Regarding my challenge to Indian

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One week ago, motorcycle designer and custom builder JT Nesbitt proposed a challenge to the new owners of the Indian brand, Polaris. He was hoping that by doing so, he could encourage them to build anything but a boring cruiser and instead build the kind of motorcycle our country could be proud of. Here’s what came of that. — Ed.

Photo: 02Dooce

Yes, today I am the sad clown. I just got off the phone with Victory Motorcycles. I made point of calling them, to be sure that I got a personal response. They weren’t very happy with me and confirmed what we all knew, that Polaris Industries has declined my challenge to a test of lap times.

One critical piece of information, however, is that the CEO of Polaris Industries, Scott Wine, had taken great offense to my calling him a “peckerwood.” Now as a Navy man, I am sure that Mr. Wine has been called a lot worse, by far better men than I, and I am sure that his ego is strong enough to make a speedy recovery. Being called a name by a crazypants bum happens all of the time here in New Orleans, you get over it.

The real revelation, however, is that he did actually read my column. Sometimes the louder and crazier the messenger, the greater the penetration of the message. While I do sincerely apologize for the style of my post, I do not apologize for it’s substance. I trust that Mr. Wine is smart enough to glean the nuggets of truth that lie within the acerbic packaging.

The thrust of this whole dust up and my cockamamie scheme was to give the people at Victory ammunition. Think about how much fun the guys at the factory would have had, coming up with something crazy, going home to their wives at the end of the day all excited about the new thing that they were working on and how much fun it would be to humiliate a loudmouth asshole like JT Nesbitt. If, by some miracle, Polaris had decided to go for it, I would have thrown the race. My stupid plan was to put together a motorcycle that would have kept them honest, but to ensure that they would win. You see if my contraption made a faster lap that theirs, everyone looses.

What if they had accepted my challenge? The prototype that they came up with would have had to have a 55-58 inch wheelbase, 24-26 degrees of rake, 400 odd pounds weight and at least 130 horsepower. Exactly the kind of reasonably capable motorcycle that this country needs. I was counting on a huge outcry from the general public to bring that prototype to market, and then everybody wins, including me as the first in line to put a deposit down on a real American sport motorcycle. Sounds like fun, silly entertainment. Injecting a little humor into that drab, dour, Victory/Indian thing. But the higher-ups said no. They lost, I lost, and the real losers are American motorcyclists like you.

Challenges, coupled with insults, have generated greatness in Americans past. Witness the greatest race car ever to be born in this country, the Ford GT40. That car was created as a response to an insult from Enzo Ferrari. The greatest achievement of mankind thus far — the moon landing, was the result of Nikita Khrushchev’s shoe pounding at the U.N. and the greatest period of American motorcycling was truly the result of the war of words and actions between Harley-Davidson and Indian. Now I am certainly no Enzo, but I guess the real question is, who is? Where is the aggression and passion that has historically yielded greatness? Where is the competition in this country? The American motorcycle scene is a game of cuddlepuppy. Everyone is so scared shitless of rocking the boat, making a mistake and getting fired.

Finding a job in the American motorcycle scene is really hard, I know firsthand. My personal level of talent certainly couldn’t cut it and I am now relegated to the sidelines. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t care anymore and there are far worse things to be than washed-up, such as sycophantic. Knowing that I will never be in the motorcycle business again gives me the freedom to be outspoken and at least a nuisance to the chummy cabal that constitutes the Victory/Harley hegemony.

The point that I want to make is that this isn’t about me or them, it’s about YOU. Polaris industries doesn’t own Indian, you do. It’s your legacy as an American motorcyclist. It’s your history, not theirs. They bought the trademark because they need it. Victory has no heritage and hasn’t, in the considerable time that they have been around, truly tried to establish one. America doesn’t need them, they need American customers. But, rather than earning an honest heritage through competition, they just went out and bought one. They bought Indian.

Would you rather have more of this tired old cliche…

All along, Polaris has maintained that they would have bought Indian years ago if they had been able to. That means that Victory is their second choice and also means that the Indian badge would have been displayed years ago on a product that is clearly a me-too motorcycle. Just to reiterate, for the record, a “cruiser” style motorcycle is a Harley-style motorcycle. Harley OWNS the look and that look is really just a marketing ploy to convince low information buyers that they will be regarded as tough outlaw biker types if their motorcycles look like custom motorcycles from the sixties. Victory, for the past thirteen years, has been chasing a marketing message, not a better mousetrap. It’s about short term profit and very little else.

Victory hammers the message that they are “competing in a market segment.” What I rarely hear from their camp is that they strive to build excellent motorcycles to compete with the best the world has to offer. I hope that someday they will not have to hide behind words like “market segment.”

I know that any motorcycle guy, like most of the guys at Victory, would relish the option of doing track days on a motorcycle built by their friends and neighbors, rather than one built by strangers in Japan. How about sport touring, or adventure touring cross country or across the globe? Any American rider would surely derive more satisfaction from bombing through the desert, not on a KTM, but on the motorcycle that an American company built in America. Again, Triumph did just that for England in under twenty years. Tick tock.

…Or this?

There is a crisis at hand. We all know it. When the stock market crashed in 2008, it did not come as a surprise to anyone who was on the inside. Many of them were shouting as loudly as they could to anyone who would listen, warning that it was coming. Their voices were stymied by the companies that were making such huge profits from security backed derivatives that a diversification of the portfolio would have led to smaller margins and fewer corporate bonuses.

Greed ultimately destroyed the economy. The only “market segment” that they were interested in was the one currently providing the highest yield. Myopic to say the least.

In my original challenge, commenter PJ134 wrote, “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.’”

At what point do we engage with the next generation of American motorcyclists? There is nothing fun or cool about an overweight fifty-something on a cruiser — especially a fake Harley — wearing a Nazi-style chrome helmet. Young people are not stupid, they just aren’t being exposed to the McQueen side of The Conundrum and are therefore loosing interest in two wheels. It is the poverty of imagination that permeates the current American motorcycle landscape that they are so intuitively picking up on and are turned off by. It just isn’t fun anymore.

I have a kid who is working around my shop, sweeping the floors, sorting nuts and bolts, general shop monkey stuff. Jonathan is 16 and, as a reward for helping out, I took him to the local Triumph/Ducati dealer (Transportation Revolution here in New Orleans). It was his first trip to a motorcycle dealer. Now, prior to this albeit small level of exposure, he regarded motorcycling as a pastime for “grampas”, or “crazy adrenaline junkies.” Harley riders he labeled “douchebags,” the stunter wheelie guys appealed to him only marginally more. I asked him pick out his favorite motorcycle in the showroom and, to my surprise, he chose the Ducati Hypermotard. “Why do you like that one?” I asked. He responded with “cause it looks like the most fun.” Truer words…

America put Harley-Davidson out of business once, I think that we are about to do it again. Currently Polaris has directly tied their success to the fortunes of HD. For better or worse, as goes Harley, so goes Victory, only sooner. Lacking both distinguishing mechanical differentiation and a strong brand, Victory is the least fun motorcycle brand in the world and it looks to me like Indian is going to be just as boring. I hope that I am wrong. I sincerely hope that I am reading these tea leaves upside down, but I suggest that their noses are too close to the blackboard to see the bigger picture. Even if you don’t think that cruisers suck, at least admit that they are Harleys by another name. Jonathan certainly does.

What the kids want, what I want, are choices. Motorcycling is supposed to be fun and I don’t need to have some biker lifestyle marketing baloney to make it real for me. I need the opposite of that. It’s called a fun, fast motorcycle that’s built by enthusiasts and forges its own fresh identity. Until I get it from an American company, I will remain the Sad Clown in a very tired circus.

  • evilbahumut

    tired circus indeed. JT, did you get to actually talk to Wine, or just somebody in his office who said he took offense to the word “peckerwood”?

    • JT Nesbitt

      I believe that their PR guy, Robert, just posted below, why don’t you ask him. – JT

      • scottydigital

        JT, Cleveland CycleWerks is looking to move full production of our motorcycles to Cleveland, making us truly an American Motorcycle Company. My take on Indian is…… How is this going to turn out different then Excelsior Henderson? Completely irrelevant and squarely out of reach for my generation of rider. CCW will build cool affordable bikes.

        • scottydigital

          JT, perhaps we should talk. If interested contact me through my website, just click my name.

  • david folch

    round two… fight !

  • Robert

    I agree, the Hypermotard looks like fun.

    • NickP

      Please tell your boss’ boss’ boss to let the engineers make something similar!

      A young American not interested at all in buying a cruiser.

    • Robert

      That wasn’t me.

      • dux


      • NickP

        oops! We need unique usernames or something ;)

  • a hipster

    wow. that was beautiful.

  • Ted

    A lesson my dog learned long ago…

    If you bark at the squirrel before you get close, they’ll run off every time.

  • tomwito

    Excellent article! I agree 1,000,000,000%. $20K for technology from 1950?

    • Sean Smith

      The tech will be cutting edge. Fuel injection, great brakes, modern tires, hell, they’ll probably have controlled-fill cast aluminum frames. It’s the geometry, size, seating position and extra crap thats going to make them lame. Just look at Victory: Cutting edge tech, but the package is still a cruiser.

      • tomwito

        That’s what I was getting at.

  • Peter88

    Having read all the posts, and contributed some myself, concerning this subject I can say that I do not want either of the tired, old cliches pictured above. My liter bike has been alot of fun but what do I get next? Nothing excites me out there except the work of some of the custom builders. Do I have to build something myself? Or buy something and then spend a few grand making it what I want? Frankly, I don’t know. So I’m not buying anything. The liter bike will be just fine for now. Before my edit function times out…the XR1200X and the CORE concept are steps in the right direction, small steps but steps none the less.

    • jason

      If we had received any of the large standards offered in Europe (CB1300, GSX1300, XJ1300 I think…. anyway, the names are close) at Sportster level prices than I think they would’ve answered all of your questions. The infamous UJM is the answer. Tour, race, ride, whatever and all usually doable via factory offered parts. Triumph has a pretty extensive factory upgrade catalog to turn a bike into a scrambler or racer or lite touring rig. In the states you can’t even get the factory Givi bags and mounts for the bikes.
      Build an American UJM and have some useful aftermarket parts to help make it into what every individual wants.

      What do I know. I flip flop about selling my Vic for a Connie every day.

      • Chris Davis

        I think you’re both constrained by existing paradigms. He’s not calling for an American version of anything. He’s calling for something American. I’m thinking Motus but with far better execution. In automotive terms I think it would be Corvette vs. Ferrari vs. Skyline – not the cheapest, nor the most expensive, not the most technical, not the most refined, but brutal and at least equally capable of performing the same task.

    • Ducky

      Try hooning on a supermotard. Litre bikes are “fun”, mostly in a straight line, but a supermotard is a lesson in releasing your inner redneck.

      • jason

        HAH! I thought Buell had been developing a dirtbike. I’m sure a SM would’ve been made too. Or modded by owners. I have a HawkGT and even at my size (re Gorilla on a tricycle) it is amazing fun.

      • mugget

        Hell yeah.

        Supermoto – probably the most fun anywhere on roads (or off) near a city. Just yesterday morning on my way to work a taxi driver yelled at me – “slow down!!”

        At least I think that’s what he said, but I couldn’t hear him above the sound of my own awesome. And I was having too much antisocial fun anyway.

  • Brad

    Almost brings a tear to my eye how right on you are about today’s American motorcycles. I could not agree more with you JT and because I am of the same mind set hence this is the reason I have spent my hard earned American dollars on two Triumphs. They seem to get it above every other manufacturer out there today. They have built on their heritage not transformed it to fit into a “market segment”. I wish all the best to Indian and their new owners but I am not holding out hope.

  • Chris

    I’m 35 and I ride a cruiser (Yamaha). I do not dress like a pirate when I ride and my bike is not obnoxiously loud.

    I resent being lumped in with “low information buyers” I ride a cruiser because that’s what I want to ride.

    Hard to imagine anything more American than being able to choose to ride what I want without being pigeonholed.

    • Pete

      I think the point he’s trying to make is that, if you want to buy American, you are pigeonholed by the market. There are no American made bikes that break the cruiser mold.

      • Chris

        Very true.

        He makes unfair assumptions about cruiser riders though, we are not all “low information buyers.”

        If you don’t like the style of bike I ride that’s fine. No need to call me an idiot at the same time.

    • 80-wattHamster

      While it’s great that you like your machine, whether you like it or not your choice of motorcycle says something about you. It might be wrong, but it says it nonetheless. You ride an imitation Harley. You are going to get lumped into the “I ride an anachronistic fashion statement of a motorcycle because I want to be part of the image it portrays” segment of the riding population by people who don’t know you.

      Guys on crotch rockets get stuffed into the adrenaline junkie category. People on BMWs are prejudged as self-important wankers. Etc. If you truly like what you’re riding (and is there a more die-hard fan group than Harley riders?), just ride it and stop giving a flying fuck what anybody else thinks about it. Or you.

    • HammSammich

      “that look is really just a marketing ploy to convince low information buyers that they will be regarded as tough outlaw biker types if their motorcycles look like custom motorcycles from the sixties.”

      I don’t want to put words in JT’s mouth (or keyboard) for fear that he’ll challange me to a duel ;), but I don’t see anywhere in this comment where he generalizes and calls cruiser riders low information buyers. To the contrary he says that the prevalence of cruiser style bikes in the market is a cynical marketing tactic aimed at low information buyers. Surely you can see the difference?

      In fact, as the rider of a japanese cruiser, you are actually a good example of a higher information buyer than the typical HD or Victory owner, because (and I’m assuming here) you were able to cross-shop and bought your motorcycle based on features and value, not based on lifestyle marketing.

      • Chris

        I do see your point. You’re correct in assuming that I purchased my Yamaha for the very reasons you describe. In fact I wouldn’t touch an HD with a 10′ pole.

      • BATMAN

        “a higher information buyer they the typical HD or Victory owner”? I cross-shopped, as you call it, and bought a Victory. I felt it had everything I happened to want in a bike. Could have bought any bike I wanted, but felt it had all the features and WAS a good value. 82,000 later, and I’m still loving it. That’s not to say next time I won’t buy another brand. Probably a Triumph Bonnie or Scrambler. I agree with Mr. Nesbitt here, on a lot of points. I just felt he was bashing Victory unfairly.

        • BATMAN

          Oh, and I love what CCW is doing now. Small, inexpensive bikes.

        • HammSammich

          I stand by that statement, and I would suggest that you are somewhat anomalous. HD and Vic have built their brands on a very specific lifestyle marketing that is directed at low information buyers, but that is not to say that people who do their research can’t decide that a Vic or HD is the best for them. I do take issue with the notion that Victory is a good value, though considering their least expensive motorcycle starts at around $15k. You can get a similar cruiser with as good or better performance from other manufacturers for thousands of dollars less. But again that is not to say that you personally are a low information buyer. Your decision was just based on factors other than value alone.

          Also, kudos on riding so many miles! Do you have any Iron Butt Rides in those 82K?

          • BATMAN

            I did a Saddle Sore back in ’07, with 12 other Victory’s from MN. These same guys do it every year, but I have not been able to join them since then. Usually ride to work, most weekends, and a one week bike vacation every summer. This year, heading down to Eureka Springs.

            By the way, I had never HEARD of the word anomalous before you used it! Had to look it up!

        • frankieapples

          While I can’t comment on Victory resale value, I will say that with Harley’s it seems fairly good. I buy bikes cheap and keep them forever, so it doesn’t apply to me, but for some it may.

  • NickP

    Well said, sir.

    “Any American rider would surely derive more satisfaction from bombing through the desert, not on a KTM, but on the motorcycle that an American company built in America.”

    I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. That is why I ran out and bought a Buell the very day I learned they were being shut down. I had wanted one for years but was too young and broke from paying for college to afford one. I wanted a fun bike designed in this century and built by Americans, and I saw it as a last chance to get one for a long time. As for my other interests, namely dirt, I had to go to Japan and Canada. Sorry Polaris, I like your offroad products but Can-Am (at least still NORTH American, right?) makes a better and faster ATV than you, and where the hell is your street-legal dirtbike line?

    JT, I know you and Polaris would disagree on several things, but I don’t think that they can deny that they are hiding “behind words like “market segment.””

    I said it before, but if it were my money I wouldn’t have wasted it on buying a silly old logo (one that some people including me find culturally offensive anyway), I would spend money on building a new generation of motorcycles for people with black, blonde, brown, red, purple and green hair. Not just grey.

    • Robert

      All of you who own ATK’s and Highlands please raise your hands?

      Hello? Anyone?

      An old Cannondale perhaps?


      • motoguru

        I own an ATK 605. So there.

        What do I win!?

        • NickP

          Blood Falcons…I know you! I started alongside you @ TD. You kicked my ass on the Aprilia. Going to the Gilmore race?

          • motoguru

            Haha, yup! I don’t know if I want to do Gilmore yet… You taking the white beast out there?

            • NickP

              I’ll be there for sure! Hopefully by then I can squeeze just a few more mph out of it…

        • Robert

          Incredulous stares from people with Cannondales in the shed.

      • NickP

        Cannondale? I was always a Trek guy until I got my ti Fat Chance.
        Oh hold on, we’re talking motorbikes :)

  • Gregory

    Nice article; good follow-up to the original gauntlet-throw-down.

    Doesn’t Cleveland Cycle Works fill the gap between cruiser and sport bike? Their standard looks pretty good; good enough for touring, commuting, hooning, et cetera. Their super motard look definitely hoonable.

    I think my KLR was built in Nebraska. I guess that makes it “American”, whatever that means… or at least more so than a Crown Victoria built in Ontario.

    People will buy the best bike, regardless of where it was made. One bolt twister is as good as the other. A factory’s geographic location is irrelevant.

    Though, I must say… if a motorcycle were built here in Portland, I’d be more inclined to buy it. But Nebraska or Milwaukee might as well be Tokyo or Munich.

    Portland, OR
    2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

    • NickP

      I agree, Cleveland is probably the best chance we have at the moment.

      Funny, isn’t it, where cars actually come from. I’m in Detroit and see the “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign” bumper sticker every single day. Only problem is, I work for several car companies, foreign and domestic, and without naming names I’d say Japan is more likely to pay their suppliers fair money for good, hard work than certain US companies are.

      I prefer to buy American, but since Hondas are built (and some designed too) by non-UAW (that’s important to me) workers in East Liberty Ohio, aren’t they just as American as a Chrysler?

    • HammSammich

      Please correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t Cleveland Cycle Works’ Bikes imported from China where they’re built to spec? I’m honestly not trying to sound xenophobic, and don’t personally believe that is an indication that the quality is low, but doesn’t that make them at least somewhat less of an “American Motorcycle Company” than Victory, who designs and builds their bikes in the US?

      • NickP

        Cleveland builds in China because it was impossible to build anywhere else as a new company. Their ultimate goal however is to build in the USA after a few years of the whole “start-up” thing. Scott is the head guy there and frequents HfL so maybe he can fill you in further…

        • HammSammich

          Thanks Nick, I went back and re-read the original interview with Scott, and see where he’s trying to bring final assembly and some parts manufacturing to the US.

          I’m excited by Cleveland’s bikes, and I think that they’ve found a legitimate way to bring a product to market using the advantages of the globalized economy, rather than trying to fight against it. Based on what I’ve read, I would probably consider CCW an American Motorcycle company with foreign manufacturing. Scott seems realistic about this, and the struggle will be to change the perception to something more like what we see in the Tech industry – ie. Dell is seen as an American computer manufacturer, but obviously most of their products are made abroad.

          • scottydigital

            Hi, Scott from CCW here. I was just out with a group of guys tonight discussing the financial model that will allow us to manufacture in Cleveland!!! I have said it many times. Riding is about having fun, not how much you spend. I started building small displacement motorcycles because they were inexpensive. My 1st ride out on a 250cc and I found motorcycle riding fun again after 10 years. For about $3000, you have your self a 250cc bike from CCW that comes with a 12 month warranty, and is supported by a group of guys that is passionate about motorcycles, we love this shit. Check this vid out below!!! 250cc FTW!!


            • Gregory
            • HammSammich

              Hi Scott, thanks for the video, and thanks for following the conversations on HFL. I love the idea of picking up a Hooligun and adding some dual purpose tires for some offroad fun.. I’ll keep an eye on your website – watching for a dealer to open up in E. Washington State, so I can check your bikes out in person. Cheers.

            • Von Scotch

              Any UK dealers yet Scotty? I think $3000 must be in the region of £2000 – if they don’t cost too much more than that over here, I’d sign up right now.

              Also, I like the presence of folks like scotty in here, like when I used to build fuzz pedals, and Zachary Vex would drop in on a forum and give you some pointers. Chances of someone from Polaris turning up here, and giving us more than a line ot two?

            • noone1569


              Can I buy a Hooligan right now? I can’t figure out if they are on sale right now or not. I’ll give the dealer in Clarksville, IN a call. Any chance you can do a demo around Indy during motogp time? Feel free to shoot me an e-mail or something if I can help coordinate.


          • NickP

            No problem. They definitely have some promise about them.

            And Scott, cool video, would love to ride a Hooligun!

            • scottydigital

              We just got approval from the US gov. for the Hooligun. We are starting to build our US spec version this month. We only have a few engineering samples in the USA. Most dealers are completely indifferent to this bike, so we might have to go direct to the consumer with this bike to introduce it.

              VON SCOTCH: We have a small importer that has just started importing bikes into the UK, I believe we now have our road legal certification in the UK. They are Workshopchops. Shoot them an email.

              I only comment when the conversation is stimulating.

              • Kirill

                A bit off topic, Scott, but you guys should review your SEO, you’ve got your keywords where your description should be

                • scottydigital

                  Modified, thanks Kirill!!

                  Damn, it has been like that for the last 4 months. :)

  • Mark D

    JT, how about different test? You bring your bike to a non-biker, hip club/bar. Victory brings one of theirs. See which one attracts the most attention, the most “woah, what’s that?!”, the most “cool bike!”, and the most phone numbers from cute girls.

    If they are a serious company with a long-term growth plan, than surely building a bike that’s attractive to young people shouldn’t be too big a burden, right? That’s what they’d been doing all along!

    Maybe the Indian doesn’t need to have 130hp and a 430 lb wet weight; maybe it just needs to look the most fun to a 16 yr old kid.

    • Brammofan

      Can I play this game? But “the most phone numbers from cute girls” is a standard that is more dependent upon the looks of the bike owner, isn’t it? I’ve seen Nesbitt so I’m not too worried about him, but what if Polarian brings in a ringer, Brad Pitt lookalike?

      • Mark D

        The Ringer! Those bastards!

    • fasterfaster

      Really? Your standard for a bike’s greatness is how much attention it gets at a bar? If the only difference between your strategy and Harley’s is which bar you choose, you’re not trying hard enough.

      • Miles Prower

        Another approach is to do a multi-round competition:

        Round 1 = Track times.

        Round 2 = Ten riders vote on which one is more fun to ride on the street.

        Round 3 = Same ten riders vote on which bike’s looks they prefer.

        Round 4 = Both bikes are taken to a bar to see which one garners the most attention from non-bikers.

        The audience could then make their own decisions on which bike “wins” based on whatever weight they personally give to each round.

    • Robert

      Lets factor in how much it costs and if the bike can pass reliability tests and if that cute girl with the loose digits is really the measure of success for a motorcycle brand.

  • Brammofan

    Feel free to delete this comment after editing:
    1. “looses” and “loosing” should be “loses” and “losing”.
    2. “it’s substance” should be “its substance”.

    Love HFL because it gives me many opportunities to keep my editing skills sharp.

    • Wes Siler

      Just consider them easter eggs Harry.

      • Brammofan

        Easter eggs? Oy vay.
        And I didn’t say I ate at the Harley restaurant, just that I saw it. (In the context of the “I’d eat at an Ace Cafe” discussion).

    • dux

      Me too!

  • kidchampion

    To answer your question: I’ll choose Katie Seagall’s tired old cleavage cliche over a shirtless Steve McQUEEN any time. I’ll read the rest of the article later.

  • DoctorNine

    I dunno. This whole exercise seems like a ‘pick a fight with the fat kid’ strategy. I guess I’m supposed to be, but I’m not impressed. Sorry.

    • dux

      Sometimes the fatties need to be punished. Otherwise they’d never get into shape!

  • Denzel

    I don’t think Polaris need be beat up on too much for their lack of committment to building an American KTM, or an American Hypermotard. It’s too bad that they don’t, because they could. But it is, for the mean time at least, a cruiser company.

    We all grew up with the idea that America’s motorcycle heritage was Harley AND Indian. …and they both were of the same species. So Harley doesn’t “own the look”. Indian owns part of that look and, obviously, what better way to exploit the cruiser market than by purchasing that historical credibilty…

    Also, the idea of Indian as the sportier of the two is not in the collective consciousness, so Polaris is not betraying the brand by not building a 2012 Scout.

    It’s too bad really, because who, if not Polaris, could fill the U.S. manufacturer void? Small start ups are not going to instill the critical mass of confidence in customers necessary to be successful.

    Robert, Scott, just because you aren’t planning to build an athletic bike doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t consider it seriously :-)

    • Kevin

      I sure hope Indian will be more than a Victory with tassles and rhinestones.

  • aristurtle

    “Where is the aggression and passion that has historically yielded greatness?”

    You know damn well where it went; when Indian died and Harley “retired” from the performance race, the aggression and competition was between Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki, with Ducati and a couple of the other European manufacturers occasionally thrown in.

    And that’s just the problem! Building motorcycles that target lap times instead of a subjective image is a brutal, ruthless Darwinian selection process that’s very hard to break into. How do you compete with companies that have been honing race bikes for the past forty years while you’ve been out of the market? How do you just jump in there and start throwing punches with the best of them? BMW did, recently, with the S1000RR — it cost them billions of dollars in R&D and they were selling the bikes at a loss for the first year, too! Buell raced for decades before winning an AMA championship, and Erik Buell is basically a cartoon mad scientist.

    This shit ain’t easy to build a business on — is it any surprise that chasing after “image” is what they’re going for?

    • JT Nesbitt

      Triumph managed to pull it off, and make good money in the process. — JT

      • aristurtle

        They did, but I think they might be the exception rather than the rule. KTM tried to move into making supersport bikes and they’re losing their shirt, even with good product.

      • Kurt

        Actually, if memory serves, (and it doesn’t always)Triumph has only very recently made a profit. If John Bloor hadn’t had so much money, they wouldn’t have survived either.

    • jason

      Indian died because of WW2. HD and indian submitted bikes for a contract for military bikes. Indian built theirs to the specs put out to bid. HD made theirs as they saw fit (heavier and with a bigger engine). HD gets the contract, military riders are mostly on HD’s, surplus HD’s become the bobbers that become choppers. Indian has to build it’s base back post-war and it doesn’t work.
      I’m sure their are a billion other things that led to their demise, but to not put the war 1st isn’t fair. The same to look at Harley “coming back” in the 80′s without mentioning that there were tariffs on imports over 700cc.

      • frankieapples

        The same goes for hatred for Japanese bikes, which I think for most people has disappeared. I’m sure if you fought in WW2 you’d never buy a Mitsubishi car or a Kawasaki motorcycle. None of us did though and most of us don’t have that hatred. (Speaking of which it always struck me as odd that VW drivers hated on Japanese things, but I digress)

        With little xenophobia and a majority of US manufacturers having things made overseas, the American Made sportbike thing seems like an exercise in futility. There is Fischer, but don’t they use Hyusong motors?

        I do agree that any company that doesn’t diversify their offering by more than with or without a windshield and big street-sweeper fenders or bobbed-fenders are really putting all of their eggs in one basket. While this has yielded Harley a lot of money in the past, they don’t seem to be doing so well as of late.

  • Pete

    I’m sorry but I just disagree here. I think we have to remember that those on this site are likely the more educated and discerning riders among us. There is a huge segment of the market that loves Harleys no matter how crappy they are and, boy, are they crappy. We on this site are the reason there are other bikes on the market, and, let’s be honest, if you can’t find a bike sold today that revs your particular motor, you simply aren’t looking hard enough. It will probably not be an American bike, but when was the last time you bought anything American that was better than something else or filled a need. Why do you think the American motor industry is in the tank? Because they don’t make cars that anyone actually wants to buy. I drive a German car, because they seem to be the only people who make wagons, or estate cars if you’re a euro, and British and Japanese bikes, because they make the styles I like. American design and engineering has never really cut it. Someone please correct my thinking, but I would be willing to bet that most of us feel the same.

    • Kevin

      I think there are some very nicely styled and built American cars out there, but if your tastes are more Euro sytle then American cars will for the most part disappoint. And I’m right there with you. I love, love, love German cars. Not a manufacturer among them who doesn’t have several models I would love to own. Can’t say that about American makers, though there are 2-3 models among the lot that I am partial to. Love the Flex for instance, as a choice if you want to move more than 5 people.

    • Wes Siler

      Sure, and Harleys core audience will be retired and stop buying new bikes in less than 10 years. What happens then?

      • Pete

        I know several guys my age (early 30s) that love their Harleys. It seems inexplicable to me, but I think the simple fact is, that bike just appeals to a certain element of American society. It’s not to say that Harley’s market share is going to drop significantly in the near future, it will, but I would argue that drop being caused by over-extension rather than the abandonment of their core audience.

        • Wes Siler

          There’s an exception to every rule, but their average rider age is 49 and goes up every year, along with aging. The number of young riders buying new Harleys is actually shrinking.

          You can read more about that here:

          • NickP

            I believe it. I can count on one hand the number of people under 40 I know who own or would like to own a Harley. How many people under 40 I’ve seen at the Harley shop while getting Buell parts? A BIG FAT FUCKING ZERO. No joke.

            • zipp4

              Probably because anyone with a Buell and a brain gets their parts off the internet. H-D dealer support for Buells is a fucking joke.

          • Dumptruckfoxtrot

            I also have met alot of younger people who *want* a Harley. I’d like to see if BMW or Moto Guzzi bike owners are also getting older and older. The answer might be more that it is simply taking the average future Harley rider longer and longer to save up the funds to get a motorcycle.

            • Brad W.

              BMW is starting to make bikes that appeal to younger people. The can adapt.

              • Dumptruckfoxtrot

                See that’s what I think as well, but it might be surprising and informative to get a little information on the age demographics of other brands.

      • Richard

        Natural selection, hopefully.

  • Brant

    No one sees the up and coming electric market as the next American motorcycle renaissance? Most of the bikes seem to be vaporware at this point, but it seems like what everyone asks of a new American motorcycle will be offered by the e-bikes.

    Maybe I’m just comparing apples to oranges.

    • HammSammich

      I think you raise a good question, but I would speculate that as the market grows, most of the money will be made by foreign companies who are willing to market these bikes. We’ve got a number of small US companies that are coming up with designs, and a lot of small independant guys breaking into motorsports with electrics, but if Yamaha or Honda or Suzuki, etc. see any signficant market in this, they’ll start making them and could dominate the market in less than a year, and given the limited size of the domestic competition, acquisition is an easy path to clear the field…

    • jason

      I’m hoping for some kind of conversion.

    • Wes Siler

      That right there is why we’re so excited by electric motorcycles.

    • Miles Prower

      My wife rode an electric motorcycle recently. Subsequently, she signed up for an MSF class so she can get an M endorsement on her license… so that I can use my hard-earned money to buy her an electric motorcycle. My guess is that I’ll be buying “American.”

  • wwalkersd

    I’m a Californian, so I may not know what I’m talking about, but I have this feeling that the reason American bikes are the way they are is that they were designed and built in the Midwest, where roads are mostly straight, and corners are mostly 90 degrees. The bikes are designed for the way their designers ride (Erik Buell excepted).

    Certainly this could be said for cars. In California, especially northern California, where roads are twisty and narrow, small, good-handling imported cars took over the market from big, fat, lazy American cars. After many years, the US builders finally figured out that the whole world wasn’t like Michigan.

    If the car makers can do it, why can’t Harley and Victory do it?

    Anyway, that’s my theory.

    • HammSammich

      Your theory seems to make sense. I watched a documentary once comparing US to European motorcycles, and they speculated that they developed differently as an extension of the kind of horse riding / saddles that were used traditionally. I personally know nothing about horses, so this could’ve all been B.S., but they showed images of a “Western saddle” and the stirrups are foot forward, like a cruiser. By contrast the European Saddle they depicted had essentially rear-set stirrups. I thought it was at least interesting…

      • muckluck

        It’s cause the cowboy would drive cows all day long spending all daylight hours in the saddle so they needed to basically live out of there saddles as for european style were used for hunting (at least the aristocrats/ royalty) and needed a more aggressive style seating for going through the woods and changing terrain. Anybody is welcome to correct me on this.

      • bluegrass

        I always have thought cruiser development has a lot to do with american highway design. If the bike has a relatively low seat height, to keep you legs comfortable, forward controls help a great deal, as do mild ,reasonable apes or other handlebars that take weight off the wrist and help extend the arm a little.

        But I think think the biggest influence may have been the agrarian background of the designers. The bikes are simple and built to last. You can rebuild these motors and mend the frames from now till the apocalypse.

    • frankieapples

      That all makes sense to me. Cruiser’s don’t have to be about style, they can be just fun to get out on for a nice leisurely ride. Motorcycling can be a sport and a passtime, right?

  • brad

    Long live Erik Buell! HD and Victory build nothing to entice the younger demographic. By not bringing in younger riders, with something cool AND affordable, their “market segment” is expiring daily. Harley and Victory are, literally, killing themselves. At least Victory has Polaris ATV to fall back on. Idiots…….

  • Sean

    I owned an American car once. It was a hunk of crap. I much prefer my VW to any American car I’ve driven in the same price range, by far. Given I don’t like cruisers so I don’t ride an American bike.

    Motus looks awesome, but out of my price range. The Brammos look awesome but don’t have the ride range. I wanted a Buell for a while though I couldn’t find a dealer in my area that had any.

    To bad Polaris has to be a follower rather than a leader.

    • noone1569

      Whoa, you just said VW is less crap than American cars. You, sir, must not have owned a Jetta…

      • Kirill

        VW owners have an amazing ability to rationalize away their cars’ problems, but I’m guessing his American car was a Cavalier or something similarly awful.

  • NickK

    As reading, thinking, “Yeah, I like this guy.”

    Good stuff, JT. Where’s the aggression? Well, this whole country’s been feminized over the last 40 years, that’s where it went. We’ve arbitraged, sued, and PC’d risk right out of our culture, and that’s why the fringes are the only place were interesting stuff is happening now. Fringe like HFL. Yeah, we’re fringe – still – and, yes, there’s a term for what I just did there (selective confirmation?) But who cares? The hope is that the fringe beliefs will spread as the main die out. But until then,

    As long as corporate America is chasing dying baby boomers for $.02 a share every quarter, we’ll never witness Harley or Polaris building a speed triple or hypermotard. I love how much you care, but really, we should all just shut up and let Harley and Indian and Victory die. Any help we give them will only prolong the inevitable, like home mortgage support only prolongs finding the bottom. They’ll never listen until they’re being tossed into the ash heap of history – along with the ‘Biker’. (Frankly I say good riddance to both.) Then some adventurous visionary like Buell, Cycz, Colosimo, the Motus guys, or yes, you, JT, will be able to come along with a bunch of VC, buy em out of bankruptcy, and reboot the American motorcycle with real machines for the next century.

    /carried away wishful thinking

    • dux

      Awww…you’re writing my dreams

  • OBronin

    I loved the idea of the call out and it’s a same that it was not picked up by Polaris.

    The cruiser scene seems almost averse to producing a product that is designed to get your blood stirring. Case and point I was clicking around SpeedTV and they took a stock HD had a model bolt on some new pipes, air cleaners, and do a ecu remap… thing went from 60hp to high 70′s. WHY DIDN”T THEY DO THIS AT THE FACTORY!!!!!

    I guess when good enough is sufficient to control the market you have no incentive to try anymore.

    • Robert

      Because your government is protecting you from you. Legislation and regulations dictate some some performance handicaps. There is a measure for overall sound signature for the motorcycle – a loud intake requires a quieter motor and exhaust etc. Every motor vehicle made has regulations that affect the end product. Note that most sporting V-Twins are geared tall to keep the sound signature down for an important drive-by sound test. Flappers, resonators and all sorts of bits have had to be designed to meet that criteria.

      • OBronin

        I agree that there’s a lot of red tape regarding emissions but that’s a cop out…. The Monster 696 puts out a stock 80 bhp while meeting Euro 3 specs which, I believe, are tougher than CA standards.

        • Robert

          Fair enough – and a good point. But they too have been developing that basic power plant for how many decades now? It takes time to reliably develop that kind of power out of an air-cooled machine. I’ve ridden one and was indeeed impressed.

          Trying to jump to that level of HP/ cc could also create a warranty nightmare that would bury a reputation before any significant buyers plop down the dosh.

          Like I said – it can be done, but it will take time, engineering, – and buyers.

          • Bad Juju Vehicles

            I used to develop high-performance aftermarket engine management software for cars, and believe me, Obronin, the manufacturers have a LOT more to deal with than an aftermarket tuner. They have warranty issues to worry about, so they don’t want to push the envelope with ECU mapping. They have to accommodate not only the decent fuel you probably get in your comfy suburb, but also the crap-ass gasoline that might run out of a rusty old non-branded pump somewhere in the hinterlands of West Texas. Same things apply to noise. All they did was dyno those pipes and that intake. They may work great on a dyno, but have limitations in real-world, dynamic use. People used to ask me why Porsche and Bosch didn’t just make their Porsche as fast to begin with as I could make it later, and my response was always: “Oh, they could. They have forgotten more about this than I will ever know. But they have more to deal with than my little narrow focus. Thank god!”

  • Beale

    Not one manufacturer has jumped onto the custom street tracker thing, yet. Indian would be a natural. There’s a heritage there that can be the basis for a great motorcycle.

    How about the Indian Scout ST?

    • Robert

      Lets see how many XR1200′s sell – Harley has been working the Flat Tracker series ever since the original Indian went under. If they don’t sell argueably the best handling production Harley ever, perhaps that segment is relegated to customs and low volume production units to serve it.

      Ducati tried to supply bikes into the growing (?) Cafe racer scene, and lo and behold the Sport Classics are gone (but not before I got my GT 1000).

      There is a significant difference between wanting and buying. A viable company will develop the first and service the latter. But it does take time.

    • Richard

      You took the words right out of my mouth…

      • Bad Juju Vehicles

        Yes, but bikes like the Sport Classics and the XR1200′s don’t have to be commercial successes to be worth building. Thinking that way is okay for volume products, but it handcuffs you horribly in the long run.

        There is a value in small market specials, for several reasons. First, they are effective at testing the waters for various directions, but also because they can serve a “halo” purpose that gets people very excited about the brand. I have never wanted ANY Harley, but the XR1200 makes me sit up straight and at least LOOK at their product lineup (something I haven’t done in a decade or more.) That kind of brand impact alone has some value. Maybe noit enough, but building those bikes has an impact that isn’t always quantifiable in a one-to-one way.

        • jim

          I personally believe that the XR1200 would have been a much better success if they had actually put some heart and soul into building a motorcycle that can actually compete with what its being put up against.
          I own an XR1200 and i love it, but i do think and have been told on numerous occasions that it is overweight and some what under powered(I personally feel that the power of the XR1200 is fine and that the weight is the real issue), and if it wasn’t for these facts they would have purchased one instead of the Japanese\British rival that they did.

  • Charlie

    I’m all for better bikes, but Polaris will just end up building a better Indian. The independent company had no other intentions/designs. Excoriate them for being boring and failing? They were milking the brand – but I was rooting for them. Now I hope Polaris improves the model. As an owner of a ’47 Indian I think there’s a place for a quality cruiser. That being said, I wouldn’t motorcycle if I had to ride a Victory. I can’t blame them for buying the brand.

    I don’t know who to blame for the lack of American creativity. The So Cal Speed Shop Miler is a great example of how easy it seems to combine a simple Triumph quality engine with some imagination. Or take the KTM 125, which redefines fun

    The rage is good, the article is entertaining…just not sure on the culprit

    • Devin

      When I read Polaris’s write up that looked at it froma financial angle, it sounded like Victory was expensive Power Cruisers and Indian will let them build regular price cruisers (still expensive) to compete with less extreme models from HD. That’s what I took from it.

  • ike6116

    I really thought reading HFL’s interview with Mr. Wine hinted at this, I could be wrong though.

    This is much more my style than the “call out.” This is spot on accurate and nearly impossible to refute.

  • Robert

    Pandya here –

    JT spoke to me – not to Wine. As far as I know Scott has not read the article, and JT has taken our 20 minute conversation and gotten all Fox News on it and spun things around to suit his platform I guess.

    I told JT that attempting to engage Polaris by calling the CEO a Peckerwood is probably not the way to get our consideration. Mr. Wine is certainly able to hand fifth grade name calling, and just a able to walk away from it considering what little value it has. You can wrap chocolate in shit – it still smells like shit. Any seriousness or “ammunition” was washed away in the unprofessional nature of that original column, and this one as well.

    I gave him the benefit of the doubt – but now I know I should have recorded the conversation. You won’t catch me in a he said clown said blather here. It would be a waste of your time.

    The fact is that we bought Indian three weeks ago and the ripple of that purchase will take many months to sort – from dealer processes to consumer interaction, and ultimately to the product itself. The brand was floating about a couple decades ago wen the decision was made to create the Victory brand. There are great American engineers, product planners, motorcycle enthusiasts, and designers working very hard to develop both brands.

    I spend the day today riding our bikes, and the competitions bikes on a beautiful day. I can see the qualities of each and what draws that particular customer – whether its technical or brand-cultural. There is indeed room for many brands and styles in this country. Any perhaps they will all be fulfilled.

    So I say again – that its the collective voice of HFL that carries more weight than one person – no matter how loud.

    Wes, Grant et all – if you guys want to put together a demographically based survey for what your readers are considering for purchase, that’s a story we’ll pay attention to.

    Scott might even read that one.

    • Brant

      I’ll take a survey to help make an acceptable American bike. We shouldn’t have to caveat a machine by saying it’s good for being American.

    • Richard

      Please, for the love of all things holy, dont screw this up. You have the opportunity to change the face of American motorcycling, take ahold of that opportunity and run with it. Think outside the box, do something gutsy, play jazz. Give us a product that we would be proud to say came from Minnesota!!!!!!

    • mcfaite

      I for one would be happy to fill out a demographically-based survey about what I’m considering for purchase (if someone would make it), if Wes or Grant put it together.

      Also, you know, if Victory put their own demographically-based survey together, rather than asking Grant & Wes to do free market research on Victory’s behalf, I’d fill that out, too.

      • Robert

        Then we would be charged with bias or something.

        This is the portal that is engaged in the conversation – thats the interesting part – for me at least.

        It just takes some time to put it together.

        • frankieapples

          I gotta agree with Robert here. True input by true enthusiasts is far more worthwhile than some market study. I’ve always complained that companies don’t pay more attention to those berating their products in open forum. I understand that it is hard to pick through the bullshit in search of some real truth, but we all pay to come to this site because we are into motorcycles. Wes and the gang have done a great job of giving us what we desire about a wide range of bike styles. Participating in a survey like this, with even the possibility it might weigh on the future of American motorcycles, that’s something that I want to be a part of. The other option is to just continue to bitch anonymously on a forum about how nothing out there is good enough.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      I’d love to take a survey, though I’m not sure that’ll get put on the site unless it has some naughty words in it or something equally sensationalist.

      • Wes Siler

        Don’t worry, we’ll make it a survey about gay CBX riders.

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          Can it be called “The hard thrusting Hondudes”?

        • Von Scotch

          Just get the damn survey done Wes.

        • Ray

          Hahaha, that’s funny as hell.

    • Gregory

      I’m a 36-year-old Caucasian US citizen, born overseas. I own my home (mortgage). I have a 15-year mortgage. I make USD $~47’000 per year. I work in the finance industry. I live in Portland, OR. I own no car: two bicycles, and the KLR. I have a beard, and a cat, too. Not married. Numerous girlfriends.

      I would not spend ~$20’000 on a lumpy cruiser, whether Harley or Victory or Yamaha. I _would_ spend ~$10’000 on a mid-1970s or mid-1980s BMW RS GS PD. I _would_ spend ~$10’000 on a modern day UJM.

      I wear a reflective vest and a white-coloured helmet.

      Build it… we will come.

      Portland, OR
      2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

      • Myles

        Is it the style that you’re after, or the actual bike? CB1000r has no fairings, standard bars/pegs, msrp is $10,999, and it has an inline four making about 100hp.

        The only negative is the headlight – looks like a goddamn decepticon.

        If you want a slower bike, triumph makes about fifteen million different flavors of bikes that fit the scope under 10k.

        If you want a quicker bike the Monster 1100 evo is a tick under 12k.

        Also go test ride a Harley XR1200. It’s a pretty nice bike, pretty cheap, really comfortable, and plenty fast if you’re coming from a KLR.

        These bikes already exist (~10k modern day UJM). They aren’t that hard to find. There are a ton of options in the market segment, but they don’t sell all that well.

        Regardless, reps on the KLR. One of the best bikes ever made. Have you seen the diesel? Not made by Kawa, but they use the same platform:

        • Gregory


          Thank you.

          But I’m not allowing myself yet another motorcycle… until at least 100’000 miles, I guess.

      • Miles Prower

        The Suzuki Gladius is a “modern” UJM for about $7k new. You could also argue that the Aprilia Shiver 750 is today’s equivalent of a UJM. I think plenty of modern UJMs exist out there.

    • ike6116

      While I didn’t find JT’s style all that appealing either he’s closer to the mark than you may well realize.

      I would gladly take a survey.

      Also, proof read your god damn post if you’re going to call JT unprofessional, he’s not representing a major corporation, you are.

      • Robert

        OK – no more late night typing. I hear ya.

    • jason

      I think the question a lot of people here have is :
      What did you have in mind for Indian BEFORE you started the purchase process?

      Are you saying Polaris decided to buy something just because it was available. I have a hard time believing that. Before Ford bought Volvo, before Fiat bought Chrysler, etc. someone had to have brought a “vision” (sorry for the pun) for what Indian would BECOME for Polaris to upper management. Unless you are saying that upper management did buy the brand just because it was available. If that is true, there is no shame in admitting it. But I have to think that Polaris had an idea of where they want to take the brand and they won’t share it. I always thought that the rumor mill helped bike sales…….

    • JT Nesbitt

      So Mr. Pandya, we meet again!
      Apparently Mr. Pandya is calling into question my “professionalism”! Well Robert, I see that you have not introduced yourself as “Robert Pandya, at your cervix” this go round (adopting, as it were, a more professional tone). Victory has certainly surrounded it’s brand with the best and brightest in the industry!
      Just to reiterate, Robert, I am NOT a “professional”. I do not want to be a “professional”. I am A shit-talking ding dong! Dude, shut the fuck up! For your own sake! Why are you even posting here? A “professional” PR person would Ignore all this crazy talk, and try to distance himself form it as much as possible!
      I have nothing to loose, and the more mealy mouthed propaganda that you spew here as Victory’s Apologist-in-Chief, the more exposure you have come quarterly review.
      It’s a battle that you can’t win. You are trying to silence a zombie by appealing to his ego. I am a corpse! I have nothing to loose by exposing you, your company, and the current state of American motorcycling to the light of factual analysis.
      Now are you asserting that Scott Wine has NOT read any of my columns, or any of our exchanges on this forum? I can totally understand why you would have suppressed it, I get it now, you don’t want him to read this stuff, it calls into question YOUR professionalism, and jaunty half baked posts.
      The fact remains, you are PAID to promote your company, I am a crazy person. Everyone here seems to get that but you. — JT

      • Robert

        I get notes from people who are happy that an OEM rep is engaging the audience in any manner whatsoever, and a note from you degrading yourself into a category that should be ignored.

        I suppose I’ll do both. And you are right, I can’t win against crazy. So I won’t engage it anymore.

        Thanks for the clarification. Have a good life.

    • Anders

      Instead of asking HFL readers, how about actually creating a strong vision?

      • Ryan

        No, no, no. We WANT him to ask us. :) You know the when people say the inmates are running the asylum, well we’re the inmates.

  • brad

    Hey Robert-
    Build something that PERFORMS! I’m 45, make good money, and have been riding since I was 4. I ride a Speed Triple. Heritage, yet modern fun. As I wrote in my earlier post, Victory is falling into the whirlpool HD is already struggling in: Bringing anything cool (High Ball? Really?), that is AFFORDABLE, to your future. When you think about the young riders that will continue to carry the passion to the grave, what do you offer them? Lucky for HD that t-shirts and pirate costumes can be worn when the VTX rider takes the heat gun to the Honda emblems. Make a fucking reliable, performing, board-tracker Indian at an affordable price to get the “kids” on board. Indian does not have to be stuck in 1910. Make something great, or give it up. I appreciate your honesty, but you may want to hire an editor when you speak for the company. But you know what? Fuck that! Your fortitude was displayed by your post! Bravo. Now back it up with something that will make America proud. We are tired of seeing the Indian name used like toilet paper: Rolled out, looked at, covered in shit, and flushed. The future is up to you….

    • Robert

      Hey – I ride a GT 1000, a Honda Hawk, a CB-1 a KTM Dirt bike, a DRZ supermoto, and have a S40 turd cafe bike in the works all bought and paid for by money I made working as a photographer and in the motorcycle industry – I get small and light and fun – i get that people want that yesterday from an American brand too. But to put it in perspective – Victory is 12 model years old, and we just announced Indian 3 weeks ago. Toss in a Global financial crisis and you see where companies have to fish where they fish are biting. No brand is everything to all segments and can create brilliance in each segment, and sell in all of those segments in enough volume to continue – especially when they are less than 15 years old. Indian has an old heritage that we get to work with now – but that will take time, and we will certainly not introduce a dozen models to satisfy every rider in the next couple years either. But what we do introduce will be a solid reliable motorcycle backed by an equally solid company.

  • jonoabq

    The sad fact seems to be that American based motorcycle manufacturers seem to be interested in designing and marketing bikes to pilfer a percentage of each other’s market share. Gotta pay the bills to exist…I get that. That said, in the process of making the loan, payroll, and utilities payments I would personally appreciate motorbikes that show a little creativity, utility, go where you point them, accelerate more than briskly, and stop on a dime. And for fuck sake please stop making bikes so heavy that it negates all other said attributes. please.

    06′ Triumph Tiger (considerably modified with considerable high tech goodies because the stock offering is a POS…though reliable)

    • Gregory


      I approve of people signing their HFL comments with the make/ model/ year of their preferred transportation method.

      It gives us all a better understanding of our fellow HFL reader.

      Portland, OR
      2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

      • dux


        ’87 Honda CBR600

        • Gregory

          With that year & model of bike… I think you just out KLRed me.

          Portland, OR
          2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

          • dux

            Haha! Almost – however, my CBR is rather quick!

      • Mark D

        Hey why not? I’ve always been curious about the demographics here.

        Mark D
        Boston, MA (San Francisco, CA as of 8/16/11)
        2004 Kawasaki Ninja 500

      • Dumptruckfoxtrot

        DT FT
        Washington State
        1996 Honda Magna

        • Mr.Paynter

          I am far less patriotic in this whole argument being African but I do think it’s sad Indian is being continually raped post-mortem!

          Any manufacturer marketing overpriced, under-funned motorcycles anywhere in the world is having problems they’re not thinking about, I just theink they’d only get away with in America because in the rest of the world we worry too much about functionality!

          Bryan Paynter
          KZN, South Africa
          ’09 Kawasakie Er6-N
          ’05 Yamaha SR 250

        • HammSammich

          I’ll play:
          WA State
          2007 Triumph Bonneville Black
          Recently sold my 1974 Yamaha DT400 :(

      • jason

        2006 Kingpin
        2 1993 Kawasaki Zephyr 1100′s
        1989 Honda Hawk GT 650
        1989 Honda Transalp 600
        1994 Honda CB1000 Big One.

        41 years old, single, no kids/wife/dog (sadly).

        • Roman

          Hmm, lots of Hawkers on HFL. Shoot, even our resident corporate hack rides a Hawk. Coincidence? I think not…

      • Roman

        I’ll join the fun.

        Roman S.
        Age: 29
        Philadelphia, PA
        1989 Honda Hawk GT
        2000 Honda VFR800

        Not sure how I ended up with two Hondas, never really been a big Honda fan, but they were the right bikes at the right time. I also never buy new, but I’d make an exception for Indian if they come out with something up my alley (hint: not another overweight, overpriced cruiser).

        • muckluck

          Ben F
          Janesville, WI
          1973 Honda SL125 (my first bike)
          2007 Suzuki DR650 (first brand new bike)
          2001 Honda VFR800 ( first sport bike)

          I love the suzuki for it’s simplicity and ease of maintenance reliability and if I would only be able to afford one bike that would be it, it covers all the bases well enough.
          The VFR is unbelievable it’s the fastest bike I’ve ever owned and sounds great and very reliable, the only downside is the complexity of the bike and the adjustment of the valves feels like a daunting task with those gear driven cams, but love it all the same.

      • Tony M.

        Late to the party!

        Tony M
        Age: 25
        Northern VA
        2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250

      • bpjester

        1998 Triumph Thunderbird Sport

        2006 MV Agusta Brutale 910R (soon to be traded in for a Street Triple R. Anybody interested in buying it?)

        2008 Triumph Tiger (aka The Bus)

        Tucson, AZ

      • ike6116

        Boston, MA
        2004 Yamaha FZ6

  • Robert

    “Make a fucking reliable, performing, board-tracker Indian at an affordable price to get the “kids” on board. Indian does not have to be stuck in 1910.”

    So you want 1) Reliable 2) Performance 3) A modern board tracker that is somehow not stuck in the teens and you want it inexpensive as well…we’ll get right on that. You want a new design American motor that meets all governmental regulations, expectation of reliability, is designed to run reliably on E-85 fuel, has an exhaust system that is designed to last 50,000 miles (as they must i believe) and you want that built in the USA by American labor.

    This can be done – but not quickly – and probably not cheaply.

    My fingers get fat when I hunt and peck too fast – please excuse that.

    I’m signing off – goodnight riders.

    • mcfaite

      LOL – it’s starting to sound like the HawkList talking about the NAS in here…

      • Robert

        History – doomed to spork it self.

        The Badger is dead – long live the Badger.

    • brad

      Let your fingers soothe tonight brother. My dealer carriers Triumph and Victory. God bless the Victory effort to compete with the mighty HD. Dude, we feel your pain. Triumph keeps rolling out cool bikes, to multiple segments, and the Victory stuff, well, it costs WAY too much. What I was saying, and spun you up, was take the Indian name and make something cool. I work for an OE, so don’t pull that bullshit about “we’ll get right on that..” industry double-speak on me. I get it. I didn’t say “inexpensive”, I said AFFORDABLE. If you guys will glean what is being said here, you DO NOT have to build a Polaris Cheif. Do something right with the Indian name. Again: I work for an OE. Now read slowly before your “hunt and peck” gets an erection again. HD’s market is shrinking because their units are very expensive. Victory tries to spin cool in, but is still expensive. Bring something new, that appeals to the young crowd, in addition to the $18K “given”, to keep the turn rate high. Focus group interview? Innovation is evolution, no matter what fucking name you stick on the tank. Make those two combined values reliable, then count your money.
      I’m glad you ride Robert, and congrats on the Indian name. Do something with it.

      PS: We all know where machines are built, be it U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, India, Taiwan, Viet Nam, and now China. A great bike is a great bike.

      Good night rider.

      • Robert

        Who do you work for?

    • brad

      In a nutshell (pun intended), here is what I am getting at, and Cheese302 summed up: The Street Triple is an awesome bike. Superb performance, at an affordable (there’s that word again) price. It carries the Triumph name. What plays out at fuel stops follows. GSX-R Joe and his buddies R-1 Robbie and Ninja Nick, walk over to the pump to check out this different bike. “Dude….What the Hell is that? Brembo Brakes? Rad! What the f–k? Triumph? My crazy uncle had a Triumph! I didn’t know they still made bikes…..let alone this stuff…..” Then fast forward to an easy Sunday ride to the gathering spot. HD guys walk over and trip like Ninja Nick did, and welcome the Triumph, even though it is what they hate: Street Fighter/Sport Bike. Point? You don’t have to roll out a Chief. Knock our socks off with something different! Just do it right.

      Now go screw yourself!!! J/K! I’d love to talk bikes with you off of the grid.

      • Robert

        I may have already screwed myself.

        Heh. I chose to work in the motorcycle industry instead of making money somewhere else and just play in the motorcycle world!

  • Thom


    OK so you don’t want to go head to head with Mr Nesbitt . Fair enough I suppose .

    But .. then Robert here keeps telling me/us how innovative and forward thinking Victory is in spite of the fact that we all know they’re just a mild revamp of the tired old Harley Davidson formula .

    So here’s the new challenge Robert/Victory

    You think your product can stand up to the competition ?

    Prove it !

    Hold a heads up between any PRODUCTION Victory you choose against the following Cruisers ;

    Triumph Thunderbird
    Ducati Diavel ( sorry they call it a power cruiser as you do with some Victory models )
    Harley Davidson VRod ( you choose which one )

    As well as a Cruiser from each of the Japanese manufactures that produce a comparable big twin cruiser along with the Moto Guzzi

    Have the comparison done on Track info ( 0-60 etc. ) Street riding , City Commuting and a bit of Canyon Bashing ( sensibly of course )

    Hell invite all the magazines ! I’ll bet more than one would help foot the bill .

    But Robert , Put your money where your mouth is .

    Or stop trying to tell us just how Forward thinking Victory is and admit you’re following in H-D’s footprints .

    You ( Victory ) game ? Or will the company once again resort to a lot of lame and tired excuses .

    I’ll hope for the former . But will bet on the later .

    • Robert

      Put together the group of air cooled bikes and you have a fair deal.

      Add in factors such as long term maintenance and down time costs, ease of maintenance, dealer satisfaction with the OEM helping their business, initial and long term satisfaction and you are just starting to see the much wider perspective that a company must have.

      What is the satisfaction over 50,000 miles? That is the segment that Victory is working. And doing it well.

      I guess that is the main point – perhaps I have wide angle lenses on and some are laser-pointed into one segment or perspective. For ths business, you have to survive as a whole product – every aspect as listed above and in many ways beyond.

      • Mark D

        An interesting idea. In my demo (mid-20s), I’d expect Victory to compete with the Sportster 883, Bonneville, and Guzzi V7. I’m not surprised or shocked that Victory doesn’t make a UJM (U-USA-M?), but rather that they haven’t made any middle weight “standard” cruisers.

        Harley’s are overpriced, but the small 883s are actually cool. If Victory could compete in that class (Bonneville power/refinement with Harley “attitude”), they might find their average rider age dropping.

        You’d think building brand loyalty at a young age (see: Scion) would be way more important for a motorcycle manufacturer than a car manufacturer.

      • BATMAN

        Don’t agree with your first sentence here, about putting a group together that are air cooled only. For example, the Triumph Thunderbird competes directly with some of your bikes, and, I believe, competes directly with your bikes. And if you say the Hammer is your “muscle” bike, is has to go against the V-rod, for example.

        But, you are right, to factor in long term satisfaction, and dealer satisfaction. Things like this, are what keeps the brand selling in the long run. And a manufacturer has to look at this. I think people tend to forget that point.

      • Thom

        Sorry Robert , but either your M/C’s can compete Heads Up in the Cruiser Market regardless of cooling method or they Can’t !

        Your ” put together the group of air cooled … ” BS would of been like Porsche in the 60′s telling Ferrari ” We’ll only compete with you at LeMans if you have opposed cylinder motors like we do ” They didn’t . They believed in what they were building ( Porsche ) Took their knocks . Refined it to the limit . And kicked Ferrari’s ass from one end of the track to the other .

        So again either you’re making a Competitive Product in the Genre or you ARE NOT . Which is it ?

        Like I stated this morning . You and Victory . All the Balls of a Castrated Gnat .

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          Because insults were just so effective last time Thom.

        • jason

          Vics are technically “air and oil cooled” no less. You can’t run em without the oil cooler or I’m sure most of the older bikes that have them up high (like my 2006) would be removed. I actually prefer the older cooler to the newer as I don’t like the idea of any liquid cooler down low at the front of the bike.

        • Robert

          My balls are fine. Or so I’ve been told by my doctor. Don’t make fun of eunuch gnats either – those poor little fellers have a tough life.

  • Paul

    I know I’m woefully late to this party and don’t mean to butt in, but I’m a little tired of hearing huge companies lean on the “profitability” crutch as an excuse for building whitewashed crap.

    Companies like Porsche understand very well how to make profitable machines (the Cayenne, for example) but they also understand the halo effect of making small-market, incredibly exciting machines that often sell at a loss – albeit a loss small enough to be offset by the marketing value of having built them.

    If Victory, or Indian or whoever make shedloads of money churning out slightly different versions of essentially the same bloated V-twins for people who like to play dress up in fringe jackets, well… I guess that’s the market. I leave that to people like Robert who know far more about it that I do. But that shouldn’t preclude them from building small market specials that showcase what an American bike COULD be. Quite the opposite, actually – I can imagine there would be a promotional benefit from it.

    And even if there isn’t, do it anyway. It makes you a cool company, rather than purely a bunch of bean counters. No one wants to buy a bike built by bean counters.

    • jason

      I think Vic has done the Cayenne thing with their bikes. the Cayenne is actually a VW/Audi/Porsche. All 3 sell a version of it. In Vics mind I think that they see the tube farme bikes in the same light. Same basics, different target audience.

      • Robert

        The cruiser pie is sliced pretty thin.

  • Cheese302

    WIth all if this i think the 800 lb gorilla in the room is…. Price. Lets face it, the only reason i am buying a street triple r over an xr1200x is that i am getting a more fuel efficient, more powerful, lighter, prettier bike for almost $3k less. I love the xr, but i just cant justify buying it when a better bike comes in so much cheaper. This is all besides the more comfortable dealer experience. like i need a “chrome advisor”

    thats my specific experience. I might get an electric bike next, but i just need better range right now.

    • Ian

      I’m sure the XR will win in mpg, if by a hair. Prettier? That’s personal, but I think hands down the XR is way better looking.

      But yes, the Triumph is a better motorcycle in almost every way.

      “chrome advisor”- hilarious

      • Cheese302

        i was having a hard time with prettier, i should have been a bit more verbose. i love the look of the xr, its smaller touches like metallic black paint with the gold wheels, some of the other fit and finish. odd. and i am a little all about headlights that look like boobs. mpg, they are on a similar playing field, but i think the triumph might take it, and it will hold 1.1 gallon of fuel. yes there were some holes in my comment, but ultimately for what is a close bike, the foreign bike is just a better deal. they also seem to be holding their value quite well as well.

        also not kidding about chrome advisors, barbs HD in camden county NJ has one on staff.

    • motoguru

      Kinda makes me think… The XR is easily my favorite HD, but they probably sell less than any other model. Buells were cool, and not many people bought them. What’ll make this Indian/Victory thing any different? It’s sad, but most American like cruisers, and every other brand makes good everything else. Shit, even the new HD clone T-Bird Storm @ $15,500 OTD here in MI is the baddest cruiser you’re gonnna get anywhere close to that price.

    • Roman

      So you chose the better, cheaper bike…isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

      As far as the XR1200, I think it’s a neat bike. I certainly wouldn’t be embarrassed to ride it. But when you’re starting to make any retentions of performance, than you will be judged on those grounds and that’s where the XR1200 fails. It’s still gets its but kicked by just about any performance oriented standard coming out of any other major manufacturer.

      That was always the problem with Buells. By all accounts they were fun bikes to ride and genuinely innovative american sportbikes. But when you’re a sportbike, you will be ultimately judged on how you perform and those bikes just couldn’t hang due to the HD engines. It’s too bad the luiquid cooled 1125Rs never got a chance to fully develop, it was exciting to see an American company compete on an (almost) even field.

    • Kirill

      I like the XR. In fact, I want one. Yeah its a bit heavy and not that fast, but that’s what my Aprilia is for. I just really like the look. Its the only Harley that’s interested me (I’m in my mid/late 20s). The problem is that I feel they’re charging about $3k too much for it. Fortunately, the resale value of these bikes seems to be rather poor, so I should be able to get one nice and cheap in a few years.

  • Ian

    Can we talking about the basic premises and the framing of this whole thing? What, exactly, is wrong with Harley. Stupid clothing aside.

    I don’t buy that Harley’s are low tech. Or Victorys. Overhead cams are high tech? Liquid cooling? Yeah maybe in 1920. HD was on fuel injection pretty early, too.

    HD provides a product people want. It’s not the responsibility of Victory or anybody to make a bike that can compete with a ZXCBFZ947RR,R. If they thought they could make money at it, they would. Just like Rupert Murdock would pursue an ultra-liberal media agenda if there was some cash in it.

    You can’t blame a company for fulfilling its only real responsibility: making money. If you want an American m/c that can compete on the world stage, then make it or support people who are interested in the same goal.

    • Cheese302

      totally hear what you are saying. As it turns out one of the biggest reasons they stick with the OHV 45 degree single pin twin is because of tradition. their fuel mapping is spot on, but the oversquare, no power mill is what a lot of their buyers WANT. It stinks though, like these customers have never ridden anything with a GOOD engine. The V-Rod could be so much more, but they dont seem to put any real r&d into it.

    • BATMAN

      Agree Ian. Companies like Victory and HD make what they make, to make a profit. A hell of a lot of people are buying these bikes, because that’s what THEY WANT, bottom line. If someone doesn’t want a bike like what they make, move on to another company, and quit complaining.

  • GT

    “What the kids want, what I want, are choices. Motorcycling is supposed to be fun and I don’t need to have some biker lifestyle marketing baloney to make it real for me. I need the opposite of that. It’s called a fun, fast motorcycle that’s built by enthusiasts and forges its own fresh identity. Until I get it from an American company, I will remain the Sad Clown in a very tired circus”.


  • KeithTurk

    What the man just said…is this….

    JT wasn’t nice… he called us AssHats…. and since he’s a peon and we’re Bitchen… Welllll Whatever…

    Build us a Decent standard motorcycle, One My mother wouldn’t be ashamed of me showing up on… that Visionary Clown machine was simply a Joke… Try and build something that is actually easy to ride…doesn’t make me spread out like a Starfish…

  • motoguru

    John Bloor and Erik Buell need to pow wow…

  • pavinguire

    I can understand Victory’s commitment to continue to build their Shriner clown bikes; I was at the nearby Victory dealer, test riding a Royal Enfield, and it was plenty busy on a Tuesday afternoon. A steady parade of SofA fans, Deliverance extras, and jaded boomers, no one under 40. All looking for a slight variation on what they saw everyday on TV and the street; a heavy cruiser/chopper/poseur-mobile.

    The Royal Enfields they regarded with what Bill Hicks so eloquently described as, ‘the look of a dog being shown a card trick.’ It was like they just couldn’t imagine anything different… I do not doubt that such a situation suits Polaris/Victory just fine.

    1968 Yamaha YG5-t

    • pavinguire

      oh, and McQueen over Australopithecus and Peg Bundy any-day…

      • HammSammich

        Bwahahaha…I’ve always thought he had a primitive look to him, but now that you mention it, he does remind me of that Australopithecus Robustus skull casting from the Physical Anthro class I took in college.

      • Denzel


  • rvltng_bstrd

    There is hypocrisy, hypocrisy squared – and that this articles… competition? … market segment? … did you forget what you use to do?

    Even if the Confederate is desirable how many can afford it? I got my Ulysses, thank you very much!

  • Jens

    H-D killed the BMC Produktion in East Troy, there was a Rotax powered 450cc in the pipeline as the follower of the expensive to produce Blast. We were looking privatly for some simple reliable bikes, to go Enduro wandering on our swedish gravelroads. What we found new was the Beta Alp 4.0 with the Suzuki DR 350 engine. So now a pair of DR´s will do the work. Light, simple, reliable. You dont need a watercooled 11K screaming single to have fun. For the younger, watch “On any Sunday” and you understand what I mean.

    There is a market for Bikes like the CCW and there are customers for american Sportbikes on and off the road. To survive you need to attract young riders, Polaris have a sporty reputation, go and get it.

  • Tim

    Gas is 4 bucks a gallon. Economy cars can cost over 20K. What happens in the next 5 years if gas is 7 bucks a gallon and the high tech cars that meet the new CAFÉ standards cost over 30K?

    There are plenty of people like me that work in the service industry that simply will not be able to afford a car of any sort. Please make us an affordable motorcycle that is fun to ride, cheep to own and maintain, and can be used to haul groceries etc. Cleveland Cyclewerks seems to get it, Polaris doesn’t. There is going to be a huge market for affordable basic transportation. I want to spend my money on US built and designed products, not something from China. I hope Cleveland Cyclewerks is successful in bringing their production here and eats Polaris’s lunch.

    T Finn
    Portland, OR
    1984 Honda XL200

    • Tony

      Here here!

      (lots of portlanders in here, or at least people who will admit to living here.)

      • Devin

        Personally I don’t care where it’s made just sell me what I want. So frustrating seeing exactly the bike you want for sale in Japan or EU only.

        Would CCW still have a business case if they had to pay $USD wages ona cheap 250cc-500cc motorcycle?

        • Kirill

          Given that the US is becoming a cheap labor state, I think so. Ohio is so blighted right now that they’ll probably have people kicking their doors down for $8/hr jobs. I like what CCW is trying to do, but I don’t like buying stuff made in China if I can avoid it. If they can make it in the US, even if it costs $500 more, I’d seriously consider getting one as an in-town runabout.

          • Devin

            For $500 more made in USA, I would go crazy for that.

            But if you start talking four digits, money talks, especially on the common price point of most bikes.

  • KeithTurk

    I heard Straight paint no rusting crap…. upright, durable, tireless and ultimately made in America… ( at least as much as say a Kia is Made in America )


  • Scott-jay

    If American all-purpose motorcycles with great chassis, heritage, soul, genuine builder-guy-celebrity, etc. are just what ‘we’ want …
    why are Buell XBs so inexpensive?

    (XB12R tweaked, a why’d I ever sell that bike)

    • Robert

      Because they were subsidized by Sportsters and Ultras. But that’s only my guess. Harleys strength as a cruiser and touring brand as well as an undeniable Global brand value gave them the money to give the American Sportbike scene a go. The same way that Polaris strong ATV, UTV, Sled and Military business gives them the opportunity to grow a brand like Victory and buy a brand like Indian. And the company has cash reserves, and a solid reputation to back each product stream.

  • Peter.C.

    Such a good Article.

    Yes, please no more Sons of Anarchy bologna. what a sad show that is.

  • FiveG

    Why is any of this surprising? Well known American brands die when MBA-clad “smart people” end up running the “mark,” rather than sitting in the background counting the dollars while people who actually love the customers and love the product make the decisions. There are numerous examples of that in almost every industry where the US used to thrive; where “smart people” decide the (trade)mark is the thing, and we’re going to make lots of money with “the mark.” Or, their analysis is based strictly on dollars per square foot, or dollars per hour, or whatever.

    What turned some of them around (Fender, Smith & Wesson) was when things hit sufficient bottom that people who know/love the industry got back into control. In other cases, what happens is someone new comes in who loves the product/customers (PRS guitars) and makes a killing.

    If Polaris (or any other m’cycle company) is being run by the guys with MBAs who are used to figuring out the profit per square foot, have no love for the actual business, and want to milk an existing mark and look, it won’t thrive. If instead they have or get people calling the shots who actually CARE about what American motorcycle riders/consumers want now and ten years from now, they will. On a larger scale, whether the answer in the m’cycle world will be like happened at S&W (where a very small gun-oriented business came in and bought the carcass for next to nuthin’ and turned it around in just a few years), or in the guitar world (where PRS came in with new stuff and hard work, and is thriving) remains to be seen. Let’s hope one or the other happens, tho’.

    • Thom

      Fender , Gibson , Martin . They’re all still resting on their laurels , once again producing sub standard instruments , while the smaller manufactures are gradually kicking their asses left and right . Not to mention the Asian clones that are better quality than most of the above .

      I can promise you there is not a single active professional on stage thats playing a Fender/Gibson/Martin that you the consumer can purchase . They/We all play either re-labeled Custom built guitars or extensively modified ones . Same with the amps .

      Lets just hope the likes of PRS , Collings etc don’t get lazy and follow suit .

      Now what we need in the M/C- Automotive World are the equivalents of PRS , Collings ( no I don’t play either one ) etc . Building the vehicles the American Public wants , rather than the crap the Bean Counters want to sell us .

      • Grant Ray

        Thom, “Custom Shop” is at the top of Martin’s “Guitars” drop down menu. Historically, it’s the number one feature the company offers, so the fact that professionals as far back as Jimmie Rogers have all played Martin’s custom guitars built to players’ specs should come as no surprise. However, any consumer can say “I want a guitar just like—-” and Martin will build it. As a one one-off hand-crafted instrument, it will be expensive. Maybe you’ve just gotten spoiled to having access to so many choices.

        What Poo-Flinger Nesbitt is advocating for is Please, for the love of God, not another penis-extending cruiser. Historically, Indian built and sold motorcycles for touring and for sport. Indian also used the inline-4 as a range-topping luxury model.

        Boomers want shiny loud bikes that shake and rattle and remind them of their wilder youth, and that’s fine. But are those the same wants as the younger generations that are now consuming even more than their Boomer parents? Or are they choosing to look elsewhere because America isn’t currently building a bike that meets their desires?

    • Robert

      Whew – that clears me – I have an Art degree…

      • Robert

        Says Polaris CEO Wine, “We now have to go back and study, and fully comprehend and appreciate, what made Indian great. It’s such a rich heritage–not only the bikes, but the people who rode them, who raced them. It’s a wonderful history.”

        From the HFL Wine interview by the way…

  • Thom

    Well JT , if nothing else you’ve proven that ;

    A) The American Motorcyclist gives a damn a Hell of a lot more than the American Motorcycle Manufactures do

    B) Even when confronted with a straight up Cruiser Challenge Robert and Victory have all the Balls of a Castrated Gnat

    C) Corporate America is Damned and Determined to make themselves Damned and Extinct

    D) Unless the American Consumer stands up and as I have start Voting with their Checkbooks ( eg stop buying crap regardless of the label and country of origin ) We in the US are destined to follow in the Roman Empires Footsteps , becoming a Non Producing , Consuming Only bunch of Lazy Assed Fools heading for Extinction .

    All in all Mr Nesbitt I think thats a Win on your part .

    • Brad W.

      It appears American motorcycles are going the way of record companies and publishers. It is all about profit. Record companies used to use the profits they made from the hit makers to support artists that were less popular but had more soul. They would allow them to grow over time.

      Maybe Victory could create bikes that have a small following that could grow over time while making the “real money” in the cruiser market.

      • Thom

        @Brad W.

        Your Music Business analogy – Spot on !

        Your suggestion ? Good as it is the Investors/Shareholders ( its not the CEO’s etc. making the decisions ) who now control Corporate America , as they have in the Music Business , will never let this happen .

        All they care about is increasing their profits . Quality and Innovative products play no part in their One Dimensional Mindset .

      • Mark D

        “Record companies used to use the profits they made from the hit makers to support artists that were less popular but had more soul.”

        Yes, and the Government never lies, if you work hard and tell the truth you’ll be successful in Business, just be yourself when talking to girls, and pink unicorns with free slushie machines are just over the next hill…

        • Brad W.

          Mark D, I was over simplfying to make a point, but it did occur. Reprise records used to be a good example of such a recording company. Publishing companies did simlar things with authors. I’m sure how saying this make me some kind of weird optimist.

          • Mark D

            I know, it did happen, but pretty much by accident.

            “Johnson, you gave money to who? Nerbanha? What the FUCK is that? You’re fired!”

        • Scott-jay

          “… if you work hard and tell the truth you’ll be successful in Business …”
          Those two serve me well, going on 35 years in business (doing something for money).
          However, its “successful” is mine.

    • Dumptruckfoxtrot

      Judging the fate of America, or just judging corporate America at all, by the power sports segment, or even the presence or lack of manufacturing positions is kinda bullshit.

      • Brad W.

        I’m not talking about the fate of America. I just want a kick ass american motorcycle.

        • Dumptruckfoxtrot

          I do too, that tidbit was directed at Thom. We should probably wait to see what the fuck Victory/Polaris actually does though.

          • Brad W.

            Cool. Hopefully, I will have a garage to put all the sweet new bikes in by then :)

          • Kurt

            Exactly. Why all the handwringing and panic before anything happens? Just prior to their first demise, Indians were certainly closer to cruisers than any other current market segment anyway. This whole brouhaha is like saying “You bought the name Penton, and you’re gonna build a dirt bike? How could you?”

  • damien

    Indian can be some old-school looking rebadged Victory (I don’t really care about Indian).


    Victory can be free to build an American version of the Triumph lineup (or at least some of it)…that’s what I’d like to see.

    Uxbridge, MA
    04 Triumph Thruxton

    • Cheese302

      cant wait to buy a triumph

  • Marlon

    This guy’s a wanker hell-bent on self promotion.

    • Thom

      Hmmn . Another corporate schill in our midsts perhaps ?

      • Robert

        I’ll bet his IP goes to area 51…better watch out.

        • Marlon

          Or alternately I’m an police dispatcher from Australia.

          I don’t think you need to work for victory to find this guy abrasive and full of his own sense of self-worth.

          • sean

            a trait we NEVER see from those sworn to “serve and protect”

            • Marlon

              Maybe that’s why I can identify it so easily? :o)

  • Jeremy

    I started riding bikes this winter and am one of those younger riders this conversation seems to center on. I’m 31, live in NYC. I learned the basics on a used Honda Rebel and had no idea what I wanted once I needed more power. Before the 250 disciples get their hammers out, I weigh 225 on a good day and commute daily on highways, so a bike that struggles to hit 70 is just too small for me. I don’t give a fuck what other people ride, but sportbike looks and ergos just aren’t for me.

    Hoping to spend around 5K on my second bike, I went to the bike show in NYC this winter and looked around for something that would handle nicely, do highway speeds comfortably with a passenger, and not look like a sportbike or pirate’s easy chair. Basically, I had to give up. The Triumph Bonnneville is beautiful but out of my budget. The Suzuki TU250 has a look that me and a lot of people I know like, and the price was right, but it doesn’t have the power I need. The Japanese cruisers look like bikes for old people. No one seems to have a midsized, UJM-ish bike for around 5K, with a standard seating position, non-sportbike looks and decent power for highway riding.

    So I found a nearly new 883 Sportster for 6500 bucks. I got a comfortable seating position (I’m tall, so forward controls actually have me close to a standard seating position), enough power for everyday use with the option for way more speed through aftermarket parts, and a bike that stops and handles perfectly well for a guy who has just started riding and has no interest in finding out exactly how close you can take an R1 to its performance threshold on the Long Island Expressway. I also like the way it looks and sounds.

    HD desperately needs a cheaper bike (I would never have paid twice as much for a new Sportster, and the pirate image means nothing to me) in its lineup, but I am personally very happy with my Sporty and have no plans to get a new bike anytime soon. If Indian or Victory put out something like a lighter, cheaper Sportster, my guess is they would do very well.

    • Kevin

      I was in your exact position about two years ago. Same budget, same design tastes. I ended up buying a 2006 Honda 599. I like, don’t love the looks, but the bike does everything I ask it to do; commute, weekend tour, two-up on the highway easily cruising at 70+ mph.

    • Roman

      The used bike market is pretty amazing right now. For $6500 you could’ve just as easily bought a mint Bonny or Moto Guzzi Griso (my personal favorite) if you were so inclined. I have a really hard time imagining buying a new bike any time soon, most bikes depreciate so much in the first couple years, why take the hit?

      • Wes Siler

        +1 on the Griso. Riding one now and it’s pretty damn neat.

        And Jeremy, congrats on the purchase. Hopefully you’ll get the chance to try something more in the vein of that Bonnie or 599 at some point.

        • Jefferson

          I love the style of the Griso. Distinct and rare, approximating a custom. Are you riding the 8v? Will you post a review of it sometime?

      • Cheese302

        where is one of these 6500 griso’s you speak of, i can have cash in 4 days. that said, i’m buying new just because i cant find the bike i want used. i’ll have it long enough to get the money out of it. striples seem to be doing pretty decent.

        • Roman

          I was kind of looking at these last year, and every now and then they popped up around that price. I think you’re looking at the 1100cc 4 valve version, not the updated 1200cc 8 valve models at that price, but it can be done. Cheapest I could find from a quick google search is:

          • Cheese302

            thanks for the link, i am going to do some searching.

  • jason

    I posted this earlier as a reply to a subtopic, but if the guy from Vic comes back I would REALLY like an answer to this question (which should stop this back and forth).

    -I think the question a lot of people here have is :
    What did you have in mind for Indian BEFORE you started the purchase process?

    Are you saying Polaris decided to buy something just because it was available. I have a hard time believing that. Before Ford bought Volvo, before Fiat bought Chrysler, etc. someone had to have brought a “vision” (sorry for the pun) for what Indian would BECOME for Polaris to upper management. Unless you are saying that upper management did buy the brand just because it was available. If that is true, there is no shame in admitting it. But I have to think that Polaris had an idea of where they want to take the brand and they won’t share it. I always thought that the rumor mill helped bike sales…….

  • Jeremy

    Kevin: the 599 is a great looking bike, one I would definitely have thought long and hard about if a used one was available when I was shopping. Same goes for the Bonnie.

    I was nervous about maintenance costs for an Italian bike, but I will look into that Griso. One nice thing about buying used is I hope to get out of this bike for close to what I paid for it, if I want to try something else.

  • Jeremy

    Also, one of the points HFL is making pretty consistently is that the manufacturers are giving us way too many cruisers and not enough other options. This is doubly apparent when you are shopping for a used bike, want to stay local, and don’t want to spend months waiting for the exact right bike to come up for sale. I stalked the local Honda dealer for months without ever seeing a 599 for sale. Liked the NT700 sport-tourer, but they’re 10 grand.

    Anyone have thoughts on just how much better the Bonnie is than a Sportster? In tests I read, most people liked the Triumph better, but the Harley had its supporters too.

    I will be quiet and learn from you guys now.

    • Kevin

      I feel your pain Jeremy, took me about 8 months to find a suitable 599. Craigspal and searchtempest were my everday best friends back then. Heck i’m still using them now for my next bike purchase, possibly a used 2000 BMW R1100R. I’m mildy concerned about the air of arrogance heaped on BMW riders. But as another poster noted, if you like what you ride, who gives a damn what others think.

    • HammSammich

      If I were you, I’d try to ride a Bonnie and a Sportster. Assuming you’re looking at an 883, the Sportster is going to be significantly underpowered and much poorer handling. Not only that, but you’re going to be on a cruiser that’s shunned by people who don’t like cruisers, and considered a “girl’s bike” by the Harley faithful. I know Harley has made some attempts to brand the 883 as a standard, but the ergos are still way off from what I would consider standard. It also depends on what you’re interested in, but the Harley aftermarket is going to be comprised of a lot of farkle. By contrast, the Triumph aftermarket has a lot of performance options. Just my experiences as a Bonnie owner – who never considered HD, because I couldn’t get into the lifestyle they were trying to sell…

      Edit: All of this having been said, if you’re shopping for a 599, have you considered an SV650? I’ve never ridden one, but know several owners who absolutely love them…and you’d probably have to spend thousands on performance mods to a Bonnie to get it onto the same playing field as the SV…

      • Ben Incarnate

        Hamm is spot on here on all points.

        The SV650 is an outstanding alternative to the hard-to-find 599 – both are great bikes with awesome owner communities.

  • muttblbc

    There was an underlying question that was asked in these articles. with the purchase of the Indian brand, was victory/Polaris going to bring something new, innovative and competitive to the table, or are they gonna be another flash in the pan attempt that ends up once again running the name into the ground? Are they going to make a product that gains them a seat at the table as a MOTORCYCLE COMPANY with the rest of the manufacturing industry, or will they remain a bastard stepchild of Polaris that’s merely dipping its toes into the waters, trying to siphon off the market that lies between the goldwing and the roadking. The quick buck, or the long haul? I contend that if victory had already been building the type of bikes that people wanted in the first place, they would not need to rebrand their efforts. Unfortunately it seems the question has been answered, and you’re right about one thing Robert, shit wrapped in chocolate still smells like shit.


    Why don’t you just mine your own business.



  • muttblbc

    wow, right back atcha.

  • Maxwell

    This comment storm is mind boggling!

    Robert, you keep digging holes and everyone else keeps cramming stuff in ‘em. I admire you’re passion for the brand because God knows I’d go down with the ship for mine (try defending the Diavel to JT). You’re bold but you’re fighting an uphill battle. It’s pretty obvious that most of the readers of HFL want you to impress them and not everyone will be impressed, but just don’t let us all down by not trying. I don’t care what comes out, just make it interesting, keep it simple, and most important, truly be proud of it. I hang out with JT about 4 times a week, we build stupid shit, we think up stupid things and we drink…a lot. The one thing that is consistent about our evenings is that we walk away proud (sometimes not about the alcohol) that we did something that really is genuinely “good.” That’s what I think JT wants from you. Make something you’re proud of, something we’re all proud of because it’s exciting and different. JT is rough around the edges, but hopefully his banter (and all these comments) have a butterfly effect.

    Maxwell Materne
    New Orleans

    • Robert

      I’m the head ditch digger for now I guess. Personally – if it were all met with a “meh” there would be a lot more stress in the job. Again – one person ranting really means nothing – it can be entertaining – but if that rant begats the collective desire to own this thing, and that desire is backed by actual purchases – that is the result we all want. It’s a chicken and egg thing.

      Reminds me for some reason of when I was working a Guzzi event and a guy came in bitching that the cable for his 30 year old Guzzi broke and was not immediately available. I asked him when was the last time he bought a Guzzi – and he said 30 years ago. So I asked him why not buy another Guzzi and fix up the old bike? He said his 30 year old bike was good enough for him and he didn’t need to buy a new bike ever. I pointed out that that may not help his back-ordered cable situation in another 30 years.

      • muttblbc

        As a vintage motorcycle mechanic/shop owner/collector/enthusiast, I would be SERIOUSLY pissed if someone told me that i needed to go out and buy a new bike because a cable was broken! I know this conversation isnt about vintage motorcycles but maybe the true yardstick is whether anyone will still be riding their vegas’ 30 years from now.

        • Robert

          It’s about supporting the brand over time – not buying a bike to replace a cable.

          • muttblbc

            I got that, but that needs to be a reciprocal relationship with the brand supporting its customers and products as well. Theres no better advertisement in the automotive/motorsport industry (for a new buyer) that talks to the quality of a product then seeing the old ones still on the road and maintainable. not trying to highjack the thread onto a different related topic but, That guys 30 year old guzzi is a rolling billboard and proof of a companys ability to build a bike that not only lasts but though it may be relegated to the vintage category, its not relegated to the dated.

  • mcfaite

    For whatever it’s worth, I think it’s pretty cool that we’re at over 200 comments, and prolly 1/4 of them are from Robert. It’s great to be able to have a conversation like this between riders and a manufacturer’s rep.

    Thanks, HFL – we never got this kind of thing from the print mags.

    • sean

      +1. i lumped Icon in with metal mulisha and tap-out on another post and got a response from their rep.

      if these companies have gotten one thing right, it’s paying attention to HFL and responding to comments about their product. in the end, we dont “hate” anything for no reason, we just want it to be better and they (the companies) should too.

  • fasterfaster

    Kudos to Robert for fighting a good and sincere fight in a no-win battle against a guy who has nothing to lose and a readership that will almost always pick the underdog. You’ve got some serious stamina to stay engaged and actually read through these rants. Just by responding, you’ve boosted the egos of many angry little men, much the way a chromed out hog does for aging dentists.

    I look forward to JT inevitably taking all of the credit when Victory or Indian actually introduces a non-cruiser.

    • Robert

      I thought Polaris was the underdog…

  • bpjester

    People have short memories. There is a perfect explanation of why a new motorcycle showroom contains three types of bikes: cruisers, 4 cylinder race-replicas, and “dirt bikes.” It is that way because those bikes are the units that sell consistently each year. The Big Four from Japan have discontinued many “cool” bikes in the past thirty years because no one bought them in sufficient quantities to make it profitable. Whenever H-D introduces a “sporting” model, they don’t sell. Does anybody remember the XLCR, the XR1000, the XL1200S Sport, the FXDX, and the Street Rod?

    What makes me laugh is when an OEM stops importing or manufacturing a particular “cool” bike, the Motorcycle Press throws their collective arms up in the air and complains loudly, “Why did they drop that bike from the lineup? It was so cool!” Maybe, if the Motorcycle Press didn’t go on and on slavishly proclaiming how this year’s (insert model number of newest race-replica here) as the, “Best of all motorcycles ever made…blah…blah.” The “cool” bikes would stay on the market longer.

    The Big Four have plenty of standards or sport-touring bikes in their model lines. Though, when I am riding around my city, the overwhelming majority of the bikes on the road are H-D cruisers or race-replicas. I actually get a little happy when I see the odd Ducati Monster or Suzuki V-Strom on the street.

    • Kevin

      It’s telling how little the concept of “form follows function” matters to American motorcycle buyers. I don’t understand it, but I don’t deny the reality, witness a market dominated by impractical and expensive 700 lb cruisers and supersport torture racks.

      I. Don’t. Get. It.

    • Robert

      Which is why the V-Max, Honda CB1000R and other are such a big fight for the Japanese OEM product manager to get in, and they have such short shelf lives. I own a CB-1 – one of the coolest little bikes ever – and a Hawk GT. But again the more popular and ultimately cheaper CBR600 Hurricane, they went by the wayside. The only japanese bike to seemingly hit cult status and reasonable volume seems to be the SV 650.

      Cool bikes and bikes that sell in volume to sustain a business are two different things sometimes. Which is what makes room for Buell, Fisher, Highland, ATK, and others.

      I’m off to a cafe bike event that my company (MY company, not Polaris) is sponsoring at a local dealer today. I hope all those bitching about what the industry does not make for them – are at least not on a keyboard for part of the weekend and are riding / building / designing what they do want.

      Ciao for now -

  • Braam

    This was posted on core77 a few days ago..At least employing a product Designer is a step in the right direction.

    Job Details
    Company: Polaris Industries
    Location: US – Medina, Minnesota
    Job Level: Senior Staff
    Field: Industrial Design
    Job Functions: Creative Direction, Design, Illustration, Product Development, Project Management, Research, Styling
    The Polaris ID Department supports all 7 Divisions of the company: ATV, Snowmobile, Side by Side Sport and Utility (Ranger), Victory& Indian Motorcycles, Low Emission Vehicles and Parts, Garments & Accessories (PG&A) You may participate in programs for all these divisions but your principle design work will be for Indian and Victory motorcycles.

    Work towards creating a strong branded family look under the direction of a multi-disciplinary product development team including members from engineering, manufacturing, finance, marketing and industrial design.

    As a Senior Designer you will set an example for current staff in your area of expertise. You will be a leader in the group in those (multiple areas) and be able to guide outside firms (with Design Director) in those types of work to a satisfactory result. Your work will include this as well as internal projects done by you or under your supervision.

    1. Advance the state of the art in all the vehicle categories bringing new, fresh ideas that will gain market share for the company.
    2. Determine materials, construction, mechanics, shape, color, surface finish, manufacturing processes and packaging in cooperation with a multi-disciplinary product development team.
    3. Communicate your designs through traditional and digital (2-D & 3-D) means.
    4. Develop ergonomics to maximize comfort, performance, safety and ease of use.
    5. Stay abreast of trends in material usage, design, style, color and graphics.

    Standard office/ID studio environment. Regular travel to engineering facilities required.
    Specific Skills
    1. 4 year degree (BA, BFA or BS) in Industrial Design required.
    2. 5-7 years ID experience. Powersports Motorcycle background required.
    3. Applicant should be passionate about Powersports and be ready to live the riding experience
    and like the outdoors.
    4. Exceptional conceptual problem solving and sketching abilities required.
    5. Exceptional sense of form, design and trends required.
    6. Must have proven ability to take a concept through to final product..
    7. Working knowledge of Human Factors desired.
    8. Polaris is a team environment; we will be looking for team players.
    Web-Based Applications
    Apply Through Our Web Site

  • Jake Snowdon

    Hey buddy, shut up and support Mr Eric Buell. Americans weren’t around to help him out when he was offering something different and actually awesome in another motorcycle category other than ‘cruiser’. So go buy a new EBR 1190RS and support your countries innovators trying something different.