Polaris buys Indian

With Indian's classic name behind them, Polaris should be ready to take on all cruiser competition.
With Indian's classic name behind them, Polaris should be ready to take on all cruiser competition.

Indian Motorcycles moved to a new stage yesterday in the company’s always-changing history, when Victory’s parent company Polaris announced they were buying the classic motorcycle marque.

In a press release, Polaris CEO Scott Wine said his company was excited to buy the famous bike name, and they figured they could deliver an improved Indian to buyers.

“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,” said Wine.

The news may come as a surprise to many, but in some ways it makes perfect sense; Indian has seen hard times since it first closed its doors back in the 1950s. Several owners have tried to revive the company since then, but none with the clout – or market success – that Polaris/Victory has. This could finally be the stability Indian needs to put the past 60 years of turmoil behind them.

From Polaris’s perspective, this is a great move. While some motorcycle manufacturers have been crippled by the global recession, Victory has simply grown stronger and stronger. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports the company just released solid first quarter earnings, with sales of $537 million instead of $421 million. What better way to use that extra cash than buying one of motorcycling’s most legendary names? The Indian label will allow the company to compete with even Harley-Davidson purists who might dismiss a Victory because it lacks a hundred years of history behind it.

With bikes like the Kingpin, Victory has some of the boldest bike styling today, just like Indian bikes with their Art Deco fenders had the boldest styling of the 1940s and 1950s.

Indian Motorcycles chairman Stephen Julius put it best.

“Polaris is the most logical owner of Indian Motorcycle,” Julius said. “Indian’s heritage brand will allow Polaris to aggressively compete across an expanded spectrum of the motorcycle market.”

Don’t expect a merger between Victory and Polaris in the coming months, though; the plan is to keep Victory as an autonomous unit, at least at this point.


  1. I am 46, not really a baby boomer and have ridden sport and cruisers. Fact is most cruisers are getting the same mileage as the “lighter” bikes. How do I know, I ride with them. I ride a Victory, and since I am older and spent too much time on the ground in the military, I find the cruising position more favorable. I am not nice to my bike, it is not a show queen. I ride from march to November and all I have to do is change the oil. I don’t go in for warranty service because it is not required. I will argue that there is a market for cruisers. I hope as you have said, Indian markets an affordable bike.

  2. saying that era of big heavy Cruisers is over is like saying naked standard bikes are great. I hear both a lot. Standards never sell here and Cruisers are everywhere. The Indian display at the January Bike show was swamped. Big (and in my opinion stupid) they may be. There is a market for them.

  3. DougD, I think you’re right on both counts. My fear is that Indian will become a premium brand that’s priced beyond the reach of the average Joe. Anybody can afford a Sportster; I hope the new Indian lineup includes a similar model.

  4. Yeah Singletrack, that cruiser train has left the station a couple of years ago.
    On the other hand, if Polaris can make a proper go of it we won’t have to be collectively embarrased by the zombified corpse of Indian staggering around with it’s pants down.

  5. Also from the Press Release: “… to complete the mission we undertook upon re-launching the brand in 2006: harness the enormous potential of the Indian brand,” said Stephen Julius, chairman of Indian …
    Enormous potential ?? – who, the ‘enormous’ Baby Boom generation that is already moving beyond ‘enormous’ cruisers that look like relics from their grandparents generation? Don’t expect many Gen X, Y or Z buyers.

    On a related note – I always wondered why Polaris decided not to use the Polaris name on their motorcycles. Is there so little cachet, or equity in the Polaris name?

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