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Victory Motorcycles is a motorcycle manufacturer based in Minnesotamarker, United States, which began production of its vehicles in 1998. Its parent company, Polaris Industries, created the firm following the modern success of Harley-Davidson. Victory's motorcycles are designed to compete directly with Harley and similar American-style motorcycle brands, with V-twin engines and touring, sport-touring, and cruiser configurations. The first Victory, the V92C, was announced in 1997 and began selling in 1998. Victory has been modestly profitable since 2002.

Background

Polaris, a Minnesota company with sales of approximately $1.8 billion per year, was one of the earliest manufacturers of snowmobiles. Polaris also manufactures ATVs and, until recently, personal watercraft. Seeking to diversify their product line, and observing the huge sales enjoyed by Harley-Davidson and other manufacturers, the company decided to produce a large motorcycle built entirely in the United States.

Victory vehicles follow the larger (and louder) American style of motorcycle defined by Harley-Davidson, rather than the more racing-inspired designs of Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or the smaller European styles of Triumph Motorcycles and BMW.

Models

V92C

The first model, the V92C, was debuted at Planet Hollywood in the Mall of Americamarker by Al Unser in 1997. Production began in late 1998, and the first official model year was 1999. At the V92C was the largest production engine available at the time, and sparked a race among motorcycle manufacturers to build bigger and bigger engines. All components were manufactured in Minnesota and Iowa except the Brembo brakes and the British-made electronic fuel injection system. Victory engines debuted with five-speed transmissions (later six), single overhead cams, dual connecting rods, hydraulic lifters, and fuel injection; most fuel-injection components are standard GM parts. The V92C engine was easily tuned by the owner.

The 92CI Victory engine carries six quarts of oil in the sump, about the same as most automobiles. This makes it unlikely the engine will be damaged by low oil, but also makes it dimensionally larger than other motorcycle engines, such as Harley-Davidson, which carry oil in tanks. The sheer volume of oil can also impede engine performance in a racing environment. Top speed is about at 5,500 rpm; the ECM contains a rev limiter which can be overridden by reprogramming the EPROM. The Victory engine is air-cooled, and also circulates crankcase oil through a cooler mounted between the front frame downtubes. A section of the rear swingarm can be removed to change the drive belt or the rear wheel.

The motorcycle's designers had approached several European manufacturers, particularly Cosworth, about designing and producing the engine, but ultimately decided to design and build it in Osceola, Wisconsin. Several variations on engine-frame geometry were tried until the best configuration was found, with the crankshaft geometrically aligned with the axles, a concept developed by Vincent Racing in the late 1950s. The V92C weighed about the same as a Harley, approximately . The original V92C engine produced about at the wheel; with high-performance cams and pistons, this could be boosted to and torque of .

1999 Victory motorcycles were priced at approximately $12,000, somewhat less than the comparable Harley-Davidson, but considerably more than comparable Japanese bikes. Reviewers did not find the V92C, with its functional styling and square cylinders, particularly attractive; one magazine said it "looked like a self-propelled compressor".In its advertising Polaris emphasized the bike's American manufacture, not its performance, which was surprisingly nimble for such a large motorcycle. Many buyers wondered whether Victory would survive, and adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude. Excelsior-Henderson had recently gone into bankruptcy, but there remained stiff competition from Harley and other manufacturers, such as Titan, which produced expensive cruisers based on the Harley design, using S&S engines. Indian Motorcycles of Gilroy, CA were also selling well using modified S&S engines. Japanese producers, Yamaha in particular, soon began producing comparable motorcycles at much lower prices, and Harley-Davidson introduced the V-Rod.

Victory had a distinct advantage over Titan, Indian and Excelsior-Henderson: its parent company, Polaris, had deep pockets and long experience in manufacturing recreational vehicles. Polaris hoped to tap into the Harley market but was aware Victory's sales might remain flat no matter how many they made. There were rarely more than 25 employees on the payroll, and initial production runs were about 2,500 units a year. Both Indian and Excelsior-Henderson built new factories based on unrealistic sales projections (Excelsior-Henderson tooled up to produce 20,000 motorcycles per year), and ultimately went into bankruptcy.

Dealers came and went because the Victory alone could not support a dealership. The engine covers were sandcastings, and chrome tended to flake off. In 2002, the Freedom Engine was introduced. It had the same dimensions as the old engine but better power output, and with rounded cylinders and smaller oil cooler it was much more attractive visually. The V92C became known as the Classic Cruiser, and was phased out of the model lineup after the 2003 model year, but remains a favorite with Victory riders. There was also a Special Edition version featuring special upgrades in 2000 and 2001 model years, and Deluxe models for several years.



V92SC SportCruiser

Offered in 2000 and 2001, the V92SC SportCruiser offered higher ground clearance, adjustable via a simple 2-position bolt setup on the frame under the seat. It met a weaker than expected market, and did not sell well.

V92TC Touring Cruiser

Offered from 2002 through 2006, the TC featured a longer swingarm, re-designed seats, and the new Freedom Engine. The relatively tall seat height and roomy ergonomics made the bike ideal for larger riders. The Freedom Engine displaced , but put out significantly more power and torque than the original engine. The 2002 model and later TC also accepted the big-bore kit, which increased torque further with the addition of upgraded exhaust. Later models featured rubber mounted handlebars and revised suspension settings. Deluxe versions (V92TCD) were also available with extra features popular at the time. With the deletion of the Touring Cruiser at the end of the 2006 model year, the last of the original V92 motorcycles was finally retired from the lineup.

Vegas

In 2003, Victory introduced the Vegas, a more visually attractive motorcycle than its predecessors. The Vegas' styling guidelines came from Arlen and Cory Ness, noted custom bike builders, and offered a totally new chassis design. The Freedom engine carried forward from the TC, but the rest of the bike incorporated new features not seen on previous Victorys. The Vegas debuted with the 92ci engine and 5-speed transmission, but was upgraded to a engine and 6-speed transmission for the 2006 model year.

Kingpin/Kingpin Deluxe/Kingpin Tour

Following on the success of the Vegas, the Kingpin was released in 2004. Victory took advantage of the greater tuning capacity of cartridge forks, and revised both front and rear spring rates and damping to improve ride quality. The Kingpin Deluxe added luxury items to attract riders looking for more creature comforts. The Kingpin and Kingpin Deluxe began with the engine and 5-speed transmission, but were upgraded to the engine and 6-speed transmission for the 2006 model year. For 2007 the Kingpin Tour was added, which was a Deluxe outfitted with an integrated tour pack or trunk. The Kingpin Tour was added when the Touring Cruiser was dropped from the lineup.

Hammer

The Hammer, introduced in 2005, was based on the Vegas platform but was engineered to accept one of the largest tires available at the time, a Dunlop 250 mm tire on an rim. The Hammer incorporated a engine, 6-speed overdrive transmission, Brembo disk brakes, and performance inspired inverted forks. In 2005, the Hammer S was also added to the line-up with highline suspension components and special paint.

Vegas 8-Ball

Based on the Vegas platform, the 8-Ball was powdercoated in black where the Vegas had been chromed. It debuted with the engine, and was upgraded to in 2006. It is currently the only 100 cubic inches engine in Victory's lineup that still uses the 5-speed transmission. It is also the least expensive Victory model.

Kingpin 8-Ball

The Kingpin 8-Ball is based upon the Kingpin platform, and like the Vegas 8-Ball is black, with black highlights in place of the chrome highlights of the standard Kingpin Model. It carries the motor, and has a 5 speed gearbox. It is considered to be a "blank canvas" and thus is popular with motorcycle customisers.

Vegas Jackpot

Debuting in 2006, the Jackpot is, in Victory's own words, an "extreme custom." It features the Freedom V-Twin engine and 6-speed transmission, a 250 mm rear tire, a color-matched frame and extensive custom styling with bold paint schemes. It is designed to be Victory's top of the line custom.

Ness Signature Series

Famed motorcycle customizer Arlen Ness and his son Cory Ness teamed with Victory in 2003 to create a limited edition model based on the Vegas. The bikes they developed used many Ness aftermarket billet aluminum accessories, as well as custom paint schemes and their signatures on the side panels. In 2005, they added the Kingpin to the lineup. In 2006, the Jackpot was the basis for the Ness Signature Series. It featured many chrome accessories, a custom seat built by Danny Gray, custom billet aluminum wheels, and the signatures of Arlen and Cory Ness on the side panels. For 2007, the Ness Signature Series is based on the Jackpot.

Vision Street and Vision Tour

Introduced in February 2007 as additions to the 2008 line up, the Vision is a touring configuration. It comes in two versions, the Street, which includes a full fairing and hard saddle bags; and the Tour, which also has a hard trunk. The Vision offers a low seat height and a wide range of luxury electronics.

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