Victory’s sporting future
American firm pins future on meeting sporty riders’ needs
Victory are about to embark on massive expansion as they attempt to become a more sporty brand, with both performance roadsters and even full-on sportsbikes being part of the plan.
The American firm entered this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) with Project 156, a large-capacity V-twin prototype. The bike was co-designed by Roland Sands Design, which made the chassis and minimal bodywork.
All of this was just two weeks after Northern Ireland’s Lee Johnston finished third in the Isle of Man TT Zero electric race on a Victory, lapping at an average speed of 110mph over the 37.73-mile course.
Both road racing attempts – along with their National Hotrod Racing Association drag bike – are part of a huge effort to raise the profile of Victory as the home of ‘American Performance’. The firm’s heritage brand, Indian, is tasked with taking the fight to Harley-Davidson, while Victory concentrates on performance.
Head of Product for Indian and Victory, Gary Gray, told MCN: “We are still going to be a part of the cruiser and touring market with Victory, because it’s a huge potential market and very, very important to us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t change the way we do things in these segments, and you will see the bikes are going to become more aggressive in terms of performance and styling, and we will move into more sporting segments.
“Whatever changes we make to the future of the Victory brand will work alongside Indian and we will ensure we make small, legitimate, steps.”
With fellow American performance brand Erik Buell Racing (EBR), in financial upheaval, did Polaris consider a buy-out? “Not really,” says Gray. “We need to build our own bikes, and that’s more of a priority for us. Buell has done some really cool stuff over the years and I am sure Erik Buell is working hard to get EBR back up and running again.”
While Victory remain adamant the Project 156 is nothing more than an engineering prototype, MCN insiders suggest work is underway to produce sporty production bikes. But it may not be as simple as just producing a 156 offspring. It’s likely that this engine – believed to be around 1200cc, and delivering close to 170bhp – will become the top-end performance engine in a wide variety of Victorys.
Rod Krois, General Manager of Victory, told MCN: “Project 156 is a concept bike we will learn from. It makes us better as a company and we can then apply those lessons to commercialisation for the future. We have the Indian brand to look after the classic and heritage side of the market, but we want Victory to be about ‘American Performance’ and that’s how the brand is going to develop from here.”
MCN’s sources suggest that a road derivative is less than two years from production, with several bikes benefitting from the engine technology used in Project 156.
STILL A MOUNTAIN TO CLIMB
The weekend’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb ended in disappointment for Victory’s Project 156 team, as the bike failed to make it to the end of the course after a crash.
Rider Don Canet crashed in an early section of the lower parts of the course and although he was able to restart and get back on the bike, he wasn’t able to finish the course.
It was a bitter blow to the team but Victory’s Gary Gray said: “That’s racing. We have proved we can be competitive with a prototype bike and I would really like us to be back here next year. The decision to take part in the race this year was made at a late stage and the work needed to be done to get here was crazy.
“I really want us to be back next year, and we will make a decision on that sometime in the next few weeks.”
And Don’t forget about Brammo...
Polaris Industries (the massive, cash-rich company that owns Victory and Indian) bought Brammo Motorcycles in January this year, and while little has been confirmed about the firm’s plans for Brammo technology, we expect a Victory branded electric bike soon.
All of this ties in with the company’s decision to go racing at the Isle of Man TT this year with a heavily re-engineered Brammo race bike, which was fast enough to take third place on the SES TT Zero podium.
Polaris and Victory remain silent about their plans, but MCN uncovered patents for hybrid petrol/electric Victory Vision cruisers at least two years ago, and it seems inconceivable that their recent electric activity won’t result in production bikes by the end of 2016 as they pursue a new brand direction.