The proof is in the pudding and Polaris doesn’t skimp on the chocolate. From tip to tail, each model group received improvements this coming year in the form of lighter wheels, more power, brighter lights - heads to tails - and better styling. Some models got the works, while others got just a taste of all the ’09 improvements.
Other goodies include a pre-wired-for-accessory-aftermarket cruise control harness, a 4mm unitool stored on the bike's side-cover for servicing the headlight nacelle, and a tip-over fuel pump shut-off sensor. New Stingray and X-factor wheels cut much weight from this dynamically important area, with a combined front and rear weight reduction that varies from 13.8 to 17.8 pounds. Reducing unsprung mass makes for a quicker accelerating and steering motorcycle with better suspension response. More treats include the new monochrome tank badge denoting Victory¹s second decade of bike building, as well as a plethora of other features too numerous to mention here.
Bigger and better, to say the least.
The Victory Freedom 106 motor, first seen in the 2008 model year on the Vision, has also received a few changes. Last year’s model produced 92 hp with 109 ft-lbs of torque while the Freedom 100 seen on the remaining ‘08 models, had produced 85 hp and 106 ft-lbs. of tire shredding torque. Not sitting idly on their aging hands, no Victory employee would allow an anniversary model year to come and go without making more power with their engine. The ’09 Freedom powertrain will produce 97 hp and 113 ft-lbs with the addition of Stage 2 Cams to this years base engine and a little mid-west heart and soul. That’s a reported 14% increase over last year’s Freedom engine. The new Freedom 106 will only be available on the 2009 Hammer, Hammer S and Jackpot/Ness Jackpot models, however, the 2009 Vision will keep last years 92 hp 106ci engine.
|Powertrain History Table|
|1999||92ci - 85 ftlbs torque|
|2005||True 6-speed overdrive|
|2008||106 Freedom engine – moving the bar up with these bigger numbers|
|2009||The new 106/6 is bad ass and gained 14% more power from last year's – The 2009 Vision keeps last year's 106 however.|
|This year’s 106 has Stage 2 cams and gains a torque bump to 113 ft-lbs, leaving their competitors at the numbers that Victory was making 10 years ago. They see the new Victorys as “living for today” with bigger and growing stock torque numbers.|
Ten years on the throttle and no letting off
Last year, our own Pete Brissette took a ride on the 2008 Victorys and gave us the State of Motorcycling address noting Polaris’ spawn, Victory Motorcycles, approaching it’s 10th year of production; approaching with a cautious eye on the future. That anniversary is upon us and the designers, managers, owners and engineers are excited to have a new line of products as well an eye squarely on the next ten years. Nary a bobble, they’re right on track to be the best damn American motorcycle on the market, so says Victory. Despite the recent news of softening sales of heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycles the Victory name isn’t going away anytime soon. Their repositioning a few years ago as the new American brand is solid. Tom Tiller, chief executive officer of Polaris Industries Inc, reports that they have high expectations for new model year 2009 products.
Narrower, lower, more power and more style
As is common with motorcycle introductions, the presentations begin with a tech briefing followed by presentations of lower to higher MSRP bikes - saving the best for last. Sporting all the new ’09 basics like the lighter Stingray wheels and brighter lighting, but with a lowered and narrowed saddle – 1.5-inch narrower and 25.2-inch in height – and foot and hand controls pulled back 2 inches, the Kingpin Low is the one fully new model for 2009. Removal of the passenger pillion and pegset on the Kingpin Low helped to clean up the whole look - completing a tougher look for the solo or shorter rider
The remaining models for 2009 include the base Kingpin, Kingpin Tour, Kingpin 8-Ball, Vegas, Vegas Low, Vegas 8-Ball, each powered by the Freedom 100/6 engine. Beyond those items on the menu are the Hammer, Hammer S, Jackpot, Vision Street and Vision Tour, all but the latter using the new 97 hp Freedom 106/6. The Vision line will hold onto last year’s Freedom 106 with 92 hp.
The Vision Street comes in two forms, the basic Street and the Street Premium with a power windscreen, grips, seat, an HID headlight and some new billet wheels and more. The Vision Tour returns in all three packages we had last year – Tour, Tour Comfort and Tour Premium. Plus the 10th anniversary model with everything but the kitchen sink – GPS and mount, CB & Intercom, XM radio, reverse gear (otherwise available as an option), extra chrome, HID headlight and so on.
The Ness models include the Cory Ness Signature Jackpot with new paint and color matched frame and wicked Landshark billet wheels. And big poppa Arlen’s Signature Vision comes in limited numbers and has a million custom touches direct from the God of customizing, both in limited editions and crowning you with instant style, much like Harley’s CVO line-up.
Victory’s accessory line-up now boasts literally hundreds of model specific bolt-ons, except for the Vision (with only 72 accessory parts numbers). Garments and other accessories number in the thousands, give you countless opportunities to stand out form the crowd and still be a good American motorcycle-riding patriot.
Among the many features of the Vision Tour line are new speakers with newly added tweeters and billet wheels added to the premium models. Only the 10th Anniversary model gets the works, becoming the most exclusive motorcycle Victory has ever offered. Only 100 of these exclusive numbered bikes will be produced and there’s an online application process available on Victory’s website beginning August 1st. Sporting historic paint schemes, anniversary badging – beyond the monochromatic badges found on all the 2009 models - and fully decked out in chrome and premium features.
The campus tour included a historical walkthrough of the Vision’s evolution, as lead by Greg Brew. As the Director of Industrial Design for Victory, Greg uses the Art Center student body as a divining rod and talent pool, being an alumnus himself, his excitement for holding this event at the Art Center was palpable. Along our tour, we also got our peepers on the first full-scale mockup of the Vision and I was personally excited to see the radio’s paper LED dash “tuned” to KCRW – a locally grown yet world-wide known radio station from Santa Monica, California that features unique acts from talented artists in the same way the Vision was unique to Victory.
During this walkthrough we were teased with mentions of a new partnership as I have done here. Lastly presented as the next step for Victory expansion is a design partnership with Roland Sands and Zack Ness; designed to attract the younger buyers in the market. Victory continues to break the mold, pushing beyond the title of the new American motorcycle, selling not only to the affluent, but also attracting both women (42% of the Vegas Low models sold to women) and the younger buyers.
Targeting the youth market with younger designers is the aim of signing on Roland Sands and Zack Ness, the grandson to Arlen. Roland is, well, Roland Sands and already well-known as a custom bike builder. This GP-racer-cum-custom-chopper-builder has got his finger in a million pies. And if you attended last year's IMS show you’d seen some of them, but this year, Roland has teamed up with Greg Brew, Tiger Hayden-Bracy, Mike Song and their Ness cohorts to tease us with a “repeatable” custom Victory 8-Ball. Roland says “repeatable” because it’s a custom you could “possibly build in the future.” We’re left to believe that the parts he’s added to his Victory custom might someday be available via the parts catalog instead of a stand-alone production model.
The last bikes presented to us were the customs built by Zack and Roland. Zack’s custom started as a Kingpin 8-Ball. He “tossed on a Ness front end” with a 23-inch wheel, cut the neck and raked it out to nearly 40 degrees. Then he took some cross-bike OEM parts, sliced them up to fit and added a custom paint scheme and style to create a tough looking custom.
Roland capitalized on much of the design and build work already done by Victory and tossed some nostalgia on top of it with a “rigid-mounted spring-style seat” sans the springs. He then threw in his sporty-custom racing style – a la RSD (Roland Sands Design) – with a set of flattrack-style pipes and chrome number plate. He also moved the stock mid-controls a touch rearward, and made a special set of handlebars to steer the beast.
Wrapping up the package is a 21-inch by 3.5-inch custom wheel up front, cut to match the existing rotors. It’s a bad ass machine and in true RSD style. You’ll recognize it when you see it at the shows this fall, I’m sure. Despite being a RSD Victory, the original DNA still shines through to make a great looking bike. Maybe next year you’ll be able to kit out your own 8-Ball in a similar fashion right over the counter. No one’s saying for sure at this point if that’ll be possible.
Although Victory is a relatively new brand and small player in the global motorcycle market, the company will put its 50,000th bike on the road this year. That’s no small feat. And parent company Polaris isn’t letting off the throttle just yet. They see 10 years more, minimum, of motorcycling on the horizon.
Here’s to the next 10, guys!