Last month we presented a strategic analysis of the seven models in Polaris Industries' 2016 Indian Motorcycle range. This month we look at the twelve model line-up they are offering under their Victory brand. In looking for ongoing clues as to where their acknowledged need to re-position the brand in the context of ownership of Indian is, then you don't have to look much further than their 2016 slogan for the range - the pursuit of horsepower confirms everything everyone suspected as being the brand's future destiny and marks another "smooth move" in CEO Scott Wine's impressive play for a major slice of the American made motorcycle market...
With the Brammo-derived E-bike now firmly (if expensively) ensconced as an in-play offer, at least two years before the outcome of Harley's latest attempt at getting the public to design its bikes for it (Project LiveWire) yields any sellable results, the Empulse TT isn't the only market sector in which Polaris has used the Victory brand to "park the bus" in front of a market open goal.
That the V-Rod program has (predictably) failed to corner the "muscle" or "Streetfighter" style sectors for Harley has long since ceased to be a controversial suggestion, having passed into received wisdom some time ago.
That Polaris, on the other hand, moved to start filling that void effortlessly and effectively, will also become an accepted part of strategic planning-lore in the motorcycle industry very quickly.
"We engineer modern American muscle into every bike that rolls out of Spirit Lake, Iowa" is how Polaris sets the scene for their 2016 offer, going on to claim that they "build bikes that rip off from the green light, blast through city streets and crave the open road."
As a brand re-positioning manifesto Victory's 2016 performance-led propositions couldn't be more challenging to Harley's belated and tentative steps to add power to their existing and traditionally sedate platforms, and it couldn't be a more blatant attempt to say "hello" to the hooligan torque-beast element out there.
Just how convincingly they are meeting the demands of such riders is still a matter of conjecture at this stage, but the intent is clearly there, the strategy is clear now for everyone to see, and with brand messaging investments such as the Isle Of Man, Pike's Peak, Bonneville and 200mph NHRA ambitions, Victory clearly has its sights on offering riding solutions to those who look beyond how they get there, to equal concern with how quickly they arrive.
In addition to the $20,000 E-bike (!) Victory are offering their dealers five Cruisers, three Baggers and two Tourers to play with.
Described as representing "the most aggressive iteration of modern American muscle yet," Victory are positioning the Vegas and Vegas 8-Ball, Gunner, High-Ball and Hammer S to take sales off other cruiser brands (Yamaha's burgeoning Star line-up just as much as Harley's Sportsters and Softails), with bikes that look like they are convincing urban riding solutions just as much as they are open-roaders, and offering them at eye-wateringly tempting and competitive price-points.
The marketing hook for their four model 2016 Bagger line-up kicks sand in the face of sedate straight-lining, centred instead around the adrenaline-fuelled exploits of their Tony Carbajal/Joe Dryden Victory Stunt Team - hey, buy a "bagger" and do wheelies, drifting, ice racing and burnouts with "seven hundred and forty-six pounds of American V-Twin"!
As for the two-model Touring line-up, Victory describe the Vision and Cross-Country Tour as having "confidence designed into the blueprints" and being ready for "the longest rides through the most diverse conditions."
Despite creature comforts galore, shed-loads of luggage capacity and long-distance road-friendly features in spades, Victory started to try and prove that tourers don't have to look like armchairs on wheels with the hugely futuristic first iterations of the Vision. Now that the initial shock of the new has faded, Victory are showing a deft hand where refining of the style and competency of the offer are concerned.
As to other "gaps in the market"?
Well, assuming that we are right and Victory has laid down a convincing claim to be moving the "muscle" bike argument on apace, and that it has put down a convincing marker to be first out of the gate with meaningful "streetfighterage", then doesn't make its investment in its around-the-world in 100 days endurance team challenge an interesting idea?
Maybe it could be a tantalising glimpse into a volume-built American answer to another fast growing riding sector that Harley has continued to leave wide open to European dominance?
The present "adventure" sees Polaris sponsoring Swiss motorcycle distance riding fanatic Urs Pedraita (known to the long distance riding community as "Grizzly") to make the fastest motorcycle trips across all seven continents.
"Grizzly" is presently training for a February 2016 Zurich, Switzerland, departure with the goal of breaking the existing 116 day record.
His vehicle of choice is a Victory Cross Country Tour. If he makes it, he will have traversed the longest axis on six continents, plus a quick stop in Antarctica.
Even if he doesn't make it, Polaris will have one of the greatest suites of long-distance, all-terrain riding research and design data ever gathered and an unprecedented engineering insight into what it might take to knock BMW off its perch at the top for the increasingly important adventure-tour market.
|Bagger: Cross Country - MSRP $18,999|
Standard features include 21 gallon lockable hand bags, "Dual Kicker" premium speakers, radio and auxiliary card for an MP3/iPod music source
|Tourer: Vision – MSRP $20,999|
SOHC engine, dual large-bore exhaust, dual front rotors, inverted front forks, heated hand grips, heated individual seats, 29 gallon luggage capacity
|Cruiser: Hammer S - MSRP $15,499|
New to the range for 2016, and the top of the range Victory Cruiser in price terms, this "modern American Muscle Cruiser" includes a 2,250 mm rear tire, dual disc brakes and inverted front forks
|Cruiser: Vegas - MSRP $13,499|
New for 2016, the Vegas shares the 21" Falchion wheel with the entry level Vegas 8 Ball and boasts a painted frame "for a seamless minimal style that shows appreciation for detail"
|Cruiser: High-Ball - MSRP $13,349|
Standard features include white wall tires, short front fender and ape hangers
|Cruiser: Gunner - MSRP $12,999|
"Ready. Aim. Throttle." Widely regarded as the most convincing of the cruisers in styling terms, it features premium 24-spoke cast aluminum wheels and a low seat height for what Polaris describes
as "relaxed ergonomics"
The basic engine layout is the same for most of the Victory models, with some, further up the range, having single overhead cam versions of the combination air/oil-cooled 'Freedom' V-Twin
Displacement: 106 cubic inches/1731 cc
Bore x Stroke: 101mm bore x 108mm stroke;
Compression Ratio: 9:4:1
Valve Train: 4-valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters and cam chain adjusters
Charging System; 38 or 48 Amps max output
Fuel System: fuel injection/45mm throttle body
Drive/Driven Clutch - wet multi-plate/diaphragm spring
Transmission Type: 6-speed overdrive/constant mesh
Exhaust: dual staggered slash-cut with common volume. Some models, further up the range, feature a larger bore exhaust
Transmission/Primary Drive: gear drive with torque compensator
Transmission/Final Drive: Carbon Fiber reinforced belt
Some models feature upgraded set-ups with variations in suspension travel, especially the 'slammed' models, such as the Magnum, and inverted forks
Front: telescopic fork with 5.1"/130mm of travel
Rear: single mono-tube gas shock with pre-load adjustment and, typically, 3.0"/130mm of travel
It would appear that only the Tourers come with ABS/semi-linked brakes and dual front rotors as standard
Front: single 300 x 5mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper
Rear: single 300 x 5mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
|Urs "Grizzly" Pedraita will depart Zurich, Switzerland, in February 2016 on a Victory Cross Country Tour in an attempt to break the present 116 day round the world record|