2008 Victory Vision

Now that's an eyeful!

One year ago at the Long Beach Motorcycle Show, Victory unveiled a concept bike called the Vision. This year at that same venue, the Minn-esota-based manufacturer revealed two prototypes of the forthcoming production models. Only they were nothing like the original

Instead of being an avant-garde exercise in user-friendly technologies, these two Vision variants were tourers: the Tour full-dresser and Street bagger. And aside from stunning styling-think Road King meets Gold Wing-they appeared conventional in almost every sense of the word.

In debuting the Vision, Victory pulled out all the stops, flying journalists in from as far away as Europe and plying them with cocktails at the posh Westin Hotel before dazzling them with an impressively thorough presentation. There, Victory Vice President Mark Blackwell explained the importance of the luxury-touring market as a logical extension of the company's strategy and business plan, adding that it's the largest and fastest-growing market segment in terms of dollars spent.

To determine what sort of product they should build, Blackwell said Victory personnel conducted an exhaustive, six-year market and consumer-research program wherein they showed no fewer than 20 sketches to focus groups, even going so far as to visit people's garages. Add to that 28,000-plus miles riding theirs and competitors' products, many of those two-up, and the team gained a thorough understanding of what buyers want in a touring bike.

Not surprisingly, high at the top of these riders' wish lists were two things: comfort and style. They stated unequivocally that the bike shouldn't look like it was designed 50 years ago and that they wanted to see the V-twin engine, as "the jewel in the setting."

To "build and build and build" excitement prior to the Vision's launch, Victory planned a multi-prong PR offensive. First was last summer's showing of the final four sketches (Motorcyclist, October 2006). Then came the press preview that is the subject of this story. Next will come a first-quarter public unveiling, followed by a second-quarter press ride, third-quarter demo rides and, finally, this fall production bikes will go on sale as 2008 models.

As a side effect of that program-or more plausibly, because final testing is ongoing-there were more than a few "TBAs" on the supplied specifications sheet. What we know is that the engine will be Victory's air/oil-cooled, fuel-injected Freedom V-twin displacing no less than the Hammer's current 100 cubic inches (1634cc), though it could be much larger-perhaps as much as 2 liters to compete with the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000. It will have a six-speed overdrive transmission and belt final drive. Rake is 29 degrees, trail 5.4 inches and wheelbase 65.7 in., so stability should rival that of a locomotive. Seat height, at 26.5 in., is said to be the lowest in class, despite a claimed 4 in. of padding. Fuel capacity is 6 gallons, so range should be 200 miles plus. Storage capacity is said to be ample, measuring a whopping 111 liters for the Tour (more than a Gold Wing) and 62 for the Street. Tires are touring radials, 130/70-18 front and 180/60-16 rear. The rear suspension is said to be adjustable, but now how.

Examining the bike up close revealed a few other notable features. An electric windscreen (said to be optional) moves up/forward and down/back and works in conjunction with adjustable side wind deflectors to provide "outstanding wind protection and airflow management." The handlebar switchgear includes cruise-control functions, a fairing pocket contains an input jack for your iPod or MP3 player and the specs sheet tantalizingly mentions GPS. The fuel tank is under the seat, the filler cap located behind a panel on the bike's right side. And the three-piston brake calipers and associated plumbing suggest linked brakes, but there was no ABS ring gear evident, though that could be added later. Prices? We have no idea yet, but expect Victory to undercut Harley-Davidson's FLH lineup beginning in the mid-$17,000s.