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The Polaris-owned brand will be bringing an electric motorcycle and a more traditional gas-powered machine to participate in the iconic race. The electric bike will be a race-tuned version of its Empulse TT model—known as the Empulse RR—whereas the gas-powered motorcycle will be the same Project 156 monster Victory raced last year.
Well, not entirely the same. British motorcycling magazine MCN reports that although Victory has made no real aesthetic changes to Project 156, the bike has been tweaked and perfected in the year since it last participated in the Race to the Clouds.
The fuelling system of the rip-snorting liquid-cooled four-valve 1200cc DOHC V-twin that powers Project 156 (a sexier version of the same engine that drives the Victory Octane) has been tweaked considerably to better deal with the dramatic changes in elevation that come in the race. The system is now more precise at lower RPM, which Victory says will help improve how well Project 156 powers out of the tight switchbacks on the course.
Product Manager Brandon Kraemer said changes have also been made to the engine’s cooling and lubrication systems, and that overall durability has been improved.
Former Pikes Peak champion Jeremy Toye will be piloting Project 156 this year and says he’s looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“I’m kinda thinking this thing’s gonna be a heavy hitter,” he said. “It adapted to a race track with no problems… the thing feels pretty good.”
One the aspects of Project 156 that has not changed from last year is its terrifying, hide-the-women-and-children exhaust. In a video released by Victory, Toye suggests he’s happy with that.
“I don’t think I’m going to be sneaking up on anybody,” he said. “The thing’s got some voice to it.”
Cycle World Editor Don Canet was at the forefront of Victory’s Project 156 efforts last year. This year, however, he’ll be behind the ‘bars of the Empulse RR.
“At Pikes Peak, the electric bike has some distinct advantages,” said Victory Racing Team Manager Brian Wismann. “Firstly, it’s got gobs of torque available very low down in the RPM range.”
“It truly is just a linear delivery of torque,” said Canet. “It’s quiet –– I’m hearing the wind noise, hearing the motor whine –– and it kinda makes you just focus more on the feel and cornering speed.”
Although Toye jokes that the Empulse RR sounds like a Prius, he concedes that Canet may have an advantage as he speeds up the mountain course.
“There’s definitely benefits you can see that the electric bike has coming off a turn,” he said. “The thing really squirts off a turn pretty nice.”
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb takes place Sunday, 26th June. Victory Marketing Manager Nate Secor says the brand is eager to participate and that it feels it has “an obligation as an American motorcycle brand to be at that race.”
In addition, he feels that by taking part in events like this it will ultimately improve the quality of Victory’s commercial product.
Added Secor: “We’re going to continue to use races like Pikes Peak to help us develop the product and bring solutions to American motorcycling that people are asking for.”