The iconic, desirable and historic riding culture has risen from hibernation. Wow, that’s a big opening line, I better expand. BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Moto Guzzi, Honda, Yamaha – I’m not trying to name all the bike manufacturers I know – Harley Davidson and Indian. What do all of these have in common? They are now all producing new motorcycles with the primary aim to portray this retro styling which is quickly finding itself back at the forefront of modern pop-culture. The mantle no longer seems to sit with the most technologically advanced motorcycle, yet the one that fits in with the classic portrayal of cafe racer culture. I’m not making this up, I promise, here are but a few examples; BMW R Nine T cafe racer, Ducati Scrambler cafe racer, Triumph’s modern classics, Moto Guzzi V7 bobber, Honda CB1100 and Yamaha XSR 900. Leather jackets, Open face helmets, Brown tanned goggles are challenging stock control assistants at motorcycle stores across the globe.
I’ve left the American big dogs last but by no means least. Harley Davidson and Indian. In an almost completely paradoxical turn of events, we are able to witness a carbon-copy of the rivalry that was at the forefront of every bike owners conscious thought almost one hundred years ago. Since Indian won its last national race in 1953 and promptly went out of business, Harley Davidson has been sitting pretty on their pedestal of 2-wheeled dominance.
All until 7th November 2017, where Indian revealed their custom Scout FTR1200 street-legal flat track concept which has been the talking point from the EICMA in Milan. What’s the chance of a brand new, mechanically bulletproof motorcycle, trying to replicate the style of a flat track racer that appeared in the oldest, longest-running and most traditional motorcycle racing series tracking back to the early 1900’s. High actually. This unique concept, if brought to the public domain, could have the team at Harley Davidson quaking in their brown, leather boots. It has certainly impressed the whole team at BC.
Outside of the street-legal scene, flat-track racing is in the DNA of both companies and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this culture become available for common folk like myself. I’m not going to hide any excitement around this. The Indian Scout returned to flat track racing in 2014 in South Dakota and it looks like they mean business. Harley Davidson is never going to be far away from trouble where competitive racing is concerned and their new XG750R looks more than equipped for the job.
Where did this rivalry begin? Well, I must confess I was glued to the tv series ‘Harley and the Davidsons’. It had me fixated on the competitiveness, particularly the ongoing battle between motorcycle manufacturers and how they were trying to take gold both on the track and on the sales podium. I won’t give the storyline away but Indian didn’t come across most popular. A potential biased plot, potentially suggested by the title. But I’ll let you speculate that one (and please watch it!). The motorcycles produced for the series were made in South Africa to replicate the originals and what an awesome job Mr Alex Wheeler did.
Our previous blog 1 Down Under, 4 Up touched upon this iconic mechanical fist fight as we were lucky to joust the 2016 production line of both companies and have slight fun in doing so – massive understatement. It was evident to see how great these American companies have become world widely loved and adored. I must say, the Indian Scout looked the part.
Harley Davidson doubles the second highest selling motorcycle manufacturer in the U.S, Honda. And with the passion, loyalty and obsession customers have toward HD, I can’t see this trend fluctuating much. In which, I’m actually glad. I do, however, hope that our ambition with BC can provide an opportunity for all these great manufacturers to ride side by side as they’ve done for the last one hundred years.
“Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” Bob Tasca of Tasca Ford of Providence, 1960.