Mark Wahlberg signs a deal to help produce and sell a line of Indian Motorcycle apparel items (largely T shirts).Check out the article as another celebrity finds another small niche to enter and lend name and celebrity status to. Will it impact Indian (owned by Polaris) apparel sales? Only time will tell. As a rider, and as a spokesperson he adds tremendous value so we will have to see how it impacts a non-performing segment of Indians accessories lineup now that the deal is done.
Like Mark Wahlberg, the Indian Motorcycle Company has lived a few lives. Now under Polaris Industries, Indian has rolled out a line built to compete with its long-standing rival Harley-Davidson, bringing back its historic Scout nameplate. The new machine has received accolades from the motorcycling press, but if Indian hopes to compete with Harley-Davidson, it needs visibility. And that’s where Mark Wahlberg comes in.
In his role as Scout ambassador, the actor’s playing exactly the sort of rider Indian’s hoping to attract: an everyman whose motorcycle offers him a necessary escape. He’s just Mark, a jeans-and–T-shirt guy who gets grief from his wife about his hobby, whose kids don’t want to learn the joy of a manual transmission, and whose bosses would prefer he kept himself solidly ensconced in an armor-plated Volvo. If the littlest Indian can offer him a respite from his stresses, shouldn’t it be enough for you, fellow harried dude hurtling headlong toward a certain age? On the occasion of the new Indian apparel line’s launch, we grabbed a couple minutes on the phone with Wahlberg to discuss his motorcycling history, his longstanding affection for the Indian brand, and why a Flash Gordon motorcycle is set to appear in this summer’s Ted 2.
What was the first motorcycle that captivated you as a kid?
Actually, a guy in the neighborhood had an Indian. Not a lot of people were able to afford things like that where we grew up. He obviously cherished it. It was something that he would pull out every weekend and clean and tinker with. You’d probably sit there waiting three hours before he’d actually fire it up and he’d only take it for a little ride and then come back and wipe it down again. I was always obsessed with bikes. A couple of kids in the neighborhood had dirt bikes here and there and I learned how to ride a bike early on. It’s frustrating now, because I’m trying to teach my sons how to ride a bike with gears, because they have these little automatic shifties—you don’t do anything but get on there, just rev it up. They see me doing all the kinds of tricks and stuff I can do on my bike, but they don’t wanna mess with the gears. I’ve gotta get ’em there.
What was your first bike?
The first bike that I’ve actually owned myself is the new Scout. I was given a bike and then it was taken away from me about 12 to 15 years ago. We won’t get into that, but yeah, the Scout is the first one that I’ve really owned. If I’m under contract or something, I’m not able to ride. Or if my wife is having a panic attack. But I’m figuring out cool ways to be able to ride. We just shot Daddy’s Home with Will Ferrell, and Indian plays a really crucial part in the movie. So we got to ride quite a bit. I was actually riding the last three months.
And you have a Flash Gordon-themed Scout in Ted 2, I hear.
Yeah, well, we get in some serious trouble with Flash and caused some serious damage to his vehicle, so as an apology, we give him a Scout. He’s not happy about his Flashmobile getting trashed by Ted.
So what got you back into motorcycling? Did you approach Indian?
No, they actually approached us about being a brand ambassador. I was like, “Are you kidding me? I’m very familiar with the brand, I love the bikes, and I love the new Scout, especially.” We did the pop-up launch in Sturgis and then said, “Well, how can we do some other things to bring awareness to the brand and to our relationship?” [With the clothing line,] if I can’t ride all the time, at least I can have something I can wear every day to represent the brand.
What influenced you? What’d you personally pull from when it came to the apparel line?
Well, we wanted to stay true to the history of the brand—it’s one of the great American brands—and also incorporate my own style. And they were completely open to it. Look, I’m a Boston guy. I had to make sure the colors were right. I couldn’t be rockin’ somebody else’s colors. I’m very much a jeans-and-t-shirt guy anyway. My wife and my girls gave me a hard time, so we made sure we made some cool shirts for girls.
One thing that happens with motorcycles is that you get one, then you think, “Man, I really want a dirt bike. I really want an old Aspencade.” It’s easy to turn into a collector because they’re cheap and they don’t take up much space. Is there anything else you have your eye on?
We went to the launch in Sturgis and all the Indians are amazing. The Chief—with the saddlebags—I think, “Man, I could bring all this stuff. We could go to the beach and bring a basket and have a picnic!” So yes, I do get into that. But the great thing about the Scout is that it seats one. I can just get out there and bomb around. We live in a gated community, so my sons can ride their dirtbikes and we can ride together, which is a lot of fun. Or I can just go bomb down Mulholland and ride the canyons on a Sunday morning when there’s no traffic. It’s nice to get away. It’s like no matter how fast you’re going, your thoughts are very slow and precise.
Pick a classic motorcycle movie: Easy Rider or On Any Sunday? And why?
Oh man, I’d have to say Easy Rider. I mean, Jack [Nicholson] and Dennis Hopper. The performances. It’s one of those movies where—I’ve got SportsCenter on and it’s muted—but I’m gonna go start flipping through the movie channels to see if it’s on. If I ever catch it when it’s on, I end up watching it through right to the end