Polaris Industries Acquires Indian Motorcycles

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April 21, 2011 | By: Scott Holton

Polaris Industries faxed its dealer network late Tuesday afternoon to announce it had acquired Indian Motorcycle Ltd., a move I see as placing a big target on Harley-Davidson’s back and raising the specter that Harley might be facing some decent domestic competition in the near future. Indian is a company that is advised by Stellican Ltd. and Novator Partners LLP, two United Kingdom private equity firms.

Adding some support to my prognosis, Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:PII) stock was up 26 percent this morning after news of the Indian Motorcycle Ltd. (IML) acquisition. That’s a gain of 48 percent year-to-date. And further bolstering the news was the release today of first-quarter figures for Polaris that showed net income of $47.3 million, or $2.34 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, 2011.

By comparison, first-quarter figures for 2010 showed a net income of $19.8 million, or $0.59 per diluted share. The Q1 figures for this year also show that Polaris’ off-road vehicle sales rose 55 percent to $388 million. On-road vehicles/Victory Motorcycle sales rose 77 percent to $44.9 million, and Polaris snowmobile sales were up 61 percent to $8.9 million. The gross margin percentage increased 210 basis points to 28.3 percent.

Stay tuned for more developments!

Comments (30)

Indian WILL make a successful comeback!
Polaris has the $$ to do production right, and if they want to compete they need to listen to OWNERS that have them, and lower the price.
Ridley tried to make a go of it and did pretty well for a 9-year run, but mis-management and the lawsuit with Harley sunk them. The best thing about Ridley is that they were the ONLY TRUE AMERICAN bike made in Okla City.

I’m going to burst a lot of bubbles. I own an INDIAN it is a 2001 Centennial Scout LE with plaque on frame, and certification #218.
It isn’t a clone, or a copy. What Harley riders either don’t know, or are incapable of understanding is this: You can’t be a copy when your manufacturer came FIRST only those bikes built by OTHER marquees coming a few years later are COPIES or CLONES of the original. That makes Indian, America’s 1st V-Twin. If yours cme after that YOU are riding the CLONED COPY.

I know many from Springfield, don’t like claiming their kin. SORRY but your title is the SAME as mine so get over the insider squabble, and join ALL Indian riders together. At least Indian is standing on its own. Harley has been bailed out , and kept from sinking under the financal waters, at least 2 times by Uncle Sam.,,, or they wouldn’t be here today. If it weren’t for selling clothes they’d sink tomorrow. Some People need to read and learn TRUE history not imagined.
I LOVE my SCOUT and it doesn’t need to be 55 cubic inches It’s perfect at 88. It makes eagles scream when it plucks their tail feathers to make its War Bonnett.
Truth is they’re all good bikes, we need to face the truth, and get over all the garbage. I’ll wave at anyone, and we all should. It is about the brotherhood of Freedom and Riding openly, and not in a cage.I welcome the advantages of having an engineering department like Polaris behind Indian. Sure some changes would be great. Even Springfield was changing, with side by side twins coming up in production, along with its inline 4 cylinder. We can keep some things and add NEW.

I say Long live Indian Motocycle, and the changes that Polaris and the times bring

I have both an Indian and a Harley. My 2002 Chief doesn’t completely resemble a 1953 Indian, but then my 2001 Harley doesn’t fully resemble a 1953 Harley.

I ride a TRUE American Classic. It’s a Real 2001 Indian Centennial Scout # 218 Certified and registered. It has an S&S engine and it’s ALL INDIAN. I LOVE IT. I haven’t had a moments trouble. I get on it and ride. Everywhere I go people come up and tell me what a beautiful, and fantastic bike it is. They all share stories of Indian bikes in their past….. and they love mine too.
This arguing is foolish. Indian was Americas First motorcycle, and America’s first V-twin If you are the first, ANYTHING and ANYONE who comes after is the clone , or copy. When You are First, you’re ALWAYS First!! Indian was the first to cover the valves, Indian was the first to use side valves everyone else is a copy or a clone….. all wanna be’s. Harly was a bicycle in the beginning too, but they were only starting in a shack when Indian was selling out of a Major FACTORY. It’s historical FACT people. No matter what name is on it, any V-Twin is a COPY of Indian Design.

My Grandaddy had a 27 Indian, MY Uncle had a 37 Indian Scout, I’ve got a picture of my 11 year old ( at that time) Mother sitting on that “37. Now I sit and Ride PROUDLY on my 2001 Gilroy INDIAN. MY Title says INDIAN….. it’s an INDIAN no matter what anyone else says. If you want to knit pick, you can take parts off of most any year Indian and put them n a Harley, or many other bikes….. so who calls them clones? If you buy NEW springs and install them on your 1953 Chief does that make it a copy, or clone because the part wasn’t built in 1953? That is simply foolishness to argue over that type thing. Indian is BACK….. gosh, it never really died. So there have been struggles, INDIAN is still here, and I’m PROUD to ride MINE. I will be Proud to pass it on to my son one day. Until that day comes I’m going to enjoy every minute of every ride, and every time god people come up and want to talk with me about my INDIAN, that THEY LOVE. If you’re stuck arguing over silliness, you’re missing the revolution that’s happening all across the country everytime an American SEE’s one…… SOme how I KNOW my full Blooded Chickasaw Granddaddy is Proud of me. There’s a blood line of history that flows in my veins, and it’s plain to see everytime I sit on my INDIAN SCOUT and RIDE!

I too said the Gilroy Indians were just over priced Harley clones as my Friend and I viewed the new bikes at the Long Beach, CA bike show just before the bikes were available for sale to the public. I now own a 2001 Scout and have learned that the bike is much more than just a clone. It is quality, as in S&S Super Stock and billet everything. Harleys, would cost MUCH more if the Gilroy quality components were used. Gilroy Indian owners got what they paid for.
BTW, I own a 95 Dyna Lowrider as well.
Good luck to Polaris and the New Indian.

Long live Indian!
Long live Victory!

I happen to own a 2003 Gilroy Indian with a proprietary Bottle Top 100 cubic inch Engine. The next iteration that came out was the same thing with minor changes and a higher price…much higher. I talked with a rep at Street Vibrations in Reno about three years ago as I looked at a Roadmaster Chief that looked almost identical to mine and said, “It’s almost identical to mine with a few changes, like the crank cover and the larger bore or stroke to make it 105 cu in.” He looked down his nose (which was slightly in the air) and had he gall to say, “Nope! You’re wrong! Everything on this bike is completely redesigned. Nothing on your bike will fit and parts are NOT interchangeable!” I had no desire to argue with this smart a__ so I walked on. My mechanic used to be a part-owner and the service manager of the Indian dealership in Reno and he told me almost the entire bike was the same with a longer stroke and some minor cosmetic changes. Interestingly, I broke the headlight lens and it interchanged perfectly with the newer bikes…something the snob told me couldn’t happen. My bike screams and runs beautifully after some changes had to happen after the Gilroy company got cheap just before going out of business. Had to have the crank cases replaced due to a flaw in the casting which made it leak oil into the tranny. Had to have a new starter with some ooomph in it installed as they put an inexpensive one without enough power to crank the engine and only drained the battery. Luckily, I bought this bike as the second owner and got it for $12,000. After the work was finished I now have about $16,000 in it and have ridden it from Reno to Portland and back twice as well as trips into Central California a number of times over the Sierras. My friends all have Harleys and it stays up with them or leads the pack without any problem and when I park it alongside some of their truly beautiful bikes, guess whose bike gets noticed? “Wow! Is that an Indian? What a beautiful bike.” So, to you Harley owners who think the late model Indians were all “just Harley clones,” you’d be wise to check your facts. Starting in 2002 all Indians had the proprietary engine which put them out of business due to R & D expenses and a poor financial plan. I am thrilled that Polaris bought the moniker and that they are allowing it to be built independently with financial oversight. Now that company has two fantastic bikes to compete with Harley. And i have nothing against Harleys either. If I could get a deal on an early nineties soft tail springer bagger, I would have to decide which bike I wanted to ride more each time I went into the garage. Gotta go ride! Indian/Polaris…what a great combination!

I agree that the bikes are a bit expensive, but I wouldn’t consider this last come back a flop. They did what they set out to do. That Rep. you spoke to most definitely had his head where the sun don’t shine. I’m sure you have a nice bike, but it’s still doesn’t say Indian on the sticker or VIN. Just like the folks that ride that Jap Indian look a like. They put the decals on, and the chief fender light, but it’s still not an Indian. When asked “Is that an Indian you got there?” you can’t say with pride “Yup”. I also wish Polaris the best, seems if memory serves, Polaris was going to buy Indian back in 2003. At least that was the talk I heard back then. I just got word from a friend at the Indian plant everything is being packed up and moved to Spirit Lake Iowa as I write this and folks are down there being trained as well. Bigger factory? I hope so, this might mean a huge price reduction and maybe the return of the Scout. They should restart production within the next month or so. Here’s to hoping! Indian Pride! Long Live Indian!

Will be interesting to see what Polaris does with this iconic brand. Last 2 attempts flopped. Hopefully they will be smart enough to realize your average working person can’t afford 32K-36K for a motorcycle. Indian pissed me off at Sturgis 2010, when I told Rep. prices were too high. The man looked me in the eye and said, “It is an elite machine for an elite crowd”. He confirmed what I jokingly said when I heard prices for their bikes. In the 60′s Honda said ” You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. Indian, “You meet the richest snobs on an Indian”. I personally love Indian Motorcycles, but due to their hefty price tags couldn’t afford one. So I spent last 10+ years building my own motorcycle with Indian Chief appearance and she drew more attention at the Indian display in Sturgis than their 30+K bikes, plus she usually brings home 1st place trophy from every show! Just goes to show “looks can be deceiving”. I truly wish Polaris all the best in this new endeavor they are about to embark on.

YEAH BABY, BRING ITN; I’M STILL KEEPING MY FXR, WHAT A SWEETHEART. PROBLEM; HAVE A BAD RT. LEG. BIKE TOO HEAVY. WILL TRADE MY SPRINGER, YES SPRINGER, FXR.(27000) MI.FOR A CUSTOM SPORTSTER OR CHOPPER WHICHEVER WOULD BE LIGHTER.
POLARIS ___WILL___DO THE RIGHT THING.PLEASE CONTACT ME ABOUT THE TRADE IF ANYONE IS INTERESTED IN A GORGEOUS FXR.
SINCERELY
BOB CONLEY

Okay here we go. What in the world is a “real” Indian? If you are wishing for the machines built in Massachusetts, forget it though’s will never be built again. Indian would have evolved over the years, just as Harley has. Harley has had many engine changes, style modifications through out the years and was even bought and sold. Where are the folks saying, “Oh, that’s not a real Harley”. Real Harley’s don’t have shock mounted engines, they don’t have fuel injection, they don’t have shock absorbers and so on. If the Indian Motorcycle Company built it and the machine is branded with and by the Indian Motorcycle Company then it most be an Indian motorbike. One more thing, Harley sportsters at one time had their carburetors on the left side, I know, I’ve worked on them. Are those any less a Harley? I think it’s all about Style! What if Indian puts a radiator on the Scout, so what. It’s still an Indian. Harley has a bike with a radiator and guess what? It’s a Harley. You cannot even say that Harley is “all” American because allot of the parts come from over seas. Assembled in America maybe.
I agree looking to the past for Style would be awesome, Old style, new technology. Will it stop those from saying, Oh, that’s not a Indian it’s got disc brakes! That’s not an Indian it has a six speed transmission and so on. Cheese and crackers people, if you love Indian than just be glad the name and machines are still around.
Indian Pride! Long Live Indian!

If Indian only caters to the ultra rich they will fail. Even HD has bikes the average guy can afford. Think about this, if Chevrolet only built the Corvette, were would they be right now.

My first bike was a 1941 Indian Chief (with the leaf spring front) that I bought for $70.00. It took me across country and everywhere else with few issues. I’d LOVE to see a real Indian come back, not the current phonies. Still a great memory and I’ve had just about every bike you can think of.

I HAD A FAT BOY …A ST GLIDE and a SOFTTAILand a INDIAN CHIEF sold all th HD keep the chief..i lov this bike many HD very few Indians very special after all IT WAS THE FIRST BIKE 1901…YEA bABY…

Dicky is way behind. The Indian Chiefs are 100% Indian and no radiator. They’ve been selling them since 2008. They are super perfect, and super refined. By far the best bike on the market in quality fit and finish. It is, and Polaris has said, will remain, a premium brand. As of now, way out of reach for the average guy. A Chief Standard will run you about $37,000 and a loaded Roadmaster or Vintage will top out at $48,000. I have been dogging Indian about reviving the Scout and Spirit models. If they do not, Indian will never be a threat to anyone. They will remain a niche motorcycle for the rich! There are few people willing and able to shell out 40 grand for a bike. I’ve always wanted a real Indian, but at these prices, may never have one…..new anyway!

I am extatic about this news, but only as previously stated if Polaris treats Indian right. I would love to see an ORIGINAL STYLE 40s, early 50s Indian with modern tech. The motorcycle gods themselves would nod in approval of it! I would trade my Ultra for a REASONABLY AFFORDABLE chief! Com’on guys, you now possess an american icon…now you get it right!….the others tried, but didn’t. Harleys are bought because of heritage..thats it…it’s amercan, and it has history. You should do the same with Indian…there is a real history to this motorcycle and you DO have the ability to do it right. So let see what you’ve got! I’ll be waiting!

Years ago, Indian was redesigned by a guy in CO, I believe, and what he had envisioned was amazing. Then something slipped up and and a Judge awarded the whole thing to the company that blew it down the toilet even against the stockholders’ wishes.
Now, a company with some cash behind them, has the ability to make it ‘shine’ again. Let’s hope that their decisions are based upon looking back to its Ancestry as well as looking forward to what it can be once more. I hope the Polaris “Powers-That-Be” will LISTEN to what the people want from that Brand and not the creation of “a Victory with big fenders”.

Having had 3 Harleys motorcyles and 2 Polaris ATV’s, both great products. I can not wait to see the marriage of Polairis and Indian. I hope to see the progression of the American Motorcycles. Some competition will do nothing but improve the quality and features and raise the level of performance. Cars are better than ever before why not American made bikes! Competition is what makes us improve, by the way I have these brands because they are made in the USA/North America.

I don’t understand why Indian or Victory has to be compared to a Harley! True Harley lasted longer but that does not make Harley the “Original American Motorcycle”. There was a time when Indian set the standard. And I hope to see that time return. I hope that Polaris can do for Indian what AMF did for Harley. I read on the Polaris website about this acquisition and they write that Indian will stand on it’s own with the backing of resources from Polaris industries. I hope that the price will become more affordable and more models will return. One more thing for the Harley folks. It’s 2011 and an Indian bike still holds the land speed for bikes under 1000cc’s and the last winner at Daytona with a V-twin was an Indian. My friend who is a mechanic on a Harley that races, told me there are three Indian’s out front that continue to beat Harley’s to this day.
Indian Pride! Long Live Indian! Good Luck Polaris

I’m not really sure how I feel about Polaris taking over Indian. But I see the potential there. True the S&S engines of the Gilroy bikes didn’t do justice. But the Power Plus 105′s or the Bottle cap engines of the Charlotte N.C. seem to be the ticket. I resent the notion that to have a V-twin in the Indian bikes is a clone or copy of Harley. After all didn’t Indian have the first V-twin engine? and if not I know that Harley didn’t. I agree the Scout should return and even some of the other little none models, the Warrior, the Arrow, the Road Master, etc. I see now that after writing this that I do forward to see what will become of my beloved Indian Motorcycle Company and hope to see the advertisements on TV. Good Luck to Polaris, And LONG LIVE INDIAN!

I hope Polaris can get the price of the bikes down. The Indians are THE AMERICAN BIKE and I would like to see them get the market share back to what it was in the day. Dare I say, add a new engine to the Indian line up. Polaris has many types of engines in their products which could facilitate something new. America needs to be inovative again and quite resting on laurels. I think Polaris could have the balls to make it happen. HD. does’nt

Right on! As an ex-HD employee, I know. Milwaukee will be up to the challenge; also, their upper management will be crying like rats eating onions.. As far as powerplants, the Power Plus that was in the last of the Gilroy Chiefs as well as the NC models is a decent Big Twin with unique styling (non-metric, non-air compressor) and I would assume Polaris now owns it, too. A smaller number would be needed for a Scout, and I totally agree Polaris shouldn’t mix&match with Victory pieces. An Indian should be as least as stylish as a Harley, but in their own unique way. A flathead would rock if they weren’t so doggish (hint, hint, R&D)…

What Dicky says is partially true.
Practicality however would dictate that the Indian (Polaris) cannot just build an engine BUT could have one built to suit the brand stylistically. Leaf spring front, even Indian progresses with attractive hydraulic forks back in the day.
What distincts HD, Indian is retro engineering..keep it old school but moderned guts. The little idio syncracies of bolting on add-ons as opposed th the Japanese attemp at looking like. Keep A. Ness out of the styling dept. (OK on a Polaris but PLEASE not on Indian)
Take a look at a 50′s Indian, get that side view up close, ponder at all those rods and cables, that hard tail frame that somehow got suspension grafted onto it. The seat that seems to float on a stick, and yes those F A T fenders.
Even if it’s an S&S, just have it styled so that it would reflect what Indian (just like HD) would have progressed over the years to become.

Well said Dicky. I am in total agreement with everything you said. If it turns out to be another Copy Cat, people want buy. But if Polaris takes it and goes back to Indain’s roots and builds a traditional Bike, it will sell, and like Dicky said, I would also buy one and park it right next to my Harley…………

There is no need to compare Harley and Victory or even discuss what Polaris will do with Indian. Polaris and Victory are the AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE of the future. Harley is old school and will remain old school. To different schools of thought. Polaris will bring Indian into the future. You discussed the motor?> Really? the Freedom V-Twim is rock solid! I know all about this discussion because I had many Harley’s until the day the SERVICE MANAGER knew me by name everytime i walked in the steelership. I switched to Victory 5 years ago and have not been to a dealership since. In Fact the closest dealer is 90 miles away and I have NEVER even been there.
Us Vic riders dont mind all the talk. We dont mind a bit because we know what we have. We know that we are here to stay and we have no idea if the dealership actually has a service manager.
Harleys are awesome bikes and very cool. But who was the 1st to put a 240 on the rear(production)? Never could get used to a 160(really a 160?). Who made an engine that runs so cool they had to reduce the size of the cooler? Who made a bike with parts that actually fit across the entire line. Like I said we hear the talk and we just smile because we know we are the new guys. But we are here to stay and not copying anyone.
I am smiling right now thinking what Polaris will do with this nostalga and have zero worries. The NESS team is licking there chops right now……..
Relax They got this……….Dar
Oh one more thing,,,,,,,it wil be American metric just like my 110 hp HAMMER. Just my Opinion Thanks for listening

Dicky you completly correct! the 2K Indians were harley clones looking like Indians. some people will just buy the name. make it original and along the lines of the classic with modern tech, not a copy of the classic thu. price matters 2

They’re too expensive.

The only way this is going to work (I hope it does) is for somebody at Polaris to commit to making a smaller cubic inch Scout, and the larger V-twin Chief models as close to the originals as possible. Air cooled. Get some parts on the bike that are true to the heritage of Indian. The stuffing of an EVO style S&S motor in the last attempt was a disaster. The engine as good as an S&S is, did not belong in an Indian. It’s like putting a Ford 5.0 V8 into a Vette, it doesn’t belong.
–Its simple; the Scout vs. the Sportster 883. The Chief vs. the RoadKing. —An inline 4 cylinder 440 model vs NOTHING ELSE LIKE IT. If done properly, its a gold mine. If there is a radiator behind the Chiefs big fender, well, you can keep it. If its full of “metric” bullshit, again you can keep it – If there is a leaf spring above that fender, and an old school V-twin in the framework. I’ll buy one, and proudly park it next to my Harleys. If its a Polaris mill, again, you can have it.
–People that buy Harleys are buying tradition, heritage, and a certain feel. None of its perfect, but its REAL. Polaris bikes are a copy (good bikes, none the less) but still just a knock off. just one step above the japanese copies.The Indian brand on the other hand,if treated like a seperate company has real potential. It’s a true American brand name, there is heritage and styling tradition there to work with. If done right, it will not be a knock off, it will continue to be an original. Polaris ownership or not.
Polaris appears to have the cash to resurect the brand again, lets hope that bean counters are only allowed to write the check for the purchase…..

Remaines to be seen what they will do with the company. Could go either way !

This should be interesting. We love seeing classic Indians and have been waiting to see who might bring them back to the forefront of motorcycling. The increase of Polaris stock may indeed indicate a target on Harley, but I would anticipate a large response from Harley if that’s the case.

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