Happy Birthday, Victory!
U.S. brand Victory Motorcycles turned 18 years old on the 4th of July and says it is “only just getting on the throttle.”.
“We’ve let rip this past year,” said Gary Gray, director of motorcycle product. “This past month we have had three of our prototype motorcycles on the podiums of two of the world’s toughest road races – the Isle of Man TT and Pikes Peak – and those wins are driving everyone in our design and engineering teams forward… we’re not slowing down.”
To celebrate, Victory has shared what it feels are 18 milestone moments of the past 18 years:
MILESTONE MOMENT No.1
The first Victory model was the V92C, first shown in 1997 at Planet Hollywood in the Mall of America and was unveiled by the American race car driver and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. The theme of ‘American muscle’ that continues to this day started all the way back then. The V92C went on sale in 1998 and was phased out of the line-up in 2003.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.2
In 2002, Victory created the Freedom engine (100 cu in) – the forerunner of the Freedom 106 engine that powers many of Victory’s models today. It had the same dimensions as the engine in the V92C but a higher power output, rounded cylinders and smaller oil cooler. The Freedom engine was used in a new model called the V92TC Touring Cruiser that sold until 2006.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.3
A year after the Freedom 106 was announced came the first Victory model to have the look and visuals of the line-up we see today: the Vegas. This was designed by Victory designer Michael Song, who is still with the firm. This also marked the start of Victory’s ‘custom cruiser’ line-up.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.4
Victory turns 5 years old in 2003 and the manufacturer forms a relationship with Arlen Ness and his son Cory Ness, a relationship that continues to this day. Together they create a limited-edition model based on the Vegas but with aftermarket parts manufactured by Ness, such as billet aluminium accessories, custom paint schemes and their signatures painted on the side panels.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.5
In 2004, a year after the Vegas, comes Victory’s second cruiser: the Kingpin. A Kingpin Deluxe was launched as well, having some luxury items to attract riders looking for more comfort. A Kingpin Tour model was added to the line-up when the V92TC (Touring Cruiser) was phased out in 2006.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.6
By 2005, the Vegas and Kingpin have been selling well and Victory adds a third cruiser to the line-up called the Hammer. This goes on to be one of the best-selling cruisers and becomes a popular choice for owners to customize, particularly in Europe. A sportier Hammer S model is also released.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.7
In 2006, Victory brings out the Vegas Jackpot, an “extreme version of the Vegas” with a 250mm rear tire, a color-matched frame and “bold” paint schemes. It is designed to be Victory’s top-of-the-line cruiser.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.8
In February 2007, Victory makes a big announcement about a model that moves the brand further into the touring sector. The Vision is a futuristic looking machine, again designed by Michael Song, and has a full fairing and hard saddlebags, with a low seat height and a wide range of electronics.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.9
In 2010, Victory takes another step forward by releasing two hard-baggers: the Cross Country and the Cross Roads. Both have a handlebar-mounted fairing, 21 gallons of cargo capacity, 4.7 inches of suspension travel, floorboards, cruise control and an MP3-compatible sound system. In 2016, the Swiss Endurance rider Urs “Grizzly” Pedraita starts a world record attempt at riding a Cross Country on an all-continents circumnavigation of the world. He is due to arrive in Daytona, Florida, this Sunday.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.10
In 2010 Arlen Ness and Cory Ness create two more limited-edition Victory models; the Arlen Ness Vision and the Cory Ness Jackpot. Both models have custom paint and wheels, Ness chrome parts, diamond-cut engine heads and were numbered and signed.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.11
Noticing a demand for sportier looking cruiser, Victory brings out the Judge in 2012 with muscle-car inspired styling and mid-mounted foot controls. The model is discontinued surprisingly quickly in the United States (with many feeling it wasn't given enough of a chance) but remains popular in Europe to this day.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.12
Also in 2012, comes the High-Ball model; Victory’s first foray into making a ‘bobber’ style motorcycle. The High-Ball comes with apehanger handlebars, wire wheels and a black-and-white paintwork with painted-on logos instead of badges.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.13
Introduced in February of 2014, the Gunner becomes the most muscular cruiser in the line-up, again powered by the Freedom 106 engine.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.14
Victory announces its intention to enter the Isle of Man TT with an electric motorcycle: the Empulse RR. It also announces it will enter the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with a bike called Project 156, developed with Roland Sands Design and using a prototype 1200cc liquid-cooled engine destined to appear in a future production motorcycle. Victory places third on the podium in the TT Zero race with rider Lee Johnston, but Don Canet has a DNF at Pikes Peak after trouble with the fuelling on Project 156 at high altitude. During the same time, Victory also launches the Empulse TT in the United States: its first production electric motorcycle.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.15
In 2015 Consumer Reports in the USA announces that Victory Motorcycles owners are the “most satisfied” owners of any motorcycle. In analysing data from over 12,300 motorcycles across 10 brands, Victory led the pack with best overall owner satisfaction plus it got the top spot for comfort. Victory not only excelled in owner satisfaction, but the company had a strong result for reliability.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.16
After Victory hints that the engine in Project 156 might be used in a future model, the manufacturer enlists the help of Zach Ness in the United States and Urs Erbacher in Europe to build two concept bikes using the new 1200cc production engine.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.17
In June 2016, Victory Racing surprises the world with a brand new electric race bike called the Victory RR, to be raced by William Dunlop back at the Isle of Man TT. William consecutively posts faster and faster lap times in the practice sessions and goes on to take second place, achieving an average lap speed of 115.844 mph.
MILESTONE MOMENT No.18
Victory returns to Pikes Peak and posts the second and third fastest motorcycle times up the 12-mile long course to the summit. While Don Canet rode Project 156 the year before, this time he switches on to the electric Empulse RR (a re-worked version of last year’s Isle of Man TT bike). Meanwhile, Victory finds a new racer to ride Project 156, namely former Pikes Peak champion Jeremy Toye.
For more information about Victory’s timeline visit the brand’s website.