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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy Folks,

If Polaris is serious about Indian going head to head with Harley-Davidson for the heart of the American biker they should make crate motors, frames, and other components available to custom bike builders. Eventually wrecked and used Indians will be available, in the fullness of time, but it would be to Indian’s advantage to jump-start the Indian custom scene by making engine/transmission units readily available.

They might even consider sponsoring custom bike build-offs featuring recognized custom bike builders at Daytona Bike Week and the Sturgis Rally. Even better if they sponsored student build-offs at schools with motorcycle tech programs such as Wyo-Tech, MMI, Kevin “Teach” Baas’ high school program, or (ahem) my own program at Presidio High School. The finished bikes could be auctioned and the proceeds put towards student scholarships in motorcycle technology.

If the new Polaris Indian wants to be taken seriously as a resurrection of the genuine Indian Motorcycle rather than just a corporate marketing ploy, acceptance by America’s custom and back-street custom bike builders will give them authentic street cred. I challenge Indian to aggressively take a chance on the American biker and see where native American ingenuity and creativity takes them.

The photo is the Knucklehead Special my students built a few years ago; we could do the same with an Indian.
 

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Nice try
 

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Interesting idea, Randall. I doubt you will see Polaris stepping up to the challenge anytime soon...but maybe they will get to that point some day. Have you considered challenging some of the custom bike builders and their suppliers? The Victory side of the house has an affiliation with Ness...possibly Indian with follow? As Indian ownership increases over time, those crate engines, frames and technical support will probably "happen". Possibly challenging the motorcycle mag's will elevate the idea...especially mag's like American Iron (let Buzz Kanter know). Keep us updated on your progress.

BTW...your students did a nice job on that Knucklehead.
 

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Quien sabe? Anyway, I'm right. You don't notice a lot of builds being written up here, do you. And unless Indian makes crate motors available you won't until wrecks start showing up which is not something to be wished for.

Harley understands. Many a custom bike build has been started with a crate motor from the local dealership. H-D's own line of accessories and performance parts are competitive with the aftermarket (good for everyone) and the round of bike shows, magazine features on custom H-Ds, and the vintage Harley scene (well supported by a strong aftermarket) all serve to keep the scene going with folks buying new bikes and the resale on older models high.

Indian could be right in the middle of it and will only benefit from encouraging a custom scene around their motors, something more than a big bolt-on book. If crate motors are available and out there then when the many custom frame-builders get access to the mill to take measurements a host of frame options will appear. Most will probably accept aftermarket industry standard (H-D Big Twin) in such matters as wheels, brakes, and front ends. The custom rags will be filled with custom Indian features, biker build-offs will be held and reported on, an aftermarket for new Indians will grow up and Indian will sell bikes. Only a very few will build their own bikes, but the ones who do bring creativity, technical expertise, and passion to the Indian brand (H-D takes many of their styling cues from what is happening in the custom world). Folks who want to be part of the scene buy new Indians, or, if they can't afford that, save up and look for a good deal on a used one, keeping re-sale and trade-in high. Indian could jump-start that custom scene and enjoy success.
--- Randall
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Oh, and thanks for to kind words on the Knuck. The boys did a great job and it is a blast to ride; I've put about 7,000 miles on it. The bobber was originally built with a ULH 80" by a class a few years before. I put a couple of thousand miles on it before the vintage OEM front rod suddenly blew (should have had it magnafluxed). This class built the Knuckle from bare cases, converted the front star-hub to a disc brake, and repainted it. There is a write-up on the project at the S&S Flathead Power site in the Knuckle section if you search "PHS Knucklehead Special" (For some reason the link doesn't work when I try to post it here)

Those young men are all now successful in technical fields; the big fellow on the far right went on to earn an Associate Degree in Manufacturing Engineering at Texas State Technical College, worked in his family's business for a few years, and is now working as my lab assistant as he gets his teaching certificate. He will take my place when I retire in a few years. All of the young men have told me that building the bike was one of their most valuable experiences in high school. They always want to know how its running.
 

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Hey, Randall. I'm sure you must be proud of your students. The mark of great a teacher has always been demonstrated by their ability to have a positive influence on their students' lives. It sure looks like you've had that happen with the men in that pic. They are making great "life" choices (an impact of being a part your class and building that Knuck) and it doesn't get much better than having a chance to train your replacement prior to your retirement. Kudos!
 

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Oh, and thanks for to kind words on the Knuck. The boys did a great job and it is a blast to ride; I've put about 7,000 miles on it. The bobber was originally built with a ULH 80" by a class a few years before. I put a couple of thousand miles on it before the vintage OEM front rod suddenly blew (should have had it magnafluxed). This class built the Knuckle from bare cases, converted the front star-hub to a disc brake, and repainted it. There is a write-up on the project at the S&S Flathead Power site in the Knuckle section if you search "PHS Knucklehead Special" (For some reason the link doesn't work when I try to post it here)

Those young men are all now successful in technical fields; the big fellow on the far right went on to earn an Associate Degree in Manufacturing Engineering at Texas State Technical College, worked in his family's business for a few years, and is now working as my lab assistant as he gets his teaching certificate. He will take my place when I retire in a few years. All of the young men have told me that building the bike was one of their most valuable experiences in high school. They always want to know how its running.
Man....I am glad you said the big fellow on the far right. There are quite a few of those boys that could be classified as 'big'.
Damn...what are we feeding these kids!
Good looking build!
Semper Fi,
DrZ
 

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Randall, you said what i have said since Indian came out with their 2014 line up. if you want to run with the big dogs you have to be a big dog also, otherwise you are just another follower and wisher. it will be some years before Indian takes the advice of riders like you and i as they pay big money to their people who have deaf ears to the public and their voices. for Indian to hold a bike show would be a failure because there are not enough accessories available motor wise and everything would have to be custom made or they would all look alike. Now, for a custom show , that could be good for all Indian owners as now they could see what could be done and by who which is a win win situation for all. i wish them luck as they will need it.
 

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Nice bike!

We are generally a 'f--- the factory' couple, and we try to break the factory warranty within hours of getting a new bike. At the same time, great respect for smaller shops and some big ones who give us the parts and inspiration to better the factory machine and make it fit our personal riding style. If the bike's popularity increases because Roland Sands or someone else takes it on, that's more inspiration and parts for us. Hoping S&S jumps on the wagon as well.

I placed an order for a red Scout after a short demo ride, and have already made a laundry list of mods and enhancements. I don't count on Polaris to provide any of these and that's fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks, all, for the kind words,

One of the best things about teaching is seeing the students go out into the world and do well; I am blessed in that respect.

Meggie, I am very interested in seeing what you do with your Scout. Your Trumpet bobber is way cool. I recently attended the Harvest Classic Rally in Luckenbach, Texas, and there were many young hipsters there with their custom builds. I really dig seeing what the new generation of riders is doing with their bikes, there is a lot of creativity displayed, and I think the new Scouts will be right in the thick of it.

--- Randall
 

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Thanks. As a matter of fact, a couple hipsters on gorgeous but anemic CBs pulled next to me yesterday. Mutual admiration all around until the light changes, at which point I buried them in sound and dust...

My Scout will be understated, a non-bobber version of the Triumph with mostly bolt-on parts. We are also building a tracker using a Sportster donor, far more involved. I just posted a picture over in the Scout fourm.
 

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Polaris is having a difficult time keeping up with production parts for bikes on the line let alone damaged bikes and crate pieces. Not saying you are wrong but I am saying that I know of several damaged Chiefs waiting for parts from Polaris for 60 days +.
 

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Polaris is having a difficult time keeping up with production parts for bikes on the line let alone damaged bikes and crate pieces. Not saying you are wrong but I am saying that I know of several damaged Chiefs waiting for parts from Polaris for 60 days +.
Yeah, its frustrating for those of us who see the potential for awesome Indian customs that aftermarket and factory support isn't going to pop up over night. Right now Indian is still focused on reestablishing the brand and selling new bikes. Riders who don't have their fingers on the pulse, like us, who don't read all the cycle rags and browse the forums probably don't even know Indian is back in business yet. I could see crate engines being offered eventually, but I think it will take at least a few years, perhaps a decade or more.
 

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Polaris is having a difficult time keeping up with production parts for bikes on the line let alone damaged bikes and crate pieces. Not saying you are wrong but I am saying that I know of several damaged Chiefs waiting for parts from Polaris for 60 days +.
That right there says Polaris is on the right track with Indian. The launch could have resulted in more bikes than buyers. It's just the opposite. Indian will bypass Victory in short order. In time the custom stuff will come I'm sure.
 

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At this time you have and probably a conservative guess, at least a couple thousand people with advance money down waiting on their 2015 Factory Indian think will have to wait a bit before can expect stuff in crates waiting to be shipped ..
 

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I re-read OP's post again. 100% agree with the need of Polaris to put money and bikes into the hands of builders; the more popular it becomes, the more interet we will get from the aftermarket peeps.

At the same time, we don't need no stinkin crated motors and frames. Every dollar should be put into making the bikes reliable and safe and powerful. And every marketing dollar should go towards making the bikes popular. And make sure there are parts for maintencnce and when we break shit. Which we will.

The aftermarket will take care of itself once 10,000 bikes are sold, and small and big players will develop every conceivable add-on. My Ducati, for example has twice as much $ in aftermarket parts as the original bike costs. And except for a slipper clutch, which came from Ducati's performance shop, not a single part came from Ducati. Ditto my Triumph, Harley, and BMW.

Any serious builder (pro and hacker like myself) will tell you that OEM parts are cheaply made and rarely the best. Harley for example - sure, you can get their Screaming Eagle from your local Harley dealer, but if you want real performance, fit and finish you wouldn't touch the junk. My Harley for example uses Harley frame and motor (both heavily reworked). Everything else comes from the likes of RSD, Ohlins, S&S, Detroit Bro's and others. Better made and cheaper.

Sorry for venting here.
 

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No apology needed, Meggie. I agree that the aftermarket will address our needs in time and Polaris will work at delivering the best stock bikes, accessories and maintenance parts possible. Given the state of regulatory oversight (and fines/sanctions), it just isn't in their interest to move into the serious "off road only" equipment business. I have HD racing parts catalogs from the past that show parts they finally decided they would no longer sell to the general public.
 

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Yeah, its frustrating for those of us who see the potential for awesome Indian customs that aftermarket and factory support isn't going to pop up over night. Right now Indian is still focused on reestablishing the brand and selling new bikes. Riders who don't have their fingers on the pulse, like us, who don't read all the cycle rags and browse the forums probably don't even know Indian is back in business yet. I could see crate engines being offered eventually, but I think it will take at least a few years, perhaps a decade or more.
That's a fact. I had a gentleman tell me that my bike had the best restoration he's ever seen....ever! I told him it wasn't restored, it's a 2014. He said "but Indian went out of business in the 50's", then the Polaris conversation starts. I still get the "Is that really an Indian?" question quite often.

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That's a fact. I had a gentleman tell me that my bike had the best restoration he's ever seen....ever! I told him it wasn't restored, it's a 2014. He said "but Indian went out of business in the 50's", then the Polaris conversation starts. I still get the "Is that really an Indian?" question quite often.

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Think that's going to happen for a while, although some I know are coming around and starting to agree that this time around Polaris will make the Indian Name Live Again after several unsuccessful tries at it ..
 
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