A press release from Victory Motorcycles seems to say the company is moving towards sportier motorcycles, diversifying from their current cruiser-centric lineup.
Victory’s made a few seemingly non-related announcements in recent months that hinted at this move. First, they announced they were sponsoring a drag racing team in the NHRA series. Then, more recently, they announced their plans to race an electric bike at the Isle of Man TT. And to top it all, they also plan to build a flat tracker to challenge the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (a.k.a. #Project156).
This week, Victory released more video of #Project156, and some photos of the motor (see those photos below). But the most interesting part of the press release wasn’t the pictures ….
“As we inch closer to the race event in June (Pikes Peak – Ed.), there will be more news and views coming. Our Victory Motorcycles Racing programs including the NHRA team, and the recently announced Isle of Man TT racing effort all are indicative of a new energy and direction for the brand. We are already seeing significant attention from new audiences … “
Victory is saying things are about to change, and the company is interested in sportier bikes. Here at CMG, we suspected that, but Victory is actually saying it now, which leads us to…
The CMG Slant
Since the first Victory motorcycles hit showroom floors in 1998, the brand has been all about building a better cruiser. Unfortunately, the world has yet to beat a path to their door. Although they’ve got thousands of happy customers, and are generally seen as building a reliable, powerful motorcycle, Victory has never had the brand cachet to better Harley-Davidson, the 800-lb gorilla of cruiser sales.
Put it this way: You never saw anyone riding a Victory on Sons of Anarchy.
Victory’s parent company, Polaris, seems to have realized this, and made a very clever move in 2011, buying the Indian marque. Suddenly, Polaris had a motorcycle brand that combined their existing technical expertise with decades of American motorcycling history, leaving onlookers wondering what would happen to Victory.
It seems Victory is finally going to get around to building the next Great American Sportbike, or at least make the next Great American Sporty Bike.
The only made-in-the-USA sportbikes these days are electric, now that Erik Buell Racing is on the ropes.
And why bother with sportbikes with internal combustion engines when Ducati, BMW, Triumph, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Aprilia, MV Agusta and more are in that market already? No major manufacturer has an electric sportbike on the market; Victory would be the first. If they’re aggressive, they could even sell it before the Harley-Davidson Livewire hits showroom floors.
Victory’s going to compete in that market, it appears, but it also seems they are considering building a sporty flat-tracker – a bike that combines Americana with actual performance, unlike the current crop of chromed barges on the highways.
Victory’s approach to this company turnaround is very smart. Instead of going the EBR route and putting a team into World Superbike or similar competition at huge costs, Victory is targeting niche racing events that still get lots of coverage and carry prestige. It would be foolhardy to enter an untested machine in superbike competition, but putting a Brammo-derived battery bike into the IOMTT’s electric race? Genius.
The same goes for Pikes Peak. While Pikes Peak has changed dramatically over the last few years, it’s still one of the world’s classic motorcycle races, with history dating back to the early days of the last century. Today, it remains a high point in the US racing season, and it’s right in Victory’s back yard, relatively speaking.
The NHRA team is also a smart move. If you want US customers to buy your motorcycle, you need to convince them it’s as American as baseball and the Hollister Riot. Drag racing is the perfect venue to do that, particularly if you have a husband-and-wife team that attracts the female demographic.
Victory also plans to have female roadracer Shelina Moreda race their bike at the Bonneville salt flats this summer, we’ve heard.
As long as Victory stays the course and doesn’t pull back (see: Harley-Davidson/Buell), we could be in for a turnaround in the US motorcycle scene, one that many riders have been wanting for years. Let’s hope it works out.
Check out all the pics that go with this story! Click on the main sized pic to transition to the next or just press play to show in a slideshow.