STURGIS | More than 75 years after riders of Indian motorcycles launched a small gathering that would later explode into the world-renowned Sturgis motorcycle rally, the recently reborn motorcycle company will open a permanent sales location in Sturgis.
The move continues a push by Indian to re-establish itself as a major player in Sturgis, challenging the dominance Harley-Davidson motorcycles have held for decades. At last summer’s Sturgis rally, Indian used the occasion to unveil its new Indian Chief cycle line at a press event that drew 2,000 spectators.
The new Indian dealership will be launched by Bruce Eide, who currently offers Indian motorcycles at the Vern Eide Motoplex in Sioux Falls. The Sturgis showroom will be located at 2106 Lazelle St. and open around May 1 and employ 12 people, Eide said.
"Starting out we're going to employ about a dozen, then adjust it up in the summer months and when the rally hits it will be 'all hands on deck,'" Eide said.
Eide said they hoped to be open in Sturgis by May 1, but it could be closer to May 15 before the dealership opens its doors.
"We will have motorcycles in Sturgis just after the first of May," he said.
Eide said he first came to be offered a Victory motorcycle franchise in Sioux Falls in 2013. Following that, a representative of Polaris, which relaunched the Indian brand, came to visit asking if they would be interested in taking on the Indian franchise for Sioux Falls.
"We own a Harley-Davidson store in southwest Iowa, so I have great affinity for our Harley products, but a lot of people are finding out that riding a Victory or Indian is quite an experience," he said.
So what is it about an Indian motorcycle that draws people to the brand?
"One of the biggest things is that there is a very organic and solid feel to the Indian motorcycle," he said. "Polaris created just for the Indian the 111 Thunderbolt engine. It sounds great, it's got plenty of torque, it's smooth and it's quite a power plant.
Indian motorcycles have a very solid and balanced feel to them, Eide said.
"The more weight down low, the more the center of gravity comes into play and the more balance you feel," he said. "It feels lighter than it actually is because it is so balanced."
Last July, some of the staff at the Sioux Falls dealership encouraged Eide to take some cycles to Sturgis to sell.
"We pitched the Triumph tent at the Campbell Supply parking lot," Eide said. "We got to sell a few motorcycles and talk to hundreds and hundreds of people."
And, he also loaned a motorcycle to Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen to ride in the annual Mayor's Ride during the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. Then, on Friday, when it was time for Eide and the crew to start packing up to head home he realized the mayor had not yet returned the loaner bike.
"Mark said that he and I were going to take a little run around town. It was then that he introduced me to Lonnie Isam at Competition Distributing," Eide said. "When you meet Lonnie it's like meeting a great member of your family. I went from meeting him to buying his building in about an hour."
Later that year, Eide learned that Polaris announced they were going to make an open point for an Indian dealership in western South Dakota.
"They asked those interested to create a presentation. We did that to vie for the right to sell Indian motorcycles. A number of people in the Polaris Community thought it should go in Rapid City because of the demographics and the size of the town, but I felt that the Indian Motorcycle should come home to Sturgis. Pappy was an Indian dealer. At the end of the presentation phase Polaris agreed and allowed us to become the dealer."
Saurus : Indian motorcyle 'coming home' to Sturgis
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