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Project 156 Video: Is Victory Building a Sport Model?


Below is a video we received from Victory Motorcycles yesterday highlighting a collaboration between Roland Sands Design, Cycle World Magazine and Victory Motorcycles to build and race a motorcycle (piloted by CW’s Don Canet) up Pikes Peak later this year.

In the video, you can see that the bike being developed is a one-off, hand built frame with a liquid cooled v-twin powering it. At one point, you can see the team lift the frame over, and on to, the engine, which almost appears to be a production unit, rather than a sand-cast prototype. In addition to being liquid cooled (no fins, phony or otherwise) the v-angle appears to be wider than typically found on a cruiser. Not 90° like a Ducati engine, but perhaps 72° like a KTM superbike engine.

Interesting that Polaris, owner of both Victory and Indian, has chosen Victory as the brand for this project, rather than Indian. Victory, of course, is a brand developed from scratch by Polaris, while Indian is the century-old brand with a solid racing pedigree. Victory currently sells only heavy weight cruisers, baggers and tourers. Watch the video and give us your thoughts in the comment section below.


  1. halfbaked says:

    At least Polaris had the sense NOT to source Arlen Mess for this.

  2. Jerry says:

    Polaris in its patent filings last year says that the new VTwin (currently in the Indian scout) is modular for multiple displacements, maybe this time s a version of that patent filing.

  3. A Victory drag bike runs a hand built motor. Now a Victory to go up Pikes Peak, maybe a hand built motor. Marketing is an interesting game. The point? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  4. Grover says:

    Some folks seem to be hoping that that Victory uses the Scout engine as the basis for their sporting motorcycle market. The Scout engine might weigh as much a as V-Rod engine for all we kmow. Has anyone actually weighed a scout engine? It would probably be better to start off with a clean sheet design if they plan on building sporting type motorcycles as a long term project. True, development of dollars have already been poured into the Scout engine, but is it really the right power plant for what they’re trying to achieve?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “but is it really the right power plant for what they’re trying to achieve?”

      That is a good point, but their sister company did stick the Thunder Stroke V-twin into a streamliner for cryin’ out loud. Let’s face it: this isn’t a racing project, it is a marketing project. RSD building the chassis and Don Canet races the bike? Not to take away from either party as they are both very capable, but it is no accident that the involvement of these two names will generate the most press coverage possible for Victory. That is what they are trying to achieve. I don’t think they expect to take home any trophies.

      As far as the engine, it is just hard to imagine them using anything but a Scout derivative from a dollars and sense perspective. Whatever the answer is, I am certainly excited to see the finished bike and wonder if it will spark a new direction for Victory.

      • Hot Dog says:

        I’ll bet you a cold beer you’re right. You can pay me at the Indy Moto GP.

    • cyclemotorist says:

      It’s pretty much a sure thing that the Scout engine is substantially lighter weight than a V-Rod engine. For all we know? The V-Rod engine is rather a porker for its displacement. The Scout engine also appears less busy and more compact. The Scout engine is probably capable of meeting their HP requirements.

  5. mechanicuss says:

    U.S. sportbike a la Buell? More precious capital poured down the drain. Maybe Jay Leno will buy a couple….

  6. Neil says:

    Roland does great work, in terms of both design and function. I test rode the Scout and really liked the motor. My back limits me as far as feet forward, so it’s great to see them moving in a sport direction with an overhead cam motor. I’ve been wishing Harley did this for years with their Sportster, not an XR, not a VROD, but an overhead cam up to date, simple, but sporty design. But Harley is stuck in 1957. I like the Street but it’s HIDEOUS looking. Kudos to Polaris.

  7. Bart says:

    If RSD can build something that is faster and handles better up that mountain than a dialed-in Super Duke R, then I tip my helmet to him! Having ridden with Don C a time or two, I am sure he will ride it to the max if the weather is good, he is not the slowest guy I know.

  8. Tom Shields says:

    Cool project. No telling where Victory is headed with this but I wish them luck at Pikes Peak.

    I note that the first thing you see on the video is “Victory Racing”… not “Victory Motorcycles,” as if this is maybe the introduction of a dedicated Victory motorcycle racing division. Could be interesting!

    Also, as others have noted, every shot showing an engine either has the engine pixelated out, or shows what appears to be a generic plastic substitute. Wonder what that mill really looks like?

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Victory Factory Racing was formed just this year I think when they got into the drag racing business. It is pretty interesting to see them deviate from going in a straight line to something like Pikes Peak. I certainly hope it is a signal to the market that they intend to make a motorcycle that can also excel at tasks other than going in a straight line.

      If Victory does have something in the the works based on this project, just please, please, please be something beyond a “sport cruiser” like the Scout.

  9. Ken House says:

    Polaris needs a great sportbike brand. For that reason, they should reopen Eric Buell Racing. Great bikes, great people, lots of R&D expertise.

    Ken in Raleigh
    EBR 1190SX

    • yellowhammer says:

      A quicker, less painful solution – just convert that r&d money into paper dollars and just drop it into a shredder. Same outcome.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Polaris already has lots of R&D expertise. If Polaris determines they need a sport bike brand, I suspect they’ll make a go of it on their own. They’ve demonstrated that they are pretty good at that.

    • Grover says:

      Please keep EBR away from this project and you’ll have a higher degree of success.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Polaris needs a great sportbike brand. For that reason, they should reopen Eric Buell Racing.”

      my name is Norm G and I endorse this message.

  10. DaveA says:

    Even though Roland Sands does lots of custom work that isn’t my thing, he would seem to be a perfect partner for such an effort. His experience as a top caliber professional road racer and his love of real performance has always been evident in his work, and for him to be a part of this will really let him stretch his legs since this is a full-on custom, but is being built to race. I can’t wait to see it done.

    I also really hope that this is a toe in the non-cruiser water for Victory. It would be great to see a company with the resources and obvious passion for motorcycles like Polaris move into other motorcycle markets besides cruisers.

    Verdict: very cool

  11. Provologna says:

    I’d like a motor adaptable to a naked, a sport tourer, and open class adventure bike with option between 19″ and 21″ front wheel.

    Haven’t priced BMW R1250GS lately but presume it is well north of $20k by now. Is it not a reasonable business plan to build a bike in the USA that competes with current offerings in the above-listed classes? Three USA makers compete directly against the world for truck, SUV, and passenger vehicle sales. I know the number of unit sales is exponentially higher for such vehicles, but still, it seems like we should bring at least something to the party.

    I have no interest in anything Erik Buel ever does again.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I have no interest in anything Erik Buel ever does again.”


    • Dave says:

      Those 3 brands really only compete in the US against foreign brands that also produce here. It’d be interesting if anybody got a modern, US made motorcycle engine to become accepted. Seems like Tue new Indian engine is the only current contender.

      I’d like to see Erik Buell join Polaris. He has a great deal to offer, he just can’t get stable funding under him.

  12. Gary says:

    While I agree that the engine is more likely based or mostly an Indian Scout, I hope that Victory will not always base everything on a V-Twin. While V-Twins do have many good things about them, there are so many V-Twins out there, that I would like to see some other configurations from both Indian, Victory, and others.

    • KenHoward says:

      For me, there’s nothing like a V-Twin’s low-end torque and sound. It may not usually be appropriate for a high-winding sport bike, but that kind of application would be quite a stretch for Victory, anyway. I owned a Harley Super Glide for a short time (lemon!), but I’ll always savor the memory of that engine for street riding.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I would like to see some other configurations from both Indian, Victory”

      indian technically did produce a straight 4. did so for like 10+ years iirc…?

  13. allworld says:

    Polaris certainly does not need 2 brands that only make cruisers. Now that they have Indian, that should be the only brand to go head to head with HD. Victory should join the rest of the world.

  14. Daimyo says:

    If victory actually builds a modern naked with a big liquid cooled twin I would be at the door of a dealership in minutes.

    As long as its not overly ‘styled’ like some of the other bikes in their lineup I couldn’t throw my money at them fast enough.

  15. Doug says:

    If this bike is the first step in testing/building customer awareness in the marketplace for a production model, and if Victory wants the follow-on production model to be affordable to a mass market and not a boutique product like Motus, then it will use a version of the (very good) Indian Scout 60 degree liquid cooled v-twin. A custom engine design for a niche product would be prohibitively expense to make, and this would not be good for either Victory or potential customers. A Scout engine tuned for performance and mounted in a cafe-racer standard type bike makes a lot of sense. Think Triumph Bonneville – Ducati Scrambler but with real performance to back up the “look.” IMO, this is the most likely type of bike and source of power train any follow-on production bike would be and have. I suspect Victory is either testing the waters or has already committed to building such a bike and the Pikes Peak racer is for building marketing buzz.

  16. Al T says:

    Those boys better hurry. The hillclimb isn’t that far away. It’s good to see Pikes Peak get some attention the last couple of years. In Europe it the rage and most coverage of it I see is from Europe and sent back here. Thank God for Adele a local newscaster here in Denver, that races sports cars, or we would hear nothing from the local media.

  17. Wendy says:

    V-twin powered sportbike built by a North American company. Where have I heard that before?

  18. Kagato says:

    I want Polaris to engineer a direct injection two-cycle that’s street legal. enough of the 4-cycle flatulence!

    • MGNorge says:

      Other than a love for two-strokes what would their benefit be? I’m just thinking of the inherent 4-stroke trait of gaining traction between power pulses. Besides, some of us have never grown up and the sound of flatulence still brings a smile to our faces! 🙂

      • Kagato says:

        Just wishing for something REALLY different–a modern, lightweight two-stroke 500cc twin with water cooling sounds good to me. Always wanted one of the red and white RZ 350 twins. I guess I could get a used one.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          Motorcycle infatuation is a sickness that affects us all differently. Among the saddest cases are those who must contend with the false hope of modern, EPA-allowed two-strokes being introduced into the market. My heart goes out to you Kagato.

  19. Provologna says:


  20. xLaYN says:

    kinda american “isle of man” race, someone should add “rummaniacs” style downhile enduro… 24 hours non stop.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      An American Isle of Mann. A Bonneville with lefts and rights. I never thought of it like that. You’re exactly right. We should be embracing this.

      I don’t know jack about Pike’s Peak. I remember it as a place for rally-type cars. When did they pave it?

  21. Klaus says:

    I really like the idea of an American made naked sports bike with a big reliable V twin.
    But – how much is it going to cost if it ever will be built for the masses?
    As much as a Motus?

  22. todd says:

    It could be a version of a Scout engine. They might just be using a 3d printed engine to work with because it’s much easier to move around – and might have some detail differences like frame mounting points and such.

    If they pull it off, I’ll have a bit more respect for Victory and RSD. It’s not like they looked toward Ness for this project.

    • todd says:

      Looking at the video again, it’s quite a bit different, externally. A new motor would be nice, probably useful for building KTM Adventure type bikes.

  23. Norm G. says:

    re: “Not 90° like a Ducati engine”

    arrrgh, sonofab!@#h…!

  24. FZ-1 oldhead says:

    I have been waiting for Victory/Indian to build a everyday naked bike for the masses. Something to replace my FZ-1 that is American made. I would be the 1st in line.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I have my hopes up like I always do knowing I will probably be crushed when it doesn’t materialize. Or that it isn’t what it was advertised to be. Or it is what it was advertised to be but twice what I want to pay. Or it is what it was advertised to be and at a reasonable price but gets discontinued after two years because most American riders are jacked in the head when it comes to what a motorcycle should be.

      Sorry. It’s back to the garage for me to try to revive a ZRX that I brought home last weekend.

  25. YankeeCajun says:

    Would be nice if Victory put something like this in production but it looks like a one-off to me.

  26. J Lowrance says:

    Would be the first American made naked sportbike I would consider buying…Polaris, and Victory in particular, have a good reputation for quality and that is one of the first things I consider when plonking down my hard earned for a new toy.

  27. skybullet says:

    I would encourage any American mfg to diversify into the Sport Touring Bike market. This bike does not have to be a Pike’s Peak record setter, just a credible contender. If Victory/Polaris offers a competitive all around Sport Tourer I would consider it. It is a BIG market segment far different from the Cruisers.

    • Buzz says:

      It is a Zero market segment.

      • fast2win says:

        Tell that to BMW

      • Blackcayman says:

        Can’t wait to see what it will do. All the Victory haters might have to eat a bite of the $&!^ sandwich they’ve been making.

        • Grover says:

          My only problem with Victory has been their infatuation with cruisers. Hopefully that will change and I’ll be able to have great things to say about Victory. For now, I’ll just keep hoping that something more sporting than a feet-forward cruiser will make an appearance in the showroom.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I don’t have the stats to back it up but I think the only segment other than cruisers that has grown in the US since the recession are ‘adventure’ touring bikes.

    • Tenere? not going anywhere.

      • Mark Pearson says:

        One way to get an idea how a bike is selling is how often a manufacturer updates the platform. For example before the recession hit the Japanese were completely redesigning 600cc race replicas every two years because the market supported it. That all stopped once the recession hit.

        Since the recession the only segments I see getting redesign dollars are small-cc transportation and adventure tourers. Adventure tourers aren’t my thing so I don’t follow them but if the Tenere isn’t selling then Yamaha is doing wrong because Triumph, Suzuki, BMW and KTM are dumping money into their marques.

        • Hot Dog says:

          I think the Tenere’ sells to people who want stone reliability, dealerships in remote areas and aren’t prone to lusting for 100 more horsepower than they’ll ever use.

  28. Paul says:

    When I watched the video the engine was pixelated out at one point. Was the video originally like that, or are they covering their tracks ?

    American made sporty bike with some new technology could only be a good thing. Especially with the loss of Buell recently.

  29. chris says:

    Great to see Victory and Roland Sands doing this ,I hope there will be more performance bikes from Victory because we all know Harley sure as heck is never going to stray away from there so called Core bikes and the attitude of let’s keep looking at the past as our future.

    • stinkywheels says:

      Amen. A good conservative company selling to good conservative customers. I own one and it’s boring, but okay, no excitement. They sold or quit the only things that could make me tingle. Good dealer network though and sometimes that’s what counts.

  30. Ducman says:

    Pasting some screen captures into Solidworks, it looks like it is a 65 deg. angle, perhaps 62 deg. Also, the motor in the prototype chassis appears to be 3D printed – suggesting that it is new, or significantly re-designed.

  31. Michael H says:

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Victory may be transitioned into a different type motorcycle. Polaris has two cruiser/tourer lines that have air-cooled v-twin engines, so in the marketplace they tend to cannibalize each other when they should be fighting against other brands.

    Re-developing the Victory line as sportier, with liquid-cooled v-twin engines and entirely different frames and suspensions than the Indian is a smart move. And it’s interesting that there is not a comparable American motorcycle (save for the narrowly useful V-Rod).

    Polaris seems to be an extremely well-run company that brings excellent products to market, and very seldom makes and error understanding either markets or products for those markets. If indeed Polaris is moving Victory to higher performance, liquid-cooled motorcycles, and Harley doesn’t have an immediate counter-product, big swaths of Harley’s product line become very vulnerable.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “If indeed Polaris is moving Victory to higher performance, liquid-cooled motorcycles, and Harley doesn’t have an immediate counter-product, big swaths of Harley’s product line become very vulnerable.”

      I don’t think Harley buyers care anything about performance. Most of the ones I know think their bikes are extremely fast, anyway. Polaris may start nudging Victory in a performance-oriented direction, but I don’t think H-D will be sweating it.

      • Mark Pearson says:

        “I don’t think Harley buyers care anything about performance.”

        Can you name a Harley product with even a performance based theme that has been successful in the past 30 years? I can’t. There are some cult classics but no sales or marketing successes.

      • Yoyodyne says:

        If HD riders don’t care about performance, why do so many people buy the Screamin’ Eagle hop-up kits?

        • Mark Pearson says:

          Screamin’ Eagle. Yes, my point exactly.

        • todd says:

          People buy Screaming Eagle stuff because they come to realize the stock bike needs some help.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          For the same reason they buy leather chaps instead of a riding suit.

          • Hot Dog says:

            They all have been assimilated to do as their cult dictates and don’t forget about the award covered leather safety vest.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “don’t forget about the award covered leather safety vest.”

            patches…? I don’ need no stinkin’ patches…

          • Grover says:

            Posters on this site seem to put all Harley riders together in one group. That might be true of HOG members, but the reality is a lot of folks ride Harleys and have nothing to do with fringe,chaps or closed minded attitudes. I like and own all types of bikes (Harleys included) and dont fit into any of the stereo-typical categories described above. Do you?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Grover, as an adventure-bike riding poseur with more money than sense and off-road ambitions and abilities that can apparently only get me to the nearest Starbucks who really should have bought a 250cc dual-dual sport if I really want to go off-road since a Softail can go anywhere my bloated, overweight adventure bike can go, please understand that my statements are general, not universal.

          • mickey says:

            Wow amazing.. That’s just how I pictured you in my mind Jeremy bwahaahaahaa

  32. Jeremy in TX says:

    This is interesting. I wonder why they wouldn’t be using a derivative of the Indian Scout powerplant? Or maybe that is what they mean by “prototype Victory motor”.

    I don’t see Victory jumping into the sport bike market, at least not in the traditional sense. But perhaps they could use this as a spring board to chase the void left by Buell (not necessarily EBR) with some street-smart sporty bikes. Perhaps something street-trackerish or just a traditionally-styled standard… something that doesn’t deviate too far from their brand as they potentially evolve their image into something else.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “This is interesting. I wonder why they wouldn’t be using a derivative of the Indian Scout powerplant? Or maybe that is what they mean by “prototype Victory motor”.”

      that’s what I’m screamin’.

      what USP is in the exorbitant R&D costs of a scratch prototype good enough to run up a mountain…? unless of course said prototype is being eyeballed for production, or is in fact production derived…?

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        Yes, I am thinking it HAS to be a hopped up Scout engine. That, or Victory had a project that was at or near completion at one point before getting shelved. In any case, while the chassis may be a one-off, no way the engine is.

        • Auphliam says:

          Not shelved, “scheduled”. Everything Polaris does with Victory follows a well planned time line.

    • Richard_M says:

      I’ve studied what little we see of this engine in the video and it does – in fact – appear to be a Scout engine.

      • Hot Dog says:

        I’m betting it’s a Scout engine also. I don’t see Polaris building a completely new engine for the hill climb but I do think it’d help draw attention the Scout platform if they used that block. RSD is a great fabricating company with lots of original ideas.

    • Tom R says:

      That “void” left by Buell is pretty….small.

      • Fred_M says:

        I own two Buells, an XB12Ss and an 1125CR, and the loss of Buell is a tragedy — especially to experienced riders. Buells have consistently been among the best sport bikes for street riders since the introduction of the fuel-in-frame models over a decade ago.

        • Trpldog says:

          I’ve owned three – 2 9’s and a 12. Best handling bikes out of the 20 others I’ve owned since 1974.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        “That “void” left by Buell is pretty….small.”

        For a company like Honda, yes, it is small. For a company like Victory, it could be a rather respectable and tasty piece of pie.

  33. Tommy D says:

    In 2008 Roland Sands took a Motocross 450 bike, a WR450F, and built it into a “Super Single”. It was a turn key club racer, track day bike. The thing was killer. There’s probably a story here on about that bike and others he built. It still looks like a winner today. The guy has talent and a real eye for making stuff that works both atheistically and functionally.

    • Mark Pearson says:

      I was disappointed those didn’t take off. I heard they were roughly comparable to a SV650.

      • Hot Dog says:

        Who were they offered by and to who whom were they marketed to? I saw them and thought they’d sell but pffffffffffffft!—- they were gone.

        • Mark Pearson says:

          Sands’ website is the only place I remember parts being hawked. I hoped a cult industry would form around the platform and force manufacturers to either get involved or miss out on an opportunity. They seemed tailor made for track day junkies and club racers. Another recession casualty, maybe?

          • Dave says:

            Never made it to the critical mass required to gain traction. It was a pretty compelling model. RS offered the body kit, Race Tech did a one-stop suspension conversion. It didn’t seem any harder than a standard supersport build. I suspect part of the problem was lack of confidence in engine longevity. Seems like most tracks with a successful motorcycle program are long.

  34. Don says:

    So it’s not a breathed-on 60° liquid-cooled Scout motor, then?

  35. Curly says:

    Indian would seem the more natural choice but maybe they feel that Victory needs the PR boost more. The chassis looks very conventional which is probably a good thing and easier for Roland to build too.

  36. Gary says:

    I think I’m missing the Roland Sands connection here. Nothing against him, but he wouldn’t be my first pick to design a competitive racer. Unless you want a really cool looking theme bike for flying off an apex into the abyss below.

    • Curly says:

      He was a very competitive road racer (250GP Champ) so there is that to go on plus his name recognition with the cruiser and custom made bike public.

      • Norm G. says:

        re: “plus his name recognition with the cruiser and custom made bike public.”

        he’s only heir to the PM wheel fortune, the company started by his dad. aka “Performance Machine” in modern parlance.

        • Hot Dog says:

          Here you go son, make it on your own?

          • Larry K says:

            Nothing wrong with passing on a family business. Especially to a worthy heir that will continue to build it.

          • Hot Dog says:

            You Sir, are completely correct. RSD is standing strong while the other “Assemblers” of clown looking bikes have gone by the wayside.

    • tuskerdu says:

      good point.

    • stinkywheels says:

      I really think there are only 2 choices if you want to make a sows ear into a silk purse. He and Erik Buell can pull it off. You don’t need a WSBK to win Pikes Peak, I think. Someone could make me very wrong. The electric bikes seem to be doing okay at that altitude.

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