Victory Motorcycles Core Competency

Victory Shows A More Elemental Vision For The Future

Photography by Eric Putter, Victory

Victory Motorcycles celebrated its 10th anniversary with a big splash in the Big Apple, unveiling its radical CORE concept bike at January's International Motorcycle Show. A post-modern take on the bobber bikes of yore, CORE is more than just a flamboyant design exercise-it's a bold expression of Victory's advanced design, engineering and manufacturing abilities. As Victory Vice President & General Manager Mark Blackwell proudly confirmed, "Elements of what you see here will see production."

While a triumphant, slickly produced "how-it's-made" video rolled on high-def screens, all eyes were on Michael Song, the 43-year-old designer who cultured the magic stem cells in Victory's design DNA to create the CORE. Transformed from paper to metal in just 45 days, this bare-bones cruiser is built primarily from cast aluminum and actually borrows some assemblies from Victory's current production line, including the Vision touring bike's cast-aluminum backbone frame, 1731cc Freedom 106 V-twin and X-Factor wheels.

After laboring long and hard on the groundbreaking Vision, Song purposefully penned this long, lean machine without bodywork, excess baggage or any creature comforts. For him, the project was liberating. "We didn't have any marketing data, no budget, no schedule, nothing," he admitted. "Just six weeks ago, this bike was a drawing hanging on my wall.

"The CORE model came out exactly the way I drew it. You could say that the design intent was captured. I've never experienced this before. When you're dealing with production stuff, things always change. You've got to expect that because of time, cost or manufacturability. This was a designer's dream."

Song says the CORE concept was hatched in the spring of '08, at a testing facility outside Phoenix, Arizona. Song and a team of engineers were putting various test mules through their paces, and he was struck by how much they enjoyed riding one mule that was little more than a stripped-down Vision.

"That bike was awesome: super lightweight and fun to ride. While flying back, I was looking at some magazines and came across these old bobbers. I love their simplicity and clean lines." That's when he first envisioned the CORE: "I just doodled it in my book and made some notes, and then went into the studio and finished up the renderings. That was the birth of it."

"Mike sketched it on the plane and, in typical fashion, didn't really say much," remembered Song's boss, Polaris Industrial Design Director Greg Brew. "He just put up the drawing in his cube and everybody started walking by saying, 'What the hell is that?'"

It wasn't until late November-just six weeks before the show-that Victory decided to make Song's modern bobber a reality, and use it as a centerpiece to flaunt the firm's design and engineering prowess. "We sat down in this bar right next to the place that would do the casting and made a decision right then and there," said Brew. The team worked straight through, taking off just two days: Christmas and New Year's Day. "We worked every weekend, every single day, every minute," he laughed.

It was a labor of love, but the design wasn't without challenges. "It's a lot easier to do something modern, something luxurious or something sporty when you can add all this stuff," Brew said. "When you take those things away, it becomes tougher. The decisions become real hard. I think we made some good decisions about making it very Victory. It has our technology, our look and our DNA."

Another way of looking at the CORE is as a brand-expanding exercise. "The real challenge is to continue growing the brand," said Brew. "For us to be a viable choice for a dealer, you have to have a fuller line. We'd love to have a bike like this to appeal to a different demographic."

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