Indian Motorcycle has released some photos of the first 2012 Indian Chief to roll out of the company’s Spirit Lake, Iowa plant — the first motorcycle to be produced by the oldest American motorcycle company since its acquisition by Polaris. Nicknamed the “Polaris-Indian Bike #1,” the new Chief is not terribly different from the 2011 Indian Chiefs built under the old regieme, but it does symbolize the next chapter in the iconic company’s history.

With an all-new Indian model is expected to debut next year, tagged as a 2013 model year bike, Indian is said to be leveraging some of the design and technology prowess that Polaris has learned through its Victory brand. Polaris’s next big challenge with Indian will be in how it will sets apart its two cruiser-style brands. According to investor reports, the company seems to have taken our advice and is positioning the Indian brand to go head-to-head with Harley-Davidson, while the Victory line pushes the envelope on what a modern-day cruiser can be for riders.

Source: Indian Motorcycle (Facebook)

  • irksome

    As I own a Triumph and lust for the new Norton, I’m all for the restoration of iconic brands but really, does the world need another weighty air-cooled V-Twin?

    Here’s hoping that the next generation of Indians will move into this century. Inline four, anyone? The longitudinal kind!

  • The weighty v-twin market is the largest market segment in the US.

  • Ades

    I believe they will sell very well now that they have a strong backer and the right target market. When you buy a Harley, you buy an aggressive image (no matter how much HD Marketing tries to change that), and people who are put off by that have been looking to Triumph and the Japanese Cruisers. Being that the Indian Brand is where HD first stole their design format from, buying an Indian is inherently cooler and much more appealing just due to the fact that they are the “True Original”.

    If I had my choice between buying and Indian, Harley or Victory, I would buy the Indian no question. Followed easily by the Victory (Stunning motorcycles and MODERN).

    I suspect there are many other potential buyers out there who will agree, with their cash at the Indian dealer.

  • MikeD

    Great, great…thats all fine and dandy, heritage and W/E…now build something that a YOUNG guy like me could be interested into and doesn’t have to take an equity loan on the house to be able to afford it.

  • irksome

    Only because it’s essentially the only design available in a cruiser. If I was inclined towards riding a Lazy Boy (the day is getting closer; I’m 53), the only bike I’d consider would be the 1700cc T-Bird, a parallel Twin.

  • MikeD

    Yup, that ThunderBird Storm(comes 1700cc standard unlike regular ThunderBird[1600]) looks better and better by the day…Fugly Rad Plastic Shroud and all…lol.

  • jeram

    these guys really need to build a burt munroe replica for promotional purposes…

  • tom g

    If the use of the Indian name helps Polaris sell more american made motorcycles and creates more jobs then i wish them well. I just wish we could make something other than cruisers.Triumph has a well rounded product line and seems to be holding on to their heritage just fine. They also seem to be selling a lot of bikes in America that aren’t all cruisers.

  • John

    As a brand, Indian has a long, long way to go. At this point, the bikes are powered by a Harley Evo derived powerplant that is not counterbalanced and is solid mounted in the frame. Out of date even by cruiser standards and no vibration isolation whatsoever. None of the current model line up is competetive with Harley’s current offerings in fit, finish and overall quality, not to mention driveability. Polaris has its work cut out for it with a total makeover required to meet market standards.

    All that pontificating being out of the way, perhaps a return to Indian’s more sporting roots might be a better idea along with a longitudinal 4 as mentioned above. Be DIFFERENT when resurecting the brand (again) and perhaps sales will follow.

  • BikePilot

    I’m all for a return to the brand’s sporting roots, but umm, I4s are iky.

  • wayne

    Now I’m not one of those highly educated market analysts, but maybe there’s a reason this brand keeps going down? I would like to say something positive here, but I can’t foresee this doing anything but ending in tears for all involved. Motus, on the other hand, is on to something good, I think.

  • Jeram

    I dont think people understand…

    Victory is polaris’s modern cruiser brand with all the latest developments and gadgets that your expect on a refined modern cruiser.

    the Indian is at the other end of the spectrum, it is meant to be about herritage and vintage…

    this way polaris can take on harley davidson from both angles…

  • Tom

    There is an old saying about insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I expect the same here. Ot the critics of the critics, we aren’t saying Indian needs to make a GSX-R1000 competitor, but Indian, to be a genuine and viable company, needs to be more than a parts-bin rip off of a Harley clone. Eller was set to make Indian epic and the judge who gave the IP rights to Gilroy damned the brand to a decade of virtual non-existence.

    Jensen, you mention that the US is the world’s largest V-Twin market and this is true. However, Honda is still a pretty large motorcycle company without any domination of the V-Twin USA market. Indian cannot afford to think so provincially.

  • MikeD


  • Tom I don’t think Polaris’s strategy is really the same as Honda. The Honda brand makes a bike in virtually every segment. Polaris seems to want to hold a single brand in each segment, and here is making a distinction between the heritage cruiser (Indian) and new age cruiser (Victory).

    What I think people are overlooking is the fact that Harley-Davidson is currently holding the keys to a very large group of riders. That’s a lucrative opportunity, and as far as brands go, only Indian could rival the Bar & Shield on American motorcycle heritage.

    For those that want to see Indian a performance brand, you’re blowing in the breeze. You’d be better off putting pressure on Polaris to buy Erik Buell Racing.

  • Tom

    Polaris doesn’t just seem to want to, they have to. They have no choice but to be provincial. Honda can lose the US market entirely and though a very serious blow, Honda would survive. Polaris only has the USA market and its not as large or powerful as it once was.

    Erik Buell is a god only to the fan boys. His name carries no cache around the world and he’ll be about as influential in the motorcycle world as SSC is in the super car world – a lot of talk and an overprice prototype but not much else. And, I think that you are way over valuing Harley and its riders as though they are a growing market. No company lusts after Harley’s market, oh Harley’s sales numbers, but not their clientele. Harley is to bikes what Buick is to cars. Sure, they sell a lot but their market is not expanding (except for Buick in China, but that’s a different story…)

    I also think that you think that those calling for Indian to have some performance expect Indian to make nothing but a “rice rocket”. Again, this is not a market blowing up with potential. What those of us saying Indian needs to be more than a one trick Harley knock off clone are saying is that Polaris needs to diversify Indian beyond the old man needing an object to feel validated in order to attract more customers. Cadillac offers the perfect example on what Indian needs to do. Cadillac in the past 10 years has offered something for everyone – two-door coupe, SUV, wagon, sport wagon, sedan, sport sedan, and a little-blue-haired-old-lady land barge. Indian doesn’t need to enter MotoGP, but something like a Suzuki SV650/Ducati Monster would not be a bad start. Even MV Agusta realized that over priced poseurmobiles are not enough to stay afloat. Indian can do the same without in any way damaging the brand. In fact, maintaining the status quo is more damaging to the brand than what Eller had proposed.