For Victory Motorcycles, the future is now. Here's our first peek at its latest offering, the dramatically-styled 2008 Victory Vision.
Victory says that it's okay if at first you look at this bike and ask yourself: "What the heck is that?" The Minnesota-based company describes its new Vision as "the most progressive American luxury-touring bikes ever built," and it's difficult to argue that point.
This is certainly no Electra Glide. In fact, the Victory Vision surely ranks up there with the unforgettable Honda Rune as the most forward-looking cruisers ever to have entered mass production. Victory reps boast that the Vision will be considered a landmark in the evolution of the motorcycle.
is treading bold new ground in the luxury-touring market with this dramatically styled V-Twin cruiser. It's the culmination of more than six years of research and development after the initial market exploration in 2000. Twenty design sketches and hundreds of thousands of development miles later, the production Vision will arrive at dealers in autumn of 2007.
The Vision makes good business sense in a few key aspects. First is the bourgeoning popularity of the "bagger" segment. It's not only the fastest growing market among cruisers, it also represents the greatest value in terms of dollars spent.
The other significant market condition in favor of the Vision is the relative dearth of competition in the luxury-touring class. Beyond the aforementioned Electra Glide, the iconic Gold Wing and a few BMWs is an opportunity for a cushy touring mount brimming with comfort and convenience technology. And no one ever said a cruiser-based entry to the class had to look like a 40-year-old Harley.
Victory reps believe the Vision will be considered a landmark in the evolution of the motorcycle. The Vision Street (left) goes without the large top trunk of the Vision Tour (right).
Central to the design theme is the sculpting along the engine's forward cylinder that mimics the curves of Victory's distinctive scalloped fuel tank created by Victory's inspired designer Michael Song. In profile, the 50-degree Freedom V-Twin sits cozily inside the bodywork, like "a jewel in the setting." Similarly, the twin exhaust mufflers are nestled tidily in scooped slots under the locking, hard-shell saddlebags. The bike's nose has a bit of BMW R1200RT in it, while the shapely curves of the taillight area are like nothing else we've ever seen.
The Vision is actually two motorcycles based on the same platform. The full-boat version is called the Vision Tour, and its distinguishing feature is the generously sized topcase that is missing from its little brother, the Vision Street. The Tour version's 6,750 cubic inches of storage doubles that of the Street's. Both have roomy floorboards and low-maintenance belt drives.
Wind protection and airflow management, augmented by adjustable side wind deflectors, are claimed to be outstanding. A convenient electrically adjustable windscreen is optional. A 6.0-gallon fuel tank guarantees a 200-mile minimum range and also provides a location for the main stereo controls.
A windshield that adjusts electrically is an option. A face unlike any other cruiser-based tourer is standard.
The cockpit consists of a pair of white-faced analog dials for the speedometer and tach. A small LCD info screen is located between the gauges. Several control functions are handled via thumb controls on the handlebar, the amount of which depends on the number of convenience options. Expect satellite radio, GPS navigation MP3 support and much more. And since Victory is a subsidiary of Polaris, a leader in snowmobiles, we might also anticipate heated grips and seats.
We're using words like anticipate and expect because Victory is still playing coy with many of the Vision's specifications. For instance, we can't tell you the V-Twin's displacement, compression ratio or power output, though a betting person might put smart money down on an increase in all three. If Vic doesn't say the motor is the 1634cc "100/6" Freedom lump then we'll assume it must be growing.
What definitive stuff we can tell you is the Vision rides on a very Kingpin-esque 65.7-inch wheelbase and 26.5-inch seat height, the latter claimed to be the lowest in the class. Also like the Kingpin is the 5.4 inches of trail in the steering geometry, but the Vision utilizes a considerably steeper 29.0-degree rake (instead of 32.8 degrees) that should gain some nimbleness to what must surely be a machine pushing the 800-lb mark. Its front tire is also Kingpin-sized, a 130/70-18, but its rear swaps an 18-incher for a 180/60-16.
Front suspension looks to be the same conventional 43mm fork from the Vegas line, while the rear shock is said to have some measure of adjustability, probably just rear preload. Brakes consist of a trio of 300mm rotors using three-piston calipers up front and twin-pot units out back. Victory didn't release any other info about the brakes, but it looks like the front caliper is plumbed with a second line, indicating a form of linked braking with the brake pedal. Antilock brakes, unconfirmed by Victory, must be optional.
The Victory Vision can be decked out with the latest in tech gadgetry, including satellite radio, GPS navigation, MP3 support and more.
The Vision has been undergoing on-road development since 2005, and a company rep says nearly 30,000 of those miles were ridden in the context of the other bikes in this category. Victory promises "handling and performance never found before on an American V-Twin tourer," though, frankly, that's not too lofty of a goal.
Victory says the Vision Street is meant for a rider who does occasional long-distance trips but rides primarily solo, so it makes do without the large topcase and its backrest, though the pillion seat still appears quite comfy and it comes with confidence-inspiring grab handles. The company claims the Street "defines 21st-century cool."
Meanwhile, the Vision Tour is intended for riders who make frequent long-distance trips and usually have someone along for the ride. It's for a person who "values traveling in style and comfort with every luxury-touring amenity," so it's safe to say it will be heavier and more expensive than the Street version.
And speaking of prices, mac-and-cheese college students probably won't be able to afford a Vision of their own. Victory's Kingpin Tourer already starts at a buck under $18K, so we're talking about a plateau north of 20 grand for the Vision. But that kind of coin isn't unexpected in this luxo-barge league. Harley's Ultra Classic Electra Glide currently retails for more than $20K, and Honda's Gold Wing is also banging through that doorway, as is the $22K BMW K1200LT.
The Vision's styling is sure to polarize opinions, but we anxiously await a chance to sample it dynamically.
We'll know more in June when Victory releases detailed specs on the Vision as it ramps up for production. Yours in Black, Super Steel Gray or Midnight Cherry this September or October.
"We're not rewriting American history," says Victory. "We're writing its future."
For more information check out the Victory Vision webpage
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