The 2016 Victory version of the Empulse does sport some improvements over the previous Brammo version, none of which add up to major changes. This isn't to say they aren’t important: For example, reduced unsprung weight may enhance handling, which is an important factor for the performance-oriented rider. Increased capacity in the high-capacity 10.4kWh lithium-ion battery makes the bike capable of speeds in the 100 mph range, another performance feature important to the target market.
Unlike some of the competition, the Victory Empulse has a six-speed gearbox, which both enhances the sportbike feel as well as allows maximum efficiency in the use of the bike’s available power.
As to range capability, Victory claims, “In typical riding, the Empulse TT battery provides a rider with a range of about 65 miles, and a range of 100 miles is possible with throttle management and use of the bike’s regenerative charging. In preliminary testing, the bike demonstrated a Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) city range of 94 miles. The bike delivered an MIC ‘combined 70 mph highway and city range of 57 miles.”
Other changes from the Brammo predecessor include tweaks of bodywork and dash components drawn from the Isle of Man examples. (For complete specs and a gallery of images, see our coverage here.)
So, the answer to the overall question, “Is the Victory Empulse TT Just a 2016 Brammo?” is, of course it is—with some improvements. There would be little sense in reinventing the wheel when a proven platform just purchased at considerable cost already exists.
The more important questions that remain to be answered might be: How quickly can the range of the Empulse TT be improved while also increasing overall performance? After all, the novelty of a motorcycle with a top speed of about 100 mph, a range of 65 to 100 miles and a $20k price tag will soon wear off.
A companion question for Victory, not necessarily tied to the Empulse question is the future of the big V-twin cruiser/touring product line. In the long-term, will it make sense to continue to offer both the Victory and Indian brand V-twins, or will the Victory V-twins move toward something based on the Pike’s Peak prototype mill and chassis with more of a Buell-style feel leaving Indian to carry the flag in the cruiser/touring market?
As to whether or not Polaris top brass are willing to take a chance on something totally different in the product mix, the answer seems clear in the company’s six-year development of the unconventional Slingshot (see more about the Slingshot here).
Time will tell, but there are bound to be some interesting products emerging from Polaris in the next few years. Stay tuned to RideApart for more, as things develop.