EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Business

January 27, 2013

Polari to inject new life into Indian motorcycles

Arturo Eguia-Welch, co-owner of Indian Motorcycle of the Twin Cities, is so thrilled to sell the iconic American bike that he set up his St. Paul, Minn., dealership like a museum, featuring models from 1949 to today.

Soon, Eguia-Welch, the only Indian dealer in Minnesota, will have two new models to sell.

This month, Polaris Industries introduced the 2013 “Indian Chief Vintage Final Edition” at the International Motorcycle Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The limited edition bike is the last one to be based on designs from the previous owners in Kings Mountain, N.C., and only 25 will be made.

But come fall, Medina, Minn.-based Polaris _ which bought the 112-year-old company in 2011 _ will unleash hundreds of its closely guarded, fully redesigned 2014 Indian. By year-end, the new generation bike will roar out of the factory in Spirit Lake, Iowa, and onto showroom floors at new dealerships set up across North America.

The launch is important for Polaris. Steve Menneto, the company’s vice president of motorcycles, said Polaris has invested “tens of millions of dollars” to get Indian just right so it can compete with Harley-Davidson.

If successful, Polaris will revive a struggling but much-beloved motorcycle brand that broke racing records in the ‘60s, birthed the 2005 Anthony Hopkins movie “The World’s Fastest Indian,” and survived predecessors’ bankruptcies and weakly funded relaunches.

“We are really excited. It’s going to be a great year,” Menneto said. “Our team is committed to charting an inspired new future for this brand that fuses the iconic elements of its legendary past with (new) state-of-the-art technology and engineering prowess.”

At the motorcycle show, Eguia-Welch and other fans of the classic heavyweight motorcycle huddled near a sound booth display to hear the distinct engine growl that Polaris promises will be a key feature of its next generation bike. “I am extremely excited about what is to come,” Eguia-Welch said.

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