Monday, August 5, 2013

New Indian

Most of the vintage motorcycle has been pretty cynical of the new Indian as far as I can tell. I have been trying very hard to stay as objective as possible. I'd love to see Indian become a legitimate Harley Davidson alternative and they have such a wonderful esthetic heritage to work from. The look of the engine Polaris released months ago looked great and all of the marketing I had seen seemed to key in on Indian's history in really effective ways.

Now that I've actually seen the new Indian I'm sad to say I'm disappointed. I never really cared for the look of the late production Chiefs with telescopic forks but for sake of a semi apples-to-apples comparison that's where I'll start.

Admittedly I know nothing about marketing modern motorcycles to the masses. Most of the non-vintage motorcycle people I mix with really don't "get" why I put the additional effort required into keeping an old bike roadworthy. There is almost nothing about a modern Harley Davidson that makes me want one. It's pretty clear I am not Indian's target consumer. Harley does well embrace their historical esthetic however. You can buy a Harley that looks very much like a 40's HD if that's a look that appeals to you.

In my opinion Polaris missed the mark. The most obvious element of the legendary 40's Chiefs anyone would tie into is the full flowing fenders. When I look at the bike all I can see is how proportionally wrong the front fender and wheel look. So it's got the lovely Indian graphics and kitschy concho seat trim... Beyond that it's just kind of homely and forgettable.

I loved the retro Ducati's and ultimately they were a failure. I like the new Nortons for what they are but I've never actually seen one. That can't mean they are flying off the sales floor. That said Triumph has done extremely well with their classics product line and they well embrace their lineage in my opinion (an opinion for which I am probably even less objective than for the Indian). I would (and have previously considered) owning a Thruxton.

So what does this all mean. I'm probably a horrible source to predict successful motorcycle marketing. I do however know what I like. I also believe any motorcycles legacy is an important piece of what the brand "is." As a consumer all I can say is there is a long long list of other ways I would spend the $22k asking price if I had the "motorcycle money."

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