Retro-minded Indian Motorcycles taking aim at Myrtle Beach market

For Weekly SurgeNovember 12, 2013 

In my last column I broke the news that Indian Motorcycles has opened a new dealership in Murrells Inlet. The dealership officially launched by hosting Demo Days on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, showcasing the all-new motorcycles and offering test rides. The shop is located in the same building as the existing Coastal Victory dealership at 3956 US 17 S., Murrells Inlet. Over the course of the two-day event more than 200 people came by and the dealership sold five of the new Indians.

I stopped in to check out the new motorcycles and spoke to co-owner Tim Sutherland. He and his brother David Sutherland own both dealerships as well as Hot Vic, a local aftermarket accessories company making bolt-on cosmetic and performance parts such as wheels, footboards, and exhaust tips exclusively for customizing Victory brand bikes.

According to Tim Sutherland, theirs is one of about 50 new Indian dealerships. There are roughly 400 Victory dealerships and he said he’d expect the Indian goal is to ultimately be about the same. Both Victory, and as of about two years ago, Indian Motorcycles, are owned by Polaris so hosting two makes in the same building is not the conflict of interest I originally thought it might be. In fact, Sutherland said, “We’ve been one of the top ten performing Victory dealerships.” A fact that likely has a lot to do with Coastal Victory being chosen to launch the reinvented Indians.

When I asked what was new about these Indians, the short answer was “everything.” Sutherland explained, “All of these new, 2014 models are brand new creations from the ground up. There are no subbed out parts or S&S [brand] engines. This is Indian’s first real production motorcycle since 1953. Indian is manufacturing every part themselves, including the new motors.”

There are three models available: the Chief Classic; Chief Vintage; and Chieftain, the first-ever Indian motorcycle to come equipped with a full fairing (hosting a full audio system with Bluetooth capability) and hard-shelled saddlebags. All three are powered by Indian’s new Thunder Stroke 111-cubic-inch motors and come standard with six-speed transmissions. “These things have 119(.2) foot-pounds of torque” Sutherland bragged, “When you twist the throttle they just take off.”

Anticipating buyer reservations because the technology is new, Indian is offering a five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. The styling was fashioned specifically after the 1948 Chief model. Sutherland explained, “Indian wanted a vintage look.” He showed me a page in the brochure that features the 1948 and 2014 models side-by-side and they do indeed look a lot alike and share specific design qualities.

There were a total of five Indians at the dealership. Three had “SOLD” signs on them and the other two were the store’s floor/demo models. “In the two months since the launch, they’ve (all of the new Indian dealerships combined) sold about 3,000 motorcycles, which I think is more than anticipated,” Sutherland told a customer. “They are committed to fulfilling all of the pre-orders before sending any more bikes so there is about a four-week wait at this point.”

Indian Motorcycles was founded in 1901 so the first 1,901 production bikes were numbered.

When I asked Sutherland how the pricing compared to Victory and Harley-Davidson he said, “In between. The base models start at $19,999, which is slightly more than a comparable Victory, but less than a comparable Harley.”

I actually tried to get a response from the local Harley-Davidson dealership about Indian coming to town, but a message to the dealership’s spokesperson was not immediately returned and owner Phil Schoonover told me he didn’t have any response that could be put in print. Understandably, he seemed less than enthused.

Unfortunately, I am still grounded following my back surgery so I had to decline a test ride. Once the doctors clear me I look forward to taking one for a spin and writing up a review. Until then, you can check them out for yourselves at Coastal Victory/Indian at the address above.

BENEFIT RIDE A SUCCESS

According to a release issued by Jenna Cox, Director of Communications and Public Information for McLeod Loris Seacoast, “More than 40 motorcycles recently participated in the McLeod Children’s Hospital 2nd Annual A Reason to Ride. The event raised $900 for McLeod Seacoast Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Little River.”

According to the press release, “A beautiful Saturday morning began with registration and breakfast at Myrtle Beach Harley Davidson before the scenic ride to McLeod Seacoast Rehabilitation Center in Little River. Along the way, the riders enjoyed BBQ and a flounder fish fry with live music and prizes at Big Daddy's Roadhouse.”

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