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.