If you want to go faster, add more lightness...and power!
Victory's all-new 2017 Octane is designed to be a two-wheeled version of the American muscle car. Pop a large engine into a mid-sized chassis with minimal creature comforts— to keep the weight and cost down —and you have the basic concept. Think 1968 Plymouth Road Runner, for example.
The Octane is a new, more aggressive direction for Victory. Its styling incorporates harder lines, sharper creases, a more-pronounced center spine and other details that make the Octane look leaner and meaner. Based off an Indian Scout platform, the Octane uses a significant number of unique parts specifically designed and engineered for Victory.
There’s little chrome; the bulk of the chassis, running gear and powertrain are blacked-out, and that Matte Super Steel Gray bodywork looks all business. Even the tank badge has been cast in gray to create a monochrome look. This muscular styling provides a more-modern profile than typical cruisers, and a sportbike-inspired bullet cowl adds to the look. According to Victory (and Indian) President Steve Menneto, this will be a new direction for the brand going forward.
Powered by a 74 cubic inch liquid-cooled V-twin, Victory’s first-ever liquid-cooled engine utilizes dual overhead cams and four-valve heads to rev to 8300 rpm and throw down a claimed 104 horsepower. That’s more horsepower than any Victory motorcycle ever built. Dry weight is reported to be 528 pounds, also making Octane the lightest Victory motorcycle ever built. It's also the quickest Victory on the quarter-mile and the fastest from 0-60 mph. Are you starting to see a theme here?
The engine was developed from the Project 156 prototype that was competition tested at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The 60-degree V-twin features short-stroke engine geometry just like the Project 156 racer, to allow higher revs and more horsepower. The electronic fuel injection uses a 60mm throttle body to feed the high-flowing heads. The result is a quick-revving engine response, which felt more like a sportbike than traditional American V-Twins. It has a strong mid-range pull and keeps on until it hits the rev limiter at about 8,400 rpm. Rated peak torque is 76 foot-pounds, with a pleasingly wide torque output curve.
The six-speed transmission goes through the gears quickly; more readily than the typical cruiser gearbox. Clutch lever effort is moderate and it's easy to modulate. The wet, multi-plate clutches took a lot of punishment at the press launch, with Victory encouraging journalists to perform fierce burnouts and multiple ¼-mile drag strip runs.
The Octane is also geared short for quicker acceleration, and can sprint down the standing start quarter-mile in the 12 second range (as we verified) with trap speeds just north of 100 mph. It hustles from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds. On the road at 70 mph in sixth gear, the engine is turning about 4,000 revs. A quiet and maintenance-free toothed belt provides the final drive to the rear wheel.
A stiff chassis is needed to transmit the increased power to the pavement and provide confidence-inspiring handling. The Octane’s solid-mounted engine is used as a stressed member that connects the cast-aluminum front and rear frame sections, with twin tubular-steel backbones for added stiffness.
Up front is a 41mm conventional fork equipped with dual-rate springs. Out back, dual laydown preload-adjustable shocks (mounted 53 degrees off-horizontal) are also equipped with dual-rate springs. Optional reservoir rear shocks are available with adjustable damping. A fairly steep 29-degree steering geometry with 5.1 inches trail, a compact 62.1-inch wheelbase, and 32-degrees of available lean angle allow greater agility than typical American V-twin motorcycles.
Braking is provided by single 298mm brake rotors, front and rear. The front caliper is a dual-piston sliding unit, the rear a single pot clamper. Stainless-steel brake lines at both ends look good and provide better brake feel. North American models don't offer ABS, while European models have ABS standard (at a higher price). Cast aluminum, 10-spoke wheels are designed for tubeless tires. The front wheel gets a 130/70-18 donut, while the 17-inch rear is wrapped with a 160/70-17 tire. The test bikes were shod with Kenda cruiser tires.
The compact instrument panel provides all the basic info needed, and you can select what you want to monitor, including a digital tach function. One of the test bikes has an optional analog tachometer mounted on the left side of the cluster. Victory will be introducing a variety of accessories, including pillion seats, luggage, and a slew of customizing goodies. Check their website for the latest stuff.
It's easy to throw a leg over the bike, with its low-slung solo saddle set just 25.9-inches above the road. A low pullback handlebar and semi-forward-set foot controls create a mild-clamshell riding position.
The Octane's engine starts immediately and settles quickly into a lumpy stacato idle with a pleasingly urgent note. The sound level is legal, but it definitely has a nice sound for the enthusiasts to enjoy. Throttle response is noticeably quicker than most cruiser engines, yet it's not abrupt coming up from idle. You can bang through the gears like a racer or chug around town —your choice. The motor can lug down to about 1,500 rpm, and has a strong torquey pull from about 4,000 revs up to when the rev limiter spoils the fun at about 8,400 rpm. However, during deceleration you can feel the fuel cutoff as the engine coasts in gear, followed by a sudden blip in power as the engine gets fuel again when it returns to idle.
Handling is above average for a cruiser, and the Octane can track well in long corners and hold a line. But choppy pavement brings out one of the bike's weaknesses: the short suspension travel, which is only 3 inches at the rear. Rough roads will have you hanging on and bouncing off the seat. The turning radius is also somewhat limited, as full steering lock occurs when trying to negotiate U-turns and such.
The tires seem to be well matched to the bike, and offer good grip when fully leaned over on dry pavement— we never got to test them in the wet. They're stable at speed and offer good turn-in response. Our Florida test route didn't provide a lot of challenging, steep and/or long downhill grades to truly test the brakes, but they offer decent stopping power with moderate lever effort. In more difficult conditions they might get very hot, with limited swept area. It would also be nice to have ABS as an option.
This is more of an urban bike than a touring machine. On the highway the lack of a windscreen is felt, and the rider has to lean forward more and brace into the wind. The seat is also good for short hops, but holds you in one position without much wiggle room.
Overall, the Octane is a well-made motorcycle with quality components, construction and fit and finish. It's a fun machine that should provide a lot of hours of riding pleasure when used as intended.
Victory's 2017 Octane is said to be part of the company's new direction, to capture younger riders with a performance-oriented model at a competitive price. And with pricing starting at just $10,499, it’s competitive with that “other” American brand's mid-size offerings. Quick, stylish and affordable, it's likely to be popular with customizers and youthful enthusiasts who want something a little different (and more powerful) than their friend's Sportsters.
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PRICE: $10,499/$10,749 (California)/$12,499 (Canada)
WARRANTY: 2 year, unlimited mi.
Engine & Drivetrain
ENGINE TYPE: Liquid-cooled 60° V-twin
VALVE TRAIN: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
BORE X STROKE: 101.0 x 73.6mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.8:1
HORSEPOWER: 104 HP/77 KW @ 8000 RPM
TORQUE: 76 FT-LBS/99 NM @ 6000 RPM
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI with single 60mm throttle body
EXHAUST: Dual slash-cut mufflers with common volume
CLUTCH: Wet, multi-plate
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE: 6-speed/belt
Frame & Suspension
FRAME: Cast-aluminum semi-double-cradle with tubular-steel backbones
FRONT SUSPENSION: 41mm damper-tube forks with dual-rate springs; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION: Twin shocks with dual-rate springs, adjustable for preload; 3.0-in. travel
FRONT BRAKE: Two-piston caliper, 298mm disc
REAR BRAKE: One-piston caliper, 298mm disc
Tires & Wheels
FRONT TIRE: 130/70-18 63H
REAR TIRE: 160/70-17 76H
FRONT WHEEL: 18 X 3.5-in. cast, 10-spoke
REAR WHEEL: 17 X 4.5-in. cast, 10-spoke
RAKE/TRAIL: 29.0°/5.1 in.
WHEELBASE: 62.1 in.
LEAN ANGLE: (SOFT) 32 degrees
SEAT HEIGHT: 25.9 in.
FUEL CAPACITY: 3.4 gal.
OIL CAPACITY: 4.5 qt.
DRY WEIGHT: 528 lb. (North America) / 534 lb. (International w/ABS)
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