Although I wasn’t born until 1956, and Indian Motorcycle ceased production in 1953, I vividly remember seeing those big Indians roam the streets of Dallas when I was growing up. I’ve always been fascinated with motorcycles, and the Indians always seemed a little cooler than other bikes on the road.
My first real memory of Indian motorcycles come by way of my heavy drinking, drag-racing neighbor, Jack. Sometimes when Jack got drunk, he’d pull out one of his drag cars and run it up and down the street. It was pretty cool, so my dad and the other dads in our neighborhood would encourage Jack to fire it up. The women didn’t like it one bit, and didn’t allow us kids to hang out at Jack’s garage, but we did anyway (he had pictures of topless women hanging in his garage — see, told you he was cool).
I always thought the drag cars were great, but Jack also had an old Indian Chief that I really thought was beyond cool. So while my pals were climbing all over Jack’s ‘69 Camaro, I was in love with the Chief.
I was only 14 years old, but I wanted an Indian bad. Jack would let me sit on it and I would imagine myself riding that Indian with a good-looking gal on the back. I’d be chewing on a toothpick and weaving that big ol’ Chief in and out of traffic with my sideburns blowing in the breeze. Hey, I was only 14.
Since then, Indian Motorcycle has been through several owners and a couple of comeback attempts. Over the years I have been approached about becoming an Indian dealer.
When it was Gilroy Indian, I expressed some interest in adding them to my shop until the idiot sales rep told me that I’d have to change my company name from Strokers Dallas to Indian of Dallas. I told him there was no way I was changing my name and he said he’d give me 60 days to make the change. I threw his fat, Yankee ass out of my office, PDQ. After that I never considered being an Indian dealer because it seemed like it was less of a motorcycle company and more of a clothing company owned by an investment firm.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that Indian had been purchased by Polaris. I was beside myself with joy. I immediately called Mike Shell, the national dealer rep for Victory, and told him I wanted to be the Dallas-Fort Worth Indian dealer.
Just thinking about having Victorys and Indians side by side on my showroom floor makes me giggle like a schoolgirl. Watch out H-D, here comes Polaris with a vengeance!
I have been a Victory dealer for years and I am always impressed by the brand’s quality, customer service, and attention to detail. I truly believe that Victory is the best motorcycle that money can buy, period. It is more dependable than any other motorcycle, including Harley-Davidson, Honda or even BMW. Victory bikes have better brakes, better handling, better suspension, more horsepower and are less expensive than a comparable Harley-Davidson.
I have ridden almost every motorcycle known to man and I prefer Victory. Polaris does an excellent job with every product it makes — especially the Victory — and now it gets to bring that expertise to the Indian brand.
It will be an easy transition for to bring aboard current Victory dealers to the Indian brand as opposed to starting an entirely new dealer network. Indian deserves a break. It’s the oldest surviving American motorcycle company and needs to reclaim its position as the best American-made motorcycle money can buy. Indians will now be produced in Spirit Lake, Iowa, alongside the Victorys. Polaris will use its world-class operation to restore the once proud American heritage back to the iconic Indian brand.
MY WISH LIST FOR INDIAN
Although I don’t know what Polaris has planned for Indian, I think I have a pretty good idea.
First and foremost, Polaris will make the Indian Motorcycle a reliable, comfortable bike to ride.
With Polaris’ production/buying power, it will cut the manufacturing cost of the Indians, resulting in lower prices for the consumer.
I believe it will improve on the styling by adding some new models — kinda like what Triumph has done. There will be a couple of models that show off the brand’s heritage, and they also some new, more modern models that appeal to the masses.
Like Triumph, Polaris will stick the iconic Indian logo on all the bikes — be they heritage or modern models.
As for the power plant, I’m not sure what Polaris has in mind and I’m not worried about it. If Polaris feels good enough to use it then I know it will be bulletproof.
The combination of Polaris’ technology and the history of Indian will be unstoppable. Look what it’s achieved with the upstart Victory Motorcycle Co. after only 13 years. Imagine what Polaris can do with a legendary brand. I think there is an emergency meeting going on right now in Milwaukee. Welcome back Indian, I’ll be waiting for you.
This story originally appeared in the Dealernews July 2011 issue.