How Victory is Becoming America's Most Awesome Motorcycle Manufacturer

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Categories: Frontlines, Ask RideApart

This article is biased. I feel it's only fair to admit that fact straight out of the gate.

Truth is,  all articles you read on any website, about any subject, are in some way biased. But that's especially true when the subject is motorcycling. If we wrote without bias all articles would effectively read like this: "Because it produces 300 horsepower, the Kawasaki H2R is still the best motorcycle. The end. Please click on the ads anyway."

In this case, though, the bias is particularly strong. I was born in Texas, but spent my formative years and some of my young adulthood in Minnesota. So, it was in Minnesota where I first kissed a girl, where I first got to touch boobies, and so on. Those are the sort of experiences that endear a place to a man and, as such, I have a default love for just about everything that comes from the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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You will know, perhaps, that Polaris Industries –– parent company to Victory Motorcycles (and Indian Motorcycles) –– is headquartered in Medina, Minnesota. So, it shouldn't surprise you that the performance-related strides Victory's been making in the last year have been greeted with a certain enthusiasm on my part.

That said, I think that even those not swilling the Victory Kool-Aid have to admit exciting things are afoot within America's other, other motorcycle company. Indeed, I think it's entirely possible that we are sitting presently on the cusp of a new American motorcycling renaissance. At the very least, though, we are witnessing the rebirth of Victory Motorcycles.

2015-magnum-p5
Named after a condom and an ice cream bar, the Magnum is Victory's lowest point.

You certainly wouldn't have seen this coming less than a year ago, when Victory was launching its unquestionably awful Magnum bagger. I hate that bike. When it was launched, I hated even more the assertion that it was in any way new. Victory had taken a solid 5-year-old platform (Cross Country), ruined it with a 21-inch front wheel and 10-year-old paint scheme, and turned it into a gigantic portable stereo. I was apoplectic.

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I felt cheated. A year before that, in 2013, Polaris Vice President Steve Menneto had told Forbes that resurrection of the Indian brand would set Victory free "to really go all out" in the fields of "performance and innovation." The Magnum was/is the antithesis of that statement. It moved nothing forward but the boundaries of bad taste.

Hindsight, however, allows me to realize that Victory was last year already –– almost imperceptibly –– beginning to make good on its performance promises. For me, it starts with Tony Carbajal, who Victory drafted in to perform stunts on a Victory Judge at Sturgis.

It was a small act, and the choice of bike was unfortunate, considering the Judge had recently been scrapped from Victory's U.S. lineup, but it helped sow the seeds of the idea of Victory as a brand for people keen to do a little more than make runs to the donut shop. More recently, Victory put out a video of Carbajal drifting with a 200-hp supercharged Cross Country.

Quickly featured in that video is the logo of the company that provided the bike's supercharger: Lloyd'z Motorworkz. And it was a collaborative effort between Victory and Lloyd'z (and Klock Werks) in late August 2014 that really started the performance ball rolling. Adding a supercharger to a 2008 Hammer, the team achieved a record 173.223 mph average at the Bonneville Speed Trials.

Then, in January of this year, Victory announced it would be stepping into the world of professional racing by fielding its own NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Drag Racing factory team. It was a move that was somewhat surprising to those of us who had begun to lose faith in Victory in the wake of the Magnum's release. This was not the action of a company in the death throes.

The real shocks, however, have come more recently in the form of Victory's showing up at two of the world's most iconic racing venues: Isle of Man and Pike's Peak.

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