Indian Motorcycle, an iconic American brand founded more than a century ago, is roaring into Colorado Springs.
Pikes Peak Indian Motorcycle, a full-service, family owned dealership that will sell and service new Indian bikes, is moving into the former Zio’s Italian Kitchen restaurant building at 6650 Corporate Drive, southwest of Interstate 25 and Woodmen Road on the northwest side.
The dealership — which also will market helmets, T-shirts and leather jackets, sell used motorcycles from trade-ins and service other makes — expects to open in late August, although its grand opening is targeted for Labor Day, said co-owner Lorenzo Ceballos. A retired, 30-year mining executive who helped develop gold and silver mines around the world, Ceballos now works as an industry consultant.
He and his wife, Veda, and son, Tito, will own the dealership; Tito will serve as general manager, while a daughter, Rochelle, also will work for the business.
The Ceballoses are motorcycle enthusiasts, Lorenzo Ceballos said. He and his wife ride 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year on their bikes, Ceballos said. Their son, meanwhile, attended the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Arizona, became a certified motorcycle technician and has worked in management at motorcycle dealerships.
“I’ve just always loved motorcycles,” Ceballos said. “We would rather jump on a motorcycle and ride cross country than jump on a plane. You can see the countryside. We’re definitely not city riders. As soon as we can get out in the country and ride the back roads and enjoy the freshness of the colors, whatever the state has to offer, it’s just neat.”
Ceballos, who’s originally from Basalt, said he researched Colorado Springs as a landing spot for a dealership. The area’s population of more than 700,000 people, solid household incomes and presence of several military installations all were appealing for motorcycle sales, he said.
The former Zio’s building, meanwhile, has strong visibility from Interstate 25, said John Schinkel, a broker with Re/Max Real Estate Group in Colorado Springs who worked with Ceballos on leasing the property.
In addition to sales and service, Ceballos said he hopes to turn the dealership into a gathering spot for riders and other people who might want to stop by; the dealership will include a cellphone charging station, coffee and other amenities. There’s at least one Indian Motorcycle riding group in southern Colorado, according to Facebook posts.
When he looked to bring a bike dealership to town, Ceballos said there already was a Harley-Davidson outlet — arguably the nation’s best known motorcycle name — about a mile to the south on Nevada Avenue. As a result, he turned to Indian, which he believes is “building a rock-solid motorcycle.”
“If you put them side-by-side with a Harley, they’re very competitive,” he said. “It’s just as good of a motorcycle as a Harley and it’s American made. I like that.”
Indian Motorcycle is one of the nation’s more storied — and sometimes troubled — industry names and comes to Colorado Springs at a time when Indian and Harley-Davidson are trying to build and retain ridership.
The Indian brand was started in 1901 by a bicycle manufacturer who launched gasoline engine-powered bikes as a way to pace bicycle races, according to the Indian Motorcycle website. A factory was built that year in Massachusetts and the first Indian Motorcycle was sold to a retail customer the following year, the website says.
Over many years, motorcycle technology improved and the Indian brand became popular for its styling and performance. But Indian went through several ownership changes over the years, lost market share to Harley-Davidson (founded in 1903) and other competitors and ceased production in 1953.
Various attempts to revive Indian Motorcycle were made in the 1960s and 1970s. The brand resurfaced in the 1990s, yet a company holding its rights went bankrupt in 2003 and production ceased again, according to Indian’s website.
In 2011, Minnesota-based Polaris Industries, which makes snowmobiles, ATVs and other off-road vehicles, purchased Indian Motorcycle and has successfully resurrected the brand and introduced new models.
Still, Indian and Harley-Davidson face challenges.
A Popular Mechanics story in 2018 described Harley as losing its aging, core group of highway-riding bikers, while younger people wanted cheaper and sportier bikes. This week, Harley-Davidson’s corporate earnings statement showed the Milwaukee-based company saw second-quarter profits fall 20% on a year-over-year basis, while sales slid 6%, according to national news stories.
In its story last year, Popular Mechanics also said that Indian Motorcycle, backed by Polaris, had the ability to build bikes for several different types of riders; in 2018, Indian introduced its FTR-1200 models designed to appeal to street and city riders.
Still, Polaris reported this week said that its second-quarter Indian retail sales fell on a percentage basis by “high-single digits,” even as sales were “outperforming the industry and gaining share in an extremely challenging market.”