Victory Motorcycles is a
motorcycle manufacturer based in Minnesota, 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.
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
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
model, the V92C, was debuted at Planet
Hollywood in the Mall of America 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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.