Design Analysis: Victory Core concept

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When we first brought you the Victory Core concept, we didn’t have much time to bring you any analysis. We actually published the article from the show floor at the Javits Center during the press conference using a CD of images that we had to lie to obtain; it was only made available to print media. While we’re much bigger fans of the Core than we are of the NY show’s other headliner, the Honda Fury, we still have serious issues with Victory’s “performance cruiser of the future.”

Victory describes the Core thusly, “Core is a concept motorcycle
designed and built by the Victory Motorcycles Industrial Design team to
show what a performance cruiser of the future could look like. It
consists of only the essentials: engine, frame, wheels and front
suspension — no rear suspension. Its unique cast aluminum frame was
made by pouring molten aluminum into a sand core, which was removed
when the casting was complete.”

In these videos, Victory’s staff boasts of the originality, innovation
and purity achieved by the Core. Let’s look at each of those claims and
see how they stack up to reality.

Victory: “There’s nothing like it out there.”

HFL: The Core is striking similar to the Confederate Hellcat both in
profile and detail. The aggressive, streetfighter-like face achieved by
the lack of a protruding headlight? Hellcat. Formed split wooden seat’s actual shape? Hellcat. The heavily
curved profile that makes the v-twin look muscular? Hellcat. The
current iteration of the Hellcat was designed in 2002.

Victory: “The cool thing about bobbers is if it doesn’t make the bike
go, if it doesn’t make the bike stop, then it doesn’t belong on the

HFL: What’s the big fake radiator thing bolted to the front of the engine?

Victory: “Performance Cruiser”

HFL: Our dictionary defines “performance” as: “A vehicle’s capacity to
gain speed rapidly and move efficiently and safely at high speed.”
While we’re fans of big, air-cooled twins, the lack of rear suspension
means that the Core will be unable to translate its 97bhp and 113lb/ft
of torque into actual acceleration. That lack of rear suspension also
drastically compromises its ability to move efficiently and, in
particular, safely at any speed, much less high ones. We’re relieved to
see the Core shun the trend for overly wide rear tires, but we’re
afraid it won’t be able to exploit the quick steering that would
otherwise result from that rear tire’s 150/70 profile.

Victory: “320mm discs up front, Brembo calipers all round, over 100hp, super purposeful-looking”

HFL: Emphasis on the “-looking” Those big brake discs and radial
Brembos? They’re not going to be able to work as intended with this
much rake and the lack of rear suspension.

Victory: “Its unique cast aluminum frame was made by pouring molten aluminum into a sand core, which was removed when the casting was complete.”

HFL: We have three significant issues with the frame.

First, we made our first sand cast aluminum parts in seventh-grade shop class; this is not a new technique.

Second, making those parts taught us that sand cast aluminum is a bit
on the brittle side. A sand cast, hollow, brittle material does not
sound like an excellent material from which to make a steering head.
Nor is that material used sympathetically in the frame. An air-cooled
engine’s heads will expand with heat, this not only means that their
position will shift relative to the sump, but also that there’s a
significant amount of flex between the two. Using the extreme
peripherals of an engine that will flex and expand as stressed members
in a brittle frame is inherently flawed.

Third, this frame is rightly given design emphasis on the overall
product, the name “Core” refers to the frame. So why camouflage it with
tacky decals? Given this emphasis the design of the frame should be
bold and attractive enough to stand on its own.

Victory: “Performance cruiser of the future.”

HFL: Where are the new ideas? The suspension, powertrain, frame and
styling are utterly conventional, if not overly retro. Are we missing

  • JR

    Yes, I agree it may not be as original as they make it seem, and it definitely needs a rear suspension, but I still think it looks great.

    Give it a rear suspension and we’re talkin!

  • Design Ronin

    Law of marketing #1: If you don’t have any of the three vitals then bang on loudly, in as polished a manner as you can, about just how good what you have done is.

    Yes, one can pick the hell out of their claims and indeed by making them they do come across as a bunch of middle class, designer tossers but the design is nice, cool even and definitely worth the effort. As for the rest, well it’s a concept bike and like its four wheeled counterparts, it’s there to be enjoyed and best to leave the claims and intellectualising behind.

  • Design Ronin

    …and as a second thought…. I have to say, if you had to sneak this info, then I’d think it prudent that you don’t then blog it while telling people that’s how you got it, especially if you are going to slam it. Not a great way to endear yourselves to marketing people if you want to be taken seriously and actually get such info above board.

    • Gary Sideburn

      DR, you made some good points, but if you think most motorcycle PRs should be treated with anything other than thinly veiled contempt (delivered with a big smile) then you can’t have met many of them. It’s them who should be endearing themselves to good jounalists, not the other way around.
      If the HfL guys had to lie to get something for their readers, then great, no one got hurt. If they then decide, on reflection, the product isn’t quite what they thought, then good on them that they have the balls to say it.
      The comment about gaining the press disc under false pretenses is a way of HfL showing, and reminding, they’re an underdog, on the outside pissing in. PR and marketing departments are staffed, in my fairly long experience, by halfwits or career pros who’d be as happy working for Mercedes or Ralph Lauren as a bike company. It’s just a ‘product’ to push. And, it’s always easier to say no, than try make something happen. If there are any PRs reading this thinking ‘Hey, I find that insulting’, then you might be in the minority of the good ones – thanks for your diligence. GI

      • hoyt

        I agree with the underdog approach and appreciate media that asks tough questions. (sorely missing in all aspects of today’s “big business” media). However, HFL would do better by not broadcasting their methods. (opinion)

        Letting the industry think you’re playing the game they want you to play, while maintaining the edge that the masses need from sources like HFL, is much more sustainable in the long term than constantly claiming (almost “bragging”) that you’re on the outside. Eventually, you will be identified and it will be more difficult to pretend that you’re playing the game they want you to play, which defeats the purpose. The Man has its own ways too as you all know.
        The unit out front on this bike may also house the battery since it is larger than their other oil coolers – not sure.

        In terms of frames using the engine as a stressed member with expanding heads….Good questions to raise for sure, but there are other questions….

        the current Victory’s frames are mounted to the engine in the same location, so they are semi-stressed, albeit using steel with a partial cradle.

        Are their cradle frames as structural as one might imagine (since I don’t think it loops around in the back of the engine)? The rear of the engine has the rear suspension bolted directly to it as opposed to the lower frame.

        What about the Vision? It doesn’t use a cradle and it is aluminum. Keep in mind, the aluminum frames on the Vision and Core are basically a box along the length of the bike: wide, heat dissipating surface along the top of the motor + sides joining to the top, wide surface of the “box”….that IS rigid and can isolate the flex of the expanding/shrinking heads. If the Confederate used an engine with unit-construction they probably would not have had a cradle either. The Wakan uses a similar frame approach as the Core but it uses a higher revving air-cooled engine and steel backbone attached at the heads (no cradle).

        The good questions raised by HFL may have been asked by the engineers on their own and figured it out. Their engine design with its unit-construction opens up chassis options quite a bit.

        Isn’t the Vision’s chassis cast in a similar process?

  • Mike Greenwald

    I am interested in answers to several production questions that accompany the “Core”.

    I would like to know what quality control testing would be in place at Victory to examine the aluminum casting for anomalies? (porosity, micro-porosity, inclusions and cold shuts, etc.)

    What is the price point necessary to make this salable to the public and viable to Victory based upon how many units produced per quarter or per annum?

    What fatigue tests are planned for the production model and what type of inserts will be used to prevent stress related fracturing and stretching?

    Thanks in advance.
    Mike Greenwald

  • Ryan

    concepts are just a way to lay down an expression of exciting ideas meant to give a silohette to a product that is more of a production possibility…

    short fender kingpin in the short term and some cool style ideas for later

  • Ryan

    oh by the way the “big fake radiator thing bolted to the front of the engine” is for the oil cooler.

  • Design Ronin

    Gary all points agreed and I have very similar experiences as you. My point was that one can’t complain about not getting PR material and then getting it on the sly and proceed to bag the product, true, or not, right or wrong. Not a way to endear one’s self to aforementioned PR twats.

  • Chessie

    Let’s put things in perspective. I don’t really care for all fluff reviews of a bike. I want an honest review. One that asks questions, discusses concerns, talks about the neat features, and is even handed with all discussion. It appears to me, that is exactly what we have here. As for having to misrepresent one ’s self in order to receive promo material…more power to them. It’s the way many of us are forced to compete in the business world. Capitalism, isn’t it grand?
    Keep up the honest reporting, I’ll keep reading.

  • tomahawk

    I completely disagree on the Confederate similarity issue. There is absolutely no line and no detail on the 2 bikes that are similar. The Core is fluid, and all parts are connected with each other. Hellcat is totally different in profile, shape of parts and…basicly everything. If you think those 2 bikes are similar…you have serious design analysis issues.

  • geonerd

    now all it needs is a ball gag and a butt plug on the seat.

  • Matt

    As a design exercise, looks cool. I like the neobobber approach. As a ridable vehicle, it’s not there. It’s as if a lot of the small producers want to target the movie star market. People who buy, and ride their bikes as a personal style statement rather than people who ride because they like to ride. I don’t think you could like riding this for very long.

  • Yukes

    At the end of the day its a cool looking concept. If they didn’t go on talking about how original and innovative it was, we probably wouldn’t be picking it apart. Sometimes (most times, when it comes to marketing) less is more. It’s a little ironic that a “performance” concept doesn’t have a ride video, or even a picture of someone sitting on it.

    I’m interested to see how it translates to production.

  • Wes

    Guys: let us worry about our own relationship with the industry. Just be happy that we’re willing and able to lie, cheat and steal to bring you the content you want. We care about you, not the PRs.

  • hoyt

    alright, I’m happy.

    Another bike that uses an air-cooled engine with the chassis mounted to the heads and the back of the transmission is the killer Irving Vincent. Probably steel backbone.

    I opened 2 windows, one with the Core profile and one with the Hellcat profile. A better comparison I found is the Wraith since the Core makes the Hellcat look a mess. That process made the Wraith more admirable.

    That side-by-side comparison also makes me appreciate Victory’s engine design (unit-construction) even more.

    • Grant

      Hoyt, the Victory unfortunately cannot be considered in line with a Vincent due to the lack of rear suspension. At the time, Vincents were at the acme of motorcycle engineering. That said, they sure are some rickety old bikes by today’s standards. Regardless of their beauty (by mid-century standards) and speed.

      The Wraith? Yeah, technologically light-years ahead of the Core. Not to mention it is already in production. Personally I thought the company should have put the V60 Rotax engine in it, but as the Creative Director, what did I know? Plus those old rich guys wouldn’t buy if it wasn’t American, air-cooled and garishly loud…

      • hoyt

        Hey Grant-

        Wes has a good point in the post above: “Using the extreme peripherals of an engine that will flex and expand as stressed members in a brittle frame is inherently flawed.”

        The question is how brittle would the Core frame be in production form? Because, the examples I mentioned would seem to refute the concern about mounting an air cooled engine at the peripherals.

        The Irving Vincent, Wakan, Core, & Vision all are air-cooled and all have engine mounts at the heads and back of the trans. That is the only reason those were mentioned.

        b-t-w….i was referring to the modern day Irving Vincent racebike that won the BoT last year. Their chassis seems to work fine.

        • Wes

          That Irving Vincent is really cool, I’m glad you showed us that.

          I think our point with the mounts on the heads is that it isn’t an ideal solution. While Wakan and the Irving Vincent are necessarily limited by their budgets and need to use existing components, I’d expect a larger company supposedly working on a clean sheet design to pursue more elegant and functional engineering solutions in addition to just doing some really cool styling.


    I laughed hard at this article and the one you did on the new Honda Fury. I may disagree with you from time to time, and I do think beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and think you should stick to reporting, and less biased commentary, “but” I do like your fresh direct honesty and don’t think you should do any kissing up to any of the manufacturers. Will that cost you inside info or perks, yes, but in the long run your readers will appreciate it. The same reason why a lot of us pay big dollars to buy those english magazines that will rip a new bike as easily as say it is wonderful. Honesty, hard to find these days! Keep up the good work!

  • JT Nesbitt

    There is only one question when it comes to concept vehicles– “does it move the ball down the field?” Therefore, does the “core” exemplify ANY new idea or technology? For a relatively large company like Polaris to espouse the virtues of a five thousand year old technology like sand casting is pretty desperate. I am reminded of that first Jesse James Discovery channel thing where they rattled on about how he was the last man on earth using an english wheel…..If Victory Motorcycles was to disappear tomorrow, would their contribution to the motorcycling world even be missed? I think not. Victory you have failed to make a statement, you suck, and real motorcycle people think that you represent everything that is wrong with this country. You are LAZY, both in innovation, and application. Go away. –JT

  • hoyt

    Calling for large motorcycle companies (especially American) to innovate is a legitimate cause, but the rant above needs an ego check.

    Comparing every naked sportbike to the Ducati Monster truncates history by 30 years, no matter how hard Ducati claims to invent the naked sportbike. Likewise, the Wraith or Confederate didn’t start the above direction of style and form.

    The Wraith and Core are both modern interpretations of a hundred year old form, very cool each in their own way.

    Time to punt the ball

  • jt nesbitt

    Wow- I need a ego check? Polaris is building the motorcycle equivalent of an H2 Hummer, and I need an ego check? What-Do you work for Polaris? Talk about your low expectation-havin defeatist attitude! Isn’t America supposed to be the world leader in innovation and design? Are you really accepting the core as an innovative motorcycle? Dude, I gotta tell ya, the core looks like a first year project from Pasadena. (probably lost “Hoyt” there, as actually learning about product design would take too much time out of his busy schedule of kissing corporate ass) It seems to me that the “New American Motorcycle” Is nothing more than a bad copy of a metric cruiser, that is a bad copy of a harley. That’s 3 decending iterations of The same stupid design! Are you seriously going to defend this company and their Chinese style business model? —- JT

  • thomashenny

    No matter what the argument is, Victory and Confederate are still running on chains.

  • hoyt

    “Chinese style business model” suggests you think they are copying Confederate, right?

    Although people stated references to “Confederate” at first site of the Core, many others immediately thought of a hundred year old board track racer since the Core looks more like an old racer than a Confederate due to its rigid rear. Look at the pictures in my last comment.

    No, I do not work for Polaris and I do not have a defeatist attitude. Where did I write anything to suggest that attitude?
    “Time to punt the ball” was directed at Victory & you in the context of your sports analogy, as opposed to me accepting anything in a defeated manner.

    Describe how the Wraith “moved the ball down the field” in terms of motorcycle innovation. Girder front-end? CF chassis? (been done before Confederate). HD-based engine? Style? Even the style is a modern interpretation of a hundred year old design.

    All of those questions do not matter to me (and many others) in terms of “moving the ball” because I like the Wraith, a lot.

    Point? your measuring stick doesn’t have to apply on every single effort from every single factory every time a concept is released. Yet based on your rant, you seem to think otherwise.

    EVERY design is not expected (or desired) to be too far ahead. That is not defeatist. Where does it state that EVERY concept vehicle must be measured by your analogy?

    Historically, concept vehicles have spanned the spectrum of mild to pushing the limits of man-made. Successful product launches many times have to plant seeds in the mind of what is to come next.

    Lose me on Product Design? No. And, one does not have to follow your concentric circle drawings and weird descriptions by Chambers as insight to product design on any level, be it anywhere from a trained professional to a consumer.

    I also did not claim the Core as an innovative motorcycle here or on the ‘Slider. I did claim that its unit-construction engine has good attributes to allow for chassis options. And, I commented on its frame construction at the neck.

  • jt nesbitt

    What I don’t seem to understand is why you are giving Polaris a free pass here? Polaris has vast resources, a large R&D staff, Hundreds, maybe thousands of employees, engineers out the wazoo. The original Wraith was built when Confederate had EIGHT full time employees, and the Wraith would, I assure you, romp on the “Core”
    Innovative features abound on the Wraith, shit that has NEVER been done on a motorcycle before, and yet it was done with improvement of performance and functionality as the prime mandate.
    When I say “Chinese business model” I am talking about Victory motorcycle as a whole. They copy Harley, NOT Confederate. They do not take chances, primarily because guys like you do not express outrage at the lazy ass humpty dumpty motorcycles that they produce. Personally, as a motorcycle guy, and reluctant citizen of the U.S., I am embarrassed by the lack of any real motorcycle culture in this country. Are you proud of Victory Motorcycles? Once again- Have they contributed ANYTHING of value to motorcycling? — JT

  • hoyt

    I’m not giving Polaris/Victory a free pass. The first line of my reply to your rant was in complete agreement. Re-read it: “Calling for motorcycle companies (especially American) to innovate is a legitimate cause…”

    “guys like me” ? I’ll take your baseless personal attacks all day, but I’m not going to sound like a 14 yr old with “you suck” and “go away” directed at a manufacturing business while you are trying to get them to realize other fruitful markets.

    You state, “…That’s 3 decending iterations of The same stupid design!” The Hellcat was your breakthrough design, right? It is a cruiser. It is a cruiser powered by a cloned HD engine. You cannot get much more Chinese business model than that copy, no matter how you spin it with carbon fiber, billet, & Chambers’ doodling. Regardless if the HD droves couldn’t afford the Hellcat or not, you and Confederate stoked the same mentality that your are so offended by in your comments above.

    Are you outraged at yourself? “guys like you.” fuck.

    Grant writes above that his engine of choice for the Confederate was not used due to sales concerns. Exactly. Approximately $15 BILLION in revenue was realized by Harley alone in only 5 years, 1999-2004, precisely when Victory came to market. Tapping into that sales volume with their own updated engine is a good first step forward into streetbike manufacture. They now must deliver on other models outside of the cruiser segment to meet the changing tastes.

    Motorcycle culture in the States? The entire west coast is vibrant in all aspects of motorcycle culture. b-t-w, What would you ride if you lived in Kansas with limited roadrace tracks? The huge baby boom part of American motorcycle culture is changing. Victory/Polaris & HD better be ready.

    You still think I’m content with the current American moto innovation?

    The lack of engineering effort into something other than a cruiser & the realization of an unfulfilled, gaping market hole for an American performance bike is maddening. There’s no reason something along the lines of an American-made 2 wheeled equivalent of a Corvette is not giving Ducati fits in terms of performance, style, and price… just like the Vette does with all of its European competition.

    This is only a glimpse at the frustration…

  • jt nesbitt

    So answer the question, has Victory in the 13 some odd years of it’s existence, have ANYTHING substantive to show for itself?
    Fuck this, Grant, Wes, I’m sorry guys. This world sucks. I am going back to my shop to make cool stuff. Hoyt- Thanks for reminding me why I don’t do the motorcycle thing anymore- have fun with it. -JT

  • jt nesbitt

    Oh yeah- P.S. I forgot to ask, Seeing as how your not only a motorcycle design expert, but a super-savy market analyst as well, Exactly what has been your annual gross for the last few years at the “Hoyt” motorcycle company? Have you ever even built a motorcycle? Fucking amateur.–JT

  • hoyt

    Who has the “defeatist” attitude now? (“World sucks”)

    Take away the Hellcat’s cf wheels and replace the motor with an 88 or 96-inch knockoff HD engine and what remains? A wide-tire, low seat height, feet forward bike with no passenger accommodations. I understand the amount of cost put into the transmission that Confederate farmed-out, but in the grand scheme of your sports analogy, Where is the risk taking and how did the “ball move down the field” by way of the Hellcat? Exhausts through the swingarm? Been done before decades ago.

    The Hellcat lead to the exposure and capital investment for other projects like the Wraith, right? (Even if it didn’t, it doesn’t matter since the Hellcat is still in the same-old, feet-forward mold as HD & Victory).

    Suppose Victory unwraps something in the near future now that the first 10 year experience (and reduction in fixed costs) allows for other models? How does that differ from the same paradigm used by Confederate?

    Both companies tapped into the feet forward-vtwin-cashcow to build other models. I suspect you’ll say something like, “yeah Confederate had this few people and we did it in less than 10 years”. Good job (seriously). That doesn’t negate the costs and profitability timeframes for mass production & conservative corporate America speed (lack thereof).

    As mentioned twice now… calling on American companies to innovate is a legitimate cause, but I don’t see much difference between the path Confederate took to produce the Wraith than what Victory has taken to produce ” ___?__ ”

    Yet, you rail on them for the same approach of using the biggest market segment available.

    I approached Mark Blackwell about doing a prototype for their 10th Anniversary. He politely provided the expected corporate legality response but did offer Gary Gray’s contact information. Nothing materialized.

    So, amateur? Yep, and, apparently so are you now. It hasn’t stopped the ideas and creative energy no matter how you try to give it a negative connotation.

    “Super-savy market analyst”? I never said anything like it. I merely responded to your baseless personal attack of “guys like me” who you assumed to be content with the feet forward American style.