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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

The big supercruiser motorcycles seem to gain most of the headlines. Polaris Industries , however, understands that women and new riders represent the key to future growth, and the 2015 model of its 69 cubic inch, 1133 cc V-twin Indian Scout, which it unveiled at the annual Sturgis, N.D. Motorcycle Rally last week, shows the company is looking to compete in those two markets.

Polaris is on the warpath with its all-new-for-2015 Indian Scout.

Harley-Davidson 's Sportster has long been seen as a classic cruising bike, perfectly built for those two demographics. Women Riders Now , for example, ranks three Sportster models among its best top-nine cruisers for women just starting out riding. Last year, Harley unveiled its own strain of new, smaller bikes, the Street 500 and Street 750, and said it was targeted toward younger, urban riders .


The market

Harley currently has a commanding lead in aming its "outreach customers" -- women, African-Americans, and Hispanics. IHS Automotive data indicates that Harley's market share among Caucasian women exceeds 62%, is more than 54% with African-American men and women, and is almost at 60% among Hispanic men and women. Perhaps more impressive is that its nearest competitor in each of those categories fails to break into double-digit percentages.

Women, though, might be the linchpin of it all. The latest statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council show that they've become quite a force in riding:

Some 12% of all motorcycle owners are women, up 30% in the past decade.
Nearly 25% of all motorcyclists are women, or 6.7 million out of the 27 million people in the U.S. who operate a motorcycle.
About 40% of women owners ride a cruiser-style motorcycle.
Harley doesn't say exactly how many women buy its bikes, but Bloomberg News estimates that around 20,000 bikes will be sold to them this year.

The bikes

I'll admit to being a fan of almost all of Harley's big bikes (though my wife is wearing my Softail Deuce on her left ring finger these days), but the Indian revival, particularly the Scout model, renews my appreciation for this classic line of bikes, and could cause some disruption in the industry.

Much like Harley did with its Street bikes, Indian has given the new Scout an identity all its own, not going back to its heritage, but building on it.

The Scout was one of Indian's most popular bikes during the three decades between 1920 to 1950, becoming a preferred choice for racers and performers. There was a seemingly half-hearted attempt to resurrect the bike more than a decade ago, between 2001 and 2003, but that ended when the whole company collapsed and it wasn't until ATV-maker Polaris bought the nameplate in 2011, and introduced three all-new Indian-branded motorcycles based on historic styling, that it once again became a nameplate to be reckoned with.


With its size, lean, and rake, the Scout is perfect for the new target demographic giving Harley a run for its money. The new Indian's fat front tire provides balance, the handlebars are a good fit for ease of grip and steering, and the transmission provides for a smooth shift experience. But don't think of it as just a "starter bike." That 100 horsepower and 72 foot-pounds of torque is a cool, muscular ride for experienced riders as well.

The lightweight bike holds to the road, and Motorcycle USA says its goes smoothly through its gears without clunking and thunking, with the V-twin letting you accelerate higher without red-lining.

Yet, as much as the Scout has received rave reviews -- Cycle World gave its Reader's Digest version of its first-ride review as "Buy it! The Scout rocks." -- it could still face challenges in unseating Harley for the throne. With an MSRP of $10,999, it is Indian's cheapest bike; but it's more expensive than both Street models or its Sportster, as almost all of its models start at thousands of dollars less.


The Scout, though, gives the rider extra power, extra muscle for that higher price tag and could very well be the better value. It may be Indian's first real effort at stripping market share of the key growth customers from Harley-Davidson.

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The article Can the New Polaris Indian Scout Take Down Harley-Davidson's Sportster? originally appeared on Fool.com.

Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Polaris Industries. The Motley Fool owns shares of Polaris Industries. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .
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Sauce: Can the New Polaris Indian Scout Take Down Harley-Davidson's Sportster? - NASDAQ.com
 

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The answer to the question in thread title is a resounding NO!!

There are so many people who won't ride if it's not a Harley PERIOD. The Scout is not a typical cruiser but more like a scaled down version of the high revving V-Rod and look how popular it is inspite of it being a Harley. I don't doubt that the Scout will draw some who might've bought a Sporster but nowhere new enough to say it will "take down" the Sportster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The answer to the question in thread title is a resounding NO!!

There are so many people who won't ride if it's not a Harley PERIOD. The Scout is not a typical cruiser but more like a scaled down version of the high revving V-Rod and look how popular it is inspite of it being a Harley. I don't doubt that the Scout will draw some who might've bought a Sporster but nowhere new enough to say it will "take down" the Sportster.
I don't know if I agree with you in the long term. Granted, it will take some years to slowly strip the market share that Harley has right now, but I have no doubt that, is Polaris keeps coming to the knife fight with a pistol, slowly but surely those that are not HD Fanatical, will start to look at Indian. I obviously have not seen the Scout in person, but if I know anything about photos not doing the machine justice, the Scout has the ability to stop people in their tracks with it's looks.

I have never been a "cruiser" fan just because I don't like the "HD mentality" that surrounds the brand. "If it ain't HD, it aint -ish." My dad has a HD and loves the thing. I will hopefully get to ride it in a week or so. The Scout however, shifted my paradigm a little. It LOOKS fantastic! I mean really, really good!

The fact that you have to dig for HP numbers from Harley, means that they have never HAD to publish them. That is what happens when you don't have any significant competition. I think that has made them a little lazy. Heavy American Iron is going to sharpen Heavy American Iron. I think we, the consumers, are going to win in the long run. Better machines on both sides of the fence.
 

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I had the pleasure a few years ago of teaching a women who had bought a 883 sportster, mainly because it's the only Harley she could afford. She did not have command of the bike, including starting out (clutch throttle feel) and didn't know how to shift. She was a recent graduate of a Harley dealership riding program, which she used to get her license. Anyway I was able to ride her bike which was an 06, this is before Harley rubber mounted the motor. I found the 883 comparable with one of my 70's xs 650 Yamaha. So can Indian compete with a sportster, I would say NP, won't take much. If it rides halfway decent and doesn't vibrate like a cement mixer, should win hands down. If it's faster than a victory judge, which is probably comparable to a 1200 sportster and I think the judge is probably faster it will be quick. I think the comparison might be more like vrod performance and that's a fast bike.
 

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sorry, but i cannot agree with some of you about the scout vs. sportster debate. the sportster is by far a better looking ride with a lot more class and sounds better. also you can buy accessories for it anywhere in the USA to make it even cooler looking. the exhaust system on the scouts are horrible looking and need to be changed to dual pipes which would help the overall looks right away. remember this is only my opinion and do not want to start world war three with fellow members.
 

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I think it can. After 20 years not riding and getting back to the bike scene, I was looking at entry level bikes. Of course I had the same mentally as everyone that you have to buy a Harley.
I checked out the Sportster I didn't like the look. Heck even Harley owners told me to stay away from the Sportster. So what did I end up buying. A 2003 Suzuki Volusia VL800. Love this bike. Now I'm ready to upgrade and when I saw the Scout I fell in love.
It will take a while but I see the tide is turning.
 

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I agree that Indian has already made an impact on Harley and I fully expect it will continue to do so. However, to say "Can Indian Take Down the Sportster" to me implies in short order, not in the long term. Its a bold statement that I don't feel is backed up by fact.

Reading the article "Harley-Davidson Upstaged by Polaris in Motorcycle Sales" is just as misleading as this article. In it the writer states "
Harley dealers world-wide sold 90,218 new Harley motorcycles in the quarter, barely changed from a year earlier." which is "down" from their "30% predicted increase". However, according to the article "Polaris said sales at its motorcycles division more than doubled to $103.1 million" All that makes it sound like Polaris is taking it to Harley. But looking at the facts doesn't support the implication.

Using an average sale price of $17,000 per bike, that would mean Harley sales were $1.5 billion (with a "B") HUGE difference. Polaris reported a profit of
$96.9 million but that includes snowmobiles and ATVs. According to Polaris Reports Record 2013 Fourth Quarter and Full Year Results motorcycles make up just over 6% of Polaris' total income. That means Victory and Indian motorcycles made Polaris $6.2 million. You may say that Indian motorcycle sales have increased since 2013. But even if it went up to 10%, which I highly doubt it did, that would still mean it made Polaris $9.7 million. Harley on the other hand earned $354.2 million. Again a HUGE difference.

The article went on to say "Harley said its share of the market for new heavyweight motorcycles with engines of 601 cubic centimeters or greater slipped to about 50% in the quarter from 53% a year earlier." Harley pointed out that the Road Glide hasn't been available since it's under redesign (but is now available again) and typically accounts for 10% of its sales. Also their new 500/750 bikes are having foreign supplier quality problems so sales were less than expected as well. I am sure that part of the slip is due to Victory and even more so to Indian... but not all of it.

So all of that says Harley didn't grow as much as they expected too yet they still sold thousands of more bike than their closest competition. Yes Victory has made an impact on Harley sales and Indian seems to be doing even more so. However, it will take several years for Indian to build up to a point that comes anywhere NEAR "taking down" anything let alone one of the most popular Harley models of all time.

I've never owned a Harley, in fact the only Harley I would consider owning is a V Rod which most "True" Harley owners seem to hate. I also still frequent the V Star and Victory websites I joined when I first bought mine. Acceptance of the Scout among cruiser riders is mixed at best. Most HATE the huge radiator and feel the tins look like unfinished blanks. The engine's high revving characteristics would be closer to a V Rod or the V Max, not exactly the most popular of models in the world of cruisers. Personally I would love to have a Scout...as a second bike. But it would never replace my Chieftain as my only bike. Would I buy it before I bought a Sportster? Absolutely. But then again I bought a V Star 1300 before I bought a Sportster already. I doubt I would've bought the Scout over the V Star though.

All that said, I think it's obvious in the fact that I bought a Chieftain that I want Indian to succeed. I also think Indian is making great strides into the market and, given time, I'm sure Indian will be able to take Harley on directly. In that time they have to continue to offer and, even more importantly, support motorcycles like they have been while continuing to grow and improve their dealer network. Though in that regard I would expect a company that has been in business since 1903 to beat a business that has really only been around since 1999.
 

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The sportster is one of the best bikes Harley Davidson makes. It's got a good engine, it's lightweight and HD has had a long time to get the bike perfected. The new scout looks good. The engine is a monster. If you look at the engine it lacks the engine ribs our chiefs have because it is liquid cooled. The increased power generates increased heat that the air cannot manage. I have not seen the bike or ridden it. I have heard positive things about it. The wall of death feature is a nice marketing ploy, but they have been using ancient Indians to do the same wall climbs. Polaris has deep pockets. I'm sure they did lots of testing, and market research to get what we now see as the scout. My understanding is that the scout was intended for women. But reality is that many are buying the vintage and classics. I don't think the purpose of the scout was to dethrone HD. But to make models that appeal to a greater audience.
 

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I'm not quite sure I'd use the term "take down" but there is, without a doubt, a large number of people who will buy the Scout that would have bought a HD. As I've stated before, the powers that be at HD would be stupid not to pay attention to what is going on in Spirit Lake. Indian is getting potential HD sales, whittling away at that 90,218 quarterly sales figure. From Dragoons post, if HD is unable to increase sales and their sales are down from their projections, well, simply put, someone else is getting those sales.

Does that indicate a "take down"? Time will tell.
 

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I'm not quite sure I'd use the term "take down" but there is, without a doubt, a large number of people who will buy the Scout that would have bought a HD. As I've stated before, the powers that be at HD would be stupid not to pay attention to what is going on in Spirit Lake. Indian is getting potential HD sales, whittling away at that 90,218 quarterly sales figure. From Dragoons post, if HD is unable to increase sales and their sales are down from their projections, well, simply put, someone else is getting those sales.

Does that indicate a "take down"? Time will tell.
+1. Exciting times for Indian. Harley is definitely paying attention, and concerned. That will help them improve.
 

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sorry, but i cannot agree with some of you about the scout vs. sportster debate. the sportster is by far a better looking ride with a lot more class and sounds better. also you can buy accessories for it anywhere in the USA to make it even cooler looking. the exhaust system on the scouts are horrible looking and need to be changed to dual pipes which would help the overall looks right away. remember this is only my opinion and do not want to start world war three with fellow members.
you've heard a Scout run already?
 

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My most dearest Mr. Goatlocker.

I was reading along, nodding my head in agreement, as I usually do when I read your posts. Very well presented, thought out, and fact based. Then I hit this clunker.

>>"Though in that regard I would expect a company that has been in business since 1903 to beat a business that has really only been around since 1999."<<

I realize that you are making this statement in regards to dealer support networks.....uh. I don't like it, but I think when you look at it through that prism, you have to go all the way back to 1953 to find a viable dealer support network for the Indian motorcycle. Then it's my understanding that part of their problem was their lack of a dealer network post WWII. Sure, the Gilroy and Kings Mountain tries fell short. But look at what they were selling and the price they were asking. Beautiful bikes, but not much of a value except for the die hard Indian man.

I also agree that the Scout and the Sportster are in different categories. But last week end I had a chance to visit with the owner of an Indian dealership. He had just returned from the big Indian Dealers Pow-Wow. I asked him about the Scout, which was due to be unveiled that evening. His first words to me were "It will out-Sportster the Sportster". So, that tells me that this is where Indian has their sights set....but I think they are shooting at the wrong target.

Now, if they had come out with a VERY TRADITIONAL (as in air cooled V-twin) looking bike...they might have a shot. But a bike like that would have a very narrow appeal. It would be like the group that wanted an Indian Chief but could only afford the Scout.

The Scout that they came up with is really what the Scout has always been traditionally....The Leader in performance. The Scout will be able to run circles around our Chiefs. But it will sound like a stretched tight bow string doing it. Making hay in the higher RPM regions that we will never see on our TS111's. My new dealer pal looked at me standing there at 6'5" and 375 lbs and laughingly informed me that I would not want a Scout.
 

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If you added the words, "A Notch" to the question, I believe the answer is, yes. No one at Polaris thinks for one second that they will "take down" Harley anything. They are targeting market share which translates to profits. It is all about profits.
People on forums all over the net love to post the "HD sold x number of bikes in one quarter" facts and Indian/Polaris only sold blah blah blah. Although the numbers are true, it does not paint a realistic picture of the future. Do you think the HD stockholders are looking at the number of motorcycles HD, (a company that has been in continuous existence since 1903 and has shown nothing short of marketing genius throughout the years), has sold in recent quarters? I can assure you, what they are looking at is the number of motorcycles sold that they DID NOT sell. When they have their stockholder meetings and the last quarter sales numbers are presented, there is a comparison of what was sold and what percentage of the market they own.
Some of the market is considered "unattainable"...i.e. the guy that buys a Hyabusa, but what sticks in their craw is the guy or gal that buys a Victory or an Indian. Why? Because that is HD's bread and butter. They own that market share so every motorcycle sold in that market that is NOT a HD is profit HD did not make. If you think that the HD stockholders are dismissing Indian's 10,000 motorcycles sold, you don't understand stockholders very well. That is 10,000 motorcycle sales that HD lost...in the "New Indian's" first year! To the stockholders, that is in the neighborhood of $200 million!
Indian will not "take down" Harley-Davidson but they will take them down a notch. Sometime in the future, they may even dethrone them as the largest manufacturer of American made motorcycles. Only time will tell.
 

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My most dearest Mr. Goatlocker.
I got scared as soon as I read that thinking you were about to tell me I lost my job or something :eek:

You are correct in the 1903 reference being toward the start of Harley's dealership network. As for Indian, I'm sure there may have been some Indian shops around between 1953 and 1999 but I doubt very much of the Indian dealership network lasted for very long after the bankruptcy. However, I choose 1999 as that is the year Gilroy started their production run which I'm sure is also the start of them putting together their dealership network. Though I don't know it for a fact, I would imagine some of those dealers started by Gilroy lasted through the KM years and are now part of the Polaris network. However, just as importantly, that is also the year Polaris started selling Victory motorcycles. And even though not all Victory dealers also sell Indians, several do. Even if the Indian dealership wasn't part of the Victory dealer network, parts delivery to those dealerships will most likely be supported by the same warehouse and transportation network that was started to support Victory. Polaris can't afford to stand up anywhere near the dealership network Harley has in short order, rather it will take several years if not a decade or two. I have no doubt that Indian will eventually put a dealership network together that can take on Harley as long as they keep quality and their riders needs a top priority. Personally I'm still looking forward to the return of the inline four.

And Dave, I agree that the Scout will take SOME of the Sportster sales from Harley "knocking them down a notch". I further understand that stockholders care more about the bottom line than units sold which is why I also posted the quarterly profit as well as total sales. However, I think the total sales is also an extremely important number to demonstrate the shear volume Indian has to compete with. And that was my main point as to why the answer to the question posed in the title of the thread at this time is a resounding no. Though I do hope that the true answer is eventually, but as several others have said only time will tell :cool:

BTW Big Daddy, thank you for your kind words regarding my posts. I appreciate coming to a forum where thoughts and options can be discussed with other such as yourself without things becoming personal attacks ;)
 

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The sportster is one of the best bikes Harley Davidson makes. It's got a good engine, it's lightweight and HD has had a long time to get the bike perfected.
They sure did, it only took them 47 years of production to tame down that old jackhammer engine to a tolerable level with some rubber mounts in 2004. I currently own a 2004 XL1200R Roadster.

I rode a Scout at Sturgis a week ago and it's one fine motorcycle, not my cup of tea, but it's going to make it's owners very happy.
 

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They sure did, it only took them 47 years of production to tame down that old jackhammer engine to a tolerable level with some rubber mounts in 2004. I currently own a 2004 XL1200R Roadster.

I rode a Scout at Sturgis a week ago and it's one fine motorcycle, not my cup of tea, but it's going to make it's owners very happy.
I sat here looking at your name for about 5 minutes before it hit me where I'd seen it before - Harmony Central!

Nice to see a somewhat familiar "face" on here.
 

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I sat here looking at your name for about 5 minutes before it hit me where I'd seen it before - Harmony Central!

Nice to see a somewhat familiar "face" on here.
Wow! small virtual world. I look at HC once in a while, but almost never post there anymore.
 
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