Demand for an American-made alternative to Harley-Davidson continues to run hot

Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) might not have anything to worry about yet from Indian Motorcycle, but those objects in its rearview mirror are getting closer than they appear. The big bike rival from Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII) crossed over into double-digit market share in September, and there doesn’t appear to be many obstacles in its way to continue gaining ground on the industry leader.

A patch of rough pavement

There’s no doubt the U.S. motorcycle market is in decline, something both Harley-Davidson and Polaris agree on. But whereas Harley’s sales are stuck in a continuous downward spiral, Polaris has been able to notch substantial sales growth quarter after quarter.

U.S. sales for Harley-Davidson tumbled 8% in the third quarter, the 11th quarter out of the past 12 they’ve fallen (and the one quarter it did gain was a negligible 33 more bikes in the period than it did the year before).

In contrast, Polaris saw Indian motorcycle retail sales rise 16% over the year-ago period. Indian has not had a single quarter where sales didn’t rise by at least double-digit percentages since Polaris reintroduced the motorcycle after buying the Indian brand out of bankruptcy in 2011 (the first bikes were released for the 2014 model year).

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