An open challenge to make Indian good

Dailies -



I’ve rarely heard JT Nesbitt as upset as the night after Polaris announced it was acquiring Indian. The motorcycle designer had high hopes that the brand could be revived as an honest-to-god American motorcycle company that didn’t have to make excuses for its products and feared the last chance for that to happen went up in a puff of smoke with Polaris, Victory’s parent company. What can a washed-up, no-talent, has-been do in the face of corporate blandness? Well, JT (pictured above) decided to issue a challenge. Here it is. — Ed.

Photo: Transportation Revolution

Mr. Wine,

In the grand American tradition, I am henceforth issuing you a call out. I can tell by the derivative motorcycle company that you run, namely Victory, that you do not possess the testosterone that would be a prerequisite for having past knowledge of what a “call out” is, so I will elucidate.

In American racing, one party issues a challenge for competition on a level playing field, referred to as “a race track.” I know that this is all new to you, so I will try to take this one step at a time. Anyhow, “the challenger” (that’s me) will usually preface his challenge with what is widely referred to as “smack talk” in an attempt to goad and shame his would-be opponent (that’s you) into taking enough offense that it spurs them into action. Not wanting to break with time honored American tradition, I will now commence with the talking of smack.

Polaris has had years to come up with a reasonable street/sport motorcycle, yet has failed to do so. I think it’s because the management at Polaris must be populated by barnacle butts who think that Harley-Davidson is the greatest motorcycle company in the world. The proof of that is evident in the copycat motorcycles that wear the Victory badge. Falling down on their knees to worship Harley-Davidson at every opportunity, Victory pantomimes a bloated, obese company that, at it’s core, is nothing but a grand marketing scheme dreamed up by a group of Wall Street business types. But I digress, we are not talking about Harley here. Unlike you, I do not care what Harley does or does not do and I do not spend my days dreaming of sucking at the teet of fat Harley profit margins. Yes, it is apparent that all you want to do is dip your biscuits in a tiny drop of that tasty Harley gravy.

But wait a minute, you say, Victory has all of this performance stuff going on, like aluminum chassis and wild overhead cams! Our bikes are bristling with all kinds of bleeding edge technology like Mono shocks and fuel injection! Now I know that it might put a dent in your plans for a mission to Mars next quarter, but I have to point out that your high performance advantage is purely contextual and only holds water when compared to the likes of Harley-Davidson.

But we are competing with Harley-Davidson! And we build the best American Motorcycle in the world! You shout. This is unpatriotic and I am now going to tell you why.

There once was a time, long ago, when Americans took pride in competing with the rest of the world, not just with the folks a couple of blocks over. It was the passion of crafting finer things that motivated men. Now, apparently, it is profit and a desperate groping for a false identity, that perfect marketing message, that motivates you and your cowardly ilk.

The thing is, Mr. Wine, you understand competition. Your company’s snowmobiles are among the fastest in the world. Your snow products can go toe-to-toe with any company in the world. Why can’t your motorcycles?

Tiny companies around the world humiliate you. Small teams of passionate men, with no resources shame you, and still somehow Victory trudges along. “Victory?” What victory? What are you victorious over? “Best Cruiser Of The Year?” That’s like saying best American automobile of 1982. Quite the feather in your cap.

Hey sucka, a Kawasaki GPZ900 from almost 30 years ago would blast into oblivion any one of the motorcycles in your 2011 lineup! A THIRTY YEAR OLD MOTORCYCLE! If for no other reason than pride, I would assume that you would eventually grow a set and build a motorcycle that is better than a now-antique UJM. Yet every time I hear a reference to Victory it is always followed by the pointing out that the parent company, Polaris, is this huge conglomerate with all kinds of engineering, acumen, talent, and money. Frankly, I don’t see it. Bimota kicks your ass. BIMOTA! What, they have like thirty guys working there?! True, the guys at Bimota don’t do tribal flames with quite the same flair that Victory manages to decorate their “Hammer” motorcycle with. It has been thirteen years since the debut of Victory and. since neither polite suggestion, nor your own sense of personal or national pride has seemed to motivate you, it’s time for the insults.

It’s not as if building a decent motorcycle is a task too monumental for a company of Polaris’ size. Look at Triumph. When John Bloor revived it in the early ‘90s, it took them only six years to put a bike on the road that was honest-to-god as good as the Japanese. That first generation of fuel-injected triples were fast, they had good suspension, good motors and looked great. No, they weren’t race winners, but they were motorcycles the British could be proud of. You’re a bigger company than Triumph and we always hear about what talent and resources you have. So why can’t you do what Triumph did? Why can’t you make America proud? You’ve had twice as long with Victory as it took Triumph to bring out those first good bikes and yet you’ve done nothing.

Ah, I remember those heady days, when Polaris announced its intention to build a motorcycle. All my buddies were so eager. Such promise! Finally a real motorcycle made in the USA!! And then the first sighting. With my lips curled, making that awkward smelly diaper face, I beheld the sad Victory. Lumpy and misshapen. An almost comical attempt at building a Harley. The design-by-committee, lowest-common-denominator, JC Penny-looking thing, dripping with every sad cruiser cliché that that first, and subsequent, motorcycles have been festooned with. An anti-intellectual design brief, surely the result of an overreaching accounting department, with no aspirations of attaining any sort of enlightenment about the world beyond Harley-Davidson.

Logic dictates that there must have, at one time, been at least a few true motorcycle people working at Victory (we have quietly infiltrated most organizations), and I could almost hear them speaking through the utterly ugly can-of-corn motorcycle before me. They said “but if we just make a few of these, the boss says that we can build something cool next.” As the years passed, I am sure that the frustrations mounted and, one by one, the disillusioned motorcyclists left your organization. Hey no problem, you said, we will just have to bring in some fresh blood. We will scour the earth for the finest motorcycle talent to bring this product to new heights of avant-garde design! We will engage with the best minds in all of motorcycling, some real world class chassis engineers, super slick stylists and race-winning engine builder. Enter Arlen Ness.

That the motorcycle you currently produce is regarded as something of a joke by real motorcycle people is not at issue. What is at issue is the insult that you continue to perpetrate to American motorcyclists and the anti-American ethos that you have enveloped your company with. To wit: These motorcycles are “good enough” for Americans. By flatly refusing to engage with true American talent, like Michael Czysz, Kenny Roberts, James Parker, Erik Buell, Brian Case, any number of motorcycle designers, racers, and tuners, you have shown yourself to be insular and afraid of stuff that doesn’t justify your current, lame path to anonymity. There you sit in the conference room, eating potato chips, brushing the crumbs off of your clothes from time to time.

Now you have Indian.

Mr. Wine, this concludes the smack talking phase of the call out and we will now proceed to the actual issuance of the challenge where I will lay out some specifics.

I challenge you and the Indian brand to a test of lap times at the Barber Vintage Motor Park in Birmingham, Alabama in one year’s time. Five laps, fastest lap time wins. As for riders (a big variable in motorcycle racing, you see) I am more than willing to enter into arbitration.

Your motorcycle will be wearing an Indian badge and the motorcycle that kicks the shit out of it will be wearing my name.

I think that me and my buddies can come up with a better motorcycle in my GARAGE than you and your entire chump-ass crew can build in your whack-ass whole factory (oops, a little smack accidentally came out, sorry)!

Now, I don’t expect you to build everything, It’s ok to buy your wheels, battery, electronics and you can even use the engine that you are currently producing (although I wouldn’t advise it) and I, being just a lowly motorcycle dude with limited resources, should be able to buy in my engine. The details of this area could also go to arbitration at your request. Perhaps the readers of HFL could have some input?

So how bout it peckerwood? You down for getting your teeth kicked in by some nobody from a backwater town called New Orleans?

You stated, “We have no desire to start a battle, to get back into the Harley-Indian wars of the ’20s and ’30s, that’s not what we’re trying to do here.” Well, if you’re not prepared to compete with Harley-Davidson, how about competing with me, a washed-up, no-talent, has-been redneck? Think you could at least build a better motorcycle than me? Mr Wine, I am calling you out.

If you haven’t already, it’s worth checking out the back and forth between JT and Polaris’ Robert Pandya in comments.

  • Glenngineer

    I think Victories suck, too, but Victory can and likely will totally ignore this while making millions.

    The goal of any business is to make money. Victory is a business, not some ideologically driven motorcycle company.

    Why the fuck would Victory make a fast bike if the slow bikes sell so well?

    • Case

      As a business ideology the HD model is coming to a screeching halt (if only their bikes stopped so well). The generation of people that bought into that crap is shrinking, so they need a new business model if they want to grow the business. If they are smart they can leverage a historic brand and grab some market share, maybe bridge the gap between the leather pirates (my white trash forebears) and the power rangers (me).

      • slowestGSXRever

        If there is another 5-10 years of money in that business model, how can you fault them for sucking that cash out. They _are_ a company, they _are_ trying to make money and if they can make shit bikes for 10 years then walk out with a pile of cash and kill the Indian name/sub group… why not?

      • Sean Smith

        Ironically, that’s the one thing their bikes actually do really well. ABS, linked brakes and a ridiculously long wheel base with a low center of gravity let them stop faster than a superbike. Well, at least once. The cheesy components will likely start to fade even before the bike is stopped.

        • Robert

          Floating rotors and steel brake lines are production parts on all current Victory moto-bikes – they resist fade for better repeated hard stopping better than the competition and it’s stamped steel one-piece (cheap) rotors. What was the last Victory you rode Sean?

          • Sean Smith

            Edit: Just to be clear, this isn’t intended as a personal attack, just an explanation.

            Sorry, I got confused and started talking about HD. To be completely honest, I’ve never ridden a Victory. The only HD I’ve ridden was an XR1200X, and I was shocked at how slowly their ‘sport bike’ accelerated, and how ridiculous the ergos were. I’ve ridden giant choppers in the style of HD and Victory before, and I always have trouble finding the shifter because I put my feet underneath me on the passenger pegs.

            I believe you that Victory builds a better motorcycle, but when your competition isn’t even selling motorcycles, it’s not hard.

            Harley sells a brand and an image, so if you’re going to compete with them, you need to sell a better brand and image. The best comparison I can come up with would be Ed Hardy vs Affliction. How do you objectively judge which taste-less bad-boy $80 t-shirt is better?

            I’ve got no problem with Victory, they’re ARE doing a better job of building bikes than Harley. Things like real brakes that stop in a hurry more than once, aluminum frames, and the like are great. Also, they didn’t kill Buell, so far as I know, they’ve never relied on tax payer money to stay afloat, and their owners don’t seem to be as obnoxious as some of the Harley pirates I’ve seen.

            Still, they don’t build a bike that’s relevant to me. I ride motorcycles for 2 reasons. The first is the amazing feeling of accomplishment that comes with controlling the latest and greatest hi-tech machinery at it’s absolute limit, and the second is transportation.

            There’s absolutely zero bad boy image factor. When I’m riding around on the street, I want is the smallest possible bike that I can comfortably ride for 500 miles, has no problem hitting 130mph, has a chassis and suspension designed to exploit modern sport-bike tire tech, and doesn’t drag stuff all over the ground when you use those tires to their full potential, gets decent gas mileage, and can occasionally carry a passenger.

            When I say smallest possible, I mean it. If a bike has a long wheelbase, it better be for a reason other than a designer thinking it looks cool. If it weighs over 420 pounds, that better be with hardbags, heated grips, comfy accommodations for a passenger, and an absolute monster of a motor.

            When Victory builds a bike like that, they’ll be relevant to me. I share JT’s opinion on the whole cruiser thing. It’s the motorcycle equivalent of an SUV. Harley may be Hummer and Victory might be a Cayenne Turbo, but even with sports car tech, it’ll still get left in the dust by an old guy in a 20 year old miata.

            • Robert

              Ouch – confused HD and Victory…ouch.

              We’re building the brand, yes. Got almost a century handicap on our friends from Milwaukee.

              It’s good to know that you are not necessarily the guy to objectively review any cruiser – I hated cruisers when I was in sportbike lust too. Now I have a Swiss Army Garage – with every tool needed in one place – and yes a sportbike dirtbike dual-sport – quasi vintage, track bike, supemoto bike, cafe project and cruiser are in there.

              In time you will see where cruisers fit in – trust me grasshoppah….

            • Dumptruckfoxtrot

              I understand the appeal behind any motorcycle. I’d just like *all* cruisers to be what are called performance cruisers now or be treated like economy bikes like the Honda Rebel. The XR1200X and XL1200S are bikes that all Harleys should be like.

              • Sean Smith

                Awkwardly shaped, 150 pounds over-weight, underpowered and at least $5,000 over-priced?

                • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                  Guilty on the price, its a brand name, if some people will pay out the ass for Levis made in the US I can accept some mark up. I also think that Harleys really do have exceptional finish, but in the end they are overpriced by at least a few grand.

                  As for underpowered and overweight, well is a Triumph Scrambler or a CB1100 underpowered and overweight? Both of those Harleys are more than adequate for getting into trouble and having fun.

                  I never found either the XL1200S or the XR1200X awkwardly shaped, by all means though if you don’t like the look or feel of them than don’t buy them. There are plenty of people out there that won’t mind one bit.

                  The only way you’ll get some of those people out there who would buy a bike like a Harley interested in performance is to offer a better performing cruiser. They are just as likely to wake up one day and say “Gee, I just want to sit on a motorbike that reminds me of a vacuum cleaner.” as you are to want to climb aboard a cruiser.

                  More people interested in greater performance in every sort of motorcycle is good for motorcycling as a whole.

      • Glenngineer

        I think it’s obvious they understand this, to one degree or another. Look at the marketing. In the past two years, women, minorities and youth have started filling out the faces in their ads, recently to a kind of amazing degree. For every white haired doctor and ‘I don’t need no GED get er dun har har har’ landscaper, there is a Asian woman, a black guy, a young white chick wrapped around a 25 year old PBR aficionado and a Hispanic guy.

        Whether or not anyone buys the bikes HD insists on building in sufficient numbers to allow HD to chug along as it remains to be seen.

      • rvfrules

        Lots of harley hating from (as is usually the case) folks that know next to nothing about them. Lesson 1: Harley’s Touring lineup have had Brembo ABS 4-pot brakes since 2008 … and stop fine.

  • the_doctor


    Also, Nesbitt looks so happy on that Diavel.

    • Sean Smith

      Is that an ironic thumbs up and smile?

      • the_doctor

        That was my assumption, but I am sure someone, somewhere can be genuinely happy on one.

        • BeastIncarnate

          I saw a pair of someones with matching Diavels who seemed to be quite happy with themselves.

  • Case

    This is so packed full of awesome I had to read it twice.

    Re: the call out – you could park an EBR 1190RR in your garage right now that will kick the shit out of whatever Victory/polaris/indian makes in the next 5 or 10 years (and likely forever). So maybe that’s not fair?

    • Thom

      Aint no rules and definitely no ” Fair ” when it comes to a Call Out / Slap Down what ever you call it challenge .

      Its a simple matter of Put Up or Shut Up .

    • Robert

      How do you think it would do against a Wraith?

  • whoisthor

    i want this to happen! i support all of it, even the shit talking.

  • stephen

    agreed, but we all should be writing letters like this to all American car manufactures as well as motorcycle manufactures.

    • Wes Siler

      American car manufacturers are doing seriously well. GM, for instance, is making almost uniformly great products right now. Even the Chevy Malibu and Cruze are great, not just the expensive cars.

      • Peter88

        That is true. The best performance cars are now made by U.S. companies. Not to mention CUVs, economy cars, 4-door sedans, etc.

        • Thom

          What ??? You’re joking . Right ?

          • Peter88

            No. ZR1, Boss 302, Edge, Fusion, CTS, 300C SRT8, Focus, 4-door Wrangler (the only real SUV).

      • Thom

        I beg to disagree Wes . I’ve been shopping for a replacement car ( $30 – $50K range ) for the last 16 months and I’ll tell you no matter what the press may being saying , drive the American Iron back to back with its Euro/Asian counterpart and its either the Euro , the Asian or both that come out way on top . For reference I’m comparing the Cadillac SRX , Infiniti FX35 , Mercedes Benz GLK350 4matic and the BMW X3 .

        All but one ( BMW ) I’ve rented for 14 days or more and I’ll tell you flat out the Cadillac SRX is a Bind Spot riddled POS hands down . Lousy performance . After the first 100 miles uncomfortable as Hell . Lousy MPG in comparison and cheap materials . Oh its selling … but its Crap !!

        • Thom

          And if you hadn’t heard 154,00 Chevy Cruze’s ( the entire 2011 Inventory to date )

          Re-Called for Steering Failure .

        • Myles

          Sorry dude, I don’t think your opinion matters when you’re talking about replacing your wife’s Rav-4 with something more upscale.

          • Thom

            Aint you cute . Clueless . But cute .

            • Myles

              I know, I’m awful cute. I don’t understand the clueless, though. Please clue me in on what I’m missing.

              I honestly don’t know what you expected when you brought up spending 50k on an upscale Murano on a motorcycle blog (online magazine?). Are you one of those super short dudes who feels like they have to “sit up high” to see the road around them? That was my mom’s reasoning for an x3.

              I understand Sedans. I understand Hatchbacks/Wagons (a lot, easily the best platform for a four wheeled vehicle). I understand trucks. I understand vans (wouldn’t have poked fun at a Town & Country/Sienna/Odyssey cross-shop). I just do not, for the fucking life of me, understand why anyone would buy a crossover. Fill me in, I’m clueless.

              • Thom

                Myles ; the ” Clueless ” part was in reference to your smart @$&ed RAV4 comment .

                Maybe you’d better serve yourself by asking questions rather than making uninformed and ignorant assumptions . Because even now rather than acknowledge that my Car response was in response to Wes’s CAR comments rather than any need to strut my stuff , you’re tossing out the Internet Insults left and right . Which with me is less than a good idea .

                Believe me I’m trying to be nice , as the new guy and all . But my BS Tolerance Factor is at about Zero lately so either show a bit of respect or back off !!!

                • Myles

                  I seriously do not understand why anyone would buy a crossover.

                  In all my life experiences, there has never been even one single instance where a crossover makes sense.

                  Teach me, Thom. Show me the way of the crossover.

                • Thom

                  Myles ;

                  If you don’t want one why would I . You don;t see me trying to talk you into buying a Godet Egli Vincent or a Sidecar rig now do you ?

                  You don’t like CUV’s fine . Plenty of other choices in the world . Buy
                  what you want and enjoy it . If you’re happy great

                • BeastIncarnate

                  Once you’ve settled in, you get carte blanche to be a dick. It’s nice.

        • Wes Siler

          I review cars too and have drive all the above. Have you tried the SRX with the turbo and torque vectoring? It’s nice.

          Or, don’t buy a shitty crossover at all and get a CTS wagon.

          • Myles

            Or buy a cheap hatchback (hell, even an evil HYBRID!) and three motorcycles.

            Or a cheap hatchback, a couple motorcycles, and a nice watch.

            Or a cheap hatchback, a cheap pickup, a couple dirtbikes, and a jetski.

            Spending 30-50k on a crossover is probably the biggest waste of money I could ever imagine.

            • Thom

              Myles ;
              And you say my opinion doesn’t matter . Hybrid ???
              I’d rather walk . Tin Can Hatchback ? Been there done that in my youth . Cheap P/U and a friggin Jet Ski ? Hell would freeze over first .

              We all gots our needs and yours are not mine . That much is obvious .

              • Myles

                What does an X3 do that a Honda Insight, for example, doesn’t? There is no logical reason for a crossover.

                • RocketSled

                  Dude there’s no logical reason for owing a VEHICLE. It’s all about what makes you feel funny. Trying to rationalise it just wastes time. He wants an X3 because…he wants an X3.

              • Mark D

                Doesn’t BMW make an xDrive 535iomgwtfbbq wagon? That could be nice and quick.

                • Kirill

                  They don’t sell it in the US. They do make the 535i GT wagon/crossover hybrid thing…and its crap.

                • Myles

                  Isn’t that just a slower, taller, more expensive 535 with some extra trunk space?

                  I don’t understand bastardizing a sedan’s driving dynamics to make it look more “trucky”. To me, this is what a crossover is. If I’m missing out, please fill me in. Again, I understand a wagon, it’s a more versatile sedan. But a crossover? What the hell is the point of a crossover?

                • Thom

                  Myles ; Lets face it . You just don’t understand . Period !

                • Kirill

                  Myles, that’s exactly what the 535 GT is.

                  As for what the point of a crossover is, its to make lots of money for automakers because the fickle American buyer likes vehicles that “ride like a car” but with the “high seating position of an SUV.” That’s seriously what it boils down to. Well, that and people hate hatchbacks and wagons irrationally…but jacking them up 6 inches magically makes that hate dissipate.

          • Thom

            Looked at it . CTS Wagon . No AWD . Not too sure about its reliability either . Cadillac hasn’t done so well in that area of late . Believe me after owning an S4 Avant , if the CTS Wagon was in the running I’d be leaning that way .

            The Turbo SRX did little to make up for the abysmal blind spots and those seats !

            • Kirill

              You can get AWD with the CTS wagon and its drivetrain (3.6L V-6 w/6-sp auto) is very solid.

            • pj134


              NOPE, no AWD there!

              How did you feel about the GLK?

              • Thom


                Rented the GLK for 14 days Colorado . In March . Both in the City ( Denver ) and the high country ( VAIL )

                Without going too long its been the best I’ve driven . Zero Drama . No Blind spots . Plenty of go . Good MPG ( for a CUV ) It just did everything right . It and the X3 are neck and neck at the moment . The GLK being the btter ride the X3 being the better to maintain and insure ( SRX I hated and the FX35 has too many blind spots and that exhaust note is annoying all the time )

                • pj134

                  Just as a point of information, before selling the remainder of Chrysler to Cerberus, they took two platforms from Chrysler that fucked up Chrysler for a few years regarding product planning and design finalization. One of those platforms was a future Viper design on an all aluminum chassis which became (after some tweaks) the SLS and the other became a platform that Mercedes “shared” with Chrysler. That one is the GLK and the Grand Cherokee. So the best you’ve driven was developed by an American company and underpins an American car.

                • Thom

                  pj134 ;

                  I knew about the SLS- Viper connection ( tell that one in the UK press and they’ll have your head for it , not being able to handle the truth ) and that platform will be the new 2012 Viper as well .

                  But had ZERO clue about the GLK connection ! Damn !

                  So why is the JEEP such a pile and so over sized ! Another ” Opportunity Lost ” by an American company . Could of been a winner as well as another sale .

                • Kirill

                  The 2011 Grand Cherokee is hardly a pile. Its actually a pretty good ride.

                • Thom


                  Ah your poor source of information betrays you here .

                  The GLK is NOT based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform but is in FACT based on the C – Class . Though you were wrong on that one .

                  @Kirill – Not a POS ? ( Jeep GC ) Really ? Read the reviews lately ? Seen its reliability record ( or lack there of ) Driven one for more than ten miles ? Hmmn . Well I’ll be nice and just say your knowledge of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is somewhat lacking .

                • Kirill

                  I’m going to have to disagree with you on my knowledge of the new Grand Cherokee being lacking. Every review of it has been largely positive (including one I’ve written…), the only major complaint is about the dated gearbox (its only got five speeds but its not as bad as some people say) and given that the vehicle has been out for less than a year, its a bit early to be talking reliability. Chrysler has a history of self-destructing four-speed autos, but the five-speed is a lot more robust.

                  And yes, I’ve driven one for more than ten miles. A lot more, actually. The V-6 could use a bit more power and better fuel-economy but its got a nice interior, rides smooth and quiet, and looks pretty good. But this isn’t a car forum so I’ll just leave it at that.

              • Kirill

                Uh, how did you miss the part at the bottom of each trim column where you get to pick between RWD and AWD via radio button?

                And GLK has hard seats and uninspiring interior. And its the Sex and the City car.

                • pj134

                  If that was to me… it was sarcasm.

                • Kirill


                • Thom

                  Kirill ;

                  #1 The seats and interior are more than comfortable in the GLK just not Cadillac mush ! Hell of a lot more comfortable after 100 miles or more ( put 600-750 on both as rentals )

                  #2 The ” Sex & the City ” as well as the fact that a certain female fashion editor drives one does turn me off more than a bit . But then read the review in Autoblog as well as Edmunds and that ” Connection ” loses any relevance in my decision making .

                  #3 WTF are you talking about in the Trim Column section ? You either buy the 4Matic or you buy the 2WD .

                • Kirill

                  #1 I’m not a fan of the SRX, lots of execution issues with that one.

                  #2 If it works for you it works for you. I’d only get one if it was going to be my (theoretical) wife’s car. Its definitely not a masculine ride.

                  #3 was talking about the Cadillac CTS wagon, not the GLK

          • pj134

            CTS-V Wagon

            Fixed it for ya.

            • muckluck

              ….And back to motorcycles!

              • Alex

                why? cars are pretty comparable to harley and victory motorcycles in terms of size and weight.

            • Thom

              CTS-V Wagon not available with AWD . Only the six banger !

              CTS-V Wagon is 192 inches frickin long . The thing is a land yacht !

              And ….. its projected reliability is Well Below Average as well as having a questionable warranty ! Read the recent Caddy reviews and blogs .

              • pj134

                I was fixing it for Wes.

                Snow tires and knowing how to drive are better than AWD unless you go by maximum_sarge over on jalopnik, then we’ve had this debate.

                Also, projected reliability is based on previous years, the new CTS-V is completely different from previous CTS-V which had some issues with electronics. Three years of a vehicles is hardly enough to tell true reliability let alone the 2 of the V version of the CTS. The only review you really need of the family of vehicles?

                Now, I couldn’t reply to our GC exchange but how does 10 inches over the glk or 6 inches over the X3 make it “so oversized”? I think your just buying into the stigmata.

        • Taco

          I see a lot of SRX’s now a days. However I feel those people really wanted an Escalade instead but easy credit lending went away and gas prices shot up. SRX owners must feel they got the next best thing.

      • stephen

        People have to buy cars, but i think that most cars out there are soulless compared to the cars America made up until around 1975. And they give them the gayest names. cruze, focus, fusion, etc. They think they can just sweep over the lack luster with some rims, chrome, ipod sync, entertainment package. Its just boring some of the selection. I don’t see my self buying a new car any time soon. They have to create the want.

    • Robert

      Wow – Hell for pleather all of a sudden!

  • ike6116

    It was said in another threa but bares repeating, make a modern version of a UJM with an Indian badge and a modest price and we’re all in

    • Kevin

      Thank you… and why is the relevant test a run around a track? That’s useful if what you want is to get around a track circuit as fast as possible, but it’s not relevant to the 97% or so of riders who don’t actually do that with their motorcycles. How about something that is comfortable and fun to ride, an handle a long weekend, is capable in the corners, has a satisfying exhaust note, and that chicks think looks cool? Doesn’t that pretty much cover what 97% of us really want in a motorcycle?

      • ike6116

        When I say modern I mean things like fuel injection, heated grips, abs, and good suspension.

        I dont want it to be slow but im also not after the “SWEET GIXXER” “2 Fast 2 Furious” “NY’s Fastest” crowd either.

  • Cheese302

    great read. its funny how little you could put together to win this, my guess, a budget of $2500, a couple cases of beer, some rattle cans and you could be kicking some serious ass. that said, i am sure this call out will not cause any real buzz at polaris because they are too busy redesigning the indian head ornament for those dumb fenders.

  • Thom

    Damn !!! And I thought I could be a slap down , in your face don’t ( ____ ) with me Bad _ _ _ !

    Mr Nesbitt makes me seem tame in comparison . So good for him I say ! Especially on this Victory/Indian situation .

    As I’ve said , I truly hope they ( Victory/Polaris ) succeed in properly reviving the Indian Legend ( not just the name ) But I’ve got some serious reservations .

    So two thumbs up for someone like Nesbitt with both the Credibility and the Cojones to make a statement like this .

    Now if only the folks at Victory/Polaris were listening .

    Damn !

    • Robert

      We were.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      “Damn !!! And I thought I could be a slap down , in your face don’t ( ____ ) with me Bad _ _ _ !”

      I read that behavior as more of a “Throw a fit, stamp around and yell” sort of thing.

  • evilbahumut

    I used to sell Vics across the highway from an H-D dealer and the biggest obstacle to sale was the “how is this different than a Harley?” question. Most of my sales were made off folks who already owned an H-D and were looking for something a little more “reliable and modern.” But JJ is right, why not scrap that Hammer 8-ball and make that a bike that TURNS HEADS instead of copies the competition.

    I agree that the company exists to make money, but you would think that they can do that and still try new things in an effort to not only lead everyone ELSE down a path but discover a path they forgot in the process.

    I seriously hope they answer this challenge. Will there be a pestering committee? If so, how can I be on it and how often can I bother Mr. Wine & Co. to answer the call?

  • Devin

    I love a good rant, and this one was pretty good.

    I also love Polaris snow machines, so I’m torn.

  • george_fla

    Fucking gold JT!! I would like to add that I think you should use a Victory engine in your build just to rub it in Wine’s face. lol

  • Thom

    Also I’ve been asking the same Damn Questions of the American Automotive Industry as Mr Nesbitt is asking of Victory/Polaris .

    WTH can’t we with all our resources , talent (the best of which seems to goe overseas ) man power etc. slap the living crap out of at least the Euro’s ( I’ll admit the Japanese/Koreans have a Trade edge ) who for the most part are smaller than the American companies ???

    COME ON US !! I’m getting sick of sending my hard earned money Overseas !!! Get with the program and start kicking some serious _ _ _ !!!

    • aristurtle

      Japan hasn’t had a trade edge since the eighties. The Yen is trading at 81 per USD right now and Akio Toyoda is telling all his investors that this is worse for his company than the tsunami.

  • hooligan317

    As a rant, this is an entertaining read. In reality, it isn’t likely that anything will come of this. It’s easy to be an armchair-CEO…

    • Thom

      You might want to have a look see as to who Mr Nesbitt is before making that statement .

      • Dumptruckfoxtrot

        Nesbitt has designed some neat bikes that the average consumer could never afford.

      • hooligan317

        Look, fact is we all have our opinion on what companies should be doing. Since we don’t run said company, we’re being armchair CEO’s. We’ve all done it. All I’m saying is that Polaris probably won’t even acknowledge this “call-out” from Nesbitt… at least publicly.

    • slowtire

      +1…for hooligan317 that is.

  • Mark D

    Know what I’d like to see? A direct-injected two-stroke motorcycle. Doesn’t Polaris make those for their snowmobiles? Somebody needs to slap one on a bike! That’d give JT a run for his money!

    • Thom

      Well here’s a laugh for you . Canadian Custom Builder Roger Goldammer built his Bonneville Record M/C with said two stroke , direct injection Snowmobile engine .

      Sorry Victory . You’ve been aced again , By an Independent !

      • Robert

        How many of those did he sell?

  • Myles

    I really like fast motorcycles. But I understand that not all motorcycles need to be fast. And not in the “small displacement bikes are awesome!!!1!” blind-kid on a forum kind of way, in the all bikes are awesome kind of way. Some people like riding motorcycles really slow. That’s great. Those people don’t give half a shit about lean angle, and even less about lap times against some dudes garage project. Those people buy a lot of bikes.

    On the other side of the spectrum, the 300kmph kids, they don’t care about anything that’s even close to slow. Why would someone buy a new sportbike that’s slower than an 05 giXXXer 1k (a pretty high performance target)?

    Why fight for the middle, when nobody buys the middle? People either buy stylish, slow, motorcycles (moto-guzzi, HD, triumph thurxton cafe “racer”), off-road capable/touring barges, or really fast motorycles. Why fight for this imaginary middle that doesn’t exist? Does dude think Polaris can build something faster than the s1000rr? If this magical middle actually existed in Motorcycle buyers, people would have bought the Hornet 600 when Honda brought it over here. KTM would sell more 690 Dukes than SuperDukes. HD would have sold more xr1200s. Zook wouldn’t sell fifty times more gsrxrs than sv650s. Even HFL hates the middle, the way they railed on the f800r (boring and uncomfortable). Everybody on the internet has this really cool way of describing the right kind of bikes to make, but they never show up in the goddamn showroom.

    • Kevin


    • HammSammich

      It’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, I would challenge your assertion that the Triumph Modern Classics bikes (like the thruxton) are “Stylish, Slow motorcycles.” In fact, I would argue that they are exactly in the “middle” that you identify as being untouched at least in terms of style, performance and price. There is no doubt that the Modern Classics are largely style driven, and with around 65HP, they’re not incredibly powerful, but their handling is quite good and lightyears beyond anything sold by HD.

      I also take issue with your notion that there is no market for bikes in the
      “middle.” While there may be some limited validity to your argument in terms of the current US Market, in the larger global context you’re completely off base. Why is it that Japanese and European manufacturers recognize that there is more than one kind of motorcycle rider, or perhaps more appropriately, why do US manufacturers only recognize one kind of rider? US manufacturers should be trying to build the best bikes we can in every category. Sure there are people who want cruisers in the US, but why does Victory only go after them, when they supposedly have at their disposal, the ability go after other manufacturers in other segments, worldwide? Finally, to tackle your argument on a smaller scale, even the assertion that there is no market in the “middle” in the US is becoming outdated. Poor handling cruisers are going to lose favor as Boomers age out of the market and are replaced by motorcyclists who spent a lot of time on performance oriented bikes. It’s this group, who are going to be looking for fun, sporty handling bikes that don’t leave their aging backs and knees aching after a 100 mile ride. They’re not going to get a Harley, and they’re not going to get an S1000RR…They’re going to want a capapble Sporty bike – something that’s exactly in the middle.

      • Myles

        It’s not the manus, it’s the buyers. There have been plenty of really great all-rounders available on US shores, but people don’t buy them. For example, Honda brings the Cb100r over here. A great, dead simple, great handling bike with plenty of power. They can’t sell them to save their lives, because it “only” makes 100hp. “Might as well get a Speed Triple, makes more power”. On the internet people talk out of one side of their mouths, where bikes are all about feel and the road and all this other stuff. Where they want this perfect motorcycle.

        Then, it’s time to buy. They either buy:

        a. The coolest looking bike
        b. What their buddies tell them to buy
        c. Whatever wins a motorcycle shootout
        d. An old man’s bike

        For Triumph modern classics, I had a hard time getting a fuel injected Bonneville over 100mph and thought the handling wasn’t up to par with an xr1200. To me, that’s a slow motorcycle. I know it would have been fast fifty years ago for “ton-up boys” and cafe racer nerds, but over 80mph the acceleration was comparable to my hybrid car. That’s pretty slow.

        To clarify, I want more “middle” motorcycles also. I currently ride a Honda 599 and am trying to decide between a clean SuperHawk (If I can find one) or an xr1200 (been doing a ton of two-up riding lately, that motor makes so much torque you don’t even need throttle to get moving – even with ol’ girl on the back!). I don’t ride a cruiser. I don’t ride a repliracer. But I understand that a shitload of people ride one or the other, and it’s not the fault of the manu. You can lead a horse to water. . . . . . .

        If people simply wanted a great motorcycle, everyone would ride a VFR800. That’s the absolute pinnacle of street motorcycles, I can’t imagine anything better. You can still buy brand new MY08s.

        • BeastIncarnate

          Myles, the CB1000R is a weak example. Aside from aesthetic or manufacturer preferences, there’s no good reason for a buyer to choose the Honda over the many equally well-rounded and/or higher-performance bikes in the same category and price range. It’s a good bike, but it’s not very competitive in its segment. That is, unless you believe the CB1000R has a quality of ride and connection with the road that the competing bikes don’t offer.

          Maybe if they went with a high-quality classic CB look – well beyond what they did with the 919 – there would be more appeal. There would at least be more leniency.

        • frankieapples

          I blame your 1 and 2 more than anything else. I recently bought a scooter that makes a whopping 10hp and I love it. I’m having more fun commuting on it than I do my Speed Triple. Funny thing is, all of my students say, “Why didn’t you buy a crotch rocket?” In their minds it’s the FAST or the FANCY and that’s it. I feel that TRUE riders appreciate most motorcycles being made. I have a hard time understanding why anyone would spend upwards of $30k on a motorcycle, but I’m poor. I feel there are more people getting full use out of their Harley’s than out of their liter bike, though. Seriously, where do you ride 130MPH? I’ve hit speeds nearing that briefly (on other peoples bikes obviously) and every time, I’m convinced that I’m about to be arrested. But I digress. IMHO the ‘cool’ factor weighs pretty high on most people’s decision to buy. The average person’s definition of cool is what most people are going for, and in my experience that is full on flashy sport bikes or recognizable luxury brand names. Funny, because Ducati kind of fits both categories and has seen a recent (last 5 years) surge of popularity, at least where I live.

          Buying a bike, for a lot of people, is like buying that midlife-crisis car, which is never a Toyota Corrola.

          • Myles

            Reps on the scoot, I was on a Yamaha Zuma 125 for a few days back in February on vacation and it was awesome. Almost every time I stopped I locked the rear brake, and every time we were near sand ripping “burnouts” was unbelievable. What scoot did you end up with?

            Going stupid fast is stupid, but there are a ton of middle of nowhere roads all over the place. Last summer I bought a big map of my state (one of the big book ones, not the little fold out jobs) and was able to wander into a ton of wide open asphalt. It’s dumb, it’s scary, it’s illegal, and it can lead to a whole bunch of life problems, but going really fast is really fun. Especially on a naked bike, tucked in behind the clocks and holding on for dear life. Better than sex, except no cuddling afterwards :-(

            I’ve also seen the rise in popularity of ducks, and also feel you on the name brand recognition. Personally, I dont’ get it. Name brands are for condoms and breakfast cereal.

            • frankieapples

              Funny, Zuma 125 is what I bought. I feel you on the rush from the speed just never got too into going fast and straight, it always made me think of people who can’t really ride. I used to get smoked by my buddy on his S4RS on every straightaway, but I’d catch him on anything that twisted. Pretty pathetic, I thought, considering I was on a 1982 650 Maxim :P

              I agree on the brands, to me they are more for non-rider recognition. If I had Norton or a Vincent, 9/10 non-bike people would think it was nothing special. Same goes for a modern Aprilia, KTM or MV.

        • HammSammich

          Again, looking at the global markets – which is what US manufacturers should be doing – There’s plenty of room for the kinds of motorcycles you identify as being in the middle. Those bikes may not sell well in the US market for a few more years (again as Boomers age out of the market and are replaced by people who do want them I thikn they will), but by making viable products for markets abroad, companies like Victory/Indian and/or Harley could bring new products to the US in smaller numbers than would otherwise make sense.
          As I understand it, your argument is that it’s not the manufacturers fault that all they make are cruisers because that’s all that Americans will buy. My response is, 1) that’s all that half of American Motorcyclists will buy, 2) the market for cruisers is going to be shrinking in the near future and 3) What about the rest of the world?

          The XR1200 you mention is a perfect example of showing the demand for US makers to build bikes in the “middle.” That bike was originally made for the European Market only, and as we are both apparently neither cruiser nor supersport riders, it’s likely the only Harley that either you or I would ever consider. Guess what? Harley brought it to the US because of demand. Now imagine if Harley continued to develop products specifically for Europe and Asia, what interesting new products in the middle would be created, the demand for which would undoubtedly develop in the US as well.

          Finally, I will concede that the Triumph Modern Classics are not fast nor did I intend to assert that they were. As you note, above 80-85mph the acceleration does start to fizzle. I’ve only managed to squeeze mine up to 114MPH indicated after nearly a 2 min long flat out run (w/ chinbar resting on the dogbone and feet on the pillion pegs). But they’re not slow. When I’m on twisty mountain roads, and letting it hang out a little, I have never had a problem keeping up with much better riders on significantly faster bikes. So then perhaps the Modern classics are on the low end of the middle compared to bikes like the SV650 and 599 – but there’s also no comparing them to anything Harley makes (with the exception of the XR1200 apparently – see my response to Dumptruck below) unless you’re on a long straight highway or looking for bragging rights in a stoplight drag race.

          As far as the VFR800 goes, I’ve never looked into it, but I’ll have to check it out (have a cousin who works at a Honda Dealership :) ). It looks a bit similar to the RC51 (which is truly and amazing bike) – is there any commonality between them?

          • Myles

            RC51 is a vtwin crazy ergo’d race bike. I have a ton of respect for it, but could only live with one if I could afford to have multiple bikes.

            The vfr has an 800cc v4 and it’s pretty mellow ergo-wise. A ton of people tour on them, makes good power, sounds good with a pipe (known as the “angry bear” in some circles). There are a ton of deals on them, makes a great do-everything bike. Damnit, I hate fairings and need to stop talking myself into this bike.

            • HammSammich

              HAHAHA! Yeah, my cousin (A little blonde girl that weighs about 100 lbs) had an RC51, but recently switched to a GSXR 750 for more comfortable ergos. I just noticed the cutout intakes in the fairing on the VFR were similar to the RC51. Since my 07′ Bonnie was my first brand new street bike, and I really do love it (still need rearsets and a better seat) I plan to keep it forever…so I’ve got to make my next bike count since it’ll be difficult to talk my wife into allowing me to have more than 2. I’ve had my eye on everything from nekkid street fighters like the Monster and Speed Triple, to Sport Touring Bikes, and even a Royal Enfield Thumper with a Cozy Sidecar so I can continue to commute in the snow during the winter (now that would be sloooooowwwww!) but it sounds like the VFR might be a decent option to throw into the mix as well.

            • BeastIncarnate

              Here’s how to talk yourself out: one of the most vocal 599 to VFR converts secretly admits that the bike is too damn heavy. He still loves it, but there ya go. It’s a great bike, though.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      I agree Myles.

      Mr. Nesbitt’s ranting was all well and good in the comments, but now it deserves an entire article? Make cool bikes cheap, then we’ll buy em’.

      Hamm, I’ve rode both a Scrambler and an XR1200, i’d say they aren’t too far apart at all handling wise.

      • HammSammich

        Thanks for th input Dumptruck. I have not ridden an XR1200, and I admit that I love the street tracker style, but you’ve kind of proven my point. Arguably the poorest handling of Triumph’s modern classic line (which at least in stock config has dual purpose tires) is on par with what Blake Connor of CycleWorld contends is “without a doubt the best-handling production Harley to date…”, and what claims is “an anomaly.” I ride a mildly customized Bonneville and the handling is just in a different league than “most” of what Harley makes (granted it can probably still be shamed by a 10 year old CBR).

      • Sean Smith

        I’ll agree with you there on the XR1200. I just can’t get into the ergos of it.


    aren’t cruisers 50% of the market for bikes in the US? If so, then building a wannabe sport bike to compete in a flooded sportbike market is stupider than a better-than-harley-harley.

    • Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA

      really good point here. If 50 percent of bikes sold are really cruisers then competing in the low competition cruiser market would be a great direction for indian.

      • HammSammich

        I have no empirical evidence to say whether or not 50% of bikes sold in the US are cruisers, but I will make two points. 1) Cruisers are absolutely not 50% of the bike market worldwide and 2) Cruisers are anything but a low competition market. Who doesn’t make a cruiser? I guess BMW no longer makes that R1200c “Montauk” anymore, but Ducati’s trying to get in on the game. Triumph now has 5 distinct cruiser models (I am considering the RIII touring to be separate from the standard RIII since they have different frames). Star (Yamaha) has 8 cruiser models, Honda has a similar number if you include their ridiculous chopper, and Suzuki has 9. Kawasaki builds 7 different cruiser models in various configs. That leaves Moto Guzzi’s California Classic or whatever it’s called. And that’s all before we even get to the cruiser only brands like Indian, Harley, and Victory. I’m not advocating that Indian make a SuperSport motorcycle (although it would be cool) but if they made some fun to ride, good handling, technologically oriented, standard motorcycles that were less show than go, then they would do far better as a brand in the long term.

  • aristurtle

    Somewhere in an office there’s a Polaris executive snickering at this outburst, thinking, “Sure, Mr. Nesbitt, only instead of lap times, how about we go for who can first sell twenty-five thousand units?”

    I’m not saying that JT is wrong, I’m saying that he and Polaris have different priorities.

    If you’re looking for someone to push the performance envelope, don’t look at the company that’s spending perfectly good money on buying a 90-year-old trademark.

  • Terry

    Phew… JT… You’re doing your best Don Quixote, man. Those windmills you’re tilting at truly don’t give a shit. They’ve got quarterly numbers to make, share holders to wank off and bonuses to pass out. In the process, they employ a large number of people who have mortgages and buy large flat screen TVs and generally keep the bigger picture from crashing down around our ears… barely.
    What you’re talking about isn’t going to come from Polaris or Harley. Not now, not ever. That’s why god created Erik Buell and the folks at Motus.

    Sober up dude.

    • Thom

      Terry ;

      This much is true unfortunately . But if someone doesn’t raise a bit of Hell now and again it’ll be McDonalds conformity and Wal Mart homogenization for us all.

      How dull would that be ?

      So give JT the support he deserves . Futile or not someone damn well better start doing it . Unless of course its Boring you’re after .

      • Terry

        I agree, Thom.
        Someone has to rail against the mediocrity and as rants go, this one was superb.

  • KP

    New headline: Man yells at other man, cites sovereignty of his lawn.

  • Derby

    Why not a competition between a current Polaris/Victory model (which you seem to despise) and one of the Confederates you designed? Both were built under more similar parameters than you in a garage with some buddies (i.e. no need to comply with epa standards, no need to replicate parts on a large scale, etc., no safety regulations to comply with). I know you don’t work for the company anymore but surely a loaner could be procured from someone. Let’s go heads up apples to apples here.

  • Stacey

    Somewhere in an office there’s a Polaris executive snickering at this outburst, thinking, “Sure, Mr. Nesbitt, only instead of lap times, how about we go for who can first sell twenty-five thousand units?”


    Also, I might add: Where is this magical perfect motorcycle the masses keep crying out for? Is it in a warehouse somewhere? How come no one has invented it yet?

    I know a LOT of bikers who worry more about looks than straight up performance.

    I’d like to see a 500cc triple with somewhat relaxed ergos, great suspenders, great brakes and under 10K. Something basic enough to make into whatever I want…street tracker, cafe or something else entirely.


    What a stupid letter. You want a sport bike, go the hell and buy one. And quit your whining. What an idiot.

    • Wes Siler

      What if you want to put your money back into the american economy and american workers? What if you want to do that but you also want a bike that’s comfortable and efficient and fun?

      • Mark D

        …buy a Motus?


      • Thom


        AMEN !

      • slowestGSXRever

        Look someplace other than a victory show room?

        • Kirill

          If you want anything other than a cruiser that’s made in the USA, your only options are a used Buell or an expensive boutique bike…that’s probably a cruiser.

          • slowestGSXRever

            Look in a Buell show room?

            • Kirill

              Dude, where have you been? Buell got whacked in october of 2009.

              • slowestGSXRever

                Sorry. Look in a Buell show room (a.k.a. craigslist)

                • Kirill

                  Funny, I seem to have mentioned “used Buell” in the post you responded to

      • HammSammich

        @ Wes – Nailed it!

        • BMW11GS

          Is it politically correct to talk about globalization now?

  • RocketSled

    Dude, yer testoterone is leaking out.

  • Denzel

    Random thread – love it…

  • Tim

    The frustration I have with Victory is that they have the potential to build a broad range of motorcycles that could appeal to a much larger audience. Look at what Honda did after coming to the USA. They could have said “Well we make great little scooters and small street bikes, that’s all we should do.”

    Honda constantly pushed the envelope and came up with some of the most important bikes ever made. They branched out to make dirt bikes, sport bikes mini bikes, ATVs, cars, lawnmowers and even airplanes. What pisses me off about Polaris is they have proven they know how to build a variety of interesting things, but when it comes to motorcycles, they stick with a product that I’m not at all interested in owning. Please make motorcycles in America for the rest of us. The guys that would rather ride the bus than own a big V-twin cruiser.

    • HammSammich

      Great point. I can point to different bikes from most Euro and Japanese manufacturer lineups that I would love to own and would hate to own. Unfortunately, US manufacturers are making only bikes that I would never consider. By restricting themselves to one segment in one market (granted the biggest segment in the biggest market) it seems they are giving up and even alienating potential customers. This goes for HD as much as for Victory/Indian.

  • Robert

    The sole measure is a few laps of Barber? Really?

    Are we talking a purpose built race bike, or a production bike that readers could actually afford? There is a difference. Half this audience wants the latter.

    How about we put a Confederate through the battery of tests required for production bikes – the shaker, (high and low frequency), road simulators, exhaust and emission compliance, wide-open throttle tests, load capacity and perhaps the most important test – the ability to produce the product in a high enough quantity to pay for itself.

    Oh, and limit sales to the US market – not export billionaires who are looking for driveway jewelry next to the Ferrari.

    JT – why not go toe to toe with Fisher, Buell or Roehr if you are looking for a sportbike fight?

    • JT Nesbitt

      To whom do I have the pleasure of addressing? – JT

      • Robert

        The same guy as last time.

        • JT Nesbitt

          And that is…..? (your full name and title please)

          • Robert

            Cripes man – i did this already –

            Robert Pandya, at your cervix.

            JT Nesbitt | April 21, 2011 11:22 AM | Reply
            Robert- Are you the CEO of Victory?

            Robert | April 21, 2011 11:19 PM | Reply
            I have nowhere near the skill for that job.

            I’m the PR Manager for the brand, after doing the same for Aprilia (when it was good) for five years and tapping into some Guzzi work while I was there. I was the Off-Road product manager for Piaggio when the SXV / RXV was to be brought in, and quit 3 months before they arrived for reasons well known to warehouse managers and dealer owners across the country. I’m very proud of the work I did with them, and the freinds I made in that time.

            I’ve dressed as Chuck E Cheese for my first job, sold motorcycles, been a working photographer, been a motorcycle service writer, threaded movie projectors, raced poorly, ran the Buell Inside Pass track day series, fallen for dirtbikes and adventure touring and miss messing around in my shed with a spanner in my hand because I truly honestly love the motorcycle business, the people involved, anything with two wheels and a motor, some things with three wheels and a motor, and most things that feature internal combustion engines with human controled throttles.

            I appreciate big brands, little brands, punk-ass opionators who stir up the mud, cranky old men who can ride those punk-ass kids into the dust, city riders, country riders, Italian culture vs Italian business, cool parts, fast racers, and the fact that computers and cell phones have power switches.

            I have records but no record player, I have an iPod but barely ever download squat. This year I’ll catch Daytona, Sturgis, WSBK, MotoGP, a week in Moab, a ride with my Brother, Sister and my Mom, and some other stuff that is nobodies business, and never will be.

            I’m the PR Manager for Victory – but I’m a motorcyclist first.

            • JT Nesbitt

              Ah! Excellent! Mr. Pandya, Are you suggesting that I “go toe to to with Fisher, Buell, or Roehr” in order to pick on somebody my own size? Should I refrain from bullying a tiny little company like Polaris?
              Since my previous motorcycles were so poorly made, then you should surely call me on my bullshit by producing a RACING ONLY motorcycle that has an INDIAN logo on the tank. Since I am such a chump, Your motorcycle will absolutely humiliate me in front of everyone in the country! It’s a sure thing! It will only take FIVE laps at Barber to prove that your company is not the cowardly bunch of sycophants that I suspect you are.
              Do you have the authority to accept my challenge? — JT

              • BATMAN

                Why I wonder, are you not involved with Confederate anymore?

                • JT Nesbitt


                • slowtire

                  +1 Batman.

              • Robert

                No man – it’s not about David Vs Goliath, though you clearly have a passel of small stones to throw.

                It’s about building production motorcycles designed for market segments that buy a reasonable volume of motorcycles. Polaris has already shown engineering prowess on the ORV series that is the backbone of the company. Indeed the military units and the RZR’s are leading machines in their field. Victory and Indian won’t be rushed into a segment that does not make sense for the market, the brand or the company shareholders.

                You can scream about how much we suck all you want – but there have been many customers, dealers and third party measure that we in fact, build great American motorcycles. If we’re guilty of not beating our chest before we proved the product, point that to a Mid-Western humble work ethic that has more pride in doing the job well than doing it loudly. We announced the Indian buy a couple weeks ago, we are creating the roadmap for the future now based on how we foresee the direction of the market. To do it right that will take time.

                As far as building a prototype performance bike simply for the sake of answering to an unprofessional myopic challenge that would only serve as a distraction for our goals, it’s not that we can’t do it, it’s just that there is no point. Besides, we could just pull out one of the Swissauto GP racers and fire it up –

                I congratulate guys like you, Dan Fisher, Michael Cycsz, Erik Buell, Donald Atchison, and the hundreds of other who have actually cut metal to see their dreams come true in the past century plus of ridable production combustion engineering – plenty of keyboard tappers don’t know one end of welder from their electric toothbrushes. You do. It takes balls to build your dream. It takes those and measured reliable, intelligent plans to build a company like Polaris into the strong backbone that can support all its branches.

                It’s not IF I have the authority to take you up on some sort of pissy challenge to our CEO – it’s just that I’m personally bored with it. The genuine challenge is to build a production motorcycle that endures mechanically and historically, not just to create splash of PR attached to machine art that frags itself on the highway on the way to a Neiman Marcus photo shoot.

                • JT Nesbitt

                  So you DO NOT have the authority to accept or decline my challenge? Is that the case? If so then who does? I’m “personally bored” with your distractions. — JT

                • Robert

                  My distractions? Yeesh.

                • Robert

                  I just found this –


                  Compared to this?


                  I gotta get to work – sorry I was distracted for a minute there.

                • Robert

                  Oh – I think we may have a couple of these on our shelves too – OK if we use this to power our bike?


                  Sorry – got distracted.

                • slowtire

                  This is great. On one hand we have a designer/arteest ranting and raving like an unpaid crack whore, and on the other a PR manager (we think) of a major powersports company arguing with him. How much does a ten year subscription cost?

                • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                  Ha ha ha ha! Nice, slowtire.

                • Robert

                  We think? dude – I laid out my whole career there – even the Chuck E Cheese part! Wes, Sean – help a Brother out! I exist! I do!

                • JT Nesbitt

                  Slowtire/Dumptruck- The grown folks is talkin’ right now.

                  Mr. Pandya- The fact that I am a no talent hack is not in question here. I accept it, I embrace it. All the easier for your giant company to CRUSH me. Answer the fucking question- who has the authority to accept or decline my challenge?– JT

                • slowtire

                  Yeah JT, you’re talking alright, but you aint saying much.

                • Robert

                  If the blessed Ghost of John Britten joins me in my dreams tonight, (he sometimes does – especially after I watched Stroud run it into turn 1 at Mid-Ohio a couple decades ago), I’ll ask him.

                  But I think you’ll have a lonely day at Barber next year.

                • JonB

                  Robert is definitely more than a we-think PR Manager. Seems like someone needed to vouch for who he is.

                • JT Nesbitt

                  Once again–This is a DIRECT QUESTION, to you, Mr. Pandya – Who has the authority within your organization that can accept, or decline my challenge? — JT

                • slowtire

                  Wasn’t sure when Wes said “Why, I wonder, is a Polaris employee commenting anonymously.” Sorry Robert, I stand corrected.

                • JT Nesbitt

                  PS – I doubt that you fall on the John Britten side of this equation. He RACED motorcycles, remember. Now answer the question. — JT

                • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                  The grown folks JT? This coming from someone who’s gonna get in a big ol’ toughguy race with someone to prove something? Grow up.

                  You have designed all sorts of neat looking toys that people with more money than sense would buy. You have now expanded your pretensious horseshit to include things like firearms and goddamn cutlery as if you were Gil Hibben with an ingrown hair in his ass. You are not the person I turn to when determining if I appreciate or enjoy something, you seem more like some douche in a utili-kilt who drinks too much.

                • slowtire

                  This is a DIRECT QUESTION, to you, Mr. Pandya – Who has the authority within your organization to verify that you formerly were employed by Chuck E Cheese? Now answer the question.

                • Robert

                  As far as the Chuck E Cheese thing goes – I still have scars from the bicycle inner tubes used to keep him “fat”. And the lingering burn inside my nose from the combination of foam and teen-sweat.

                  As far as the “challenge” goes – I’ll speak for the company and say that we respectfully decline the invitation. We have work to do.

                • JT Nesbitt

                  Yeah, Yeah, I get it. I suck. We are all in agreement here. I have no talent, and am just a guy who likes to run his mouth. I am still waiting for Mr Panya to give me the name of the person at Polaris who is going to shut me up. Now PLEASE give him the space to answer.
                  Mr. Panya – Are you not even going to pass the buck on this one?

                • Robert

                  Oh – and I raced motorcycles too – I sucked – but I raced. YSR 50′s in the CMRRA and sprints and endurance on the aforementioned Hawkworks bike. I may have gotten a third a couple times – I recall a podium…

                  If you want – ask Ben Speis – he still owes me track time for lapping me so many times!

                • aristurtle

                  So, in other words, I precisely called it: JT Nesbitt wants motorcycles that fit his ideals of artistic perfection, and Polaris wants motorcycles that they can sell in volume at a profit. These are criteria that do not necessarily coincide.

                  I have little else to add to that, other than that a quick Google Image Search for “Confederate Wraith” will show you that artistic perfection is highly subjective.

    • Robert

      No buck-passing here.

      No. And thanks for the invitation.

      • JT Nesbitt

        Now wait just a moment Mr. Panya …You said earlier that you did not have the ability to speak for Polaris industries. I am confused, which is it? — JT

        • Robert

          It’s Pandya.

          I’m going to get all hairy chested as the Victory External Relations Manager and again, politely decline the invitation to blow wads of cash on a pointless exercise.

          Perhaps Scott Wine will choose to veto my decision, but until that time, as the prior mentioned External Relations Manager for Victory and in a period of transition of Indian Motorcycles Management taking the same role…

          Thanks, but no thanks.

          • JT Nesbitt

            Mr. Panya– “Blow wads of cash”? I thought that Polaris Industries was on secure financial footing?! I didn’t realize that you were broke! My goodness, I apologize for taking the food from your children’s mouths!!
            As for “pointless exercise” SHAME on you for insulting everyone with whom you have ever raced, and SHAME on you for ever evoking the name of John Britten.
            But I understand that A large corporation like Polaris will need alot of time to steer in any direction, just as the lame motorcycles that it produces, so I will be a gentleman about this and give you and your organization one week to formalize a real reply of either:
            NO- We are not going to accept this challenge, and slither away on your bellies like the despicable creatures that I assert that you are, or:
            YES- We can and will build a motorcycle that will defeat that sorry and shabby hack of a motorcycle guy from New Orleans.
            In one weeks time- I expect a reply. Run it by your “people”, Perhaps there will be a MAN among them. This is the last that I will say on the matter for one week. — JT

            • Robert

              It’s Pandya.

              There is a reason that Polaris is on sound financial ground, you know. Yes, yes, I am shamed. OK, not really. We’ll focus on our production future and let talented focused mechanically inclined artists build custom one-off rolling moto-sculpture dedicated for a singular purpose. That is not what we do. You go ahead and check that little box.

              We are not going to accept this “challenge”, and we’ll stand tall on our offices around the World, in Medina, MN, in our production facilities in Rousseau MN and Spirit Lake IA, our parts distribution center in Vermillion SD, our Engine Manufacturing plant in Osceola WI, and finally a place that will engineer the awesome products in our future, Wyoming MN. Every employee in the group that strives to deliver awesome motorcycles and and continue to better the ownership experience.

              As the Victory and Indian Motorcycle brands grow, we will upset some, engage many, and ultimately deliver a great series of motorcycles. Maybe not what you want, but there are lots of other companies building what you don’t want, I suspect.

              We’re focused on a strong future with all of our brands, top rated products, and continuing to build on our reputation, heritage and honor.

              And for the record: Next week the answer won’t change. We’ll be too busy working to log on and remind you.

              And next week the name will still be Pandya.

              • Roman

                So if you’re an American rider who wants to purchase an American product, but doesn’t ride cruisers, you’re basically SOL? Why not at least try to put something else out there, just to see how the market reacts?

                • RMUT

                  +1 c’mon Robert what are you guys afraid of.

                  Me and a lot of people (read that as NEW MOTORCYCLISTS) are excited about some American competition and what’s next. New markets should be considered as much as existing and a lot of new riders are looking for something other than bloated Harley$ and something other than dorky-anime-insect looking sport bikes.

                  As far as the JT competition, go ask ANY of your mechanics for their opinion on the matter. They could easily whip something up bad ass for this without wasting any time or money or hurting your road-map.

                  The comments about Indian not looking for competition with Harley and now this… you guys are looking pretty wussy

            • Dumptruckfoxtrot

              Seriously, HFL has let a guy who makes a long childish rant, who resorts to misspelling a guy’s name, who labels an entire company as despicable creatures while type-yelling SHAME, as if he should be wearing a monocle and a top hat, write an article. This is seriously the worst thing that has been deemed fit to print in this publication. It’s as if you gave a belligerent drunk the OK to write an editorial.

              Is New York’s Fastest writing an article next week? This whole debacle is like reading a pretentious episode of American Chopper. Is JT gonna go start talking about Mr. Pandya’s momma next?

              • Robert

                I have a cool Mom. We rode from Denver to San Francisco via Crater Lake OR a few years ago – and we did it on a Harley Ultra Glide provided by Paul James, a great guy working for the Motor Company. I go to do that in the year and a half between Aprilia and Victory, and I will forever be grateful to Paul and HD for that experience. It ended up a feature in Cycle World – Mother Rode. And thanks to Hoyer and Miles for the platform too.

              • zipp4

                Thank you! This whole thing is kind of a joke.

            • Your_Mom
      • Sean Smith

        For you, consider adding your last name to your sn. It’s just less confusing to know who you’re talking to.

        For everyone else, Robert is who he says he is.

        I met him in Charletson at the Kymco intro, and he’s a perfectly nice living and breathing person.

        Facestalk him here.

        • Robert

          I’m disturbed by the term Facetalk. I won’t do that either. This week or next.

          • Sean Smith

            I mean, that’s what it is. Looking at every detail of someone’s facebook page is more than a little strange and voyeuristic.

          • Thom

            JT Nesbitt vs Robert ( of Polaris ? ) Debate

            Game – Set – Match

            To Mr Nesbitt .

            Give em Hell JT !

            • Denzel

              I’m not so sure. Robert gets massive points for being a major corp spokesman “…at your cervyx”

            • Ian

              that’s like watching the palin/biden debate and calling it for palin

  • Gregory

    I disagree that companies are here to solely make money. A company’s goal is to provide for society.

    Companies are founded by passionate individuals with a nerdy knack for something really narrow and unique (Honda Soichiro with piston rings, Friedrich Bayer with chemistry, Henry Ford with assembly line design or even Ben & Jerry with dairy). They build a better mousetrap, form a corporation and end up providing for society. They make a living for themselves, their families, their employees & their government and also provide a better widget for the world to enjoy.

    Mind you, I also believe a corporation needs to have a finite life span somehow related to the age of its founder(s). So perhaps I’m too radical for some circles.

    More on topic, I’d love a modern day UJM. When I bought my KLR in 2008, there was no one who made a nice, decent standard. Honda had a few models, some kind of plasticky; Kawasaki had a few models. Triumph was (is?) over-priced and for poser/ hipsters. I settled on the KLR– ugly looks aside– because it was simple. It’s the modern day RS 80 GS/PD.

    Now, if I were to buy a new bike today, I’d get a Cleveland CycleWerks standard or enduro. Those are awesome.

    I hope Polaris can make an attractive motorcycle.

    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

    • Tim

      Right on…What is so ridiculous about an American UJM. Wouldn’t it have been so much better to hear that Polaris acquired Cleveland CycleWerks, and was bringing their production to our country. There are plenty of riders out here that would love to buy a new bike, but thanks to the crappy economy can’t afford to spend five to seven grand on a Japanese bike. Who knows… selling a larger volume of reasonably priced bikes might even be more profitable than selling a handful of bloated expensive cruisers.

      • Robert

        I’m thinking that Indian might have a bit more global brand equity than Cleveland CycleWerks

        • Ted

          I would agree that you have far more brand equity, because let’s face it, I live in the real world and understand things like math.

          Let me make the point that JG Nebitt has cruised past on his way to crazy town.

          Victory makes damn fine cruisers. They’re well engineered, nice to look at, perform better than the Milwaukee equivalent, none of that I will contest. I don’t even care at this point if you make a supersport. What I would like to see (and am going out on a limb here to say I’m not alone) is a competent sporty standard from an American company. See Triumph. See the Bonneville. See Triumph sell the living piss out of the Bonneville. I think Indian/Victory/Polaris/everyone would like to see you sell the piss out of a similar bike.

          That’s a starting point. Make some money on that and see where things go. You mention above that you don’t want to build a bike for billionaires to be driveway jewelry. I don’t want you to either, I’m pretty sure that KT Besnitt is the only one looking for that. But what I hope you do understand is that a $30,000 bike might as well be $300,000 for a majority of young (I’m 30, I count myself in that group as a view of the larger demographic) riders. We want something nimble, we want something with reasonable power, and we want something that we can proud to ride up to the local watering hole on. The options for that right now all come from overseas.

          Bring it home.

          Oh, and if you do decide to piece together a few of your existing components to shut this blow hard up, I’ll gladly loan you $50.

    • HammSammich

      @ Gregory:

      In the US we grant corporations the rights of an individual, and we have allowed them to equate money with free speech. In that context allowing a corporation to “live” forever sets the stage for plutocracy, so I don’t think your notion of imposing a finite life span is radical at all. I will, however, point out as you have noted, that corporations are created to perform a social function, generally one that is too big for an individual. Part of that is their ability to live beyond a typical human lifespan. So I would argue that it would be better to allow corporations to continue with an unlimited life span, and rather strip them of their rights as individuals and/or do away with the notion that spending money is protected speech.

  • jason

    Did the guy who wrote this run Confederate?
    Anyway, as a Victory OWNER, I will tell you why I bought in:
    I needed back surgery, my ZRX1100 was gonna have to go. I wanted something low, upright and comfy with the ability to get out of it’s own way and handle reasonably well for a cruiser. I never owned a cruiser before then (20 years of riding). I refuse to buy into the Harley thing as it is a company that was our version of Honda for a long time until that douche Willie G got contol, then it was all about tshirts sales and loudness.
    Victory met my requirements AND was American AND was priced right (had 1600 miles on it). I am happy with the bike (it started as a Kingpin but now looks like a Vegas but with a full Hammer front end for dual brakes). It could do more, it could do less. It could definitely use more ground clearance. It’s paid for so it stays for now.
    BUT, my garage also has a Honda Transalp, a Honda Hawk GT and 2 Kawi ZR1100 Zephyrs. I rode the Vic yesterday for about 120 miles. Today I rode one of the Zephyrs (the stockish one) and took most of the same roads.
    I choose the Zephyr. The feeling of FUN comes out on all 4 Jap bikes. That is what matters. FUN!
    The mid-bikes mentioned earlier are for commuters or new riders in my eyes, but people buy for a purpose and since we are America and most owners don’t NEED a bike, they buy one for what they want it to do or not do.
    So Vic copies Harley because there is a market. OK. Done that, just like the Big 4 did in the 80′s. So now copy the Jap bikes! Come up with a parallel twin, a liquid cooled V twin, a multi cyl. engine. You don’t have to wed yourself to the monster V twin. Even Harley makes the Sporty engine! Nothing says Indian can’t have a 4 cyl. (they did!) or that Victory can’t make a sport bike (they kinda tried with the original Sport Cruiser…. it had 17″s at least).
    PLEASE Polaris, don’t give up at cruisers and tshirts and tassels. That kid on the sled or the soldier in Afghanistan on a quad know Polaris. You can just call them Polaris and have “3″ lines, Indian as top shelf, Vic as cruiser and Polaris as UJM/Dirt/Race/Replica/etc. if people believe that a VMax is suddenly not a Yamaha anymore but a “Star” than you’re insane. They call them a Yamaha on the street. Just like how I tell people “It’s a Victory, Polaris makes them in Iowa”. I think it’s the last 4 words that people notice when I say that. The same can be said across the range of bikes if you reach down and grab ahold Polaris.

    Edit: I forgot to add that after my surgery is when I bought the 4 older Jap bikes. The operation was a success and had I known that I most likely would’ve kept the ZRX and never bought a Victory period.

    • Kirill

      Going to second this. I rode a couple of Victories at the motorcycle show a couple of years ago and they felt like really good, well built bikes. Polaris has a reputation for making high-quality products and they make them here in America, not China, India, Mexico, or some other third-world country with cheap labor and a free-trade agreement. I would love to see that same ethos applied to the non-cruiser segment of motorcycling.

      Currently, I own a KLR and an Aprilia SL1000. The closest anyone came to building either in recent memory, or even tried to on a mass scale, was Buell. Is a company like Polaris seriously incapable of building – and profiting off – a competitive sportbike, adventure tourer, or dual-sport? Is American industry incapable in general? Is it a lack of willingness to take on the Germans and the Japanese (and to a lesser extent, the Italians) on the part of everyone besides Erik Buell and a handful of others?? If so, that’s a sad indictment of the state of this country.

    • Robert

      Jason – I still have my Hawkworks GT endurance bike in the shed – and helped build the Evil 8 Vegas with a Hammer front end on it (great handling bike). You have good tase in bikes man. I think Progressive built a shock for a recent RSD project – they could you some ground clearance on the bike.

      • jason

        Thanks Robert. I actually have a Penske on my Hawk and they can do one for the Vics too. Progressive and I think Hagon came out with shocks too. I remember the Evil 8 bike. Nice job there yourself. The bikes really should all have dual brakes but then if you read the Vic forums the majority of owners think “dual fronts? You’ll crash for sure by locking up the front!”. THAT is the problem with sticking to that Harley crowd.
        I’m still fiddling around with the carbs on my hawk. I have a bastardized Supertrapp collector going into a D&D can but I think that I need to just drop the coin on the 2 Bros or M4 system. I also have the Steve Lenac brake adapter (he passed away so I’m lucky to have the adapter for both the Hawk and Alp).
        Kirill, thanks dude. That Aprilla has got to be insane.

        • Robert

          The SXV is a smokin hot cheerleader ready to tear it up…

          Most cruisers are long enough that the rear brake is actually effective as the CG is low. Dual front rotors are typically overkill on a 21″ front rim with a relatively small contact patch, plus in the custom culture, guys who drop coin on wheels don’t care to block the view (why often the rotor is on the “low” side of the bike. I too ride the bikes “outside of their segment parameter” but am always quite happy being able to ride that bike to it’s full potential on the street – where as the Mille streetfighter I built would put me in jail half way through second gear…

        • Kirill

          Jason, the Aprilia is amazing, so much torque. Would never even think of trading it for a liter I-4.

          • Robert

            SL 1000 = most under-rated bike Aprila ever made. Add a decent shock and steering damper, and it’s a great a bike as a standard Mille.

            I was sorry to see it go from the line-up – but then again – I loved that Tuono Racing R. That was Porn.

            • Kirill

              Its so underrated that I might as well have stolen it. I paid less for it than you would for a similar vintage SV650.

  • whoisthor

    It may be the spirit that is lost in the accounting department. I think motorcycle companies should participate in sport. look at Bultaco motorcycles, Paco, the man who started Bultaco, quit Montesa in the middle of a recession to start building his own bikes after they pulled all race funding. 5 years later he was building some of the best motorcycles of the time. Racing makes shit better lets not let “motorcycle” companies sneak by, selling more crap to people who dont know any better. keep the conversation going or pretty soon we will all be on street snowmobiles. (those hideous 3 wheelers)

  • pj134

    If you are a bike builder, who builds your bikes in America, why don’t you start carrying the torch for others to follow? Your deigns are certainly interesting enough to drum up investors, and dulling any of your designs that I’ve seen down would still make them entirely unique.

    I don’t know, sometimes when its a call out from one person to another person in the same basic industry about how their business could be run better, I usually think “well, shit or get off the pot”.

    • BATMAN

      Agreed. Seems Mr. Nesbitt thinks it would be easy to run a large company.

      • Robert

        We do it in our sleep.

        • pj134

          It shows in the product you put on the market.

          • Robert

            Good one -

      • pj134

        See, that’s not what I was saying at all. I’m encouraging him to do it, because it would be nice to have an American bike company with some passion.

        Apparently its nonexistent outside of boutique builders.

        • Robert

          Boutique builders answer to 2 people – the builder and the buyer. The Motorcycle Business is more than that.

          There is room for both.

          It’s impossible to do both.

          • pj134

            So you’re saying there is no room for passion in a large company?

            • Robert

              It’s a different flavor of passion.

  • Barry

    And Victory cares… why?

  • DoctorNine

    The problem is supply and demand. The supply of sport bikes is so high, that you can routinely get a really nice used machine for a few thousand bucks, and ride it for years. So until and unless the number of sport bike riders is expanded, like we see some of the Big Four doing with small displacement bikes, it makes little sense to try to open a volume market there. The only kind of new sport bikes that are going to be able to compete with the Big Four, are niche models.

    I’m all for more sport bikes. And it would be nice to see America come back into the mix like the UK did. But ultimately, this sort of enterprise has to be shoestring stuff. That’s why Buell and Motus et al. are doing it the way they are.

    My 2 cents…

    • Robert

      Worth more than that.

      You are right – a 5 year old GSXR 1000 is an awesome beast even today. And it’s cheap and has a million spare parts options.

      • Sean Smith

        That’s EXACTLY why I ride a GSX-R. Wreck the frame? No problem. Go on craigslist and pick up another for $300 the next day.

    • Roman

      There’s a big world out there beyond cruisers and sportbikes. When Triumph came back, their bikes weren’t intended to compete with the Fireblades of their day. They came back making interesting, quality and reliable bikes that re-established the brand in the marketplace without depending exclusively on nostalgia. Once they got their toehold, they expanded into sportbikes, cruisers etc..

      If the Brits can do it, why can’t we? I have no problems with Polaris using the Indian name to crank out some high margin cruisers. There’s obviously a strong business case for that. But why does it have to be the only thing that they make? Why not a modern day Scout? Why not something with at least some hint of handling and acceleration? I just don’t understand why it needs to be an either or proposition.

      • frankieapples


        • jason


  • Restless Lip Syndrome

    What a fantastic discussion. I need more popcorn…

  • Maxwell

    For two guys that call other journalist out for stealing and not giving credit, it would certainly be nice to get the photo credit for this post.

    • Wes Siler

      Ah, you’re right. I’ll fix it now.

      • Maxwell

        thanks! :)

  • Scott-jay

    Sat on a Victory Vision-lookin’ bike at a cycle “expo” a few years ago. Certainly attractive, just sittin’ still.
    Visited local Victory dealer and was surprised to find more trike-conversions than genuine two-wheel motorcycles.

    JT reads like someone aspiring to a WWF of motorcycling. Magically reconciling brand-name fetishes, nationalism, and self-righteous BS into one a helluva rant.

    Thank-you, JT & HFL.

  • ike6116

    After seeing Robert’s replies and combined with my “reading between the lines” of the CEO’s interview I am actually fairly confident Indian is going to turn out to be pretty awesome in a few years.

    Shame that my ADD generation self is like “a few years… jesus let’s see some sketches or something already”

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      Ike, they’ve had almost a month! What? That ain’t long enough? I want my new Indian racebike in two months time.

      • Robert

        You should be able to buy knock-off stickers for that half-decade old GSXR 1000 pretty cheap too!

      • ike6116

        I’m right there with you

  • CG

    The key question for both JT and Robert is not who is fastest/profit oriented, it is whose ideas will get 20 year olds on mc’s. The current trend suggest that the average buyer in 2025 will be around 65. If that trend doesn’t get halted asap, this is all just a circle jerk. If Ford could build F150s and RS200s at the same time 25 years ago, I think Polaris could build a better HD and an SR1000s if they wanted to. Although I’d settle for a VFR1000 since Honda doesn’t want to build one…..

    • muckluck

      I was just going to say that, great point! Like a previous poster mentioned seeing more three wheelers in a deal than two, someone needs to realize that soon the Baby boomers will not want to be riding anymore. The baby boomers really started something special when they were young building the motorcycle empire what it is today, but soon they will need to pass that torch! It may be harder with all the PC and child codling out there today by “bubble wrapping” everything and plopping the kids down in front of the TV cause it’s “safer”, not to mention all that lead in bikes. Motorcycle companies have there work cut out! At least build a dirt bike tons of kids start there!!

    • BeastIncarnate

      That’s a good point, CG. Clearly, ultra high performance motorcycles, of which there is no shortage in the marketplace, aren’t getting more young riders on the road. A bunch of friends back in my hometown got motorcycles in the last two years and all of them picked up old UJMs. None of them are interested in taking on the role of power ranger or pirate.

      As an enthusiast, I would love Polaris to make a high performance beast of an American motorcycle. Looking at what many new riders that I know want, a high quality standard with classic looks and modern performance would go a long way. These folks love Bonnevilles, Monsters, Nortons and the like. That can and should be done. And if it’s closer to the Nortons, we’re all happy.

      • slowtire

        I agree. Making just what you said, a high quality standard with classic looks and modern performance. Seems like a no-brainer. It’s hard to believe that HD or Polaris isn’t taking that route for at least one model. Build it, put it out there and see what happens. I think they’d be really surprised.

        • BeastIncarnate

          I wouldn’t be surprised if HD believes they are doing that with the Sportster line, or at least the XR1200.

          • frankieapples

            Agreed. The Harley ‘lifestyle’ does have an ability to draw you into loving your bike so unconditionally that you can’t see it’s shortcomings. Had a buddy who sold them for a while and was ready to trade his R6 in on an XR1200. He didn’t, quite not too long after and now can’t believe it.

            Not to detour this thread again, but it reminds me in some ways of how Apple fanboys are.

  • Denzel

    Hmm… no one has commented on the Revolver “sports quadcycle” being offered up by Polaris…The company’s not exactly sitting on its assless chaps, doing nothing novel…

    edit: yes, I know ‘assless chaps’ is redundant…

  • Your_Mom

    I’m wondering if Mr. Nesbitt is bipolar. ‘Cause he sure writes like he is. They have meds for that you know…

  • Von Scotch

    So can we organise a list of maybe 500 or so folks who will assume responsibility for pestering Vistory on a monthly basis to see if they can see this through?

    • jason

      That won’t matter. Most of the current Victory owners are into the pirate/chrome/tassels scene. I’m a member at and it is sad just how many guys buy a bike to do anything that they can BESIDES riding it.

  • Jeremy

    This is why I subscribe to HFL.

  • Frosty_spl

    Beginner bike battle 2011. GO!

  • Robert

    For those of you truly interested in the direction of Polaris in recent years, take the time to read this:

    • Thom

      Robert ;

      So here’s my take on Polaris .

      Sure you’ve made a fairly decent replica of a Harley Davidson cruiser . Sure you’ve provided another option built in the US if its H-D styling and technology you’re wanting .

      But so far thats just made you a Derivative Pastiche of the Real Thing bringing little or nothing to the Table as far as advancing either the Cruiser Genre or M/C in general .

      Now to have done so to get the company off the ground and on a solid foundation financially I can comprehend . I have more than enough corporate background ( family business ) to both understand and applaud such actions .

      But to then continue on with the same old Formula ( give it a rest on your so called technological advancements ) year after year , moving forward not one single inch , while others the same size as yourself ( actually smaller ) e.g Triumph as well as the Japanese big dogs are kicking your technological Ass up one side and down the other is in the plainest of English PATHETIC !

      So back to Mr. Nesbitt’s Slap Down and my scoring of your ” Debate ” with him on this site .

      Certainly Mr Nesbitt has a point . Yes he’s had his foibles along the way , but in light of Polaris’s money , resources etc. Victory’s do look a fair bit worse in comparison .

      • Robert

        Polaris went where the market volume was. Jump in the way-back machine and have Mr. Peabody bring up 1995 when the concept of a Polaris Motorcycle was born. The real renaissance of the brand was with the 2003 Vegas. Since 2003 we have developed a full large-displacement cruiser and American Touring bike line-up, and taken design risks with the Vision – a bike that some love and some hate but few are gray about. That bike alone took about 20 Million dollaz, with that R&D being spread into the Cross Country platform.

        We are currently well-developed into the cruiser business with a powerplant that offers more power at greater reliability than the competition hung into a chassis that out-handles the competition. (I wish there were an app to see who actually rides a HD and has test ridden a Victory)

        As Mr. Wine states, we won’t be rushed into any segment, by anyone – but when we decide to enter that segment it will be with a engineering driven product that is built to the high standards that Polaris has established.

        For instance – the elite wailed when the Cayenne was introduced by Por(sha)- but that SUV is their profit backbone now. The strength of that line allows for further development and accelerated growth into other segments.

        Polaris is not scared of legitimate competition – but they won’t go into battle on a knee-jerk reaction to proove how awesome the company is. As I have said – I was NOT a cruiser guy when I got into the business – but the first time I let the clutch out on a Kingpin, I knew that it was an undeniably good motorcycle. I’m lucky to have several types of bikes to choose from in my personal collection – many don’t and can have but one.

        If they choose a cruiser for whatever reason, and they test all the options for air-cooled large displacement bikes, they can’t objectively deny that it’s a good motorcycle – if it’s not their style, so be it.

        But we hope that that customer quits whining about what it isn’t to them, and buys what they want. Rising tide you know. It is encouraging to see the energy towards what riders want to see in a modern Indian motorcycle.

        Wes – given the quick and deep response to this “debate”, perhaps a survey is in order – but it only makes sense if there is a demographic element attached to it.

        Personally (I said personally now) I would love to see an American Adventure Touring bike with the Indian logo proudly displayed on its tank. I already have the location for the press ride…

      • BATMAN

        Wow. I’m always amazed that people still call Victory a replica of a HD cruiser. I guess because it is a V twin, and a cruiser, it’s automatically a copy cat.

        • jason

          I own a Kingpin and don’t think of it as a replica. I think of it as a “traditional, American, air(oil)-cooled road bike. Made with the American highways in mind and continuing the American use of the V-twin pioneered by Glenn Curtiiss in Hammondsport NY. I think of the Thunderbird as a British “replica” of a Harley, as in taking a design and making it look like a Harley-esque bike (even though it was developed from the jump as just that). Brits had parallel twins, Japan multi-cyl.’s, Germany opposed twins and singles, Italy small bore 2 strokes and America has V-twins. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it came down to me wanting a highway travel oriented American made bike, preferably a Vtwin. Victory had the best product for the money. And I secretly like the Vision.

        • BeastIncarnate

          Most any cruiser from any manufacturer is treated that way, Victory’s not so special in that regard.

    • Thom

      Oh and Robert . As to your reply on my Roger Goldammer comment ?

      Point taken that RG is NOT a manufacture .

      But the real question that remains is Why the Hell hasn’t Victory/Polaris gotten into the game , or at least experimented ( on the test track as well as competitively at Bonneville etc. ) with using Snowmobile engines in a M/C ?

      Guess we’re back to my 5/12 10:06 comment aren’t we ?

      • Robert

        Because the snowmobile and ORV engines are not initially designed with the required properties required by an EPA-legal roadgoing engine.

        And yes – I miss the Tularis.

    • Mauricio


      You are to be commended for taking the high road throughout this unfortunate exchange, leaving others to make a spectacle of themselves with their grandiose delusions.

      • Thom

        Mauricio – Remind me never to have you by my side in a conflict of any sort .

        • Mauricio

          I promise, I wouldn’t be. BTW, I wasn’t referring to you.

      • Robert

        Thanks man – appreciated. Ride on.

  • Thom

    The saddest thing in this whole debate is the fact that a Vincent V- Twin ( which is how old ???? ) built out of modern materials and using modern FI or carbs is still light years ahead of the V-Twins Victory or H-D is using .

    Don’t believe me ? Have a look at what the Aussie Vincent as well as Godet Egli Vincent have accomplished in the last few years . Especially the Aussies on the Track .

    • HammSammich

      I don’t know enough about it to say whether or not it is more technologically advanced, but Vincent undeniably made some of the best looking headers ever put on any twin cylinder motorcycle. Hmmm, think I’ll go look at the framed vintage Rollie Free poster hanging in my foyer, that my wife got me. :)

  • Mark D

    Cheer up JT. In 15 years, we’ll all be riding electrics, anyways :)

    • jason

      I’m actually looking forward to that! I just hope there will be ways to convert gas bikes.

      • Lawrence

        Sound Engineers Unite

  • frankieapples

    One thing, it seems, all manufacturers do, that American’s don’t… cover the gambit of motorcycle types. While not all manufacturers make cruisers, the Big 4 do, and even Ducati is building a ‘muscle bike.’ Most other manufacturers still make some combo of: standards, sports, supersports, neo-retros, off-road/dualsports, sport tourers and adventure tourers. Victory and Harley make cruisers/tourers and musclebikes and that is all. I think diversity in their lineups would be a welcomed change. I like what Motus is doing, and would love to see their product catch on and their company blossom and diversify their offering.

    Think about this, how is the question What do you ride answered?

    I ride a CBR.

    I ride a Harley.

    Notice any difference there?

  • Devin

    So are you saying there’s no money to be had in selling American made non-cruiser motorcycles?

    That’s a fair answer, just not one I’d prefer to hear.

    • pj134

      It might be fair, but it is definitely a cop out.

  • pj134

    Well, I’m 21, don’t own a motorcycle but am looking to get into the market. I seem to be a part of that group everyone is saying (insert American maker here) should try to get as a buyer. All I can say is that this whole exchange ensured only one thing. There is no fucking chance I’ll purchase a motorcycle from a company that has a PR Manager that basically goes out, reads what people desire out of an American motorcycle manufacturer and says “fuck you, we have our money”.

    • Peter88

      What people? Our little group of HFL motorcycle fanboys? Our opinions may be spot on, but they also may be totally wrong. I’m confident Polaris knows what it’s doing. The entire motorcycle industry (and other organizations for that matter) are struggling with this “new world” of ours. Things have changed rapidly and continue to do so.

    • Case

      That’s not what I read in his comments. I give Robert credit for coming here and flying the company flag in the face of open hostility. That’s his job, but still.

      I felt that Robert said that they are in business to make money. That’s not news to anyone. I hope that they can make money selling bikes that are more UJM, less HD-clone. But they would have to build one first, so who knows? The retro Triumphs seem like a good model for success.

      If Polaris wants to grow the business they will have to sell to guys like you, so tell them what you’re looking for. By the time it hits the market you will be ready to buy it.

      • Peter88

        I am one of those guys that is getting close to not riding a race replica any longer (notice the word “old” was not used). I would like an American narrow-angle air-cooled v-twin producing about 130HP in a flat track or naked chassis. If it weighs 500 lb or less I’m cool with that.
        Thanks Case.

        • Mauricio

          I wonder if a large company such as Polaris could ever make a business case for that kind of motorcycle. BMW builds something very much along those lines (except for the narrow angle part) – see HP2 Sport. But then, how many of those do they sell a year? Do they EVER turn a profit on those bikes? Secondly, you have tightening emissions legislation on the horizon. Air-cooled motors might be viable for some time in cruiser guise, but I’m not counting on engines in a state of tune capable of delivering 130 RWHP being around too much longer.

      • Thom

        As I responded to Robert . I have no problem with a company making a profit . so by all means continue with the Formula thats working at the moment ( pay attention to that phrase )

        But for a companies Long Term Success they NEED to start investing in the Future , Innovating ( which Victory has not ) and moving to the forefront rather than continue to Copy only .

        @ Peter88 – I’ll say it then . I’m ” Old ” ( mid 50′s ) and like you have no further desire for a Race anything , be it car , bicycle or motorcycle . but it would be nice to have a few choices of the sort you’re talking about from the American companies . But Innovative choices please !!!

        • Robert

          For the American cruiser / touring segment, we have strong innovation. I invite you to ride one if you have not – but you must ride the competition for the opinion to be valid. Perhaps those who don’t care for the segment, need not editorialize. You won’t catch me spouting off about fly fishing, bond yeilds, or what’s a better cruise ship line.

          • Mark D

            Hey, Sonny Barger rides a Vision, ya’ll must be doing something right. Or, horribly horribly wrong. In the good kind of way.

            • jason

              Sonny also said something to the point of ‘we rode Harleys because that was what was arouund and we could afford. If I had ridden a Jap bike the Harley would be just some bike’. Again, Vic owner (and secret Vision liker) here.

  • Don
    • RMUT

      or this for the new riders…

      or this because you can still carry a passenger…(how you supposed to get laid when you can’t take your guy/girl out for a ride?)

      • BATMAN

        Love those Mac bikes! As I get older, I’m more inclined to buy a smaller bike in the future, along the lines of the Bonneville, or a W800. Whoops, can’t get the W800 cause it is a “copy” of the Bonnie:)!!

      • Robert

        I dig the Macs too – a very cool look. But at what price / performance index would you want the bike, and expect the brand to deliver. And would you buy it – really? Would you buy it at $8K with an original American motor – would you buy it at $5K with an imported motor?

        Lots to think about – it’s fun.

        Now – I’m gonna go prep the KTM for a desert ride. See ya.

  • Marlon

    This guy’s a wanker.

  • Michael

    Methinks JT has nothing to lose in this bet. Win, and he wins. Lose and he can claim he was outspent by a big bad corporation. Why not call out Buell, who is trying to build what JT thinks should be built – and if JT wants to make it interesting, with a wager, might even take him up on it?

  • Andrew

    I like where they were going with the Vision, but I’m not sure who they are trying to sell the final product to.

    It’s downright ugly, and the powerplant is a joke. A 1700+ cc motor and it barely ekes out 92HP and 109ft/lb of torque? Any water-cooled liter bike on the market will blow that thing away, I-4, L-Twin, V-4, take your pick. Throw an absolutely ridiculous vintage-spaceship fairing on it and you have completed a recipe for failure.

    It pains me, but Victory’s latest paragon of commitment to branching out and diversifying their lineup is nothing short of a flat-out design disaster. Unless we see some huge change in designer mindset, Indian is equally doomed.

    • HolyHandGrenade!

      True but at half the MPG. Something very important to a touring bike owner. Just saying.