Victory Empulse TT Unveiled

Not long after competing at the Isle of Man TT, Victory has unveiled their first electric motorcycle, the Victory Empulse TT. We knew that an electric motorcycle was on the way from Victory after Polaris acquired Brammo’s electric motorcycle business earlier this year, but it’s come unexpectedly early. And it’s final confirmation of a big change in Victory’s direction as a motorcycle manufacturer.

While the bike is based on Brammo’s Empulse, Victory hasn’t just rebadged the machine. Both the rear shock and front upside down forks are fully adjustable and dual front disc brake are standard. Victory engineers also worked on improving the Empluse’s battery capacity, display function, and handling. There’s been subtle updates to the bikes style, too.

The Victory Empulse TT is capable of top speeds of over 100 mph, and it has a high-capacity 10.4kWh battery. The bike has a built-in battery charger and an easily accessible SAE J1772 plug atop the bodywork in front of the seat. The bike’s Brammo Power Lithium Ion battery fully charges in just 3.9 hours using a Stage 2 charger (available as an accessory utilizing a 240V outlet).

In typical riding, the Empulse TT battery provides a rider with a range of about 65 miles (104 km), and a range of 100 miles (161 km) is possible with throttle management and use of the bike’s regenerative charging. In preliminary testing, the bike demonstrated a Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) city range of 94 miles (151 km). The bike delivered an MIC “combined 70 mph highway and city range” of 57 miles (92 km).

The Victory Empulse TT retains a manual gearbox which is a unique in comparison to most other fully automatic electric bikes. The rider only needs to use the clutch when shifting between gears, not for taking off or coming to a stop. When coming to a stop, a rider can leave the bike in gear, or choose to click the shifter down (without pulling in the clutch) to put the bike in neutral. That said, there’s enough torque in this engine that riders can virtually leave the bike in third gear most of the time.

At this stage, the Victory Empulse TT is only confirmed for sale in the US where it will be available before the end of the year. We understand however that is being considered by Victory both in Australia and the UK.


Indian Motorcycles To Return To Flat-Track Racing

In an interview with Alan Cathcart (see here) at CycleNews it has been revealed that Indian Motorcycles will go racing in the AMA Pro Flat-Track series either late next year or early in 2017. Indian and Harley-Davidson went head to head in flat-track as early as the 1930’s – now that rivalry looks set to be reignited.

“I don’t have anything more to tell you at this stage, beyond the fact that the decision has been made, and we’re definitely going racing with Indian in the oval-track world with a factory-supported team” said Steve Menneto, Vice President of Polaris Industries’ motorcycle division.

But what would Indian enter into such an event? They currently sell nothing that would be suitable for oval dirt track racing both in engine capacity or chassis design. Rumors have been circulating for the last year or so that Indian would launch a competitor to Harley-Davidson’s Street 750 and Menneto certainly hinted that might be the case. Yes, a circa 750cc Indian V-Twin is on the cards.

It’s been a huge year for Polaris Industries. Firstly they announced the purchase of Brammo’s electric motorcycle division and subsequently entered the Isle of Man TT with a Brammo powered Victory motorcycle. Victory also entered the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with a prototype machine (titled Project 156) – which has now been confirmed as a 1200cc engine that will be used in an upcoming Victory motorcycle some time next year.

One last little tidbit from the interview was the mention of the Victory Core – a brilliant concept bike made way back in 2009. Menneto stated “I’m interested in producing it, because it says a lot about the Victory brand from a marketing perspective, so I’ve got the team looking at doing that. Are we going to build the Core? We’re trying really hard to figure out a way…”


Victory Project 156 Unveiled

The teasing thankfully hasn’t lasted long with Victory Motorcycles and Roland Sands Design today unveiling the finished the awkwardly named Project 156 motorcycle a few weeks after first announcing the build. Project 156 will be entered into the Pikes Peak Hill Climb later this year and marks a big change in direction for the traditionally cruiser orientated motorcycle brand.

The prototype racing motorcycle, named Project 156 for the 156 turns in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb, also known as the Race to the Clouds, will feature a liquid-cooled engine and be piloted by Cycle World Road Test Editor Don Canet. It’s by no means a pretty bike, but given that it’s been created for a one off race, function is far more important that form.

The plumbing is clearly visible, the tri-split radiator on show for all and the lack of a front cowl obviously makes Project 156 built for speed and not pretty. The press release admits that Project 156 represents “the future performance of the Victory brand.” While it hasn’t confirmed the origins of the engine, it’s clearly adapted from the V-Twin used by the Indian Scout. Liquid cooled, twin 67mm throttles with downdraft runners for maximum power and torque as well as a performance valve train including titanium intake and exhaust valves to allow for maximum engine speed.

The Roland Sands Design team developed and built the chassis to cradle the Project 156 motor. “This truly has been an All-American effort,” said Roland Sands. “The Race to the Clouds is a legendary event and we couldn’t be more proud to partner with Victory on the endeavor. We’ve built lots of custom motorcycles, but building a purpose-built race bike for this project has been a unique experience that we’ll remember for a long time.”

It’s a big time for Victory Motorcycles, with the company also racing in the Isle of Man TT this week with a Brammo electric powered sportsbike.


Why The Next Motorcycle You Buy Could Be Electric

It might not seem like it now but electric motorcycles are about to get a whole lot more common. Within the next few years, every major Japanese manufacturer will have an electric motorcycle available to buy in their showrooms and the Americans and Europeans are already leading the way. Let’s take a look at what the next generation of motorcycle is going to look like.

Zero Motorcycles

Zero is currently numero uno when it comes to accessible electric motorcycles. Sure, they’re still expensive when you compare them to traditional internal combustion engine powered bikes but they’re also not ridiculously priced out of the average person’s reach either. And Zero looks like it will continue to go from strength to strength.

They recently announced the receipt of a grant from the Californian State Government and a subsequent price reduction across the range. But for alll that, Zero remains a very niche player. For that reason we wouldn’t be surprised if they were bought out in the near future. Perhaps by another American firm…

Zero Motorcycles Rolls into 2015 with Strong Momentum


The legendary cruiser company surprised everyone with their Project Livewire concept but since the hype has died down it hasn’t looked as hot as we’d first hoped. In fact, it’s likely that Project LIvewire is years away from release with Matt Levatich, President and CEO of HD saying the following late last year:

“Its range is 50 miles, but customers are looking for 100… If the electric bike were mass-produced today it would sell for about $50,000, about 50% more than customers would want to pay”

Project Livewire also isn’t a completely in-house product. Harley-Davidson sought assistance from Mission Motorcycles on the drive train. If H-D is truly serious about entering the electric motorcycle game, they’re far better off buying an established manufacturer such as Zero instead of trying to develop the technology on their own.

Project Livewire Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Victory Motorcycles

Which is exactly what the parent company of Victory Motorcycles, Polaris did earlier this year. Victory purchased Brammo, Zero’s only real competitor in the ‘mass produced’ electric motorcycle game.

Victory will be entering an electric motorcycle in this weeks Isle of Man TT, indicating that they will be releasing a sportsbike based on the Brammo Empulse as early as this year. Polaris is cashed up so expect them to make a real push into the electric game. And unlike Zero, they have the resources and large dealer network for it to really happen.

BMW Motorrad

Out of all the big players, BMW was the first with an electric two-wheeler. Sure, it’s a scooter but nevertheless, BMW has the technology in place to translate that into a commercially available electric motorcycle. The BMW C Evolution scooter was released in 2013 and produces 35 kW (48 bhp) and 72 Nm of torque which provides more pace than entry level sportsbikes and quite a bit more than the average scooter.

Range is a moderate 100km which makes it adequate for city riding – something plenty of motorcycle riders could be interested in as well. While BMW Motorrad don’t have any immediate plans to release an electric motorcycle, they’ve already got more runs on the board than their competitors.

BMW Motorrad C Evolution Scooter


But BMW aren’t alone with the release of an electric two-wheeler. In fact, KTM has gone a step better with an electric powered dirt bike, the KTM Freeride E. The Freeride E has gotten nowhere near the amount of publicity it deserves – this is the first electric motorcycle from a traditional motorcycle manufacturer.

Electric dirtbikes should be more appealing than sportsbikes – one of the biggest issues with dirtbikes is the noise they produce. Countless local tracks have been closed due to urban sprawl as well as complaints from rural residents when riders (legally or illegally) take to the trails. With near silent electric powertrains, such issues vanish.

The advantages of electric dirtbikes don’t stop with (lack of) noise. The KTM Freeride E weighs only 110kg which is actually less than the fully fueled petrol powered KTM Freeride 250 R, which the Freeride E’s chassis is based on. Add to that the instantaneous 31.0 ft-lb. of torque from the get go and you have a serious off road machine. KTM is following up the initial Freeride E with an electric supermoto later this year – sure to be a huge hit.

KTM Freeride E


It’s a real guessing game as to which of the Japanese manufacturers will jump first, but if we were asked to put money on it we’d say it would be Yamaha. In 2013 they unveiled two concepts, the PES1 sportsbike and PED1 dirtbike. Since then, Yamaha has registered a number of patents relating to the two bikes and our sources indicate they could be released as early as next year.

The patents indicate that the batteries for the bikes will be swappable and will actually be the same design for both machines which means reduced costs of manufacture. Interestingly, buyers may be able to ‘upgrade’ their bike after purchase by installing a third battery with little to no modifications to the bike.

At the concept launch, Yamaha stated that the PES1 weighed less than 221 pounds, and the PED1 weighed less than 187 pounds. Another interesting fact is that Yamaha will employ DC motors instead of AC which all other electric manufacturers use.


If Yamaha does end up being the first of the Japanese producers to release an electric motorcycle then we think Suzuki might come in a close second. We reported only a few weeks ago that Suzuki had updated a number of its patents in relation to its Extrigger concept from 2013.

This Honda Grom sized bike was first shown off in concept form and now Suzuki, like it’s doing with its Suzuki Recursion concept, is filing numerous patents in relation to the machine. While not guaranteed, it usually means that the company has plans on bringing the concepts to production.

And if any manufacturer needs to do something interesting, it’s Suzuki.


The green machine have shown that they’re not shy when it comes to using different technologies as the supercharged Ninja H2 and H2R clearly displayed. Kawasaki have filed numerous patents over the years relating to electric powered Ninjas, including ones where batteries can be easily swapped out.

But perhaps even more telling was that earlier this year, Kawasaki registered a number of trademarks in Europe, the US and Japan for machines called the Ninja E2 and E2-R with conjecture being the E stands for ‘Electric’.

That said, we believe that Kawasaki will remain focused on its forced induction technology for now which provides both reductions in fuel consumption and emissions- a big part of the reason for going down the alternative energy route to begin with.


This one is out of left field, but we’re not the first to venture the idea that Tesla may get into the electric motorcycle game. They most certainly are at the forefront of the electric car industry and it wouldn’t be a difficult step to cross the bridge into battery powered motorcycles.

That said, most industry observers think it unlikely that Tesla will enter into the motorcycle game. Tesla is still a low volume, high margin business with their cheapest car costing $57,500. There’s enough demand in the car industry for such priced vehicles, but expensive motorcycles are niche items at best.

Regardless of what Tesla ends up doing, the electric motorcycle landscape is going to drastically change over the next few years and for the better. And the more competition in the sector, the quicker prices will drop and the faster the improvement in range will occur.

Project 156 Engine Revealed – Indian Scout V-Twin?

The collaborative project between Victory Motorcycles and Roland Sands Design to enter a motorcycle in this years Pikes Peak event has released its second update, with this one showing us a clear view of the engine powering the bike. And it looks a lot like the V-Twin found in the Indian Scout.

While the current Indian Scout produces a fairly average (for a race bike) 83 hp and 63 lb-ft of torque, the general consensus is that the 1,133cc power plant has a lot more capability than that just waiting to be unleashed. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to see the engine bored out to 1,200cc and power increased to around 150 hp with various modifications.

Project 156 Engine Revealed - Indian Scout V-Twin?

A picture of the engine from Roland Sands’ Instagram

As we stated in our previous report, it would appear that Victory is pivoting away from cruisers and into sportsbikes and roadsters – differentiating itself from sister brand Indian Motorcycles. With an entry using Brammo electric technology in the Isle of Man TT and a race bike entering Pikes Peak, it’s clear to see that Victory is making a concerted effort to get its name publicized before revealing production versions of these machines in the next few years.

Named Project 156 after the amount of turns at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the second video discusses the engine and the difficulties faced with naturally aspirated motors due to the altitude changes during the ride to the top. Perhaps Victory will next enter their Brammo powered electric bike next time?


Are Victory Going to Release An Electric and ICE Sportsbike?

Victory today announced that it is entering the Isle of Man TT with what looks like a rebadged Brammo Empulse RR electric sportsbike. While it’s not surprising to see Polaris, the owner of Victory Motorcycles who bought Brammo earlier this year make quick use of their new toys, it certainly is surprising to see a Victory badged electric sportsbike make an appearance.

It was heavily rumored that Victory would be the beneficiary of Brammo’s electric technology after Polaris’ purchase of the firm. Most speculation however pointed to an electric powered Victory cruiser that would be designed to steal Harley-Davidson’s thunder away from their Project Livewire concept. Victory trademarked the name Victory Charger earlier this year, too.

That may still happen but it seems that it will be an electric sportsbike, rather than an electric cruiser that first wears the Victory badge in showrooms. But there’s now also a strong possibility that an electric sportsbike will be joined by a traditional internal combustion engine powered machine, too.

Late last week, Victory announced a collaboration with Roland Sands Designs called Project 156 which will see them build a racebike to compete in this years Pikes Peak Hillclimb. There seems almost no value in Victory engaging in such a publicity campaign when all they sell is cruisers, unless something is coming out soon.

And what engine will this bike use? Victory doesn’t want anyone to know at this stage and in the first video released for Project 156, all shots of the engine were blurred out to hide what it is. That would point to an all new engine and there’s no motorcycle company on Earth that would spend money building a brand new power plant for a one off ‘show bike’.

Are Victory Going to Release An Electric and ICE Sportsbike?

What’s hiding there?

Victory was established in 1998 by Polaris Industries who saw an opportunity to compete with Harley-Davidson. While to date Victory has not ventured from this (its range consists of V-twin engined cruisers and tourers), there’s no reason why they couldn’t branch out into sportsbikes.

It makes even more sense as Polaris has Indian Motorcycles in its portfolio – a brand with real history that resonates with many motorcycle enthusiasts wanting something other than a Harley-Davidson. By pivoting Victory towards sporstbikes, it fills a gaping hole in Polaris’ product offering. While we don’t expect Victory to cease building cruisers and the like anytime soon, there seems little doubt that Victory is going to start the next phase of its journey this year.


Polaris Reports Record First Quarter 2015 Results

Polaris Industries Inc. today reported record first quarter net income of $88.6 million, or $1.30 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2015, an increase of nine percent from the 2014 first quarter net income of $80.9 million, or $1.19 per diluted share. Sales for the first quarter 2015 totaled $1,033.3 million, which represents an increase of 16 percent from last year’s first quarter sales of $888.3 million.

“I am pleased to report record sales and earnings for our 2015 first quarter, with sales up 16 percent, operating income up 19 percent and net income up nine percent, our 22nd consecutive quarter of record earnings performance,” commented Scott Wine, Polaris’ chairman and chief executive officer.  “We outperformed the market again in most of our businesses in spite of increased competitive promotional pressures, weakening global markets and the corresponding negative effect from currencies. While we are justifiably proud of these accomplishments, we remain focused on seizing the numerous opportunities we missed to perform better.  From factory inventory being too high to ongoing production inefficiencies, particularly in motorcycles, we did not perform to our capabilities or our expectations.  However, we are making great strides towards addressing these issues, and I am confident those efforts will allow us to continue outperforming our markets.”

Wine continued, “My confidence comes first and foremost from the skill and passion of Polaris’ 8,000 team members.  Our team has never been stronger or deeper, demonstrated by the recent internal promotions of Chris Wolf and Craig Scanlon, both 10+ year Polaris veterans, to run our Snowmobile and Slingshot® businesses, respectively, following Mike Jonikas’s retirement.  Second, product innovation remains a significant growth driver.  During the quarter, we added to our stable of innovative motorcycles with the introduction of the Indian Chief Dark Horse®, the Victory Magnum X-1®, and a limited edition Slingshot SL.

Additionally, we unveiled seven new mountain snowmobiles incorporating our award winning Axys® chassis, making the best mountain sled, the Polaris RMK®, even better. And we expanded our manufacturing footprint to China, while extending the breadth and reach of our ORV business, with the acquisition of Hammerhead Off-Road®, which produces light gas and electric utility vehicles and gasoline powered go-karts.”

Wine concluded, “We suspected 2015 would have its share of challenges and the first quarter confirmed our suspicions.  Nevertheless, we continue to see another year of solid growth and market share gains, which gives us confidence in achieving our sales and earnings guidance for the full year.”

2015 Business Outlook:

For the full year 2015, the Company is narrowing its guidance range and now expects earnings to be in the range of $7.27 to $7.42 per diluted share, an increase of 9 to 12 percent over full year 2014 earnings of $6.65 per diluted share.  Full year 2015 sales are expected to grow in the range of 9 to 12 percent over full year 2014 sales, unchanged from previous issued sales guidance.

Off-Road Vehicle (“ORV”) sales increased eleven percent from the first quarter 2014 to $645.4 million.  This increase reflects ongoing market acceptance of our industry leading brands, particularly the RANGER® and RZR® side-by-side brands, during the 2015 first quarter. Polaris’ North American ORV unit retail sales were up mid-single digits percent from the first quarter of last year, with consumer purchases of RANGER’s and RZR’s each increasing from the first quarter last year. North American ATV retail sales decreased low-single digits percent due to heavy competitive promotional spending during the 2015 first quarter with ACE up significantly.

The Company estimates North American industry ORV retail sales in the first quarter 2015 increased mid-single digits percent. Polaris ORV dealer inventory was higher in the 2015 first quarter compared to a year ago reflecting new segments and models added, an increase in dealer count and the change to the ATV RFM sales order process.  Sales of ORVs outside of North America decreased ten percent in the first quarter 2015 when compared to the first quarter 2014, primarily due to weak economic conditions, primarily in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”) region, as well as the currency impact of a strengthening U.S. dollar.

Snowmobile sales totaled $14.5 million for the 2015 first quarter compared to $15.6 million for the first quarter of 2014.  Historically, the first quarter is a slow quarter for snowmobile shipments to dealers. The North American snowmobile industry finished the season strong with industry retail sales up mid-single digits percent for the entire season ending March 31, 2015 due to favorable early snowfall levels in parts of the North American snowmobile riding areas and strong new product introductions.  Polaris’ North American retail snowmobile sales were up high-single digits percent for the full 2014-2015 season resulting in an increase in market share. Polaris dealer inventories, while elevated from the prior season-end, remain at acceptable levels for the 2014-2015 season-end.  Sales to customers outside North America decreased 12 percent in the first quarter 2015 primarily due to the currency impact of a strengthening U.S. dollar.  During the quarter, the Company introduced its model year 2016 snowmobile lineup highlighted by the all-new 408-pound 800 PRO-RMK®, the industry’s lightest and strongest sled designed to deliver the ultimate deep snow and mountain riding experience.

Motorcycle Sales:

Motorcycle sales increased 74 percent in the 2015 first quarter to $137.4 million.  All three brands, Victory,Indian Motorcycle® and Slingshot, increased sales in the first quarter.  Consumer retail demand for Victory and Indian Motorcycles during the 2015 first quarter, was up nearly 40 percent over last year’s first quarter, driven primarily by strong Indian Motorcycle retail sales, while first quarter North American industry heavyweight cruiser and touring motorcycle retail sales were up low-single digits percent from 2014.  Slingshot retail sales were ahead of expectations.  All three brands added to their product portfolios during the quarter with Indian Motorcycle introducing the Indian Chief Dark Horse, which is built upon the successful and award-winning Indian Chief® platform with only a flash of chrome and a heavy dose of matte black paint; Victory showcased the new Magnum X-1, a new bagger with a 200-watt, 10 speaker audio system and custom factory paint; and Slingshot adding a limited edition model packed with head-turning features, including striking Nuclear Sunset Orange coloring, dual windscreens and an interior LED lighting package.  Sales of Polaris motorcycles outside of North America decreased 12 percent in the first quarter of 2015 as compared to a year ago due to the currency impact of a strengthening U.S. dollar.

Global Adjacent Markets’ sales increased seven percent to $65.4 million compared to the first quarter of 2014.  The Company’s government/military group experienced double digit percent sales growth during the 2015 first quarter. Work and Transportation (“W&T”) group sales increased mid-single digits percent during the 2015 first quarter with North American W&T sales increasing double digits percent while W&T outside North America declined partly resulting from lower Aixam sales in EMEA due to the impact of negative currencies.

Parts, Garments and Accessories (“PG&A”) sales increased 12 percent during the first quarter 2015 to $170.6 million compared to the same period last year.  The Company experienced sales increases in ORV, Motorcycles and Global Adjacent Markets driven by continued product innovation, increased integration of accessories, improved product availability and an ongoing focus on apparel sales through the Klim business, offset somewhat by weak snowmobile parts sales due to poor snowfall levels in key riding areas during the 2015 first quarter.

International sales to customers outside of North America totaled $153.1 million for the 2015 first quarter, down seven percent from the same period in 2014.  The decrease in first quarter sales was due to a 15 percent decline in sales in the EMEA region, partially offset by a 75 percent increase in Latin American sales and a six percent increase in sales in Asia/Pacific.

Gross profit increased 14 percent to $293.7 million in the 2015 first quarter compared to $258.4 million in the first quarter of 2014.  As a percentage of sales, gross profit margin declined 66 basis points to 28.4 percent of sales for the first quarter of 2015, compared to 29.1 percent of sales for the same period last year.  As expected, negative currency movements, primarily the Canadian dollar, along with unfavorable product mix, pressured gross margins during the 2015 first quarter, which was somewhat offset by lower product costs and higher pricing.

Financial Position and Cash Flow:

Net cash provided by operating activities was $4.2 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2015 compared to net cash provided by operating activities of $44.7 million for the first quarter of 2014.  The decline in net cash provided by operating activities in the 2015 first quarter was the result of increased working capital requirements primarily from higher factory inventory, decreased accounts payable and lower accrued expenses offset somewhat by higher net income.  Total debt, including capital lease obligations and notes payable, at the end of the first quarter 2015 was $329.1 million.  The Company increased its quarterly dividend payment for the 20th consecutive year by ten percent to $0.53 per share and paid a total of $35.1 million in dividends to shareholders, and repurchased 571,000 shares for $86.3 million during the 2015 first quarter.  The Company’s debt-to-total capital ratio was 28 percent at March 31, 2015, compared to 35 percent a year ago.  Cash and cash equivalents were $111.0 million at March 31, 2015, compared to $101.8 million for the same period in 2014.

Owner of Indian Motorcycles Has Record Year

Polaris Industries, owner of both Indian Motorcycles and Victory Motorcycles has announced a record sales year. In fact, 2014 was the fifth successive record sales year and included an increase in revenue of its motorcycle division of 59 per cent – more than double any other product segment that Polaris deals in.

A big part of Polaris’ success was the release of the new 2015 Roadmaster and the rebirth of the mid-sized motorcycle (and well received) Indian Scout which so far has done so well that there’s a few months back order in some locations. Also released was the unique three-wheeled ‘motorcycle’, the Slingshot, although that particular product has had a few hiccups. Certain states are not happy with it’s designation as a motorcycle (which determine what license you require to drive it) and Polaris only yesterday issued a recall on the Slingshot due to roll hoops that do not meet hardness specifications.

“2014 marks our fifth consecutive year of double digit sales and earnings growth, an accomplishment which testifies to the innovative spirit and dedication of the 8,000 member global Polaris team. It is inspiring to see how they overcame obstacles ranging from negative foreign exchange impacts and a weakening European economy, to highly volatile oil and crop prices, to record a 19 percent increase in both sales and net income for the full year 2014. During the year, we added over thirty new vehicles to the Polaris armada, expanding and strengthening our portfolio with our largest ever new product introduction, while our strategic acquisitions and significant investments in our global manufacturing infrastructure allow us to both create and meet the increasing demand for our products,” explained Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Overall, total revenue for the 2014 financial year was up 19 per cent to $4.47 billion while net profit was also up 19 per cent to $454 million. Polaris has forecast an increase in both revenue and profit for 2015 of 9 to 12 per cent. Polaris was also recently in the news after announcing the purchase of Brammo’s electric motorcycle division.