Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yet another comeback for Indian Motorcycles?


We don't really know much about these motorcycles, but that's probably an Indian Chief...

‘Want some grief? Buy an Indian Chief! Want some more? Buy an Indian Four!’ That was a limerick the Harley camp came up with in the 1930-40s, when the Indian / Harley-Davidson rivalry was at its peak. Of course, fans of Indian motorcycles came back with one of their own: ‘You'll never wear out, the Indian Scout, or its brother, the Indian Chief. They're built like rocks, to take hard knocks. It's the Harleys that cause the grief!’

Indian started operations in the year 1901, while Harley started off in 1903. The two companies fought on American turf right up till 1954, when Indian suspended operations. A statement released from the company at that time said that ‘The management of the Indian company has just completed a study of conditions adversely affecting motorcycle production in the United States. This has led to a decision to suspend assembly of complete motorcycles at Springfield during 1954.’

But that was not the end of it. Over the last few decades, there have been various attempts – some genuine, others misguided, and yet some others driven by sheer greed – to revive the Indian name. So much so that now any talk of reviving Indian motorcycles can hardly be taken seriously.

And yet, there’s a story on Motorcycle-USA which talks about the return of Indian motorcycles. ‘Expect to see the Indian Chief rolling down a roadway near you late in the Fall of 2007,’ says Stephen Julius, chairman of Indian Motorcycles. Wouldn’t reviving Indian be an arduous, uphill task? Doesn’t that faze Julius? He says, ‘I specialize in buying famous brand names that have had troubles in their past. The fact that it's had a troubled past doesn't concern me in the slightest.’

Does the world really need one more motorcycle manufacturer? Says Julius, ‘This is a brand that has tremendous equity, and there is clearly an opportunity for another American brand apart from Harley-Davidson. We would be delighted to have a very, very tiny share of what Harley has. We're not trying to go out there and compete with anyone. We are going to follow our own niche. We believe it's out there.’

To be honest, we don’t really believe the Indian name can make a comeback. In fact the way we look at it, the Indian Motorcycles name is not even relevant anymore. We wish people would let go, and let Indian motorcycles live on in the memories of those who rode them. But still, if you really wish to know more about Julius’ plans, read the full article at the Motorcycle-USA website here. And if you already want to book your 2008 Indian Chief, visit the Indian website here.

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