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Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Dudley, Dec 10, 2013.
Secondly, were you, my wife and I talking about Excelsior-Hendersons?
That was me.
Hats off to you for keeping all those different riding skills in-check. I can't imagine getting one of the lower-skilled riders at the back of a large group like that and having them smack into one of the bikes in front of them. The mix of skills in those groups always scares me (I've heard rumors that Harley stopped doing group tests for that very reason).
Sixteen bikes IIRC? That's a bunch for any group, much less a test ride on unfamiliar bikes. That's why I went for a bike as far to the front as possible.
I was on a BMW group test ride couple of years ago at the "color in the catskills" gathering at Hunter Mt. NY, and it was the leader who had the problem. Went off the road in a curve, wound up breaking a leg. Soon as help arrived, we went on alone without him.
Damn shame how the Hanlon brothers ran E-H into the ground. I'm sure Polaris-Indian will do much better.
Excelsior Henderson failed because it didn't have enough money to keep it afloat through the first 3-5 years of production. The only reason Victory survived was the deep pockets of Polaris.
Lots of people second-guessed the decisions made by the Hanlons but, Indian followed the alternate business formulas that people said they should have used and those incarnations of Indian folded up too.
I've posted this a dozen times--here and elsewhere: those Super Xs were clean-sheet designs with mass production designed-in from the very first bikes. You can't get there without HUGE investments in design and manufacturing. That's exactly what they did and its reflected in how the final products turned out.
There isn't an unfinished detail anywhere on the bikes--unlike Harley who still uses crude-looking, common hardware-store-style fasteners all over their bikes. Even the case screws had EH punched into them. Parked next to a Fatboy of similar vintage, the Super X was waaayyy better finished and it was reflected in a retail price that was $3-4K above the Fatboy.
Even Big Dog Motorcycles folded and all they had to do was assemble Harley clones out of catalog parts. It's a tough market to break into.
Excelsior Henderson failed because the Hanlon brothers didn't know how to run a business. They mismanaged funding received from investors. Some critics point to their expensive building with a state-of-the-art factory and lavish offices. They started production late and operating costs were higher than planned. The Hanlons needed another round of financing but nobody was foolish enough to fund them.
Excelsior Henderson sold only 2000 bikes. Many folks didn't like the styling or were deterred by the small dealer base.
I spent several hours at the Indian booth at the Long Beach show. Not so much for the new Indians, but because they had the hottest booth babes in period outfits at the whole show. Oh, an an nice display of of vintage Indians as well
The building was a requirement from the State of Minnesota as they want to see brick and mortar for the 7 million investment they made into the company.
That money, most likely, would have made the difference. I live about a 20 minute ride from Belle Plain and it is a beautiful building. It is still a real sore spot as there are a lot of large investors in this area.
Excelsior Henderson finally got production underway and they were simply out of operating capital to keep them running. They were nearly broke when production started. They produced 1999 models for about 3-4 months, then switched to 2000 models. In total, I think they were in production for about 9 months. IIRC: they shut down production just before Christmas 1999 and laid off dozens of family and friends--out of cash to pay them and nothing to keep the lights on. The bikes were done, designed, in production and everything was in place. They did what they said they would do. They just could not afford to keep it going once the development was done.
I was watching the daily pulse of the company because I bought chassis 1525 something like 10 days before the bankruptcy hearing (August 2000).
As for the styling, I think that had little to do with it (and I posted this on the web more than 10 years ago):
Is the building in use now ? How much of a bath did the state take on their investment ?
They changed the name of the street and everything. If it weren't such a nice building, they probably would have bulldozed it just to erase the memory. It's now the home of Cambria Countertops:
I hope to see some of you inmates at the Indian/Victory demo site at the IMS show in Phoenix Jan 25 and 26.
I got to spend quite a few miles on the new Indians and I agree with everything he says. If I had room in my garage...