Victory uses its success in the power-cruiser sector as a springboard into the burgeoning, performance-oriented American-made bike market. The Victory Octane leads the charge against opponents such as the V-Rod from Harley-Davidson, and perhaps the Indian Scout, and is meant for buyers looking for a domestic muscle bike that doesn’t fit in the Harley Breakout or Star Raider mold — buyers who are looking for something a little more progressive and a little less constrained by classic design considerations.

This is an important step for Victory since H-D is still king of the cruisers with Indian close behind and there isn’t a lot of room in the market for more cruisers, especially since the aforementioned companies are packing more punch into their powerplants nowadays. I believe Victory has found a niche, and is attempting to fill it. Let’s take a look at the filling, shall we?

Continue reading for my first look at the Victory Octane.

  • 2017 Victory Octane
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Displacement:
    1179 cc
  • Price:
    10499

Design

2017 Victory Octane
- image 666873

Right off the bat you will notice the Octane looks an awful lot like the Indian Scout. Sure, the engine dressing is a bit different in more ways than just the blackout treatment would explain. The jugs and rocker boxes are a little different as well.

While the upper lines are also similar, Victory used a sporty-looking fuel tank with recesses reminiscent of the old Triumph “knee dents,” but with an angular quality that is unique to the brand. The Octane retains but a little of the Nessy swoop-a-doop prevalent among Victory products, and what remains lends the upper lines a certain grace.

A proper, saddle-shaped solo seat cups the rider’s butt with a lip that, hopefully, will keep you on it when you grab a fistful and twist it. Plus, the lack of pillion accommodations keep the rear fender nice and clean, and on a whole, the bike displays a stripped-down, almost naked look that eschews any features or components that doesn’t directly contribute to performance – classic bobber philosophy, if not a particularly bobber-looking execution.

The low stance and cruiser-like rider triangle places the pilot in the windsock position. I gotta say the windsock isn’t the best position for quick-and-fast riding styles, but you get used to it after a while, probably.

Personally, I am still toying with the idea of going back to mid-mount controls instead of the forward controls I run now, just because once you get up to around 80 mph or so, it gets difficult to keep your feet on the pegs. It’s a small thing, but it is a thing, and if you are unaccustomed to forward controls be sure to remember that it will get easier with practice, but will never be as comfortable at speed as mid-mounts or a jockey-style rider triangle.

Chassis

2017 Victory Octane
- image 666876

Victory took an unusual step with the bones of the Octane. Instead of welded steel or even welded aluminum members, the factory used a cast-aluminum skeleton to set the stage. Interesting, but I wonder how well such a system will tolerate crash repairs. That aside, the layout allows for a 32-degree lean angle in both directions, which opens up the possibility of hitting the corners with some authority.

I would expect to see some upside-down forks on a ride billed as a performance machine. Not only does it look boss, but it also significantly stiffens the front end to better handle the forces associated with aggressive riding. No such luck here, though the 41 mm, dual-rate forks are about as torque-resistant as you can get without going inverted. Victory kept the rear suspension simple with a pair of dual-rate, coil-over shocks with adjustable preload. Wheel travel is typical at 4.7 inches in the rear and 3 inches up front, sufficient for around town riding but you had better not jump the tracks with it.

The factory kept the brakes simple and honest, leaving ABS and linked brakes on the shelf. I’m OK with that since the raw feedback should allow for advanced braking techniques that will help you keep the machine under control when you start pushing it. A single, 289 mm disc and twin-pot caliper slows the front wheel, and a single-piston caliper binds the rear. Cast, 10-spoke, blackout wheels mount the 18-inch front hoop, and 17-inch rear.

Drivetrain

2017 Victory Octane
- image 666907

Now for the pièce de résistance: the 60-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin that dominates and defines the Octane design. The engine runs a decidedly over-square configuration with a 101 mm bore and 73.6 mm stroke for 1,179 cc in total displacement. Obviously, the mill borrows heavily from the Indian Scout lump, but with a few more cubes and a slightly different look.

A single, 60 mm throttle body manages the induction, and a DOHC setup actuates four valves per head to open up the combustion chamber and allow the engine to breathe. The mill cranks out 104 ponies at 8,000 rpm, and 76 pounds of grunt at 6 grand. That’s in its stock setup, but it can easily be modified with the equivalent of a Stage 1 kit to really open the engine up, similar to the “Harley tax” many of us are familiar with.

The Octane gets a purpose-built, six-speed transmission that eliminates much of the old shift-clunk noise for a quiet transmission that fits with the progressive bent of the rest of the bike. A conventional, wet clutch couples the tranny to the mill, and a reinforced-belt drive makes the rear wheel go roundy-round.

I would bemoan the lack of hydraulic assistance on the clutch at this point. A bike that is marketed for the performance crowd should be built to handle an aggressive riding style, and without ABS the rider has naught but his own skill to bleed off speed ahead of a turn – a potentially risky proposition, especially for new riders. The Octane gets from 0 to 60 in under four seconds and runs the quarter-mile in 12, so there is no lack of opportunity to get yourself in trouble, to be sure.

Price

2017 Victory Octane
- image 666890

Priced to put some performance within reach of the unwashed masses, the Octane rolls off the floor for $10,499 in a monochrome, Matte Super Steel Gray and blackout finish.

Competitor

2015 - 2017 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special
- image 667414
2017 Victory Octane
- image 666831

Since the Victory is a pure-bred, domestic muscle bike, I decided to put it up against a model family that represented a radical departure from the norm for its parent company when it launched back in 2001. I’m talking about the VRSC “V Rod” descendant, the 2016 Harley Night Rod Special.

Harley built the mold for the genre with the original V Rod, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as the Night Rod Special carries the same, muscular look with a raked front end and low-slung stance. While the Octane doesn’t look quite as beefy, it still carries a gritty edge that gives away its stoplight-burning purpose in life.

Both fit within the “American musclebike” class, even if each manufacturer has its own interpretation of exactly what that looks like. To me, each has its own qualities; the Octane presents a no-frills/serious business face to the world that I find refreshing, if a little single-minded. The V Rod carries itself with a little more grace, and some mildly feminine curves, for a femme fatale look. Both rides carry a menacing, custom blackout paint scheme

Engine size is likewise comparable, with a slight edge going to the H-D model at 1,247 cc versus the Victory at 1,179 cubes. Torque output is neck-and-neck as well with Harley on top at 83.4 pound-feet, a skosh more than the 76 pounds out of the Octane. Before you get too excited about the power difference, I would point out that the Octane weighs in at 528 pounds, dry, where the Night Rod tips the scales at 637 pounds, a weight difference that will soak up some of that extra torque. Bottom line here; the engines are pretty much a wash as far as deciding factors go.

Victory slices and dices at the checkout with a $10, 995 MSRP, a bargain-basement deal against the Harley Night Rod’s $16,849 starting price. Name recognition is worth something, but to be perfectly frank, I don’t think it’s worth 6 grand here.

He Said

“I have been looking forward to the release of the Octane, and though I like what I see, I kind of would like to see something a little more unique to the brand. Maybe something that doesn’t look like an Indian Scout with a few custom touches you almost have to look for. Still, form follows function, and in the end, aesthetics are just a vanity. Would I ride it? Go ahead and pencil me into the “Yes” column.”

She Said

My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "I gotta say I really like the look of the new Octane. It’s more muscular looking than the usual Victory style. I’m not a fan of the ’Nessy’ look so most of the Victory lineup doesn’t appeal to my eye. Performance-wise, the numbers look promising,"

Specifications

ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN:
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/belt
Exhaust: Dual slash-cut mufflers with common volume
Fuel System: Sequential Fuel Injection with single 60mm throttle body
Compression Ratio: 10.8:1
Horsepower (HP): 104 HP @ 8000 RPM
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Torque: 76 FT-LBS @ 6000 RPM
Final Drive Ration: 2.536 : 1
Bore x Stroke (mm): 101.0 x 73.6mm
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled 60° V-twin
Suspension:
Rear Suspension: Twin shocks with dual-rate springs, adjustable preload; 3.0-in. travel
Front Suspension: 41mm damper-tube forks with dual-rate springs; 4.7-in. travel
Drivetrain:
Clutch Type: Wet, multi-plate
Brakes:
Rear Brakes: Single-piston
Front Brakes: Dual piston caliper, 298mm disc
Brake System Type: Conventional
Tires / Wheels:
Front Tires: 130/70-18 63H
Rear Wheel: 17 X 4.5-in. cast 10-spoke
Front Wheel: 18 X 3.5-in. cast, 10-spoke
Rear Tires: 160/70-17 76H
DIMENSIONS:
Seat Height: 25.9 in. / 658 mm
Wheelbase: 62.1 in. / 1578mm
Rake/Trail: 29.0°/ 5.1 in. / 130mm
Fuel Capacity (Litres): 3.4 gal. / 12.9 LTR
Overall Vehicle Length: 90.9 in. / 2286mm
Lean Angle: 32 degrees
Specifications:
Dry Weight: 528 lb. (240 kg)
Displacement: 1179cc
Colors (Base): Matte Super Steel Gray
Price: $10,499
What do you think?
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