Victory is in the middle of a cultural shift, and you can see the company’s first changes in their 2016 lineup, although they’re minor to start with.
Earlier this year, Victory bought Brammo’s electric motorcycle business, released their own version of the Empulse RR electric superbike, built a one-off custom to race Pikes Peak, raced their electric bike at the Isle of Man and announced the company was going to shift towards building sportier motorcycles.
But, there’s one problem. With the exception of the Empulse TT battery bike, there aren’t any sporty bikes in the Victory lineup: It’s all cruisers, all the time.
This year, three of the those cruisers get a change that doesn’t seem that significant, but shows Victory is definitely thinking towards the future. Three of their cruisers — the Judge, Hammer S and Gunner — are all getting their footpegs moved backwards. It’s not a huge deal, but anyone who’s ridden a cruiser with forward controls should realize that setup has serious limitations.
Mid-controls have limitations of their own, particularly with legroom, but they allow for sportier riding, and can also be quite more comfortable for the rider, as they allow for better weight distribution.
You’ll notice the title image, of a Victory Gunner, shows the pegs haven’t moved back that far. That’s because, thanks to the slammed design of modern cruisers, there wouldn’t be enough space for a rider to fold their legs. However, it’s an improvement.
The question is — how far will Victory go? Moving footpegs, or changing wheels, can mildly improve a motorcycle’s performance, but they can never address an underlying problem of weight and chassis design. If Victory is really serious about building sportier machines, they’ll need to prove it by bringing bikes to market that fit that description.
For 2016, the Vegas 8-Ball, Vegas, Hammer 8-Ball, Hammer S, Judge, Gunner and High-Ball cruisers return to the Victory lineup, along with the Cross Country Tour and Vision tourers and Cross Country and Magnum baggers. Several of the models see minor tweaks like paint changes or new wheels.
If they’re serious about upgrading their lineup at Victory, a flat track-styled naked bike would be a good start, and it seems to be the direction they might have been heading with #Project156. If they can follow up on that project’s hype with a real-world motorcycle you can purchase at your dealer, then you’ll know Victory is serious about moving forward. If they continue to crank out heavy cruisers like their made-in-America competition, you’ll know that talk is just that — talk.
But remember, change takes time, so if you don’t see the next Great American Sportbike in the next few weeks, keep calm.
You can see the full details of Victory’s lineup changes here.