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In Episode 4 of the MOTR Podcast, I sit down with Reid Wilson, Senior Director of marketing and planning at Indian Motorcycle.

Our conversation comes just hours after I rode a pre-production version of the Indian FTR1200 street bike, which serves as a jumping off point for a conversation about where Indian is headed as a company and a brand.

The FTR1200 is a pivotal motorcycle for Indian, as the machine helps mark the transition occurring at the American motorcycle company. Up until now, Indian had wanted to be the next Harley-Davidson…and now it wants to be the next Honda.

Reid’s insights into the Indian FTR1200 and the company’s overall positioning help us understand what is going on behind-the-scenes at Indian, which makes for an interesting conversation. I think you will enjoy his insights.

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Source: SoundCloud

The INTERMOT show is done and dusted, and we have had some time to chew on the models that we saw in Cologne, Germany...or didn't see, as the case might be. The second largest trade show in the motorcycle industry, one can wonder though whether the INTERMOT show is the second most important.

Having two major shows on European soil, with INTERMOT coming every other year, creates a Sophie's Choice for motorcycle manufacturers. EICMA might draw the crowds and the press, but it is also a maelstrom of new models, and it is easy for a bike's launch and debut to be lost in the chaos.

To that vein, INTERMOT provides an opportunity for manufacturers to see the forest for the trees. It is less pressure, with most manufacturers choosing to debut more minor releases at the German show, but this makes it ripe for some surprises as well. For 2018, things were no different.

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The belle of the INTERMOT ball, the Indian FTR1200 made its debut in Germany this week to much fanfare. We should all make note that the American brand has released its first non-cruiser motorcycle…and it did so on foreign soil. This is not an accident.

The FTR1200 marks an important moment in the Indian Motorcycle Company’s history, as it is the first of several machines to come from this historic marque that will take it into the future.

As I have said before, we should all pay attention, because Indian doesn’t want to be the next Harley-Davidson…it wants to be the next Honda, and that means worldwide domination.

We’ve seen patent design images and spy photos, and now we only have a week until the Indian FTR1200 debuts. We know this because Indian has begun teasing the street tracker’s debut in a short YouTube video.

In the video, we see American Flat Track champion Jared Mees sliding around on the Indian Scout FTR750 race bike, before he heads into an open garage. From there, we hear revving what is presumably the motor to the FTR1200 street bike.

Details on the 2019 Indian FTR1200 street tracker have been tight, but the American brand has been sloppy on keeping things under wraps. Design patents filed abroad have given us a good glimpse of the machine’s inner-workings, and the crafty Australian’s at Motorbike Writer have a spy photo which looks to give us the full monty on the machine.

The Indian Motorcycle company has been teasing us about the upcoming FTR1200 street bike that it’s bringing to market next year, and now we have a pretty good look at the machine, thanks to a patent application with the USPTO.

Showing the engine and chassis of the Indian FTR1200 in line drawings, we can see that the new street bike will have a trellis frame, and an engine that looks very much like the v-twin motor found on the Indian Scout cruiser.

Indian’s heavyweight models aren’t really our cup of tea, though we do get an immature chuckle when we hear them talk about their “Thunder Stroke” engine platform. Childish jokes aside, some interesting news caught our eye about the American brand’s 2019 models.

Included as part of the 2019 Indian Chief, Springfield, and Roadmaster models is a number of new features, the most interesting of which is the inclusion of rear-cylinder deactivation.

We have seen this technology most recently in the World Superbike Championship (and it is no stranger in the land of four wheels), where manufacturers deactivate cylinders mid-corner to improve bike’s response during partial throttle applications.

Indian is using this concept in a different way though – one that will be more applicable to riding on the street.

The Indian Motorcycle Company is recalling a bunch of 2017-2018 Indian Scout motorcycles right now, which includes the Scout Sixty and and Scout Bobber variants.

All told, 4,185 motorcycles are affected by a recall that concerns the anti-locking brakes system (ABS), which may have air left in the system after the assembly process.

Since air in the brake lines can impact a motorcycle’s braking ability, Indian has decided to recall the affected machines, in order to ensure rider safety.

President Trump’s trade war is about to see another player in the motorcycle industry jump ship from American soil, and this time it is heavyweight Polaris Industries.

According to a report by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, Polaris is considering moving some of its production capacity to Europe, eyeing a production facility in Poland that would build units for the European market.

The move is a direct response to the retaliatory tariffs imposed by the European Union on motorcycle imports, which itself was a response to the Trump Administration’s taxing of steel and aluminum imports.

Today is the day. Today is the day that the European Union begins taxing the importation of motorcycles from the United States into Europe.

A retaliation to the Trump administration’s tariffs on aluminum and steel, the EU will now impose a 25% tariff increase on all motorcycles, 500cc and up, coming from the United States.

This means that the new tariff provisions will affect both Harley-Davidson and Indian, but will not affect Zero Motorcycles, as electric motorcycles are not included in the trade war provisions.

When the potent Indian Scout FTR750 debuted for flat track racing duty, fans of the American brand clamored for a street model.

Indian listened, giving us the Indian Scout FTR1200 concept late last year, with much rumor that the concept bike was the prelude for a full-fledged production model.

That rumor is now no more, as Indian confirmed this weekend at the Wheels & Waves event in France that we will see a production street-tracker model, named the Indian FTR 1200.

The Fortune 500 is a list of America’s largest companies, and is a constant barometer on the state of the American business landscape. In its 64 years of existence, the Fortune 500 has been an exclusive club, and its newest inductee is one from the powersports industry: Polaris Industries.

Ranked at #496 on the list, the addition of Polaris means that the influence (and decline) of the US motorcycle and powersports landscape will be seen on a much larger national stage.

Mostly it is just a cool milestone for Polaris, and proud bragging point for the company’s executives at the next country club gathering.