Victory’s Project 156 Shows Potential, Crashes In The End

Victory Motorcycle’s Project 156 electric racing bike lived up to everything we had come to expect from it at the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. After so much hype surrounding the bike, it was only fitting that Project 156’s turn in the Race to the Clouds represented promise, excitement, disappointment, and hope, all rolled up into one memorable lap on the mountain.

The bike started out great, qualifying fourth out of 60 entries. More importantly, it qualified at the top of its class, somewhat justifying all the work Victory Motorcycles and Roland Sands Design put into the development of the bike. Pikes Peak veteran rider Don Canet followed that up by posting the second-fastest time of the day in section one of the track. Unfortunately, the excited mood surrounding the bike’s impressive first section run quickly turned somber when Canet crashed in the second section before finally pulling over in the fourth and last section - two miles away from the finish line - to give Project 156 a disappointing Did-Not-Finish (DNF) for its run.

While there were a lot of people who were bummed with Project 156’s DNF, there’s still plenty of reason to be excited for the bike’s potential. When it was running smoothly, Project 156 was blisteringly fast as it also posted the fifth fastest split time in the third section of the track. But like most bikes that are still in the early stages of their development, Project 156 also showed that it still had a long way to go before it can really challenge some of the incumbents in its class.

Victory certainly isn’t taking the setback lying down, not when Project 156 showed so much promise as well. So instead of trying to tinker with the bike to make some subtle adjustments, the company is now going all out with its plan of not only winning its class at Pikes Peak, but posting the overall lowest time in the motorcycle category.

From what I saw, Project 156 is more than capable of doing that, as long as it doesn’t crash out again.

Why it matters

First of all, congratulations to Victory Motorcycles and Roland Sands Design for the development of Project 156. For a build that wasn’t announced until the start of 2015, the pace by which the electric racing bike came together was really startling. It was also incredibly impressive, a testament to the kind of quality work Victory and Roland Sands put in to piece the machine together.

I understand the disappointment of not seeing Project 156 achieve its objective of finishing the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. I’m a little bummed too that it didn’t, but I’m not going to wallow on its perceived failures but focus what it did accomplish.

Victory Motorcycles committed to building a racing prototype Victory engine in one of the toughest ways possible and it succeeded in doing that. Just because the bike crashed, it doesn’t mean that the engine was a failure. On the contrary, Project 156’s performance in the first and third sections of the Pikes Peak course showed just how much potential this new engine has.

Overall, Project 156 may not have gotten the result Victory Motorcycles wanted at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. But rest assured, the bike was still able to show glimpses of its massive potential. That’s what I’m taking away from this endeavor and I’m pretty excited to see where it goes from here.

The company said that it’s raising the bar to dominating the entire motorcycle segment and not just in its class. Based on what I saw, I don’t think that’s an unattainable goal.

What do you think?
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