Sayonara Victory

January 9, 2017

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Sayonara Victory

Last night, at midnight, Polaris Industries Inc. issued a press release announcing that the company “will immediately begin winding down its Victory Motorcycles brand and related operations. Polaris will assist dealers in liquidating existing inventories while continuing to supply parts for a period of 10 years, along with providing service and warranty coverage to Victory dealers and owners.”

Polaris, a well known snowmobile and All Terrain Vehicle manufacturer based in Medina, Minnesota, started selling Victory Motorcycles in 1998 at the height of a boom in sales of Harley-Davidson bikes. In 2011, Polaris bought the rights to the Indian brand and began manufacturing Indian Motorcycles. Polaris will continue to manufacture Indians and Slingshots. Slingshots are three wheeled, reverse tricycles that Polaris calls “Three-wheeled roadsters.”

Polaris announced that discontinuing Victory will allow the company to concentrate on its Indian brand, which the company thinks has better worldwide recognition. Polaris will continue to build Indians at its plants in Spirit Lake, Iowa and Spearfish, South Dakota. The company builds Slingshots in Huntsville, Alabama.

Corporate Speak

Polaris announced, “Several factors influenced today’s announcement. Victory has struggled to establish the market share needed to succeed and be profitable. The competitive pressures of a challenging motorcycle market have increased the headwinds for the brand. Given the significant additional investments required for Victory to launch new global platforms that meet changing consumer preferences, and considering the strong performance and growth potential of Indian Motorcycle, the decision to more narrowly focus Polaris’ energy and investments became quite clear.”

In a supplementary announcement, Polaris said the “decision  to enter the heavyweight motorcycle market in 1998 stemmed from a desire to further diversify the company’s product lines.” At the time, the market for big, American made bikes seemed strong and the only competition was Harley. But the market for these bikes collapsed. “Sales of Victory peaked in 2012 and has steadily declined over the subsequent years In 2015, Victory represented only three percent of total Polaris sales; at retail, Victory dealers, on average, sold only about 20 units per year.”

“This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors,” Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine said in the press release. “Over the past 18 years, we have invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls, into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished. Since inception, our teams have designed and produced nearly 60 Victory models that have been honored with 25 of the industry’s top awards. The experience, knowledge, infrastructure and capability we’ve built in those 18 years gave us the confidence to acquire and develop the Indian Motorcycle brand, so I would like to express my gratitude to everyone associated with Victory Motorcycles and celebrate your many contributions.”

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29 Responses to “Sayonara Victory”

  1. HillbillyJane Says:

    No one may care, but we had a Polaris dealership starting in ’91. We started with one of the big four Japanese companies and added Polaris when I came across them at a show in Vegas. They were amazing to work with and sincerely cared abouth making a good American product. Actually worked with them, through our rep, when they were laying the foundation for a bike line. As a company I have never ever had a manufacturer take better care of their dealers or customers than they have, and I have been in the industry since the early eighties. I am confident they will take care of existing Victory bikes and their owners well beyond what is required by law. Small example; a Saturday afternoon, a phone call. His (let’s call him Jackass Consumer for fun) ATV won’t run. “What’s wrong with it??”. My ESP being off that day (brought on by my period no doubt), I told him to bring it by. He brings it, fifteen minutes after closing, demanding to be compensated for bringing it in, and when asked for details – when did he last ride it, did it turn over, sounds…anything to go on, I am asked which part of “It won’t run.” do I not understand with a muttered “stupid bitch”. Stupid Bitch was able to acertain that the gas can used to fuel up actually contained kerosene. Polaris had no obligation here – no warranty covers fuckery. However, after laughing their asses off in Minnesota, they covered me on parts as goodwill since this man had purchased two units from me. Every other manufacturer I ever worked with required a battle just to get legitimate warranty work covered. Also, when my husband was suddenly diagnosed with a stage three aggressive cancer, their only question to me was what could they do to help us through a difficult time. When things came to an end and I had to close the business the major manufacturer absorbed what was left of our inventory – they charged me shipping on each unit as well as a restocking fee of sorts even though the majority of the units went to a dealer I worked with before in the area. They refused to cancel a fall parts/accessories order even though nothing had shipped and at least $10,000 was a mandatory minimum order for a fall program. Among other things. Polaris? They (administration level) as well as our rep stayed in constant contact, picked up and moved all of our inventory as well parts and accessories, re-purchased some of the shop tools as well as manuals and wrote off any outstanding monies. I know they have become more corporate; I was able to call any division and get a human to answer the phone but that is no longer the case. I believe the principals haven’t changed as much, though, and that same desire to offer the best product they can is intact. They bought a cheerleader when they treated me – a nobody – with the heartfelt caring and support no business engages in anymore!
    Ask me about the man who, after being told he should look at balancing and blueprinting, came in to by blueprint. In his Jag. Custom leather loafers and Armani. On a court break. On a Tuesday. In a hurry because he and his club were running a run Saturday. His words. I love American consumers!

  2. xplor Says:

    Can we list all the bikes that have gone by the wayside ? Like Simplex , Nimbus and Megola.
    I am sure you have a few favorites,

  3. stroker Says:

    Ya know…..I was a tad upset with the news last week…thoughts of abandonment, rejection, anger at BEING rejected, ya know, the whole relationship muddy water go-hang-myself type of thing……then, last weekend we got a break from the monsoons here in central Calif, and I took a ride with my buds up to a little bar in Pescadero, and had a damn fine ride in the winter sun. About 30 minutes into that ride, it dawned on me! My bike doesn’t know it’s obsolete! It doesn’t know the factory shut the doors on it! It purred along just like always….oblivious to the situation! So……….I decided right then and there, I ain’t gonna tell it!
    I think it’s gonna be ok.

  4. Magoo Says:

    Perhaps Polaris could have focused more on t-shirts to keep the whole thing afloat. Maybe poised a few bikes to the inner-city millenials. Worked out a deal with Chevy for the “Victory Edition” pickup?

    Yapping aside.. I wonder if someone will just buy it up. How many financial exercises has H-D been through? And Buell? And Indian, for that matter. Tmie will tell.

  5. BigV Says:

    I never liked the one I rode. I always held a grudge that the Kings Mountain plant was written off, and that the Indian was never given the push it deserved.

    I think Harley is living off an image that is 40-50 years gone and they do not understand their most loyal market.

    I loved the one monoshock Indian I rode- a Chief was how it was badged. I tried one of their PI’s that was an ex-Cherryville bike- it was like a Scout with a big ass engine(from the mouth of a poor boy 82″ EVO rider).

    I have looked high and low for a monoshock Chief frame or even an after market. Never found one.

    God I love the American Motorcycle. I rode a Buell that had been stripped down to what the jap scrap guy who had it called it a street fighter. He had one with the sportster engine and one with a Rotax. The Rotax had been stripped. It was actually comfortable to ride with mods.

  6. Sieg Says:

    Do believe any vehicle manufacturer in the States has to carry parts for seven years after they stop production, but i don’t believe there is any service obligation. Could be wrong-been married twice.

    Up here, Victory was just another Polaris product…saw them being sold out of snowmobile shops and such, and I’m sure those shops will continue to service them. Very doubtful that any but the largest went and hired wrenches especially for Victory, hell, they could get their snomo gus some factory training and have a year-round profit center.

  7. xplor Says:

    When Triumph folded up shop. Harley sent me a $ 50 gift gift card, so its not all bad.

  8. puterindabasketchief Says:

    Stroker:

    Sounds like we have similar stories, though I can only claim 23 years on Harleys. I switched to Vic in ’16 myself. I hope their bullet-proof reputation holds true for both of us.

    Better braking, suspension, stance and the thing puts out 109/111 after only minor tweaking. The OL says it’s the most comfortable bike she’s ever slept on the back of.

    I think Polaris stepped on their dick with this one. Indian might be the brand du jour, but I’m personally not a fan and won’t buy anything from them again after this screw-job. No, my bikes are never an investment. Riding them is what my whole life revolves around. But, when the value gets cut in half overnight, it’s a mighty kick in the nuts.

    And whether you think Vics or Indians pale by comparison to HD, losing any competition will only make the MoFoCo more arrogant, less customer focused, and slower to improve. And, based on my experience, HD has a lot they need to improve.

  9. Largeandy Says:

    Have owned several Harleys, still do. Dont know about Victory bikes, never ridden one but the newer Indians of Polaris vintage are awesome riding motorcycles. I think they look great, know they ride really well and the torque and accelleration from that 111 is awesome. $64,000 question will be as another poster querried….and that is will Polaris attempt to broaden the dealer/service network? That to me is the biggest risk you have with Indian because zero doubt they have made one hell of a motorcycle. Harley has managed a huge dealer and service network and as stated, every little ole town has guys who can work on Harleys.
    Frankly its nice to have a second American choice. Harley has had its ups and downs too…..hard to forget the AMF days not to mention they aint cheap. HOG needs some competition.

  10. Bolo Says:

    This is sad news. I ride a Softail Evo but my father rides a Victory Highball and its a hell of a bike. Polaris should have merged the brands. Victory’s models are all basically the same bike and they could have easily rebranded them Indian and used them as a bridge line between the the little Scouts and the bigger 111 Cheifs. The Octane is already a hibryd between the Scout and the Victory.

  11. stroker Says:

    I bought a Victory Cross Country early in 2016. I love it. It’s well-made, runs faster than most Harleys, as well as out handles them, better gas mileage etc. It’s a shame Polaris is dropping them. The engines are going 150 to 200k with oil changes! I rode Harleys for 50 yrs before this move, so no, it wasn’t easy to do. BUT, the ride on the Victory made the transition quite palatable. I’ll just keep riding the sumnabitch till it breaks, or I decide to go back to the MoCo. Who knows….maybe I’ll try BMW!?!
    It IS a punch in the gut though!

  12. brianF Says:

    Polaris sounds like they are being nice guys by providing parts availability for 10 years. I believe that is a minimum requirement from one of the fedgov agencies.

  13. Paladin Says:

    @ fallendesparado,

    Try these guys: https://dirtybirdconcepts.com/

    Long May You Ride,

    Paladin

  14. Grimey Says:

    They did have some cool looking bikes, but they had some seriously ugly ones too. Bet Sonny Barger is bummed. Victory was his go to bike.

  15. fallendesperado Says:

    I have to admit I really like the new Indian line. I’ve run into a few riders with them and it seems Polaris does a good job with them and they appear to have quality parts on them, less “plasticy” than their Victory cousins. But I don’t own either so that’s subjective and anecdotal observation. I wish there were more mods and aftermarket stuff for them though. As far as I can tell there isn’t much a guy can do to the 111 Thunderstroke, definitely nothing seems as potent as dropping a kit in a Harley

  16. Roswell Says:

    I hate to hear this, everyone I know that has a Fictory likes them. 3% of sales is not worth the investment and no dealer can survive on 20 units a year. What really makes it clear that Victory as a business had no value is that there was no management buyout or spinoff into a stand along ne company. The balance sheet must have been a complete disaster.

  17. Steve Says:

    Not really surprised. I never thought it made a lot of sense for Polaris to carry three brands in this market. Can-Am will be the next to go. Polaris only has one real problem with their motorcycle branding, no dealer network. Every two bit town in this country has a HD dealership. I fully expect to see some re-branded Victories in the Indian line. HD really does need competition just to keep them focused.

  18. Jim Bob Says:

    I ride a Polaris snomobile and it’s been relatively problem free. Due to, well, off and on employment issues over the past couple years, (and my scooter is still going strong so no huge need to buy a new one), never had any extra cash to get any new machines in general but I’ve been perfectly happy with their fun in the snow on the mountains toy. Always was a little curious about their bikes and if they were as reliable as their snomobiles but looks like they’re not as popular…

  19. Paladin Says:

    In my AO (SoCal), Victory dealers also carry other motorcycle brands. Because the Victory is an overhead cammer, the mechanics that work on the Jap bikes are more than likely cross trained to work on Victory’s.

    The Polaris Indian is the new bike on the block, and Polaris has sunk a huge amount of money resurrecting the brand. I personally think that if the word got around that Polaris was abandoning their Victory customers, potential Indian customers would balk, thinking Polaris has trust issues.

    I think those that ride the Victory will have parts and service available to them for at least as long as Polaris corporate says they will.

    Paladin

  20. Wino Enzed Says:

    Victory is like one of those Ladies that are fun in the sack but you dont wanna take to the Pub.
    Their sales dropped off after Indian production started so some I guess swapped brands.
    Polaris used similar heartfelt words when they closed one of their other divisions, good spin doctors. This is a corporate that only cares about the bottom line and not their customers or workers.

    Think of the emotion we put in when we buy a MotorCycle. For me it is a very special decision for them it is just money.
    When they put a Victory badge on the scout one knew something was going on.
    The Indian well out sold the Victory.
    Wonder if they will re badge some of the Victories as Indians.
    That was done before with a pommie vertical twin and was a stupid thing to do then and would be now.
    Hope all those that lose their jobs get on ok.
    Wonder if those that were looking at buying an indian give it a little more thought

  21. rw Says:

    I go do paid surveys once in a while. Did one a little over a year ago about motorcycles. Had a lot of name recognition and identity type question. Told some folks after that that Polaris was gonna dump Victory for Indian.

  22. swampy Says:

    I don’t foresee dealerships/service departments staying open just to provide parts and service but that’s what the story says. Maybe the small independent shop owner, that works on external push rod v-twins, would see fit to get some training and a parts connection for the Victory. A shop near a large city might attract 200-300 Victory owners?

  23. popeye Says:

    I feel sorry for the dealers who believed the hype and forked over high franchise fees to be a dealer. They are well made and innovative bikes but ugly. Arlen Ness designs and parts are shit and the motor looks like 2 blenders

  24. Hangaround Says:

    Where this stinks is for people like me that due to lifestyle constraints, have to ride an American made V-Twin.

    I have owned a Victory Magnum now for 8 months and have 18,000 trouble free miles under my belt already.

    Despite some ( not so ) subtle ribbing from brothers I was firmly committed to staying the Victory course and never looking back at HD.

    Now, well, WTF. I’ll roll this one till the wheels fall off and then see what happens, Indian looks are just not my thing.

  25. Paladin Says:

    I find it refreshing that the “corporate speak” from Polaris seems humble and genuine. I can’t say the same for the “corporate speak” that comes from a company that sells motorcycles as an accessory to its clothing line.

    Paladin

  26. Smitty1961 Says:

    Well son of a bitch. I’ve been riding a Victory for about a year and a half and have enjoyed the hell out of it. The Highball is a good bike and rides well. I didn’t consider dumping my FLHT and go 100% in but I think I’ll get many more years out of the bike. They’re made well.

  27. Stevo Says:

    Look on the bright side, second hand prices will drop like a stone.

    Stevo

  28. TX_Biker Says:

    Polaris was and is out of it’s league. When your product is quads and watercraft why delve into a market already saturated with established brands? Indian will be next. ugliest motorcycle made. not even a nostalgia factor. I give it two more years. The local Harley dealer here also owns an Indian dealership next door. I have never seen anyone in there.

  29. Sieg Says:

    A shame. Never forked one, but choice is always good. Well, if it keeps this iteration of Indian alive. ..

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