The return of Victory’s Project 156 to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this June actually tells us a lot about the future direction of the brand.
Victory will race the Project 156 and the Empulse RR electric bike at the event on June 26.
Last year in the hands of Don Canet, the bike was setting times that were putting it in the running for an overall podium finish.
But a crash in section 2 and a subsequent failure in section 4 ended what would have been a dream debut for the bike, and of course the new 1,200cc v-twin that now powers the Octane muscle cruiser.
This year, the Project 156 will be ridden by 2014 Open Class winner Jeremy Toye, and Don will have riding duties on the Empulse RR electric bike.
The Empulse finished third in last year’s Isle of Man TT Zero event.
The Project 156 machine has undergone further development since last year’s disappointing outcome, and Victory’s heavy involvement in racing is assisting in the development of its bikes for road use.
It’s also helping to set the future direction of the company.
With sister brand Indian tackling Harley-Davidson head on, Victory is free to explore other directions.
The brand is no longer being seen as just another big American V-twin cruiser manufacturer, but rather as an emerging contender in the performance bike market.
There’s plenty of potential in the 1,200cc engine. In race trim it develops around 150bhp (111kW), yet the Octane’s power output has been dialled down to 105bhp (78kW).
And Victory’s persistence with the Project 156 at Pikes Peak is also adding further weight to the speculation that the company plans to put the bike into production, or something even more radical than we’ve seen so far.
What is clear is that Victory has broken the chains of its past, and is chasing a younger and more performance oriented market.