On January 22 of the new year, Polaris Industries will begin selling its Indian brand motorcycles in India. Polaris began selling Victory motorcycles in India last month. India is the world’s second largest motorcycle market.
Polaris will sell all three Indian models currently in production – the Chieftain, Chief Vintage and Chief Classic. Harley-Davidson and Britain’s Triumph are also active in the Indian market.
Harley has been exporting “complete knockdown kits” to India from the United States. The kits, basically a disassembled motorcycle, are reassembled at a plant in northern India. Importing the Harleys as kits and assembling them on the subcontinent significantly reduces Indian import tariffs and reduces the cost of buying a Harley there. Harley has also announced that it will begin selling new and smaller Harleys in India. Those 500cc and 750cc bikes will be built entirely in India.
Polaris intends to export completely assembled, American built Indians to India. In the United States, the least expensive Indian model, called the Chief Classic, has a sticker price of $18,999. In India the same bike may sell for as little as $32,372. The top of the line Indian, the Chieftain, costs $22,999 in the United States. In India the bike may cost as much as $56,665.
Polaris began making Victory Motorcycles in 1998. Victory directly competes with Harley-Davidson in the United States and most Victory owners think it is the superior motorcycle. Polaris bought the Indian brand three years ago and introduced the current models at Sturgis last August.
All three Indians are powered by a new, fuel injected, 111 cubic inch motor called the “Thunderstroke” that delivers 119 foot-pounds of torque. The bikes feature a six speed transmission
Polaris Indians are 800 pound nostalgia wagons featuring fender skirts and war bonnets. Indians have a 5.5 gallon gas tank which the company believes should keep the bike running for about 220 miles.
The Indian Brand
Indian was founded in 1901 In Springfield, Massachusetts, built the first V-Twin engines, was important in American motorcycle racing through the Second World War and went out of business in 1953. Multiple entrepreneurs tried to revive the brand during the Rich Urban Biker boom of the 1980s and 90s. For years, bikers joked that if you wanted a new Indian you should buy a 40-year-old Harley.
There were attempts to revive the motorcycles in 1955, 1963, 1970, 1994 and 1998. The Indian Motorcycle Company of America owned the brand from 1999 through 2003. Indian Motorcycle Company built a limited number of motorcycles in North Carolina between 2006 and 2011. Minnesota based Polaris brought the rights to call motorcycles “Indians” three years ago.