Polaris Had a Good Quarter After Killing Victory Motorcycles

Indian is where the money’s at.

byEric Brandt|
Polaris Had a Good Quarter After Killing Victory Motorcycles

After a rather abrupt decision to terminate Victory Motorcycles in January, Polaris had a strong first quarter. The Minnesota-based powersports company has seen a total sales increase of 17 percent and a boost to its bottom line of 9.7 percent over last year. Total motorcycle sales for Polaris, however, is down 32 percent—and that's including the company's quirky Slingshot three-wheeler.

Despite sales of the Slingshot and doomed Victory bikes falling, Polaris’s other motorcycle brand Indian saw an 11-percent retail sales increase. The Indian boost comes in spite of a recent decrease in overall demand for big motorcycles. The rest of Polaris's profits came from its bread-and-butter off-road and snowmobile segments.

What’s unfortunate about the death of Victory isn’t just that some truly great American bikes are no longer on the market, but it seems to demonstrate that heritage is the only thing that sells in the world of American motorcycles. Heritage, branding, and “lifestyle” are significant factors behind every Harley purchase. In this writer's opinion, all the innovation in the world couldn’t have saved Victory because it’s an American motorcycle brand that started about a century too late for people to care.

The good news is, Polaris has done beautiful things with Indian since acquiring the brand in 2011. Despite a lack of variety in its cruiser-only lineup, Indian have a lot to offer. If the bike-maker can keep this balance of heritage and innovation going, it has a bright future in the American cruiser market.