topbanner ad

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Polaris steals the show at Milan as manufacturers scramble for a stake in burgeoning international custom market

Polaris Industries upstaged Harley-Davidson and did a pretty good job of eclipsing most of the other new model announcements at this year's EICMA "Milan Show" with the expected unveiling of a new Indian model and powerful new Victory powerplant.

With a starting MSRP of $8,999, the new Scout 'Sixty' is the lowest priced Indian model yet offered by Polaris and clear play for the entry-level custom market that Harley had no doubt hoped to maintain ownership of with their Sportsters

The new Indian Scout 'Sixty' is an entry-level 999cc cruiser priced at $8,999 - the lowest price point that Polaris have yet offered an Indian model for, and a clear shot across the bows of Harley's Sportsters and the other new models that are staking a claim for market share in the fast growing mid-power, low-price 'naked' and cruiser-style street bike market.

Sharing the same cast aluminum chassis, twin shock/telescopic front fork suspension and independent front/rear anti-lock brakes as the Indian Scout model that Polaris launched at Sturgis in 2014, the Scout 'Sixty' has a new 60 cubic inch (actually, 61 cubic inch), 4-valve 78 bhp liquid-cooled, closed-loop fuel-injection 60-degree v-twin engine version that is said to produce 65 ft lbs torque at 5,800 rpm.

At a claimed 78 bhp Polaris say the new version 999cc/60 cubic inch 60-degree liquid-cooled engine makes the 'Sixty' the most powerful motorcycle in its class

Featuring a 25.3 inch seat height, split dual exhaust with crossover, 542 dry weight, 4.7 inch trail with 31 degree lean angle and 61.5 inch wheelbase, the low center of gravity of the Scout 'Sixty' gives it the kind of riding geometry and ergonomics that will make it a well priced, well specified competitor for the other offers in its class as Indian joins the race to find new riders looking for a user-friendly pathway into urban riding.

"The Indian Scout has been a stunningly successful introduction for us," said Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles at Polaris. "The new Scout 'Sixty' expands that reach even further to include new riders who desire the legendary quality and craftsmanship of an Indian Motorcycle."

The shape of Victories to come? "Victory Ignition Concept" is Urs Erbacher's homage to the 2015 Pikes Peak racer - an interpretation of Victory's brand transition from cruiser to bruiser as the company makes a play for the American Muscle void that Harley has so far failed to fill with its V-Rods

Victory brand transition from cruiser to bruiser
Immediately following the Milan launch, Roland Sands headed-up a five strong race-prepared field of customized 'Sixties' in a stock frame production platform street-bike based "Super Hooligan" racing class at the AMA Pro Flat Track "Superprestigio of the Americas" event at the Orleans Hotel Arena, Las Vegas, on November 21st, following an unveiling and test race three days earlier at Long Beach, California.

Meanwhile Polaris simultaneously unveiled the equally well-trailed new 1200cc engine derived from its Project 156 endeavours at this year's Pikes Peak international hill climb.

The new street version Victory 1200cc engine has the same base architecture as the prototype engine used in Project 156 - a liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 60-degree v-twin with double overhead cams;  the crankcase, v-angle, rotating bottom-end, transmission and clutch set-up are all the same

Slated to power an upcoming new Victory model that is expected to have been announced at the Progressive Insurance International Motorcycle show, New York, December 11-13, the engine made its Milan debut with the first pre-production unit to come off the Osceola, Wisconsin, line in an Urs Erbacher special (Fat Attack Custombikes, Switzerland) dubbed the "Victory Ignition Concept."

Victory Motorcycles' General Manager Rod Krois said that "the engine design, which uses designs from other Polaris products, having sold over 200,000 engines, will deliver on the promise of modern American muscle that is in the DNA of every current and future product we sell. Victory will continue to aggressively plot a new course for itself and where an American motorcycle brand can go."

Clearly aiming to fill the ever growing void that Harley-Davidson has failed to fill convincingly with its V-Rods, the repositioning of the Victory brand will see it become a compatible and complementary offer to the Indian franchise; one that targets the emerging direction being taken by a much changed 21st century riding landscape.

Swiss drag racer and custom bike builder (and former AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building competitor) Urs Erbacher seen here at the EICMA unveiling of "Victory Ignition Concept" - built to showcase the Project 156 Pikes Peak derived 1200cc engine that will be at the heart of the new model announcement that Victory will make in December

Also a liquid-cooled, 4-valve, 60-degree v-twin, the engine has double overhead cams and is the same base architecture as seen in the prototype engine used in Project 156 – the crankcase, v-angle, rotating bottom-end, transmission and clutch set-up is all the same.

For the launch, concept bike drag racer and custom bike builder Urs Erbacher and his team have handmade twin headers that snake out from the cylinders into a single pipe and then in to an Akrapovic muffler - the idea being to create the shortest exhaust for maximum performance.

The front and rear suspension are adjustable - with Marzocchi forks giving 50mm extra height at the front for an improved lean angle and Brembo brake compatibility, and an Ohlins shock at the rear between the frame and the swingarm - also 50mm longer, adding to the extra lean angle. The superlight 17 inch aluminum wheels are fitted with Metzeler Racetec Interact tires.

With Triumph, Ducati, BMW, MV Agusta and most of the Japanese manufacturers unveiling new models at Milan, especially in the fast growing middle-weight and naked, retro and custom style categories, the steady return of new motorcycle registration growth and recovering pre-owned market on both sides of the Atlantic have also started the firing gun for the parts and accessories industries.

Milan saw more new replacement and aftermarket product introductions than in the past three or four years added together and with a record attendance announced by the organizer (ANCMA - the Italian motorcycle industry trade association), it would appear that some degree of genuine growth is finally available for those with the right products.

The custom area at EICMA featured bikes brought together by leading Italian custom motorcycle magazine LowRide, and with new v-twin and custom-style product being introduced by mainstream parts and accessory vendors as well as the slew of new custom initiatives, programs and models from the motorcycle manufacturers themselves, the predicted trend that the 21st century would see the custom market increasingly taking center stage in the mainstream motorcycle market in Europe and elsewhere appears to be locked-in for the foreseeable future.