Polaris is out for blood!

Well Harley Davidson better pick up the pace because Polaris is out for blood. Polaris now has two contenders to devalue the HOG stock prices. You’ve got the old one-two-punch with Victory motorcycles and now the Indian motorcycles. Harley-Davidson better start bobbing and weaving and get to a neutral corner. Well maybe not to a neutral corner anyhow.

Polaris is going to have a tough epic battle against Harley Davidson. I’m talking Star Wars epic battle! The movie where the evil half robot dude says to Luke Skywalker, “I am your father, Luke.” Got the picture now? Sure, smashing the other manufacturers of snowmobiles and side-by-sides is on Polaris’ resume. But now they’re on a path that has seen other manufacturers fall to the wayside.

Let’s take for instance one of the motorcycles that I own. The Honda VTX 1800 which became available to the public in 2002. This baby has a powerful V-twin and all kinds of other amenities which make it a really nice motorcycle for cruising. Honda sure thought they had a product which was going to pull the air out of Harley Davidson’s sail. Honda tried emulating the aftermarket parts business, customer experience and tried creating a “Honda VTX” tribe. In 2008 Honda stopped manufacturing the VTX 1800, boom there it is, complete and total annihilation. Not even a blip on Harley-Davidson’s radar screen.


Next in the ring was Kawasaki with their Vulcan 2000. Another super-sized V twin making gobs of torque and horsepower. A little bit of a change up from the Honda which had a water-cooled cylinder jackets. The Kawasaki had a head cooling system to remove the unwanted heat from this 2000 cc engine. I guess cooling the heads gave this motorcycle more street cred with the Harley Davidson disenfranchised. I got a chance to ride this motorcycle and it did have one problem maneuvering at low speeds was a definite workout. Kawasaki removed it from the lineup in 2010. Another blip on the radar screen.

Yamaha on the other hand is still producing cruiser motorcycles that try to compete in Harley Davidson’s market segment. They’ve actually started a second company which they referred to as “Star.” Yamaha refuses to give up even though they have lackluster sales numbers in this market segment. Their motorcycles are considerably cheaper than Harley Davidson’s motorcycles, but I guess that’s not enough to distract someone from finding a Harley Davidson dealer.

The only real contender is Victory. That’s right, Victory, sort of a fitting name considering what their objective is. Might even have a subliminal message thing going on. Victory is in second place in the large displacement cruiser market. Every time I read this fact I am utterly amazed that an American motorcycle manufacturer was able to push the Japanese and the British to the curb. I’ve ridden the Victory motorcycles on several occasions and if I didn’t have a Harley brain, I’d own a Victory motorcycle.

Polaris’s latest salvo is in the form of the Indian motorcycle brand name. They’ve purchased the brand name from some holding company. Reviving an old nemesis seems like part of Polaris’s master plan for domination. Twenty-seven months later, they have three motorcycles for sale to the public. No doubt they’ve got all of the Victory trials and tribulations incorporated into design and manufacturing of these new motorcycles. I’ve ridden all three of the Indian motorcycles and I wish I had more garage space.

I especially like the Indian Chieftain which is going to be a game changer. In my mind the chieftain was design to go head-to-head with Harley Davidson’s Street Glide. The Street Glide is a very popular model for those people wishing to own a Harley Davidson in the 40s to 50s age bracket.

The two models are pretty much in the same price range. Each one of them has some sort of advantage over the other. So this should be a very interesting time for Harley Davidson.

Harley Davidson’s brand loyalty has been written about thousands of times in books, articles, journals, white papers, blogs and so forth. Used as lecture material in major business colleges. Studied under an electron microscope by other motorcycle manufacturers. This loyalty is definitely a powerful tool that can be used to hedge the onslaught of any new contender.

What does Las Vegas say about this epic battle. I have no idea. If there was a roulette table that had motorcycle manufacturers names on the wheels instead of numbers, I’m putting my money on Harley Davidson.

7 thoughts on “Polaris is out for blood!”

  1. While I am very appreciative of what Polaris is attempting to do with the Victory line and the new Indian line, I don’t envision a battle at all with HD. Harley Davidson is just to engrained in North American culture and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.

    2013 HD Street Glide
    2009 Buell 1125R

    1. Thanks for reading my little blog. “A king has his reign. Then he dies. It’s inevitable.” I’ve stolen this from a movie, it sound cool and it’s very true to all things. Do you want a coolcycledude t-shirt?

  2. Next year Sandra Bullock turns 50. Logic would tell us there are a lot of young ladies out there ready to easily overtake her popularity. But if she is concerned nobody can tell. She just rolled out another title where she is almost the only person on the screen in the entire feature, and men and women alike just cannot get enough of her. Anne Hathaway is pretty special, but if Anne ever has one day in her life when she is as hot as Sandra is right now, at 50, I will be surprised.

    And so we are back to motorcycles. I absolutely do not know what I am talking about when it comes to them. I do not have the years of practical experience of many. I see the vids on YouTube where competent riders trash Harleys and those who ride them. Or some just maintain a veiled disdain. I can understand the younger guys with their dual sport dirt bikes. Some day it would be fun to hop on one and go off road myself. But I don’t want to own one.

    These riders talk about Harleys being 40 year old technology sold as new. I really cannot argue that. But my Harley has technology where it’s needed. I really do not need or want it to be more powerful. It is fuel injected, and I appreciate the Kevlar belt over a chain. I don’t even think Harley is claiming to be cutting edge overall. And to everyone out there, I definitely didn’t buy my bike to join a social group that I was otherwise excluded from. I am perfectly happy riding off alone, as I do most of the time anyway.

    But there is a certain lust with a Harley that is hard to define. When I don’t get to start it on a bad weather weekend, I miss that. When I leave for work everyday, I walk past it in the garage and I enjoy seeing it. I would never lock it up in a shed in the back yard. There are improvements I would like to buy for it, but I do not feel it is faulty without them. I am happy with it. While I have had the chance to test ride other fine bikes. I still love my Harley. It is just what I want even when compared to other Harleys. So everyone else must simply be wrong. Go Sandra.

  3. I, unfortunately, agree with you Bill. But, I do believe that the future market will show more diversity. As new riders come into the fold, they will have many more options and the Victory and Indians will be viable choices.
    This year, while Harley raised they price, Victory lowered theirs. So may say that they did this because they weren’t selling. I see it as marketing. When introducing a new brand that starts at 18k they are trying to market the other brand to those in that demographic and the other brand to a different demographic. It’s just smart business.
    Harley is, as they always are, that their brand has the most followers, which is true. For now. I for one would love to own a Harley, but, I am not happy that the styling department thinks I must own this or that style bike. I want the softail standard back. What’s next to go?
    Sorry for my little rant, but Harley thinks they have the market cornered. If they keep killing “builder” bikes the other brands start to look a whole lot better to the customizer.

    Just my to two cents.

    1. Yep, Victory isn’t screwing around, they want to increase their market share. I rode with a guy today who just bought a brand new 2013 Vision. Solid black with some nice features, out the door for $20,500. Not too shabby. I’m always getting email coupons for Victory to get me on one of their motorcycles. I do wonder if reducing the price hurts future resale value. Hard to tell.

      HD is a powerful motorcycle manufacturing machine. They’ve got tribe, which I’m part of. The tribe keeps them on the top of the motorcycle food chain. HD has you coming and going. I saved for about five years until I had enough money to buy 2012 Softail Deluxe with all the extras. This will be the last HD that I buy. I hope!

      Thanks for the rant, it gives new ideas to write about.

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