Victory Octane. How Many Shots Of Adrenaline Do You Need?

cyril-huze-03Octanedetails2OctanedetailsWhen Victory teased the unveiling of a Modern American Muscle model inspired by the Pikes Peak Project 156 racer, apparently it meant many different things to my readers. You just need to read again the comments that popped up under my feature during the official launch on February 19th. Some imagined a sport chassis design never seen before, a brand new power plant and a mount featuring mid-controls. Instead, many mentioned right away the engine and chassis design similarities with the Indian Scout, forward controls included, wondering if the Octane was only a marketing coup, a muscled-up version of his Polaris cousin. So, let me first address this topic.

cyril-huze-6Engineers at Polaris are aware that they created and own a very unique reliable platform that can be declined to satisfy different type of riders with different wish lists. So, yes the Scout and Octane share the same chassis architecture – but not the same frame – and the same engine – but tweaked differently – for 2 models that will attract different categories of bikers with nuanced expectations. An approach similar to all those of successful manufacturers in the automotive industry.

cyril-huze-4Victory and Indian are separate divisions, working independently, but sharing the same Polaris resources. So, before getting a chance to road test the new Victory in Daytona it was important for me to know how each of them went in a different direction to create 2 different products for different market targets.

Main numbers sound like this. Frame: Octane 29 deg. rake and 5.1” trail compared to Scout 29-deg.rake and 4.7” trail. Wheelbase: Octane 62.1” vs Scout 61.5”. Seat height: Octane 25.9” vs. Scout 25.3”. Engine. The Octane got slightly taller cylinders, gaining 46 cc versus the Scout for a total displacement of 1179 cc. Octane’s heads, cylinders, camshafts, motor covers are unique. Final-drive ratio: Octane 7% shorter gearing for 14% more rear wheel extra torque in all gears.

cyril-huze-2So, yes there is a family resemblance between the Octane and the Scout. But the Octane looks intentionally more aggressive, not only because of the monochrome matte super steel gray painted bodywork (your only choice of color) and absence of shiny stuff, but also because of more angular shapes and accessories. But how does it feel when you straddle the Octane and hit the road for the 1st time?

At the Daytona airport warehouse where the Polaris press bikes are kept and maintained during the rally, I just got one warning. Watch out for your take off… Rolling the throttle and dumping the clutch already tells you a lot about the Octane’s personality. To use the words of the launch campaign, “powered to burn, built to thrill” Static burnout anyone? Too easy… The Octane excels at accelerations, a wonderful rush of adrenaline that you get from the 1st long first gear and gearing up all 5 others. As a matter of fact, pushed by a 1200cc dual overhead cam/four-valve with 104 hp on tap and weighing just 528 pounds, the Octane has the quickest quarter-mile time and is the fastest from 0 to 60 mph of any motorcycle Victory has ever produced. Setup with a 18” front and 17” rear wheel and riding position are typical of a mid-weight cruiser. At 6ft tall, I felt in a much more natural position than on, let’s say a Sportster. If you share my morphology, a position that you will be obliged to adjust forward around 65/70 mph, the Octane small cowl logically giving up at protecting you from strong wind pressure.

7Octanedetails9OctanedetailsAll along this test ride, the Octane felt lighter, somewhat nimbler than the Scout. It’s 5 pounds lighter than the Scout, but it must not be the only reason for this extra agility feeling. Playing catch up in traffic with my photographer riding another Victory model, the feet forward position that some have criticized on this type of machine is never an obstacle to slalom around obstacles. And when everything is clear front of you, the Octane becomes what you want it to be, either a prowler or waiting for you to flex its muscles to turn it into a rocket. With 4.7” of travel for the 41 mm front end and 3” of travel for the preload adjustable twin shocks, ride is relatively firm but appropriate for this type of bike. Braking also seemed adequate although no ABS is available on the North American model. On the minus column I will only mention that the clutch felt a little bit heavy and that the factory seat will probably discourage some of you to ride all day long.

cyril-huzeAt a very attractive base price of $10,499 with many custom accessories available soon to make it your own, the Victory Octane is probably the most fun and muscled-up midsize cruiser available today. But let’s be clear: the Octane is not the street version of the 2015 Pikes Peak Project 156 bike that some expected. .Victory will again participate this year in the event with a new improved bike and seems serious about winning it (victory hired 2014 Open Class winner Jeremy Toye.) So, a  street “Pikes Peak” naked model could be the next step in Victory’s strategy towards performance motorcycles. (photography @ Horst Roesler for Cyril Huze)

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Zipper's

30 Responses to “Victory Octane. How Many Shots Of Adrenaline Do You Need?”


  1. 1 Greeko Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Looking good CH!

  2. 2 Patrick Bunel Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Didn’t get a chance to ride a demo in Daytona, but will asap.

  3. 3 JohnnySpeed Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:33 am

    The problem was never that the Octane is a terrible bike or even that it has so many similarities to the Scout. The problem was with the over-zealous, misleading marketing hype leading up to the launch of the bike. They kept mentioning Pike’s Peak and Project 156 to build anticipation and when the Octane, in reality, had nothing in common with the Project 156 bike. The fault lies with Victory’s marketing department. I posted a comment on the initial teaser about how lame their marketing hype was how they were better off just revealing the bike than to build unrealistic expectations. Maybe they’ve finally learned their lesson. I had the same opinion and feeling back when they unveiled the Victory High Ball on this site. It was their over blown marketing hype that made a solid, if subjectively unattractive, bike seem like a let down.

  4. 4 J. Galhager Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:39 am

    i trust Cyril about the fact that it is probably a very good bike. But agree with JohnnySpeed about this model not being the Pike’s Peak Project 156 descendant as it was announced by Victory.

  5. 5 Dan Martinez Mar 25th, 2016 at 8:46 am

    The bad boy version of the Scout. Love bad boys.

  6. 6 J. Guerini Mar 25th, 2016 at 9:33 am

    I am 6.4″. Too small for me.

  7. 7 Matt W. Mar 25th, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Most informative review I’ve read on the Octane thus far. Thanks Cyril! Had a blast test riding the Scout last year so I’m excited to see that Victory has added even more monkeys in the barrel with an ever sweeter price tag!

  8. 8 Clay Manson Mar 25th, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Interesting review. Didn’t ride the Scout yet. Going to Sturgis this year. I am in the market for a new bike. Will try both.

  9. 9 Roberto Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Yep,another bike built for 5’8″ rider.

  10. 10 mkviz Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Another motorcycle website did a quick video review on this. Watching the video convinced me that this bike is different from the scout. But it’s too bad the design lines make them indistinguishable to each other, in which buyers perceive it is the same bike. That is probably the biggest mistake they made when you visually compare the two. You would have to have a really good eye to note the differences between each bike other than reading the spec sheet

  11. 11 Woody's Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I’m 5’8″, somebody else can have mine 😉

  12. 12 Tommy Mar 25th, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    It’s a good review but will not buy before seeing more reviews + my own test ride.

  13. 13 BobS Mar 25th, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    JohnnySpeed nailed it. I thought the Scout was a very fun bike that falls a little short in the suspension and braking. I’m not at all concerned that Scout and Octane share some “family architecture”. I suspect the Octane is a more fun bike and will appeal to a large segment of mid-weight cruiser buyers. My gripe with Victory is in their hype. Their hype, including all the P-156 references, made a LOT of us believe they were coming out with something more like Ducati and KTM. They relentlessly hyped power and then showed us a 104 hp 1200. That’s a huge fail. Doesn’t mean I don’t think the bike will be a ton of fun to ride, just what they promised is not what they delivered.

  14. 14 Johnyletgo Mar 25th, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    At least, this article makes me want to try it.

  15. 15 LedBoots Mar 25th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    @ JohnnySpeed
    You hit the nail right on the head

  16. 16 NoH2oh Mar 25th, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Victory needs a “holy crap I never thought they would/could make that” type of bike. I am guessing a 156 type bike is not more than a year away.

  17. 17 The Slob Mar 26th, 2016 at 5:07 am

    lose the oversized, Ness inspired rear fender and put on some cool aftermarket pipes..now were talking

  18. 18 Tom Mar 26th, 2016 at 6:33 am

    I demo’d this bike with 2 friends at Daytona Bike Week. It was “FAST” with quick throttle response. It is a great buy for the money for someone not too tall.

  19. 19 SIGFREED Mar 26th, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Here it is:

    THE VICTORY OCTANE [VO] IS OVER-PRICED AND OVER-WEIGHT.

    It is competing in a class where is will be relegated to a woeful last and will die a natural death. Another failed experiment by Polaris – one that its shareholders should watch carefully.

    To quote only a few examples:

    1. The Ducati Scrambler Icon is priced at only $8,895 and is a mere ~7% down on torque/weight versus the VO – albeit its max torque comes in at a lower rpm – so the jury is out re what it is like in the real world. PLUS – its air-cooled.

    2. The Ducati 821 Dark is priced at $10,995, ie $500 more vs the VO or ~4.5% more, yet it is > 15% up on torque/weight – almost 90% of that torque available at 6000rpm. Plus it has vastly superior suspension (even in the basic trim) and an infinitely better chassis. It will run.., ride.., whatever else, circles around the VO.

    The VO has zero legacy and even less “street cred”. The Ducati has both – in buckets. Who is going to buy the VO? JUST ASKING. A youngster? Not remotely – they buy on spec-sheets and actual performance and what goes best at the moment of purchase (hardly ever brand loyalty). Middle-aged men? They are fat and will not fit – can get a pre-owned Dyna for the same price (with endless aftermarket bits at their finger-tips) and they are far less sticker-price sensitive. Girls/Ladies – nope; it does not look the part – plus the lighter the bike the better for them; Jap or Italian bikes are streets ahead in this dept.

    In fact, if you buy a VO you either work for Polaris, or your name is Cyril Huze, or you are a blithering idiot…

    There are a few things Polaris do great – this is NOT one of them.

    1. Polaris should have bought Buell and worked on the formula to create a proper light-weight naked bike with a torque focused motor – perhaps the XB12S with a 1300 – 1400cc version of the water-cooled v-twin (that is btw just a crib of the V-Rod’s motor) in the $12,000 to $13,000 price range.

    2. Polaris should rather have used its resources to make a SCOUT ‘S’ that is lighter and with a tweaked performance oriented motor.

    Polaris have good engineers – technically, but their marketing is idiotic, 90% of the time.

    Victory is technically a reasonably well engineered product at the price point (depending what you compare it to), however, it is butt ugly – in fact the VO looks camp to me.

  20. 20 BobS Mar 26th, 2016 at 8:34 am

    If Sigfreed was right nobody would ever buy a Scout or a Sportster…

  21. 21 Frankie Mar 26th, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Siegfried. You sound like a very arrogant guy who pretends to be an expert. I can tell you that you don’t understand very well how the mc market works and I don’t think that Polaris needs your recommendations. They are laughable.

  22. 22 Breeze Mar 26th, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Its just another cruiser. Nothing more.

  23. 23 Seymour Mar 26th, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Make it one of the stars of a movie or TV show and it’ll do fine.

  24. 24 NoH2oh Mar 26th, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    “Just a crib of the V-Rods motor…”. Are you for real?

  25. 25 James just another crazy kiwi Mar 27th, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Ugly as the Scout,
    When do the New Bonnies get some air time ?

  26. 26 Boomer Mar 27th, 2016 at 5:25 am

    Sigfreed: I disagree with most of what you said but the part about the Ducati 821 Dark did get my curiosity up so I checked it out. I believe those who were thinking the VO was going to be more like the P-156 would be quite happy with the 821 Dark. Victory may even build something like that in the next year or two.

    You’re right about other brands having the street cred in the sport bike market but Victory is being bold by entering it. Motus does and Buell did have some American representation but at a much higher price point which makes them not comparable.

    I’d like to have that 821 Dark and the insurance may not even be too bad since it’s a midsize and I’m getting a bit long in the tooth. I wonder what the average insurance cost differential would be between it and the VO. What about maintenance cost? Can one work on either one if handy with a wrench? Shop availability? Parts?

    A lot more than just pure spec sheets goes into the consideration of one bike over another. Have you test ridden either the Scout or VO? You might be doing yourself a favor to do so. Who knows; you might just be pleasantly surprised.

    One last note. Kevin X who owns a bike repair and tune shop down in Florida recently added 16 hp to a VO by adding a PC-V, Ness Intake, and dyno tuned it. The customer had already drilled out the mufflers for air flow and will change out the pipes when a set he likes becomes available which will likely gain him more hp. Not bad for the cost and time involved.

  27. 27 Bangpony Mar 27th, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    That is just an ugly motorcycle.

  28. 28 Eric PK Mar 29th, 2016 at 8:13 am

    It is the small, entry level bike that Victory was lacking. Victory riders have started buying them for their wives, replacing sportsters and Japanese models. Some guys want a smaller, fun bike to pair with their bagger/tourer. And again, as a starter bike, it might be more appealing with a smaller motor and a couple thousand dollars less than the other cruisers like the Gunner. It isn’t at all what they hyped it up to be, but it still filled a big hole in the lineup. HD gets people in the door and begins brand loyalty with their smaller bikes, just look at the piles of one year old Sportsters at the dealership, all traded in for a ton of profit to the dealer, for larger more expensive models.

  29. 29 Blackmax Apr 2nd, 2016 at 6:08 am

    I can see where Polaris was going with this
    but again, the Pike’s Peak design would’ve been
    better accepted vs. a clone of the Indian Scout.
    if Cyril says there is a difference that good enough to start
    But I’ll still need t go down & do “seat of the pants” demo ride

  30. 30 Jeremy Spokane Jul 18th, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    The bike has plenty of power, handles incredible for a cruiser, but needs to be bigger.

    http://www.visordown.com/sites/default/files/field/image/49502.jpg

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