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Thursday, June 26: Minnesota-based Polaris Industries, renowned manufacturer of snowmobiles, ATVs and watercraft, unveiled to the world its newest venture, the Victory V92C motorcycle, touted to be the largest V-twin cruiser bike in production.
This announcement, long anticipated in the motorcycle world, brings the number of American motorcycle manufacturers up to four.
"We've been working on this for a long time and we're confident we have the best cruiser bike on the market today."
All 28 members of the Victory design team were on hand to show the fruits of three years of their labor. "We started in our Roseau [Minnesota] plant," said Engineering Manager Geoff Burgess, "but when things got rolling, we decided we would be better served by moving the project down to the Osceola [Wisconsin] plant, since that's where the engine crew was located. Of the original group, only six of us made the transfer. The remaining 22 people were hired from outside the company.
"We are very proud and excited to finally show you the Victory after hundreds of hours of preparation," offered Victory General Manager Matt Parks. "We've been working on this for a long time and we're confident we have the best cruiser bike on the market today."
Tipping the displacement scales at just over 92 cubic inches (1507cc), the Victory, by estimates of one factory test rider who asked to remain anonymous, can claim between 75 and 80 horsepower with a smooth but torquey launch. The Polaris designed-and-built V92 engine features a single overhead cam four-valve design with cylinders set at 50 degrees, and a unique oil cooling system that retains functional cooling fins. Dual 44mm electronic fuel injected throttle bodies will monitor fuel flow to the huge V-twin that is estimated to get around 40 miles per gallon on the freeway, but significantly less in town.
There was plenty of speculation as to whether the Victory motor was a single or dual crank pin design. Nobody with Polaris is talking about the internal design of the machine. "All I can say is that there's a crank pin in there," responded Parks.
It's hard to not get swept up in the excitement of a new bike manufacturer on the market. When the lights go down and there's a big show on the center stage, anything looks hot and sexy. But when the balloons loose their helium and the janitor comes through with the mop, reality sets in: The Victory just doesn't have anything to set it apart from the other cruisers on today's market. Taking design cues from vintage cruiser bikes, cars and aviation styles is not new to this market.
Nobody with Polaris is talking about the internal design of the machine. "All I can say is that there's a crank pin in there," responded Parks.
While the Victory's engine is tall, to say the least, its overall look is not anything above average, with nothing to lure consumers away from their current ride of choice. But that is not Polaris' intent - at least not yet. Polaris hopes to enter the market slowly, building on its existing customer base before expanding its line and taking over market share from other cruiser manufacturers. "Our studies show us that over 30 percent of our customers ride motorcycles," said Polaris CEO W. Hall Wendel, Jr. "Those are the people we are trying to reach first."
Applications are currently being taken for Polaris dealers to carry the new bikes. By January, 200 dealerships across the U.S. will be named as official carriers for the line. "While the traditional larger markets are in California, Texas and Florida, we want to reach people in all 50 states," commented Parks. "After the first year, we want to have 500 to 600 dealers."
During the first year there will only be one Victory model available to the public, bedecked in spectra red and black trim. By its March, 1998 release date a second, lighter and sportier paint scheme will be added. Polaris anticipates having a line of Victory accessories available to the public by that time, too.
Maunfacturer: Polaris Engine: Air/oil cooled SOHC 4-valve 50 degree v-twin Bore and Stroke: 97 x 102 mm Displacement: 1507cc (92ci) Primary drive: Gear Transmission: 5-speed Final Drive: Belt Claimed Dry Weight: 600 lbs. Seat Height: 28 inches Ground Clearance: 5.51 inches Fuel Capacity: 5 Gallons