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Polaris officials offer no apologies.
“We’re excited,” said Steve Menneto, vice president of Indian and Victory Motorcycles at Polaris.
The heavy bike is expected to be a competitor to Harley-Davidson, though Polaris officials won’t say how many of the new Indians they plan to make. A key selling point: The new Indian Chief models sell for about $10,000 less than earlier models.
A century ago, Indian was the world’s largest motorcycle company. The brand became famous for its unusual look and record-breaking speeds, a story line that inspired the 2005 movie “The World’s Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins.
But the bike fell on hard times in recent decades as various owners failed to reinvigorate the brand.
Today, Polaris is on a tear to fill orders and market the bike. New Indian dealerships are planned far and wide. “Our goal is to have 120 dealerships by the end of the year in North America and 70 outside North America,” Menneto said. “Then we will grow to 300 to 400 dealerships over time.”
Minnesota may eventually have four to six, he said. Mies Outland, a Polaris dealer in Watkins, just last month became the second outlet in the state to offer Indian motorcycles.
Company executives believe dealers will spend $200,000 to $1 million on their stores, aiming to properly showcase the brand’s nostalgia while using the latest in digital technology and retail displays.
Lossner, who is staying in Minnesota until Monday so he doesn’t miss any of the demo rides, said he understands Polaris’ logic.
“Every time you stop to get gas, somebody stops you and comments on your Indian,” he said. “They say, ‘Oh, my dad had one’ or ‘My grandfather loved his.’ I stopped for gas in Stillwater this afternoon and a woman stopped me and kept talking about the one her husband had. Everybody’s got a story about their Indian motorcycle.”
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725