One interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years is the seeming inability of the non-motorcycling public to read. Inevitably, when whatever motorcycle I’m riding draws a layperson’s attention, they’ll ask, ‘What kind of motorcycle IS that?’ And it doesn’t matter how large VICTORY or HONDA is written on the gas tank. The sole exception is Harley-Davidson. Then the comment is always ‘Nice Harley.’ And if some casual observer says ‘nice Harley’ when you’re on a Japanese cruiser trying to hide its identity, you know the Japanese have won another skirmish but are destined to eventually lose the cruiser war.

H-D enjoys instant global brand recognition, and that can’t be a bad thing. Lately H-D’s reluctance, okay refusal, to take bold new styling steps looks like genius. While the critics continue to criticize, Harley continues to lead the league in sales.

On the other hand, you had the bold new spaceship Victory Vision, which appeared in 2007. Built on a stiff aluminum frame via computer-aided design, packed with advanced features, a superior ride and a great engine at a reasonable price – its interpretation of classic American cruiser veered just slightly too far into Buck Rogers territory for the intended buyer. The bike failed to achieve the high hopes Polaris had for it; our press accolades failed to bring it the success it deserved. At gas stops, the occasional person would wander over to the Vision with ‘nice Harley’ on the tip of their tongue, stopping short at the last second and recoiling like a dog finding a different food in its dish. What the?!

Polaris is Closing Victory Motorcycles

Then again, maybe this 2013 Arlen Ness Vision was a bit over the top…

Then again, maybe this 2013 Arlen Ness Vision was a bit over the top…

The difference is the dog would probably adapt in about two bites and say, ‘Hey, this is pretty good…’

Add the Vision 8-Ball to the list of great oddball collectibles. I’d love to own one of these. Yes, it has cruise control.

Add the Vision 8-Ball to the list of great oddball collectibles. I’d love to own one of these. Yes, it has cruise control.

Personally, I was a big fan of the Vision 8-Ball, which was a lowered and blacked-out bagger version of the bike. It made me feel like Batman, like I should be wearing a cape. I’ve never seen one on the road. In 2010, Victory sort of dumbed down the Vision to look more like what people expect, and called it Cross Country and Cross Roads. Maybe by then it was too late.

Does America just not want different anymore? You always read how there were 200 motorcycle companies competing in the U.S. in the old days. How many are we down to now? Really, I don’t think it’s that we don’t want different; I think we just want the Familiar more than ever. I guess that equals the same thing. As the Empire declines, people want tradition, a return to the good old days when we were on the way up.

I reviewed the first Triumph Thunderbird when that storied marque was resurrected and returned to the U.S. market in 1994. It was a good bike but not a great one, and most of the new Triumphs that followed it over the next few years weren’t exactly cutting-edge or even as good as the mostly Japanese competition. It really wasn’t until the second-generation Speed Triple that Triumph had a real hit.

Looking back, I think what saved them was one thing: Triumph was prominently displayed on that classic ’60s garden-gate logo on the gas tank or somewhere on the bike. Yo, my uncle had one! I have seen this before! It probably didn’t hurt that Triumph was ramping up just as the U.S. was entering the upslope of a huge housing-fuelled economic boom (which should’ve lifted Victory also, which debuted its V92 in 1998, but didn’t quite).

The first bike that reintroduced Triumph to America was kind of meh, but John Bloor’s little company stuck with it and keeps breaking sales records.

The first bike that reintroduced Triumph to America was kind of meh, but John Bloor’s little company stuck with it and keeps breaking sales records.

When xenophobia and Brexit and wall-building rhetoric begin to spread across the globe, though, it percolates right down to the things we buy, too. If Soichiro Honda showed up today with the Honda Cub, would it be a success? Or would it receive the same nasty comments Chinese bikes do now? (Granted, the Chinese sort of had it coming; my greyhound had the runs for a year after eating a bad bag of Costco dog food. Not that that kept him from eating all kinds of other weird things including three $20 bills, which were still spendable after I bleached them.) Are the nicest people from the ’60s who made Honda so wildly successful the same people today, now in their 60s, who won’t ride anything but a Harley? Beats me.

My dad, a Navy veteran of the Big One and a George Wallace Republican, suffered through years of AMC Ambassadors, Plymouth Volares and Chevy Vegas while swearing that buying a Japanese car constituted a low form of treason. But once my mom talked him into a Toyota Celica, it was nothing but Camrys from then on. If that guy could open his heart, forgive and forget and embrace the new, you’d think anybody could.

Doesn’t seem to be the case: Politically, socially and motorcycle-ly, the tribes seem to be further apart than ever with even less common ground, and each tribe defending the totem it worships more vigorously than ever. Given a stagnant motorcycle economy and an uncertain future, I finally arrive at my point: Closing down Victory was the right thing for Polaris to do.

Top 10 Best Victory Motorcycles Of All Time

Guys who bought Victorys and ride them know what great bikes they are, but that’s a small group, outside of which nobody knows Victory Motorcycles ever existed. No impressionable youth is thinking ‘someday I will own a Victory.’ And let’s face it, a lot of cruiser buyers (not all!) don’t do a lot of market research; they tend to be “low-information voters” (my favorite new phrase) – some of the same people who put Trump in the White House and voted Britain out of the European Union. They are a yuuge voting bloc.

What makes shutting Victory down smart, of course, was the genius acquisition of Indian in 2011. I don’t think everybody’s gotten the word yet that Indian is back in business, but once it spreads, do you think Joe the Plumber would prefer a Victory t-shirt or a vintage Indian one?

MO Interview: Polaris’ Steve Menneto

Word on the street is while some Victory factory employees will lose their jobs, most of the engineers and designers who worked on Victory will be assimilated into other jobs at Polaris – which means the best brains will wind up at Indian – where exciting things are going on, including a new FTR750 flat-tracker. Now that there are no Victory and Indian brands to keep separated and squabble over resources, Indian can build whatever it wants to build. We can hope, anyway, that the suits won’t completely quash the motorcycle nuts.

Whichever direction Indian goes in, though, whatever bikes it builds, they’ll all stand a much greater chance of success for one simple reason: They’ll all say INDIAN on the gas tank so big a blind man’s seeing-eye dog won’t be able to miss it. Which is smart. Yo, my Granddad had one!

PS: In the meantime, I was doing a little research for an upcoming Bobber comparison test, and realized the Victory Octane is a deal at $10,499; the less-powerful Indian Scout is $800 more. An Octane with the Going out of Business discount tacked on could be a screaming deal, and when you’re old you’ll be able to explain to the kids how it’s really an Indian...

PS: In the meantime, I was doing a little research for an upcoming Bobber comparison test, and realized the Victory Octane is a deal at $10,499; the less-powerful Indian Scout is $800 more. An Octane with the Going out of Business discount tacked on could be a screaming deal, and when you’re old you’ll be able to explain to the kids how it’s really an Indian…

  • Old MOron

    You’ve still got it, John.

    “Are the nicest people from the ’60s who made Honda so wildly successful the same people today, now in their 60s, who won’t ride anything but a Harley?”

    If I didn’t have other things keeping me awake at night already, this would probably do it.

    “If that guy could open his heart, forgive and forget and embrace the new, you’d think anybody could.”

    Gee, as an old MOron, maybe I should make more effort to embrace the new. If only certain brands would build something other than the same old clam shell cruisers.

  • John B.

    Perhaps counterintuitively, the best product rarely becomes the market leader, and so-called better products fail all the time. To have a successful product requires people, processes, capital, and product. Product comes last because it’s least important.

    Suppose some enterprising engineer, working alone in his garage builds the greatest motorcycle ever. He has no capital to build units, no manufacturing facility, no dealer network, no corporate infrastructure, no advertising team, no inventory, no industry expertise, no banking relationship and so on. That motorcycle wouldn’t even get to market, let alone become the market leader.

    I agree the Indian brand is very strong, and top to bottom, I (and more importantly, the motorcycle press) really like the motorcycles Indian has produced. Whether or not the brand thrives in the long run, however, depends on how much capital Polaris can/will commit to the brand, the quality of the people at Polaris compared to the competition, and whether Polaris has developed processes that can compete with HD, among other well-heeled competitors. The Indian brand may not be strong enough to negate whatever Polaris shortcomings (in people, processes, and/or capital) caused Victory to fail despite the quality of its motorcycles. When you lose market share, it means your competition is outperforming you. For Indian, so far so good, but we know HD will counterattack.

    Last October, Polaris spent $665 million to acquire aftermarket parts manufacturer Transamerican Auto Parts (http://tinyurl.com/gr7lfx5). Given the stagnant sales growth in the motorcycle industry, publicly traded motorcycle manufacturers have to ask themselves whether they could get a better return for their shareholders by investing in something other than motorcycle manufacturing. For Polaris, the answer was yes (i.e., TAP in, Victory out). Time will tell; it always does.

    • SerSamsquamsh

      “Time will tell if we stand the test of time.”

      Sir Sammy Hagar

  • Ron Hayes

    I just wished that not all the bikes in the Victory line up were discontinued. Just like Star was assimilated back into Yamaha, I wished to see the Octane or even the Cross Country get resold under the Indian brand. I like Indians but it is only focusing on bikes that remind us of their past.

  • blinebob

    With all due respects, George Wallace was never a Republican.

    • john burns

      Wow my bad. Worth it to find out my dad voted democratic once tho.

  • allworld

    “One interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed over the years is the seeming inability of the non-motorcycling public to read. Inevitably, when whatever motorcycle I’m riding draws a layperson’s attention, they’ll ask, ‘What kind of motorcycle IS that?’”

    LOL, an it gets worse…………. When you tell them the ask “who makes it?”

    Name recognition is a big factor not only for motorcycles, but just about any product.
    If it is a well respected name you’re golden if it isn’t you’re domed or at least have a lot to overcome. Case in point “Fix It Again Tony”…..
    I do understand Polaris’s decision for pulling the plug on Victory, but what I don’t understand is after they acquired Indian, they didn’t change it’s focus. Victory should have come out swinging with a new look, new focus and new products, challenging brands such as Ducati, Aprilia , Triumph, KTM, MV Agusta and BMW. They could have set their sites on Europe not Japan and set up shop in the EU.

    I hope Indian can and will be able to offer a wider range of competitive motorcycles, and successfully compete in markets other than Big V-Twin Cruisers.

  • DickRuble

    “three $20 bills, which were still spendable after I bleached them” — we make awesome money, that’s for sure. Unless those were North Korean counterfeit bills..

  • DickRuble

    “If that guy could open his heart, forgive and forget” — the way I read it he neither forgot nor forgave GM after that..

  • halfkidding

    I had said in the Octane review that for better or for worse brand name was a strong determinate of purchase decisions. This is especially true of expensive non necessities and the more expensive the stronger the pull of brand and for motorcycles in the US anyway brand is the strongest driver of purchase decisions.

    Harley is arguably the most powerful brand name in the world. Its associations in the minds of the public are myriad and deep and among owners it borders on a fetish and almost a religion. As I like to say, 70% of heavyweight motorcycle buyers are 1 percenters, Harley buyers that is. It’s surprising how well the Victory brand did. It turns out they made a bad error of not starting out by buying the rights to the Indian name and their later purchase only made sense with the abandonment off the Victory brand. For only the Indian name can provide the associations in peoples minds like Harley does, as in American, iconic, a throwback.

    Now why Americans want a throwback in design and design language with motorcycles probably deserves a book. Nobody is out there on the local motor mile looking for Packard dealers.

    • JR

      I would be!! Wish I had Grandpa’s 1950 Super 8!!! That was a fine automobile.

  • SerSamsquamsh

    Conformity! Cuz’ a guy riding a bike by himself should really care what anybody else thinks.

    People who ride bikes to compare farkles are like the guitarists that compare their pedal boards instead of making music.

  • ADB

    “– some of the same people who put Trump in the White House and voted Britain out of the European Union”…. John Burns; my favorite curmudgeon communist…

    • Starmag

      Well, it’s got to be frustrating to have the wheels fall off your dream. No doubt the reason Soichiro san insisted on grueling reliability testing.

      The EU is toast with or without Brexit, not least because of financial malfeasance. It’ll be wailing and gnashing of teeth when the overdrawn credit cards are taken away from the metaphoric spoiled teenagers.

      Was he hoping for world empire? What was the last empire that didn’t turn tyrannical?

    • Mike Simmons

      Burns can’t write anything without injecting his leftie ideology into it.

      • john burns

        It’s always more fun when you guys tell me which part I’m dead wrong about and why?

        • ADB

          Hi John. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. Tomorrow will come, tomorrow will go. Nobody’s gonna die, and we won’t be starving the children or throwing the old people out in the streets. If your appendix bursts, you can still saddle up to your nearest emergency room, and we’ll have it fixed for free on the taxpayer dime if you are not equipped to pay. You’ll live another day. If you’re Persian with an Iranian passport, you’ll still be able to vacation in Florida with your US sister and cousins – we’ll still take your money and show you a good time. Now, if you are a politburo member in China, we just might start to ask what the real standard cost of that $379.95 pocket bike is so we can calculate your dumping loss, but we won’t stop you from bringing in…

          Then there’s Global Warming. Will the seas really rise in the next two weeks because we kicked em out? I don’t know. Time will tell.

          And then there is Illinois state debt – why worry about Greece being $300B underwater when our friends in Illinois have that covered and more. Not to worry, Dem play money. “Move along folks, nothing to see…”.

        • Mike Simmons

          We come to hear your view on motorcycles, not politics. If you are so dead set on injecting your left leaning views, get a gig with Real Clear Politics or something.

          • john burns

            which left leaning view did I insert, Mike?

        • Marcus

          The only part that didn’t really make sense was the comment that your father was a “Wallace Republican.” Wallace was a Democrat…

    • MC MotoHistory

      Love the discussion , but Burn’s please leave your politics out of it!

  • JWH

    I think I have to take issue with that statement that cruiser riders are the equivalent of low-information voters. They’re more likely just giving more weight to different information. To be clear, I’m talking about performance. I know, I’m one of those riders. My new bike is less than a year old, has 6K on the odometer, and despite having one of the lowest lean angles in the business, I haven’t scraped a peg once.

    What I want out of a motorcycle is simple:

    I want it to be comfortable. I want the seat height to be right for me. I want the reach to the pegs/boards to be right for me. I want the reach to the bars to be right for me. I spend a lot of time behind those bars, so comfort is #1 on my list.

    I NEED an engine large and torquey enough that with my wife on back and loaded with gear (the bike, I don’t load my wife with gear), that the weight is invisible to me as the operator. V-twins are perfect for me because they deliver that low and mid range pull that makes my wife and luggage disappear, and all I sacrifice is the top end that I never cared about in the first place. You’ll never find me too far from the posted speed limit.

    I want it to look good. There, I said it. Style is important. Of course, style is subjective, but I know what I like. To me that’s the classic step-up seat, sissybar, low-slung lines and lots of chrome. I make no apologies for that last, I’d say that I like chrome, but I really love chrome.

    When I’m looking for a bike. I’ve done my research before I ever set foot in a dealership, or in years past, I’d drive down motorcycle row (every city used to have one) and pull pamphlets and brochures from dealership after dealership. I do my research, but long since learned that few reviewers care about the things that I care about in a motorcycle.

    • john burns

      Notice my careful most not all! Cruiser riders. So what brand do you usually buy?

      • JWH

        Not a fair question, lol. Harley-Davidson, not because I’m particularly in love with HD, but because they make the Sportster. I’m on my 4th one now. It’s just the perfect motorcycle for me. In the past I’ve always set them up for touring and went along on my merry, but this time around I just skipped the steps and bought the touring model Sportster. I’m really dedicated to a model, not a manufacturer.

        I do have fond memories of the Rebel 450 I had when I was young and single, and the old 4 speed Intruder 1400 that replaced it. Both of which were great when the speed limit was 55mph. Not so great memories of the ironhead Sportster, either big twin I owned, the Suzuki GS550, the Bonnie that stayed broken, or the Twinstar that was my first legal bike.

        Also, I haven’t owned two bikes at the same time since I got married some quarter century ago, but that might well change once the new Rebel 500 hits. Everyone else seems to hate it, but there is something about that bike that just speaks to me. I may well add a second bike to my garage.

        • john burns

          You sir, are a man of seriously eclectic motorcycle taste.

          • JWH

            Is there any hope for a cure?

          • john burns

            You have to want to quit.

          • JWH

            So there is no hope…at least until you guys crush my dreams when you get to review the new Rebel.

          • Doug Erickson

            i respect that. he freakin’ OWNS his tastes. *hoists beer*

        • JR

          You should look into a victory Kingpin or Kingpin Tour Everything you look for and more power than you’d ever want. Or their Cross Country is another option. Seat height is around 25 inches and they can be lowered.

          • JWH

            I’m actually kinda happy with what I have.

    • ADB

      JWH, Next round, maybe test ride a Moto Guzzi Norge V-Twin. Amazing Touring bike with everything you list above (plus superb brakes with a full load…).

      • JWH

        Seat height puts it waaaaay outside of my range.

    • Tell me more about how to make my wife disappear…

    • Sayyed Bashir

      JWH, I agree with you completely. I love my 2007 Harley Softail Custom for all the reasons you listed above (except for the wife and luggage part). I now also have a 2015 KTM 1190 Adventure R which can go anywhere on or off road in any weather, and if I could only keep one bike it would be the KTM, but I would sorely miss the Harley for its comfort, sound, power (torque), looks, and the effect it has on the motorists on the freeway. They don’t pay much attention to the KTM, but get out of the way of the Harley.

  • Kirk Harrington

    So, I’m sitting here at the multi-line shop working the service desk and we are all talking about the Victory shutter since we are a dealer. Weird theory is afloat. In the world of “what ifs” is it plausible that Victory is not actually dead, but on hiatus. They haven’t made significant changes to the line in a decade if you think about it. The Octane was a gap filler. Is it possible that we will see the rise of the Victory brand completely re-imagined. I don’t think Indian could sustain a dual sport model or a sport touring bike. It’s highly improbable that they would produce singles for the Indian line.

    What if the kill off was a way to completely step away and then bring the Victory brand back as a maker of these types of bikes in numbers that would be targeted at say 50k units annual? This would be no easy task. It would take 5-8 yrs just to get everything aligned for the roll out of a single bike. But think about this, there is no American manufacturer of sub 1000cc dual sport, light sport tour and off road motorcycles that have the resources of Polaris.

    Polaris’ larger issue is asset management. They kind of suck at it. But they continue to attempt to make changes. They have so many assets that it’s hard to focus on a primary source of business. Recalls are killing the margins because they push too hard too fast and the R&D guys aren’t ferreting out all the variables in testing.

    They have cool products that have silly engineering mistakes and most can be overcome, but you’re supposed to do that before product rollout. If Polaris would slow their roll and think about trying to break things before they send them into mass production then guys like me and other service employees would not be pulling our hair out trying to keep up with service bulletins for the customers. They have great people that love their jobs. They just need these people to have the balls to break things then tell marketing and executives that the product is not ready for primetime playing. It will save everyone headaches in the end.

    I have confidence that things will end up playing out positively for Polaris and unlike many people I believe that Indian will have a rosy future with model expansion but the UTV/ATV world needs to tighten up and the Slingshot adult go-karts need to become a better toy if Polaris wants to keep the consumer confidence.

    • Jon Jones

      Damn good post from one motorcycle shop employee to another.

    • Kevin Duke

      Thanks for your excellent points, Kirk! The one I’m skeptical of is the resurrection of Victory. If that was in the works, Polaris wouldn’t have bothered with last week’s announcement. It would take too many staff on monetary resources to create an entirely new product line like you hope for, and it would be a huge challenge to create new engines and platforms from scratch that could compete with companies such as Triumph, KTM, BMW or Ducati. Of course, I’d be happy to be proved wrong!

      • Kirk Harrington

        Just conspiracy theory stuff, Duke. If They pulled off the rest of the tidbits under the Polaris brand name I would still be happy. We need Polaris to be successful in the motorcycle business outside of the Indian brand name. They have a deal for sourced engines from GM for Slingshots but my rumor mill says they are trying to develop an in-house powertrain. Hopefully that comes to life. They have the engine resource development house under their umbrella with SwissAuto. They have to keep those guys busy. TransAmerican not only distributes- they manufacture parts, too. They have to keep those guys busy. Not to mention they could outsource the small engine development to elsewhere around the world but do all the assembly in the midwest.
        You’re the guy with eons of insider info. You may be right. But if I were to play the long game and place a bet on odds I would throw down a $100 in those odds and see what hits the fan in the next 8 yrs. Our industry is suffering. Yes, the Euro bikes are selling well but they are what kept the industry alive in the recession in the first place. America needs a shot in the arm but it’s going to take a global effort to make it happen in this industry. I don’t know if the head cheeses at POL read your stuff but I truly believe the magic at Polaris hasn’t even really begun yet. They had to weather a bunch of mistakes over the last 10 yrs and are still trying to work them out today. But I believe they are learning to be a better company for investors and consumers. Time will tell.
        BTW- Happy New Year, Buddy. I live in Seattle now. If you ever come up here I would love to hang out over a dinner and talk motorcycle trash with you. Weird city. Nothing like my metro Atlanta lifestyle was.

        • Kevin Duke

          Great to hear your thoughts, bud! I’ll ping you if/when I’m in the PacNW.

      • Michael Howard

        Yeah, Victory could be “re-imagined” without formally closing the brand. In fact, shutting Victory down and restarting it anew would only make the brand appear unstable. Even rebooting Victory under a new name would have the same effect. I think Victory is dead and gone other than their resources being absorbed by Indian.

  • TC

    Harley and Indian have the same product line, cruisers, with the cruiser slouch and your feet way too far forward. Harley had a viable alternative, the Buell, but they strangled it in it’s sleep, because they didn’t want the bastard child to live. If Indian wants to round out their product line and appeal to a broader demographic, they need to market a standard, and preferably a sport tourer and an ADV bike too. I have never bought a bike because I could easily read the brand name on the tank, and the bike that most people will come over to talk about is my Moto Guzzi Stelvio. Harleys are so commonplace that people rarely give them a glance. They are destined to become the Buick of the motorcycle world, demographic-wise.

    • George

      The Buells were underrated. So what it they didn’t have the power of an inline liter-bike. The power of a 600cc sport bike is enough, and a rider didn’t have to rev it to the moon.

      • TC

        Loved my Ulysses. The vibration absorbing motor mounts made it smooth at freeway speeds, and the handling was great, at my 6/10 riding speed. Buell claimed around 100hp, which was plenty of power for two-up riding.

  • azicat

    This is no different to stuff that I’m not interested in.

    Me: (looks at mother-in-law’s new vacuum cleaner.) Nice Hoover.
    Mother-in-law: What????!!! It’s a DYSON!!!!!
    Me: Oh, sorry. Nice Dyson. Looks like it really sucks.

  • krishan adhikari

    i have never understood the appeal of a cruiser, but then each to their own devices. I guess brand does make a big difference and maybe Polaris will have a better shot with the Indian brand.

  • SRMark

    Gotta love a free-market economy. Unnatural selection at its finest.

  • StreetHawk

    Mid 90’s I was parked at the curb on my shiny newly acquired used motorcycle. It was a dark blue , light blue tone with copper / gold pin striping and similar colored wheels. Sitting low but not raked like some of the other offering of the era with a tasteful amount of faux chrome. An older gent driving a taxi slowly drove up stopped and got out. Well walking up smiling he said to me ” I see they started making them again ! ” He had seen the tell tale ” — DIAN ” on the bikes side cover partially hidden by my leg. I replied no this was the last year for them it’s an 87. After a bit more back and forth the fellow reminisced that he really liked these bikes since he first saw them in the 40’s. Then the light bulb moment occurred when he said he always liked the styling of INDIANS. Unfortunately I was sitting on ” RADIAN ” with prominent Yamaha branding on both the tank and engine side cover. He laughed a bit more admitting he’d been fooled but still admitting he liked the overall look of the bike. So I guess Yamaha made more then just Virago ” Harleys ” during that time, also infringing on another iconic brand !

  • spiff

    Good read.

  • DickRuble

    ‘Yo, my Granddad had one!” — unlikely.. “Yo, my Granddad once told me his Granddad once saw one” is more plausible.

  • di0genes

    Ha ha, John you aren’t old enough, when Honda Cubs first arrived in my neighborhood, people felt exactly the same way about ‘made in japan’ as they do now about stuff made in China, “made in japan” was actually a euphemism people used all the time for cheap worthless junk. I was 15 when I saw my first Honda, and that bike is the reason I ride today. I knew nothing about motorcycles except that they were big, nasty, and ridden by scary criminal gang member types. The bikes in the Honda shop were nothing like that, and the people who rode them were ‘nice’ kids like me. “Honda” the word did not sound japanese to me, it sounded more like something from California or a Beach Boys song (First gear its all right! actually fake beach boys). Honda and Sony, who made little transistor radios we could carry around with us to listen to the Beach Boys can take much of the credit for changing the meaning of made in japan from worthless junk to high quality reliable products.

    • john burns

      the difference being of course, that people in droves put their preconceptions on hold, and bought those little Hondas in droves.

  • JimC

    JB has greyounds; I knew there was some other reason I liked you, John.

    • john burns

      Ruler passed a couple years ago, but he was just about my favorite mammal.

  • schizuki

    “George Wallace Republican”

    He was a Democrat. Good Lord. Burns is probably one of those people who thinks it was Republicans who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Here’s a handy cheat sheet to avoid future confusion:

    Trail of Tears – Democrats.
    Expansion of slavery into the territories – Democrats.
    Founding of the Confederacy – Democrats.
    Lynching of African-Americans in NYC draft riots – Democrats.
    Northern advocates of negotiated peace with the Confederacy retaining slavery – Democrats.
    Founding of the KKK – Democrats.
    Jim Crow laws – Democrats.
    Segregation of federal civil service – Democrats.
    Internment of Japanese-Americans – Democrats.
    Opposition to school desegregation – Democrats.
    Opposition to Civil Rights Act – Democrats.
    Great Society programs that shattered the African-American family structure and created a permanent black underclass – Democrats.

  • Ricky Lepre

    In my opinion the Indian name died long ago. When I see Indian on a bike I think Sea doo or Cam three wheeler.I think pure heritage goes a long way. Like DNA i suppose. Yes you can clone would be the argument and resurrect but Harley have always to my knowledge never ceased to exist. Although they were owned by AMF there for a little while production didn’t stop.Triumph died in 1984 and the factory left desolate until a property developer stumbled across the factory and started a NEW COMPANY borrowing all the Triumph’s past history and turned it into a small fortune. Good for him. I hope a certain American property developer can do the same for his new post as Prez of the USA. Royal Enfield has sold a lot of bikes due to it being officially the oldest bike manufacturer.Even though they stood still for two years whilst being relocated to India i wouldn’t call it dying but having a nap. The Japanese bike’s have done well because they all have a long history in making bikes as well. Other notables are Motor Guzzi who have a very rich heritage in racing from the early years and the big European, BMW. Both have never ceased production since they were conceived. History ( or in the current Triumph guise preconceived) in a Marque is very important. Good luck to any new kid on the block who tries to break into the circle of established motor petrol motorcycles. Now electric bikes is a different ball game and you can wipe the board clean and start from scratch as this is all new and uncharted territory. Time to make history all over gain and make a name for yourself.

    • TC

      This machine you speak of, this Motor Guzzi, where is it coming from?

      • Ricky Lepre

        A couple of spaghetti suckers who thought it might be better to cool an air cooled motor by sticking it out into the wind for better cooling efficiency. Don’t figure!

    • Sayyed Bashir

      Electric bikes are not totally different. Only the engine is replaced by a electric motor. The rest of the bike is still a motorcycle. The name is still very important. Remember all the excitement the Harley LiveWire created in the motorcycle press. The name signifies quality, dependability, support, dealerships, resale value, looks, sound, feel. Other electric bike makers such as Zero are doing OK, but cannot compete with a company that has been making motorcycles for 114 years and knows exactly what people like in a motorcycle.

  • lcicenine

    Indian is nothing more than Chinese and India parts assembled in the USA and marketed as a 1930’s style cruiser. If you want an American made bike, then buy a Harley-Davidson. Go Trump and good riddance to Satan obama.

    • TC

      I’m sure you already know that the new Harley Street 750 is made in India. Or as HD says ‘assembled in the USA’, (from parts made in India)

      • lcicenine

        Of course, and I would never buy one.

        • ADB

          And that 2016 Concours is one of the best Sport Touring bikes on the planet – a bike the Motor Company refuses to build under any circumstances.

  • JMDonald

    The SJWs will put an end to this Indian nonsense.

  • Roger

    I only flashed through the comments so I stand to be corrected, but as far as I can see you are all missing a major point. Harleys don’t sell because “my dad had one”, they sell because the have slow, vibrating mechanical engins with big torquey fly wheels. It’s called CHARACTER! If Victory produced the equivalent of a honda V twin with high compression and small fly wheels then it didn’t sell because it has no character, and rebranding it to Indian will not change that. I also believe that Harley must be carefull where they go with their new generation 8 engines for the same reason. They need to keep the same noise/ torque/ low reving/ agricultural aspects which sell, while still trying to comply with producing more power so not to be stuck in the past, and complying with emission legislation. I think it is a male instinct to ride a “machine” that speaks manliness, noise etc, and that is the reason why quiet smooth bland will never be as popular unless it comes with the manly substitute of sheer power.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Something Polaris should consider – Indian is a brand that has had several aborted rebirths, and their killing off Victory could be an important indicator to a prospective Indian buyer of their willingness to kill off a motorcycle brand that isn’t selling according corporate business projections. If Polaris doesn’t hold tenaciously to Indian when they hit some bumps in the road, this reincarnation of Indian may well be as ill-fated as the others.

    The recent death of Victory will certainly give me pause about spending $22,000 on a new Indian.

  • James Stewart

    Wow – came across this comment section about 2 days too late. Good job, Comrade Commie-Pinko Burns! Although I know for sure that you were one of the 2 million dis-enfranchised Hillary voters in Cali, I do generally agree with two of your recent theories:
    One – the home equity loan ATM machine: “It probably didn’t hurt that Triumph was ramping up just as the U.S. was entering the upslope of a huge housing-fuelled economic boom (which should’ve lifted Victory also, which debuted its V92 in 1998, but didn’t quite)” AND
    Two – the comment a few months ago about the cost of a modern College Education being just a Bank-led scam to saddle the middle class with a staggering debt load. (I’m lucky as the boy is “only” costing us $10K/semester at a “low-cost state school”… whatever happened to $4/semester hr tuition at a state college?

    I’m not sure if the above scams were concocted by Democrats or Republicans, but I do know that “American won’t be Great Again” until we American/Canadians can figure out how to cook up our own version of KTM – and I will be first in line for their 1000cc Dual Sport. Call it Victory, Call it Henderson – I don’t care. PS- do you think the Zundapp or Bultaco brands are available?

    • ADB
      • James Stewart

        Looks like a 1972 Maico 501 with lights… Did someone actually make them? Didn’t Gary Jones and his Dad make an MX bike in the mid-70s? Pretty sure the factory was in Mexico and the peso devaluation killed them…

    • spiff

      I’ve got to say something, and this may not be the correct place, but here it is. You said “make America great again” (in tongue in cheek 😉 ). I say we have always been great. We may be taking a couple on the chin, but we aren’t going down. Not close, and no worse than the rest of the world.

      Also, we are not the only great place to live. I traveled Europe a couple of years ago, and was pleasantly suprised. It was awsome, not exaggerating it was that good.

      So to conclude my rant: Don’t buy into the bullshit. Most of us deal with first world problem, and if someone is dealing with worse, be a decent human and help them out how you can. Oh yeah, the government is trying to scew us.

      • James Stewart

        Yes I was stealing Von Trump’s line – and yes I know he’s a Bozo – I was alive in the 70s & 80s when he was going bankrupt every 5 minutes…But the serious question remains: If the freaking Austrians can build a kick-ass motorcycle company (KTM) that makes top-notch dirt bikes and really good street bikes (and manages to sell them at a PREMIUM to the Japanese competition)… why can’t we lazy-ass North Americans do the same or better? Oh we can manage a little shoe-string ultra low volume Buell EBR 1190 every once in a while, but it’s always one or two $20,000 superbike models – then back into bankruptcy. When are we going to develop the engineering and financial backbone to create a “real” motorcycle company on this continent? What exactly does Austria have that we don’t? Higher taxes? More restrictive work rules? I’m betting the European apprentice system does produce guys & gals that eventually become hands-on engineers – and know how to actually fire up a lathe or a mill and make an actual motorcycle part. What a concept. Outside of a few Formula SAE kids, most US engineering grads are lucky if they know which way a nylock nut goes on…What can our new grads do? Oh yeah – they can make a website or an iPhone App. Yippee

        • spiff

          My rant was based on a string of conversations I have had over the last week or so, nothing towards you, sorry. Just soooo tired of the pessimism of, oddly enough, the people you were just talking about.

          I spent just three days in Austria, but left totally impressed. The home we stayed in was very nice. Not over the top with gadgets or expensive fixtures. Just simple, clever, and quality. The roads and infrastructure were in good shape etc. It is just part of who they are, and KTM is an example of that.

          I think Buell is similar in concept, but never had his own money. Our economy would never give Buell 23 years to grow like KTM has, unless he brought his own money.

  • TheMarvelous1310

    I love how everyone is gushing and fawning over the Octane now that they’ve finished bludgeoning Victory to death with it. It was a great bike the whole time you were bitching about it not being a cramped up cantankerous hillclimbing prototype nobody in America would’ve bought, don’t change your tune now! Thanks for ruining my chance to get an affordable performance bobber when I was almost done saving for it, you jerks. Enjoy your Racialslur Motorcycles!

  • TheMarvelous1310

    A racial slur. That’s what’s in a name.

  • Chris Loynd

    Well said John. Loved the dog analogy. If you’re not a South Park fan, I think you’ll find the “member berries” explain the Harley phenomenon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lko1PzQyy-s

  • Morgan Williams

    Good article except you’re off on the politics! I’m in New Zealand, and I know George Wallace was a Democrat. Shocking but true, just like the Republicans were the abolitionist party!

  • Tim Blanch

    JB, love your writing and opinions. but why do you think it’s a good idea to insult at least one-half of your readers? were your drinking too much wine, perhaps? low information is exactly what most dems are, and obviously that includes you in your rude and ignorant attempt to insult me.

    back on subject, victory mc’s are not quite as great a product as you described. developement stopped years ago. the sound, feel, details, and finish were not what they should have been. but they were used to birth the much better indian line. you cannot say you had a bad life when you have a child like indian. tim blanch

  • Mad4TheCrest

    That saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, seems to have a less optimistic corollary in the bike business, “it’s always brightest just before plunging into the inky-dark night”. Just as Erik Buell was cheerleading his brand at every motorcycle show JUST before EBR closed once again, Victory was showcasing its Project 156 and Empulse electric TT bike and making us all think great things were coming, just before disappearing into the void.

    Ok, so Indian is still there and apparently healthy-ish. But I think that iconic badge constrains Indian just as Harley’s does the MoCo. Victory was under no such limiting expectations, and it will be missed.