It may be 113-year-old and played a role in two World Wars, but this iconic American two-wheeler is still riding loud and strong into the heart of millions of fans around the globe.
Mention the name Indian Motorcycle to most of your office colleagues and very likely you will be greeted with a blank stare followed presumably by questions pertaining to its country of origin. Unless he knows more about fairings, sissy bars, jiffy and binders than the latest football scores, he would likely not be acquainted with one of America’s most legendary and iconic motorcycle brands.
First introduced into the Malaysian market in 2011 by Harmony Fabulous Sdn Bhd, the brand is steeped in history and its’ achievements in racing, engineering and industry innovations are well documented, including being America’s first motorcycle company that rolled out American-made motorcycles featuring innovative chain drives back in 1901, to the introduction of the first V-twin motorcycle in 1907.
Since the early days of having 3,000 employees working on a seven-mile assembly line in the company’s one million sq ft plant in Massachusetts, the brand has endured as many challenges as it has achievements, including several changes in ownership.
Today, under the stable of Polaris Industries Inc, which took on Indian Motorcycle three years ago as a wholly-owned subsidiary, the brand is seeking to reignite the passion for its products. Polaris is a recognised name in the powersports industry in North America and holds more than 350 worldwide patents via designing and manufacturing high quality off-road vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorcycles and on-road electric/hybrid powered vehicles.
Polaris first ventured in the bike industry when it unveiled Victory in 1998, becoming the first American motorcycle brand to be designed and manufactured in 50 years. Victory has now become the second-largest seller of heavyweight bikes in the world behind Harley-Davidson.
Indian Motorcycle enthusiasts and collectors have come to associate the brand with expert craftsmanship in producing exquisite, streamlined machines which elude a classic style that is truly timeless. The oldest American motorcycle brand is steadily building its presence over here in our shores as it seeks out new adventurers to add to its global community.
“The extremely high growth rate in the cruiser and superbike segments of the Malaysia market indicates that there is a growing demand for such vehicles. The last two years alone has seen high double digit growth in this segment,” says Maxime Vandereyken, Asia distribution manager for Polaris Industries Inc.
According to Vandereyken, the current market size for the Malaysian market for the above 500cc range is approximately 5,000 units, while for the easy rider and cruise market sector, Indian Motorcycle holds around 8% to 10% market share. He states that the company has set out to achieve a 10% market share in the above 500cc market segment.
Vandereyken adds: “We have set out to capture the heart, soul and legendary heritage of this iconic American brand and then infuse it with unparalleled design, engineering and state-of-the-art technology. The broad design history of the Indian brand gives the team at Polaris huge latitude. The possibilities are copious for the manufacturing giant, well known for its sixty years of masterful engineering, heartland values and workforce that shares the same values, passions and enthusiasm.”
The brand has unveiled an impressive new line-up that Vandereyken claims is priced at 30% lower than the selling price prior to the acquisition by Polaris. First up is the development of the three 2014 Indian Chiefs, which took the design and engineering team a mere 27 months to develop from the ground. Powering every 2014 Indian Motorcycle is the clean sheet design of the new Thunder Stroke 111 engine offering 111 cubic inches of pavement pounding power.
“The team started from scratch and created the ideal engine for the new generation of Indian Motorcycle. It’s smooth, efficient, and powerful. The Thunder Stroke 111 is a 49-degree, air-cooled V-twin with 6-speed overdrive transmission and features unmatched,” highlights Vandereyken,
The Frenchman adds that the brand offers owners the peace-of-mind that comes from over two million miles of on-road, including dyno and on-road evaluation, and test-lab verification plus Polaris’ 60 years of engineering expertise.
The other aspect of the brand is its exclusive community of bikers known as the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (IRG). The IRG will boast a host of privileges and services, and will form a common platform for riders to meet, socialise, share “war stories”, ride and adventure together. Regular riders, excursions and events, within and outside the country will be organised by the IRG committee, supported by Indian Motorcycle Malaysia and by Indian Motorcycle in the USA.
“The key objective of the IRG is to provide a service upon which riders may depend on for the easy organising of their riding hobby and be in contact with other Indian Motorcycle owners. The IRG will be part of a worldwide organisation spanning the globe and allows communication and joint activities across borders,” says Vandereyken, adding that the brand is distributed in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Brunei, and will set foot in Singapore and Philippines by year end.
Besides revving up a premium bike, looking good is also another important aspect for thoroughbred bikers. The company is also offering a full range of accessories to support the customising of their rides.
“Customising and making the bike a reflection of the rider’s personality has never been easier. Accessory options include stage 1 mufflers, performance air filters, upgrades to tuning, a range of floorboards and footpegs, hand controls, backrests and sissy-bars,” remarks Vandereyken.
To top it all off, Indian Motorcycles has created an entire range of garments, riding gear, accessories and other collectables, which reflect its branding, style and heritage. He declares: “Emphasis is given to wearability and functionality in all riding gear without compromising on safety and protection. These and stylishly designed garments allow Indian motorcycle owners to wear and display the oldest and most prestigious American motorcycle brand in the world. A clear and obvious distinction that sets Indian motorcycle riders apart from all other “easy-riders” in the world.”
Malaysian touch to a legend
Established in 2011, Harmony Fabulous Sdn Bhd – a company under the Naza group, which also distributes other motorcycle brands including Harley Davidson, Ducati and Vespa – is currently the sole importer and distributor for the Indian Motorcycle and Victory brand of motorcycles in Malaysia.
Located at Temasya Square in Glenmarie, Shah Alam, its main showroom is a full-fledged 3S service centre manned by a team of sales and technical personnel. Complete with a workshop, parts and accessory options for the full range of Indian Motorcycles, the centre provide customers with maintenance and repair, upgrades, accessorising and a special roadside assist programme available throughout Peninsular Malaysia.
Each Indian Motorcycle is covered by a special five-year warranty programme with unlimited mileage – a first in the industry – as well as a special trade-in confidence programme if a customer decided to upgrade within the first 24 months of ownership. The programme guarantees that the customers are able to trade-in their pre-owned bikes at above market prices, making it easy to upgrade to a better or newer model. The company also has a presence at the Naza World Automall in Petaling Jaya.
Fresh from the oven
In the current 2014 product line-up, Indian Motorcycle has introduced the redesigned Indian Chiefs family – the Indian Chief Classic, the Indian Chief Vintage and the Indian Chieftain, with all three models sharing an identical frame, engine, controls and standard features.
2014 Indian Chief Classic
The new Indian Chief Classic is a pure, powerful cruiser forged from key heritage design elements yet wrapped in advanced design, engineering and technology. It features iconic styling like valanced fenders, rich genuine leather saddle, classic tank-mounted instrumentation, tear-drop fuel tank design, and sculpted and lighted front fender war bonnet.
It comes standard with a host of premium features including endless chrome, keyless ignition, ABS, cruise control, throttle-by-wire, true dual exhaust, high quality chrome laced spoke wheels, brake calliper covers and cast aluminium frame with integrated air intake.
(Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price: RM168,000)
2014 Indian Chief Vintage
The new Indian 2014 Indian Chief Vintage is a soft bagger that takes iconic Indian Motorcycle styling to a whole new level with handcrafted detail and a signature heritage aesthetic. The Indian 2014 Indian Chief Vintage offers top-quality quick release soft-sided leather bags, leather fringe, chrome fender tips, vintage chrome badging on the front fender and a quick-release windshield for easy installation or removal.
It includes the same premium standard features as the Indian Chief Classic and sports the same iconic design elements like valanced fenders, laced wheels, whitewall tires, tank-mounted instrument cluster and extensive chrome finishes throughout.
(Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price: RM178,000)
2014 Indian Chieftain
The first Indian Motorcycle of its kind, the 2014 Indian Chieftain maintains the legendary Indian Chief styling, while taking this progressive machine to new heights with advanced features and premium comfort.
Unlike any Indian Motorcycle ever made, the Chieftain features a fairing with integrated driving lights and its power windshield is an industry-first for a fork-mounted fairing. Standard features include hard saddlebags featuring remote locks and quick-release anchors, a high-output audio system featuring integrated Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and a tire pressure monitoring system.
(Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price: RM188,000)