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Hollister shop sells iconic Indian bike on comeback trail



One local retailer is selling the new Indian bike Hollister PowerSports along San Felipe Road.


Indian is considered Americas first motorcycle company. The famous brand started in 1901 in Springfield, Mass., until it went bankrupt in 1953 made a name for itself in the region. Gilroy produced the bikes from 1999 to September 2003, when the business was scrapped.


Its been around for a while (Indian motorcycle). A lot of people are buying them now, said Cesar Flores, chairman of the Top Hatters Motorcycle Club that is based in San Benito County.


After production stopped in Gilroy, the investment firm Stellican Ltd. bought the brand and manufactured the motorcycles in North Carolina from 2006 to 2011. Gilroy officials tried to keep production of the bikes in the city at the time with the new owner, but to no avail.


Polaris bought the brand in 2011 and is selling 2014 models of the bike, including the Indian Chief Classic, Indian Chief Vintage and Indian Chieftain.


Weve had the line for about 90 days, said Rey Sotelo, general manager at Hollister PowerSports. We had our first three hit the floor about three weeks ago, and, basically, they were all presold.


PowerSports is one of 100 dealers nationwide committed to selling the new brand. It is expanding its showroom to accommodate the new bikes, Sotelo said.


In July, Sotelo and other managers were invited to Washington, D.C., by Polaris to preview the new bike for about a minute and a half, he said.


Sotelo was president of the Indian Motorcycles production company in Gilroy from 1999 to 2002.


Their (Polaris) first target was that they wanted us to put the showroom either in Gilroy or San Jose, he said.


But after a year of negotiations, Hollister PowerSports convinced Polaris to allow the Hollister business to sell the bike. Hollister PowerSports has been in the city since 2007.


The turning point was the rally this year, Sotelo said, referring to the Hollister motorcycle rally. It was revived this summer after a five-year hiatus.


This last year was huge for the store, he said.


Unlikely Gilroy presence


As to whether Gilroy might produce bikes again, Sotelo was skeptical. A spokeswoman for the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation, which helped bring the now-defunct shop to Gilroy in the late 1990s, said there were no plans to try to woo new production of the bike back to Gilroy.


I find it not probable, Sotelo said, noting that Victory, also sold by Polaris, and Indian bikes are now produced in Spirit Lake, Iowa. I dont see them doing anything out here. California is a tough state to do business in.


He said even with 800 employees in Gilroy and the amount of revenue the company produced for the city back in 2003, it was still difficult to operate.


My comments to them is, they did everything we didnt (about Polaris producing the new line), Sotelo said. They lived up to the brand. We tried to live up to the brand. We had issues with funding. From day one, it was a struggle.


He said Polaris has done the brand justice.


Ive been a Harley guy forever, Sotelo said. But this bike, I sold my Harley. The Indian brand is huge.


He said people are coming from all over to buy the bike and that next week, the store is going to a showroom in Los Angeles to showcase and sell the motorcycles. Currently, there is no dealer in L.A. He said people are coming as far away as Idaho to buy the bike at the store.


Right now, the brand is hot again. The motorcycle exceeds expectations, he said. If youre a motorcycle enthusiast or a rider, and you ride this bike, you will be amazed.


He said he expects that Hollister PowerSports will have a secondary business of Harley trade-ins for the new Indian bikes.


We dont think its going to be a bigger challenge to get people off the Harleys onto this bike, he said.


Still, it may be hard for some of the Harley enthusiasts in the county to switch out.


Were old Harley riders. Weve been riding Harleys forever, Flores said. Indians are pretty cool bikes.


Hollister PowerSports expects to do demonstrations of both Victory and Indian bikes at next summers motorcycle rally. Sotelo said the store will be open and will be participating in rally events.


Ive had a Harley registered for 40 years and, after riding a Victory, I sold my Harley, Sotelo said. I will also have an Indian. Theyve done a fantastic job.





*. Source


Edited by harleynot
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Yep Rey Sotelo...... did not realize he was out.



He had a few good comments actually.....that Indian is now doing everything he couldnt or should have done. They have done the brand proud. He also expects a HUGE secondary business of selling used HD bikes that people part with to get the new Indian.

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By Mike Willis


Two great ways to get attention at a biker bar 1) Ride up with Madonna. Naked. 2) Ride up on an Indian motorcycle. Fully clothed.


Actually, it doesn't matter who you're with or what you're wearing -- or if you're wearing anything at all-- when you're on an Indian. Because all attention will be focused on the big bike, perhaps the most talk-about addition to the motorcycle scene in a decade.


And if a recent test ride is an indication, the attention is warranted.


First, this is a b-i-g bike, built the way God intended motorcycles to be built 650 pounds for the Chief. There's a baby brother in the family With this year's introduction of the Scout model, the company is aiming for a slightly younger, somewhat less-affluent market. The Chief stickers at about $24,000; the Scout, about $19,000. Other models in lower price ranges are forthcoming.


Second, the new Indian retains as much of the flavor of the original as is possible -- remember, we've had over 40 years of government-mandated emission controls, crash restraints and other mumbo-jumbo since the last of the original Indians was built in the early 1950's.


And for the purists, the new model does have the ubiquitous 88 cubic inch S&S motor -- those Wisconsin-made powerplants seem to be the starting point for every new bike manufacturer on the planet; although Indian has its own engine under development, with plans to put it on next year's bikes. Indian makes its own frame, fenders and tanks, but there is a lot of aftermarket stuff on the stock bike.


For the traditionalists, there are the big, skirted fenders, the Indian-head running light on the front, that massive and comfortable fringed seat (by Corbin), and that throaty growl. Sure, there's stuff not made by Indian . . . but this bike looks enough like the real thing to turn heads on the freeway, at the gas station and just resting in the parking lot at the restaurant.


In fact, the two biggest drawbacks of this bike might be that 1) you can drag the running boards just running down to the Quik Sak and 2) everybody wants to talk to you about it. It's amazing the number of people who think it's an old bike that's been restored. Equally astounding is the number of people who claim who have owned one of the original Indians. Your people skills better be top-notch if you ride an Indian.


The major legitimate criticism of the bike, though, may be the vibration from that S&S engine yoked to a classic, rigid frame. At interstate speeds, the vibration is so strong that the images in the rear-view mirror are indistinguishable; the mirror is simply shaking too much to show what's behind you.


But Indian must be doing something right The latest incarnation of the company came to life in 1999, with a production run of 1,100 Limited Edition Chiefs. The bikes were shipped to a mere seven dealers across the US. As of Nov. 1, they were all sold. This year, Indian projects to sell 8,000 Chiefs at more than 150 dealerships throughout the US and Canada.


Despite the heft of the Chief, the bike has a 24' seat height, which makes a lower center of gravity which is turn makes the bike lift off its stand more like a Sportster than a Fatboy.


The rear fender has swing arm, brake and pulley completely enclosed. The pipes rap out a sweet sound thanks to the 2-into-1 Supertrap, tunable exhaust. The bike has a five-speed transmission driven by a primary belt drive with dry clutch, and a final belt drive. Four-pistol billet aluminum caliper disc brakes on both wheels stop the Chief not on a dime, but on a . . . dare I say it . . . Indian nickel.


First candidate for customizing is the restrictor plate. Yes, the bike comes with a factory-installed restrictor plate to keep the horsepower down to about 75. Slip out those plates, and horsepower jumps to 85-90. And get this -- removing the plates doesn't void the 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty . . . assuming, of course, you would be dumb enough to tell your dealer what you've done. The plate is behind the air cleaner and in front of the carburetor, so it's an easy do-it-yourself job.


Once you're finished talking to all your new-found friends in the parking lot, it's time to really impress them -- the Chief, all 650-pounds, fringe, big fenders and chrome of it -- will get rubber in second gear. Yup, buckaroos, you can put down about four or five feet of mark from that bad boy.


Strength of the bike? There would be two the smooth ride and the unique finish. The low seat, the heft of the bike, those wide handlebars -- all make for a traditional, big-bike feel.


The workmanship is top quality. The chrome work is quality. The wiring is run inside the handlebars to make it look clean and neat; it also means there are no wires to leave marks on the handlebars. The large fenders make for easy cleaning with a water hose. The finish on the motor is a gloss black powder coat, so it also washes very easily.


The Corbin seat is standard. The entire front end -- every nut, bolt and washer -- is chrome.


And as for that bad habit of dragging the floorboards -- hey, this ain't some road Ninja we're talking about here, anyway, it's a cruiser, for Pete's sake. That's like complaining that Cher is getting a little bulky around the middle. It misses the point. This thing, after all, is a boulevard cruiser.


According to the folks down at Dave's Place in Columbia, SC, (where our test bike originated) the typical buyer of the Chief is a previous Harley-Davidson owner making $60,000 and up yearly, who has already personalized one bike and doesn't really want to go through the process again.


A brief history Indian was founded in 1901 by bicycle racer George Hendee in Springfield, Mass. The "Iron Redskin" was the first Indian built. By 1911, Indian Motorcycle riders owned every American speed and distance record. In the same year, Indian riders took the first three places at the Isle of Man, the European circuit's most important race.


The original Scout was introduced in 1920, and quickly became the most popular model in the history of the brand. By 1927, so many police forces used Indian bikes that the company developed a special model for them, the Police Scout. In 1934, the first Chief was manufactured. It was in the 1940's that Indian Motorcycle introduced the skirted fenders to its Chief line, quickly becoming the most recognizable design characteristic of an Indian motorcycle. In the 1950's, though, the company fell on hard times.


Management confusion combined with changing demographic and transportation needs caused the company to close its doors in 1953. Since then, there have been stabs are reviving the name, but no bikes were actually produced because of tangled trademark questions.


An important question for anybody thinking of popping 20 G's for a motorcycle Is this company real? Will the Indian dealer be around long enough to handle my first oil change?


Here's the behind-the-scenes The Indiana Motorcycle Company is based in Gilroy, California, a partnership between the California Motorcycle Company and a group of Canadian investors. There are more than 400 employees in a state-of-the-art facility. The company has plans to build every part of the bike in-house.


The company has reportedly built up a dealer network in every state in the continental USA, with more signing on every day. The almost-mythical power of the Indian name draws a continuous stream of tire-kickers into the dealerships. A strong US economy means more cyber-millionaires and Benz-driving gynecologists are looking for the latest toy.


This, of course, isn't the first time somebody has tried to make a buck or two off the Indian name. But this time, there's not only a real bike, but real marketing muscle -- the CEO of the Indian Motorcycle Company is Henry Schrimberg, whose previous job was as president and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. They make a soft drink you might have heard of.


There are plenty of other heavyweights on-board as senior management, including the customary roster of Harvard MBA's. But perhaps the real credit for reviving the brand goes to Rey Sotelo, the founder and President of California Motorcycle Company, a successful, well-established, heavy-cruiser motorcycle maker in Gilroy. It was CMC that morphed into the new Indian. CMC is no longer; which reportedly ticked off more than one CMC dealer.



What all this means is that two diverse groups of buyers are seriously looking at the Indian -- the hard-core bikers, and the weekend dilettantes. Given enough time, and the power of marketing a well-known name, the new Indian will appeal to both groups.


Now leave me alone -- don't ask me any more questions, ok? I just want to ride this bike.


*Reprinted with permission from Speed magazine,

the official publication of the All-Harley Drag Racing Association.

Part of their "Evaluating American Iron" series.

Edited by harleynot
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Yep, I knew about this for some time now... but hesitated from mentioning it to this forum... wasn't sure if mentioning the "R.S." name would start a fire of some sort...


But HN has let the cat out of the bag...


R.S. is also displaying the PI Indian's here in Gilroy at a local Jeep/Chrysler dealer, R.S. has married into the Greenwood family who owns the Jeep/Chrysler dealership..

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I actually talked to a person that was in the know and was told R.S. really didn't have anything to do with the shit that went down, was kind of used as a leverage. who knows, water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. YMMV

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I'll bet Rey wishes he had sold his interest to Polaris when they were snooping around him in 2003...






instead of letting it go to The Steve's' !


I'm guessing he would not be managing a shop in Hollister......



Polaris Industries (PII), stock has risen roughly 900% over the last 5 years without any major corrections or price drops.

Edited by harleynot
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