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Mechanical Issue Halts Victory Project 156 Less Than 2 Miles From Pikes Peak Finish Line (Updated with onboard video)

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The prototype machine built by Victory Motorcycles with Roland Sands Design quit running less than 2 miles from the finish line at Pikes Peak yesterday. The DNF brought to an unceremonious halt the much-hyped effort piloted by Cycle World’s Don Canet.

Interestingly, there appeared to be “radio silence” from the Project 156 team for several hours following the DNF. The first report we saw was on a social media site maintained by Roland Sands Design, which rather vaguely pinned the cause for the DNF on a relatively low speed crash by Canet roughly 7 miles before the bike quit. It wasn’t until the formal press release was received this morning at MD that we realized the crash itself was not the end of the effort. One of the photos released with the Victory press release appears to show a scraped clutch line cover, but Victory says they are still investigating the cause of the mechanical failure.

Blow up the photo of the course map on the right, and you can appreciate how far Canet rode the bike after the low speed crash at Brown Bush Corner before the bike gave up less than 2 miles from the summit.

Our personal kudos to Don Canet, who was obviously hauling ass despite a very scary crash on the prototype just a week earlier, and while piloting a machine that had visited the “frame straightener” in order to rush it to the start line.  Great job Don!

Here is the press release from Victory:

  • Project 156 qualified fourth overall out of 60 entries and top of class
  • Don Canet posted the second fastest time of the day in section one
  • Don Canet crashed in section two of the course but remounted the bike
  • Project 156 had to pull over in the fourth and final section while leading the Exhibition Class to an unfortunate DNF.

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Victory Racing experienced some highs and lows with racing this weekend after Project 156, ridden by Cycle World Editor Don Canet, crashed in the second section of the mountain course and stopped running less than 2 miles from the summit of the Pikes Peak’s finish line following an aggressive starting pace that proved the potential of the prototype engine.

Canet had qualified first in the Exhibition Class a few days before the race and was buoyed by qualifying fourth overall. Early on in the race, Don was posting speeds on Project 156 that were putting him in the running for an overall podium finish until he touched the slippery white paint in section two’s Brown Bush corner, one of the tightest corners out of the 156 turns, resulting in a minor lowside that would cause issues later in the run.

Don was rolling again in 23 seconds and resumed his fast pace. In the third section he was back on race pace posting the fifth fastest split time overall. Alas, it was not meant to be and he had to retire in the fourth and final section of the course around 13,000ft elevation. After such a promising start following practice and qualifying, the Victory Racing team began to set its sights on not just winning their class, but taking the overall lowest time in the motorcycle category 

Canet said: “I was off to a strong start and competitive with the fastest bikes on the mountain. My disappointment is more for the team and how much work they put into Project 156 from the very beginning. The bike was working really well today despite being a prototype and being rebuilt after the practice crash a few weeks ago. To go fast here you have to ride outside the paint lines and I got caught out crossing over one. I never let go of the handlebars and got right back up again but unfortunately the bike stopped running in the last section. Overall, I’m really proud of the team’s effort.”

Victory Motorcycles General Manager Rod Krois said: “The Victory team didn’t shy away from the challenge of racing Pikes Peak. Racing is the ultimate test for any machine and on the back of a podium at the Isle of Man TT a few weeks ago we were hoping for a strong result with Project 156 as well. We know that Don and the team were pushing hard to take a position on the overall podium and we absolutely support their commitment to racing as hard as possible at Pikes Peak this year.”

“We committed to racing a prototype Victory engine in one of the toughest ways possible, and we succeeded in showing how strong an engineering team we have at Victory Motorcycles to develop a competitive motor in such a short time,” said Polaris Motorcycles Product Director Gary Gray. “We may not have ended up with the result we all wanted today – but I can say that the Project 156 represents the two things that Victory stands for – performance and exhilaration. We got the bike back down to the pits after the race, and were able to fire it up. It looks like the crash may have resulted in an electrical issue that ended this run for Project 156. The team is investigating to find the specific issue, and we want to bring Project 156 back to the race again.”

61 Comments

  1. Don Canet says:

    Just came across this post today, it may be a dead thread now but thought I would still weigh in. Thanks to all that have commented with an appreciation for the added challenge this unproven protortpe presented on Pikes Peak. The slip in the race was at 22mph and didn’t damage the bike. Fuel vapor lock brought us to our knees at 13,000 feet. In all it was a rewarding experience.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      Great job Don…must have been a lot of pressure. I noted RS tried to blame crash damage, but I suspected otherwise (you hauled ass for miles and miles before the bike quit).

  2. Agent55 says:

    Shouldnt the headline read “Mechanical issue caused by a crash…”? I mean he did crash the thing which in turn damaged the bike. I understand corporate BS trying to spin the reality of things, but he tossed the thing down the road.

  3. Robert says:

    Mechanical issue? As opposed to an emotional issue?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      As opposed to a fuel consumption issue, a traction issue, a tire wear issue, a crash damage issue, etc.

  4. HS1-RD-CX100-VFR says:

    I’m stumped on why anyone thinks EBR has anything to offer Polaris. EBR has an engine that is long in the tooth and comes with royalties due to a Polaris arch rival. That’s not attractive. EBR’s have virtually no developmental work in the now crucial area of electronic rider aides. There’s a zero value gain. The 156 prototype is not a lot less developed than the production EBR’s. Sure, there is a gap, but it is one that can be bridged quickly without takng on other baggage. Polaris knows how to develop new product. Roland Sands appears to be much less demanding to work with than Erik Buell. Erik wants you to bankroll his eccentric dreams while not interfering with product and management decisions. Roland just wants to be paid for services delivered. Polaris doesn’t need to acquire a production facility built on dreams and shoe strings. They know how manufacture things efficiently. Erik needs a lifeline from a hands-off rich person who is as eccentric as himself. Polaris is a mature multi-national corporation. Neither has anything that is a beneficial to the other.

    • Hughlysses says:

      EBR owns their “long in the tooth” engine outright.

    • Pacer says:

      You nailed it.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The EBR engine is no more “long in the tooth” than Ducati’s twins, Aprilia’s V4 or any inline 4. It shares a v-angle with it’s Rotax ancestor and little else. There are no royalties due to Rotax, either as far as I know. The engine project wouldn’t be a bad buy if it could be purchased on its own separate from everything else – I’m sure it could be had for a steel. But you are correct – Polaris doesn’t need it.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “i’m stumped on why anyone thinks EBR has anything to offer Polaris”

      you and the worried execs at Harley Davidson watching Polaris come for their market share.

      • Dale says:

        Now Norm, you know those superior “executives” at H-D don’t ever worry about their competition. Heck, in their minds, they have no competition…

  5. Motorhead says:

    The measure of a man is not the height he has climbed, but how high he bounces after he gets knocked down. Or something like that. Bounce up and keep on riding, Victory!

  6. Xootrx says:

    I’m surprised no one has beaten to this, but there’s a well worn phrase, from many different famous people. My favorite is from Teddy Roosevelt:
    “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…….than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

    I realize it’s possible he was quoting someone else, so forgive me if my source is not accurate. Anyway, good for you Polaris/Victory/Indian/Whoever. See you again next year, I hope.

    • Scottie says:

      I agree. Push on Polaris. Radiators and all.

      I like the quote, but Teddy did have several me ahead of him when he went up the hill

      • Xootrx says:

        Yes he did. It was a bit of a shock when I read the whole story. But his presidency did have its good moments, which helped dim the comedy of San Juan Hill.

  7. Gutterslob says:

    Not surprised. Look at the thing. It’s a mess. Makes a liquid-cooled naked Ducati look tidy in comparison, and that takes some doing.

    • Blackcayman says:

      look up the word “Prototype”…

      There is yet to be quite a bit of “development” prior to the release of the new model

  8. Blackcayman says:

    Unlike EBR, Polaris Industries INC. is very successful in manufacturing and SELLING all kinds of powersports vehicles. They are on a tear with record growth, sales and net income, year over year for the last 5 years.

    2014 results – 4.4 Billion in sales with 454 million in net income

    They have significant expertise in design, engineering and manufacturing. When they bought Indian, all the naysayers said they would drop a restyled Victory motor in them… Now even they know Polaris created an entirely new V-Twin motor for the Chief and now the Scout.

    Even at 10 cents on the dollar I don’t see them buying the bones of EBR much less bringing Erik over to continue his vision.

    So please stop with the incessant whining about Polaris needing to buy EBR to be successful.

    Its embarrassing.

    • Motorico says:

      I understand the emotion attached to the closing of EBR. Erik is an underdog and many are rooting for him.

      However, I don’t see the value in EBR for Polaris. They already have a motor. If they want the talent, I am guessing the former EBR employees would take a fair job offer.

      What EBR has is a name that many seem to think has value. I don’t necessarily agree it has much value as a brand. It also has the ZTL brake system. No one else seems to see the value of this technology. The fuel in frame is probably not a technology that anyone else wants to pursue. I don’t know that the IP is worth much to another company.

      I know this is heresy to the Buell faithful.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I am pretty sure that Harley Davidson still owned intellectuals to the ZTL and fuel frame and that EBR was using both with permission. If EBR ever bought full rights to those with Hero money, I don’t know. But like you said, nobody wants those technologies anyway, and I imagine the patents have to be expired by now or at least will be soon. As far as talent goes, Polaris clearly has plenty of that on the payroll already, and the EBR talent is for hire anyway.

        Assuming EBR doesn’t survive the receivership intact and gets sold in pieces, the only value someone might find is that they can potentially buy for pennies on the dollar a fully developed engine project capable of 160-ish horsepower with tooling and established vendors. If Polaris wanted to fast-track a competitive sportbike, that wouldn’t be a bad buy at all.

      • todd says:

        I doubt HD or EBR has any IP worth buying in the way of ZTL brakes or fuel in the frame. These are not new and prior art is easily found. Maybe it’s more of a trademark thing but not much that can be owned.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Maybe it’s more of a trademark thing”.

          no, in the “cookie cutter” world of motorbikes it’s about having a USP.

    • mickey says:

      Keep it up and you will wake up Mike, then you will be sorry.

      • Mike says:

        From Mike

        Mickey….you posted the following…what does it mean

        >>>>>>

        mickey says: June 30, 2015 at 4:08 pm

        Keep it up and you will wake up Mike, then you will be sorry

  9. Vrooom says:

    As Mr. Canet said, to go fast on Pike’s Peak you have to ride between the lines. Shame.

  10. GKS says:

    Race report with class winners and times please.

  11. The Spaceman says:

    This is racing: big risks, big rewards. As a marketing exercise it was a podium finish. If they come back next year they’ll legitimize the effort.

  12. Mark Pearson says:

    I think it’s a great story. I hope they continue and develop a street/track day bike that I just gotta have. I still think anyone running that course is nuts..

  13. ApriliaRST says:

    Considering the newness of the design, I think they did well. Real well, actually.

  14. Trpldog says:

    Just grab the leftovers of EBR and have a fully developed motor.

    • Dave says:

      EBR’s was a development on a Rotax v-twin, similar to what they, Aprilia and Can Am have all used. They can go “factory direct” to Rotax if that’s what they want. I’m betting a big part of this exercise was to develop their own engine.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      That is a Scout-derived engine, no doubt about it. So it is already fully developed. They are just pushing the envelope now.

  15. Mike Simmons says:

    They have nuthin’ to be ashamed of! Great Job! Don’t give up! Next year, the podium!

    Mike

  16. chris says:

    Great effort by Mr. Canet Roland Sands and everyone at Polaris Victory, NOTHING to be ashamed of and I certainly hope to see some semblance of a bike like this for sale soon .

  17. Blackcayman says:

    Racing up that mountain is a Bitch! Don is an animal!

    I can’t wait for the official unveiling of the new model this race bike was promoting!

    Bring on the specs!

  18. todd says:

    Still an awesome effort.

  19. Jeremy in TX says:

    Too bad. Canet was on a good run, too!

  20. Tommy D says:

    Bummer! Looking forward to hearing Jamie Robinson’s report on MotoGeo.

  21. Hot Dog says:

    Only in America do you have to look for motorcycle racing results on a “social media site”.

    • karlsbad says:

      No shit Eh, Canada is the same our F@#!ing Shaw cable doesn’t have any Motorcycle racing other than the jumpy bikes

      • Hot Dog says:

        I gave up looking for bike racing on TV and bought the Moto GP streaming package out of Spain. It was the best damned thing I’ve done in ages.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Me too. Worth every penny. Even if I could find the races on TV, I’d still spring for the streaming package instead.

  22. Montana says:

    “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Churchill

  23. TURBOMAN says:

    They should make a intelligent investment and buy EBR..Victory motorcycles has always been slugs..

    • Montana says:

      Everyone was rooting for EBR, just as eveyone is rooting for Victory these days.
      The combination might give us an unbeatable American machine.
      Let’s follow it up with a great, American-built standard like the FZ09 for the masses.
      Leave the cruisers to Indian please.

      • VLJ says:

        Somehow ‘Victory’ and ‘EBR’ combined do not equate to ‘unbeatable,’ at least not to me. I’m guessing the Big Four, Ducati, Aprilia, and Triumph also wouldn’t exactly be shaking in their boots at the idea.

        • Dale says:

          Agree. In case noe one noticed, Buell/EBR is dead. Victory/Polaris is very much alive. And further more, the Victory motor was made in house. They (Victory, Sands, Canet) deserve a pat on the back. Hopefully they will parlay this into a nice line of Standards, Supersports, and maybe even that ever elusive American Sport Touring bike.

          As a Buell owner, I have a right to chime in.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “Agree. In case noe one noticed, Buell/EBR is dead.”

            so was Indian if anybody paying attention wants to recall THEIR history.

        • Stratkat says:

          no kidding this is a Polaris story, and they are doing great. no disrespect to EBR ive been rooting for them for years, but let it go already! and Polaris, keep up the good work!!!

    • Auphliam says:

      People should stfu about EBR already…they’re gone, get over it. Jesus H TapDancin Christ, Erik goddam Buell isn’t the only engineer in the country. Give it a rest.

  24. mickey says:

    What a shame. Valiant effort by the Team and Don. Bet they ate back next year a little more prepared with spares and everything. Congrats on a great effort!

    • VLJ says:

      First it’s e-bikes, now we’re talking time travel? This is some serious “Men in Black” shizz!

  25. Norm G. says:

    re: “The prototype machine built by Victory Motorcycles with Roland Sands Design quit running less than 2 miles from the finish line at Pikes Peak yesterday.”

    arrgh, SONOFAB!#@H…!!!