In the US motorcycle market, Harley-Davidson has long been the choice of bikers who want a big, loud, comfortable cruiser, or a bike with some deep, made-in-the-USA credibility.
Sure, there are some big bikes and cruisers from other manufacturers, but this particular style of motorcycle has long been associated with a roaring Harley V-Twin-engined hog.
At least until another storied name in American motorcycles was revived.
The Indian brand has been around for over 100 years, but its most recent incarnation dates only to the early 2000s — and really to its acquisition in 2006 by Polaris Industries, a major player in the powersports market (think: offroading ATVs).
Polaris has been trying to provide potential Harley buyers with some other choices, and it appears to working. According to Bloomberg’s Melissa Mittelman:
John Tomlinson, an ITG Research analyst, estimated in a report that Harley’s quarterly U.S. retail sales fell as much as 7 per cent to 32,995 motorcycles [in the first quarter]. That followed a report on Tuesday by David Macgregor, a Longbow Research analyst, that said Polaris Industries Inc.’s Indian brand had a strong quarter and probably cut into Harley’s market share.
We’ve checked out some on Indians bikes. Some of the models offer a definite throwback vibe that fits with the revival of American heritage thing that’s going on now in the US. Mark Wahlberg is a fan, and so was Steve McQueen.
From Harley’s perspective, the whole situation is probably unexpected, as Indian has been revived before, only to once again fade.
But Polaris seems determined to make this latest chapter in the Indian brand a successful one.