting with a race bike and designing a street form around it.
“Thank God we went racing to begin with,” he said. “It would be really easy to just keep doing the same basic cruiser stuff and not get involved in flat track racing, but we challenged ourselves to raise the bar. We knew that racing would improve chassis development and powertrain development that got us information we can deliver back to the customers on our street bikes.”
“I was trying to capture the championship lines and the shape of the tank and carry those lines, silhouette, and proportions into the FTR1200 Custom. I had nobody in the way telling me what I could and couldn’t do. There were no restrictions. It was just pure sculpture, pure emotion, and pure mechanics.”
For anyone disappointed that the production FTR doesn’t look more like the concept, Christoph explained to me why they couldn’t just mass-produce the concept. “What I may have done is done it a little too well. Now you’ve gotta take that bike and dissect it. You need to cut a seat and real fuel volumes out of that silhouette. The 1200 Custom had high pipes on it and you’d burn your leg after about 20 km and at about 25 km you’d run out of gas. And it would be about $95,000 to build that and sell it on the street.”

Indian Motorcycle
Indian FTR1200 Custom
You hear that, naysayers? If you got a carbon-copy of the production bike in dealers like you wanted, it would almost have a six-digit price tag, not to mention its various practical disadvantages.
“All of those design challenges in making a real motorcycle at a cost that the customer is actually willing to pay for and fall in love with is a very delicate balance and it’s a big challenge,” said Christoph.
That design challenge was completely worth it, Indian’s international product director Ben Lindemann told me, expanding on the importance of the brand exploring segments outside of its bread-and-butter cruisers and diving into racing.
“As a brand, we were always known for racing,” said Lindeman. “When [Polaris] bought [Indian] in 2011 it was important to us from the beginning to get back into racing. Coupled with that, we wanted to grow outside of our traditional segments of cruiser, bagger, and touring bikes. We wanted to get into segments that are growing in the U.S. and are also really big internationally.”


“About four years ago we said ‘okay, let’s do a race bike and then let’s leverage that race bike to build a street bike.’ Once we did the race bike we got a lot of feedback and people loved how it looked so we knew we were on the right path.”

Indian Motorcycle- Jared Mees doing a burnout at the unveiling of the FTR 1200
But it isn’t just visual similarities that the race bike shares with the production model. Although they share zero components, the FTR 1200 actually got some mechanical inspiration from the FTR750 as well. “The airbox on the FTR 1200 is directly above the throttle bodies just like on the race bike,” Lindemann pointed out. “We ended up packaging the fuel under the seat which gave us more advantages. It lowered our center of gravity and made the bike more agile.” Another mechanical similarity is in the bike’s swingarm, whose tubular steel design matches the race bike as well.
Lindemann went on to talk about the four priorities Indian had when designing the street bike. It needed to look like the race bike, it needed to be fun, it needed to have character, and it needed to be customizable. Indian believes that with this formula, the FTR 1200 will be a hit that can set the stage for further diversity in the brand’s lineup.
That leads me to the one question I asked all three of the important people at Indian Motorcycle that I spoke with. Since Indian is making it sound like the FTR 1200 is the first of multiple bikes to use this engine and this platform, I asked what Indian can tell us about the future of this new platform. All three answers made me giddy so here they are verbatim:
WILSON: “You’ll definitely see more. When you ride the bike, you can feel where it can go and I’ll leave that to your own interpretation when you get to ride the bike. You can see the potential in it and this will be one of many bikes coming over the next coming years. It’s an amazing platform that has a lot of flexibility to go a lot of different places and it’s going to be a really fun couple years.”
CHRISTOPH: “We’re exploring everything. I would say nothing’s off the table. You can kind of look at the bike and you can imagine what its variants may be. I can’t say anything specific, but we’re not done. We’re just getting started.”
LINDEMANN: “It’s a very capable platform. We think the Indian brand can play in any segment. We talked to a lot of customers and they feel like it’s a brand that resonated outside of cruiser/bagger/tour. We think from a customer readiness and market readiness standpoint, we can go in any segment we want. We designed this platform to be capable of doing a lot of things. We have an exciting future with this platform and we’ve got a lot of other great news coming as well.”

 

Indian Motorcycle
2019 Indian FTR 1200 S
My personal translation: Indian is probably working on an adventure bike with this platform. After seeing it in person, it’s very easy to visualize different styling, suspension, tires, ergonomics, etc to morph this platform into a bona fide ADV. It’s a very hot segment and it’s one that Harley-Davidson is about to get into with the Pan America. For Indian, the platform and engine are already done and the brand might even be able to bring an adventure bike to market sooner than the Pan America shows up, which is supposed to be in 2020. Of course, this is just my own speculation, and time will ultimately tell.
From the styling to the pricing to the spec sheet, it sure seems like Indian knocked it out of the park with the FTR 1200. If this thing’s real-life performance is as good as we hope it is, we think Indian Motorcycle will have a global winner on its hands when this bike hits dealers next spring

Indian 101 Scout with Jay Leno

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Jay Leno Explains the Indian 101 Scout Motorcycle

2 Kids & Their Indian Motorcycle

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Bud (Louis) and Temple, who aged 14 and 10, bought an Indian Motorcycle with money they earned from riding on horseback adventures across the USA.

The brothers’ first horseback adventure was from Oklahoma to New Mexico aged 9 and 5. Their father, a US marshall and friend of Roosevelt, came up with the idea saying they needed to “toughen up”.

On July 10, 1909, (eight years after Indian Motorcycle was founded) the brothers Bud and Temple saddled up their horses (called Geronimo and Sam) and set off for Roswell in New Mexico – alone.

 A year later in 1910, the two young Abernathy kids set out from Oklahoma again, but this time headed for New York where they would meet Roosevelt who was returning from a hunting trip in Africa.

This adventure had huge media attention with the entire nation country following the brothers in newspaper reports.

When the brothers arrived in New York City on June 11 1910 they were greeted by a crowd of several thousand people (and their father Jack Abernathy).

For the return trip back home to Oklahoma, the boys bought a Brush Motor Car and drove home, once again on their own.

A further year later, in 1911, they accepted a challenge to ride horses from New York City to San Francisco in under 60 days. The rules stated they couldn’t sleep or eat indoors during the entire journey and there was a $10,000 prize if they succeeded. Sadly, they were two days late.

Despite missing out on the $10,000 prize money, the pair had earned a fair sum from their notoriety and they bought an Indian motorcycle.

In 1913, they rode it together from Oklahoma to New York (Bud was 14 and Temple 10). Their stepbrother Anton went along with them too.

Their ride to New York on the Indian was their last documented adventure. Louis grew up to become a lawyer and practice law in Wichita Falls, Texas. He died in 1979. Temple worked in the oil industry and passed away in 1986.