Is Victory Teasing A Liquid-Cooled Bike For EICMA?An email sent to members of the media last week has some people speculating that Victory...
An email sent to members of the media last week has some people speculating that Victory Motorcycles will be unveiling an all-new liquid-cooled model at next month's EICMA show in Milan.
If you're unfamiliar with EICMA, the acronym stands for "Esposizione Internazionale del Ciclo e Motociclo e Accessori." Maybe. The interwebs doesn't seem able to come to a consensus on the exact meaning, but that doesn't matter. What's relevant is the show itself. EICMA is a huge event—it's arguably the most important of 2015—and it's a stage on which many choose to unveil the latest and the greatest.
Last year's EICMA saw Honda reveal the True Adventure concept that has now become the Africa Twin. The year before, Harley-Davidson pulled the cover off its Street models. This year, maybe it's Victory's turn.
The speculation is fueled by a "save the date" email for an EICMA press event on November 18th. At the head of the email is the picture you see above: a Victory-branded case cover. A cover unlike any of those seen on Victory's existing line-up. A cover that looks a whole lot like the one that existed on the Project 156 bike Victory used to compete in the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb earlier this year.
The engine used in that bike was a prototype, and Victory gave strong hints that there were plans to use it in a production model soon. In an interview at the time, Victory's head of external relations, Robert Pandya, said: "Obviously, we're doing this for a reason."
Meanwhile, the text of the email stresses the fact that over the past year or so, Victory has been "showcasing American Muscle throughout its product line and in racing," and says the company's "pathway to the latest evolution of the brand" will be revealed at EICMA.
These two facts have led many to believe that Victory will finally be unveiling the liquid-cooled bike we've been anticipating for at least a year and a half. EICMA would be a great place for Victory to do such a thing, allowing it to step out from the shadow of its heritage-drenched Polaris sibling, Indian, and assert itself on a world stage.
But Let's Not Get Ahead Of Ourselves
Much of what's stated in the above paragraph could very well be at the heart of why there won't be anything new to report on November 18th.
Firstly, just because we feel Victory should do something doesn't necessarily mean they will. The company has been running its Freedom 106 V-twin since 2008. It's the powerplant used in all of Victory's current models. A solid engine, it produces 90-97 hp, depending on the particular model, and somewhere in the ballpark of 113 lb. ft. of torque. That's decent, especially for a cruiser, but many feel that if Victory wants to stand out from the pack it needs to deliver more oomph. A liquid-cooled engine is one way to do that, and as far back as July 2014 (when Victory unveiled the god-awful Magnum) Moto journalists have been expecting to be presented with such a thing at almost every Victory press event.
So, why should EICMA be any different? Maybe that picture of a case cover is just the case cover from the Project 156 bike and nothing more. Maybe that talk of "evolution" in the media email is just PR speak.
The liquid-cooled engine used in Victory's Project 156 bike.
Secondly, there's the question of why Victory would choose EICMA. The company takes great pride in being American. It talks about "American muscle" and mentions in every press release that its first ever model was produced on the 4th of July. And when Victory finally does reveal a liquid-cooled powerplant, it will be a major point in the company's history. It's no secret Victory is at a crossroads, seeking to differentiate and redefine itself in the wake of Indian's resurrection. So, why would this American company choose an Italian event to reveal something so important to its future?
If it Happens, What will Actually Happen?
There are still plenty of reasons why a launch at EICMA would make sense. In addition to the world stage aspect, and a new powerplant being long overdue, there's also the fact that European Moto journalists and their American counterparts, who have made the trip to Milan, are less likely to moan about the concept of liquid-cooling. That's why Harley-Davidson launched the Street at EICMA; it knew the Church of Jesus V-Twin Latter-day Air-Cooling would complain, so it launched the bike far away from them.
Additionally, Victory is somewhat unique in offering a pretty different line up in Europe than it does in the States. For example, the Judge still exists with its pegs in their original mid-mounted position, and the Gunner and High Ball are all equipped with ABS as standard (unlike their American versions, where ABS is not even optional). So, perhaps it makes sense to launch a bike that's more likely to suit European tastes in Europe.
Guessing exactly what might be revealed, though, is even less certain. There are plenty who will say they'd like to see a production version of the Project 156 bike: A rip-snorting beast of a supernaked with the kind of horsepower that would make a KTM 1290 Super Duke R seem like a sensible machine. Let's be honest, y'all...that's probably not going to happen.
Equally as unlikely is my personal desire to see Victory deliver some kind of an adventure-tourer a la the Ducati Multistrada. Old dudes should probably also brace themselves for the disappointment of not getting a sport-tourer.
Based on Victory's pre-2015 track record of saying big things and still delivering cruisers, it's not beyond the scope of imagination to guess that's what we might see here. But that option does seem a bit unwise. After all, the liquid-cooled V-twin that was used in Project 156 sure looked a lot like the liquid-cooled V-twin that is used in the Indian Scout. If Victory were to deliver a cruiser, it would be difficult to see the bike as anything other than a rebadged Scout.
Mixing my personal hopes rather liberally with what I think is likely, it could be that Victory would deliver a naked with styling in the spirit of Project 156, but offer a tamer ride. Perhaps something on par with the BMW RnineT in style, power and handling.
There's also the possibility that Victory's use of the phrase "pathway to the latest evolution of the brand" suggests something incomplete. Perhaps only an engine will be revealed, and we'll have to wait even longer to find out what the actual bike will be.
Either Way, We'll Be There
Whatever happens, RideApart will be there in the form of yours truly. I'll be in Milan covering both days of the EICMA media events, as well as a few things happening around town. And, as it happens, I'll be getting there on a Victory.
Thanks to some particularly skillful pleading on my part, I've managed to secure a Victory Cross Country for the ride from Britain to Milan—just shy of 2,000 miles, there and back (more if there's early snow in the Alps and I'm forced to ride further south.)
So, although I won't know until November 18th whether we'll get a glimpse of Victory's future, I can at least be assured I'll have a good sense of its present.