Victory Octane vs Indian Scout vs Harley-Davidson Sportster Comparison

Just announced a few weeks ago, the Victory Octane looks set to capture a new generation of cruiser riders in America. It will be Victory’s most powerful, fastest and lightest bike yet – all the while being the cheapest, too. And while the Victory Octane does have many similarities to the Indian Scout, its real target is Harley Davidson and their Sportster 1200.

Harley-Davidson has come under increasing pressure from Polaris and their two brands, the resurrected Indian Motorcycles and their home grown brand, Victory. The reborn Indian has been a huge success for Polaris with the Indian Scout receiving glowing reviews and selling well, too. It’s for this reason we thought we’d take a look at the just released Victory Octane to see how it compares to its stablemate, as well as the highly popular and long established Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200.

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Choosing what bike to compare the Scout and Octane to was in itself a challenge. HD’s range is so wide with so much choice within each line that it’s hard to really narrow it down. And while the Sportster approaches the game quite differently with its air-cooled twin valve donk as opposed to the liquid cooled engine found in the Victory and Indian, all three bikes are designed to be gateway motorcycles to their respective brands.

But even then, the Sportser range offers six different choices of model to choose from and it is definitely one of the biggest advantages that Harley-Davidson offers – choice. Yes, Both Indian Motorcycles and Victory offer a large range of factory equipment and accessories to customize your bike, but no one does range and choice in the motorcycle world like Harley-Davidson. And even once you’ve decided on which of the six Sportster models to go with, the accessories (both factory and aftermarket) available to buy are unmatched. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ve chosen the Sporster 1200 Custom which from an ergonomics and general feel perspective seems to best match the two other bikes we’re looking at here best.

Engine

Both the Victory Octane and the Indian Scout use the same basic engine – and it’s a good one. There’s no sluggishness here which you can sometimes find in HD motors as the engine in both the Octane and Scout provides strong pulling power while remaining flexible across pretty much the entire rev range.

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The Octane’s engine is a 1,179cc V-twin, slightly larger than the Scout. Other differences include its own camshafts, a 2mm larger bore as well as redesigned cylinder head and engine cover castings. Those translate into subtle rather than earth-shattering differences between the two although you would have to consider the Octane as feeling more sporty. The Octane produces 104 horsepower, the Scout slightly less at 100. The Sporster has a rather sad by comparison 62 horses..

The Indian Scout is no slouch compared to the Octane and will hit the metric ton in a shade under 5 seconds. Not sportsbike quick by a long shot but it’s over half a second faster than the Sporster. But that’s not the only negative when it comes to the Sporter’s performance when compared to the other two machines here. The Sportster just feels sluggish down low and to really get things moving you need to keep the engine spinning in the top to mid-range. That then provides it’s own problems as the already noticeable vibrations become even more worse.

There’s just no getting around the fact that despite having a slight displacement advantage, the Sporster has a rather anemic motor and is completely outclassed by both the Octane and Scout and out of the two choices between the Octane and Scout, the newer Octane just edges out its brother.

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Handling

The front end feel of the Sportster is just too soft and squishy. Front end dive even under moderate braking is more than should be acceptable on a modern bike. The rear too leaves much to be desired and bounces and moves around enough that it doesn’t provide a great deal of confidence, especially when the road gets a few more corners. Most of these issues would be solved by the use of better quality springs – something you’d expect from a not inexpensive bike.

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In comparison, the Scout feels far more capable and it doesn’t sacrifice any comfort to do so. Both the front and rear suspension work very well together and provide a near perfect compromise between handling and a plush ride. There’s also far more options when it comes to suspension adjustment and despite sitting lower to the ground than the HD, actually has better corner clearance.

The Octane takes it up another notch again, although it’s still far from a sportsbike. That’s probably more to do with the ergonomics rather than the componentry of the bike though as both the peg and bar positions are slightly more aggressive than either the Sportser or Scout. As far as cruisers go in fact, the Octane is right up there among the most sporty we’ve come across and in fact many traditional cruiser riders would probably struggle to scrape the pegs or exhaust cans on it unless they really tried. It does feel a little harsher than the Scout though which in our opinion is a perfect blend of comfort and handling for a cruiser.

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Brakes

All three bikes provide fairly mediocre performance in terms of braking. All run with single discs both front and rear and it’s especially poor of the Octane not to run a twin disc setup at the front given it’s the fastest of all three bikes here – in fact it gets to the 60mph mark nearly a second quicker than the Sportser and a few tenths than the Scout. American cruiser riders have become accustomed to just single discs up front, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go about it.

Worst of all, the Octane doesn’t even provide ABS as an option – a ridiculous proposition for a brand new bike in the year 2016. The Scout’s brakes feel slightly better than offered by the Sportster and that’s probably due to the fact that the Harley weighs a tremendous 587 lb – nearly 30 pounds more than the Scout and nearly 40 more than the Octane.

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Customizing

It goes without saying that a big part of the cruiser scene is based around customizing and it is where Harley-Davidson rules supreme. Given their time at the top of the market, HD not only has huge amounts of official customizing options, but the third party market is also massive. That’s not to say that you can’t customize your Scout or Octane, it’s just that your options may be more limited than what is available on the Sportster.

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That is especially true for the Octane – at least at this stage. Your only customizing kit for now will be what Victory has available. Aftermarket options will no doubt eventuate should the Octane prove a popular model – just like they have for the Scout – but for now it’s comparatively slim pickings if compared to HD.

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Value

Both on paper and in the real world, the Sportster 1200 Custom just doesn’t offer the same value as either bike from Polaris. Starting at $10,899 in the US (but that’s before any options that commonly apply to Harley’s), it is $400 more than the Victory Octane. It is cheaper than the Indian Scout by $400 itself, but for that saving you are getting a bike with an engine, suspension, brakes and potentially reliability that is inferior to both the Octane and the Scout – sometimes by a large margin.

For us, the Victory Octane is the winner here. At $800 cheaper than the Scout but sharing many of the same components, it’s clear that Polaris is positioning this bike to capture new and young riders who otherwise might be consider the Street 500.

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Overall

In the end, it will probably come down to personal preference whether you fork out the extra money for the Scout which is a more traditional cruiser (both in looks and style) or the Octane which is designed for cruiser riders wanting to release their inner hooligan just a bit more.

The Scout probably comes out as the better bike than the Octane – but only just. It feels just slightly more refined than its new sibling which is perhaps trying to be a bit too raw in some respects – most notably in the handling department. That and the lack of ABS as even an option sees us tilt our head ever so slightly towards the Scout.

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This is the 2017 Victory Octane

After months of build-up which first began when Victory took on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, we now have a brand new cruiser from the American company and it’s called the Victory Octane. Despite the hype, what we have here is essentially Victory’s version of the Indian Scout – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – and it’s priced very competitively.

Despite the obvious styling cues from the Indian Scout, as well as the engine coming from that bike too (which ironically came from a Victory bike to start with), there’s a very strong chance this will be the best bike Victory has yet produced. The Victory Octane has a number of firsts for the manufacturer – first-ever liquid-cooled engine, most horsepower ever for a Victory bike and it’s also the lightest.

First to the engine. As mentioned, it is liquid-cooled with 4-valve heads and dual-overhead cams and it produces 104 horsepower and 76 foot-pounds of torque. Geared for quick acceleration, the Octane sprints down the quarter-mile in 12 seconds and rushes from 0-60 mph in under four seconds.

In relation to the chassis, the engine is a stressed member that connects cast-aluminum front and rear frame sections, with twin tubular-steel backbones for added reinforcement. Up front are 41mm forks and behind it is a  laydown shocks mounted 53 degrees off-horizontal, also equipped with preload-adjustable dual-rate springs. Stopping power is by way of a single 298mm disc brakes at both ends connected by stainless-steel lines.  The 18-inch front wheel wears 130/70-18 rubber, while the 17-inch rear wheel is wrapped with a 160/70-17 tire.

Probably the biggest news is the price. At $10,499 it’s the cheapest Victory yet and it’s surely going to send a few shivers down the spines of HD dealership owners. And while we’re a little disappointed that Victory didn’t come up with something more left of centre given their projects prior to the reveal, it seems certain that Victory isn’t going to rest anytime soon and will continue with their new model drive over the next few years. Here’s hoping for an American sportsbike (one that doesn’t go bankrupt).

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The 2016 Victory Magnum X-1 Stealth Edition is for Those who Like Being Noticed

Watch out GoldWing riders, because the Victory Magnum X-1 Stealth Edition must just blow your toupee of as it goes by. After the 2015 model quickly sold out upon its introduction last year, the new 2016 Magnum X-1 Stealth Edition hits the scene powered by a 200-watt 10-speaker surround sound audio system. Loaded with custom features such as billet wheels, monochrome paint scheme featuring color-matched components and LED lighting. Who didn’t ever want those things in a motorcycle?

According to Victory, the Magnum X-1 Stealth Edition is their loudest bike yet – and not because of the pipes. Twist the throttle and plug into 200 watts blasting through two 6×9 woofers and two tweeters in the saddlebags, as well as two 5.25-inch mid-bass speakers, two 2.5-inch mid-ranges and two more tweeters in the front fairing. The audio system fully integrates into any Bluetooth capable device, and features an informational window for input and song selection.

The Magnum X-1’s gets a custom with a grey suede monochrome style featuring color-matched hinges, fender fillers, lower frame covers, dash, speaker grills and headlight bezel. It rolls on a 21 inch front wheel and both front and rear wheels have been machined from a single block of aluminum to make them both lighter and stronger.

Those that are a bit shy may want to look elsewhere.

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Victory “Combustion” Concept Shown

Victory has shown off the second and final concept in their series of bikes that is based around their brand new 1,200 cc engine – an engine that will feature in a production motorcycle next year. The ‘Combustion’ as it’s called was crafted by Zach Ness of Arlen Ness Motorcycles.

Both the Ignition concept – which was shown last month in Milan –  and the Combustion concept are propelled by production-intent engines that will power a new model Victory Motorcycle to be revealed in 2016. The Engine is a 1200cc liquid cooled 60 degree V-Twin design with four valves per cylinder and was used at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb earlier this year.

“This new engine platform offers the most versatility in American Motorcycling.” says Motorcycle Product Director Gary Gray.  “Both concepts, Ignition and Combustion, are intended to show what this motor is capable of in very distinct, visual forms.  While the bikes are very different, the powertrain is capable of delivering the performance required of the look in both cases.”

So, which one will the production model more resemble? We’d wager the combustion is more in keeping with the tastes of most Victory owners are after – and perhaps non-Victory owners, too.

Victory Ignition Concept Shows off New 1200cc Engine

This is the Victory Ignition – a concept bike that shows the direction the all American company is heading. But while the bike in itself is interesting, it’s the brand new engine inside that’s the real highlight. Housing a liquid-cooled, four valve 60 degree V-Twin, this is the engine that was used in the Victory Project 156 concept that ran at this year’s Pikes Peak Hill Climb.

The Ignition Concept has been created by European builder Urs Erbacher. Erbacher’s concept – dubbed the “Victory Ignition Concept” was custom built around the first preproduction engine off of the line in Osceola Wisconsin. “We knew any production version of the Project 156 race motor would be a great centerpiece in any American bike, but we wanted to see a European take on the design for EICMA. So we sought out Urs Erbacher to see his vision,” explains Gary Gray, Director Motorcycle Product. “In the end I think we have a concept bike that both American and European consumers can get excited about.”

Unfortunately, Victory isn’t giving too much away on the specifications of the engine. It features the same base architecture in the prototype engine used in Project 156 – the crankcase, v-angle, rotating bottom-end, transmission and clutch set-up is all the same. The liquid-cooled four-valve engine has double overhead cams with the aim of making class-leading power. Additional details of the engine will be revealed in the months to come.

And does this concept model actually represent what we might see from Victory next year? It’s hard to say and little is given away by Victory. Erbacher says he was given free reign to design the Ignition concept, but at the same time we’d be surprised if it doesn’t at least provide some hints as to future design cues of what to expect. More photos will follow below as soon as we get a hold of them.

Harley-Davidson Continues Profit Slide at the Hands of Victory and Indian Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson, who commands a massive 52 per cent market share in the United States is facing growing headwinds in part thanks to increasing competition from Victory and Indian Motorcycles, both companies under the Polaris umbrella. HD’s global sales were down 1.4 per cent in the third quarter while profits fell 6.5 per cent. And the trend looks unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

For those hoping that HD might see this as an opportunity to improve their product offering, think again. Instead, CEO Matt Levatich announced 250 job cuts (equating to roughly 4% of employees), the savings from which will be funneled into a huge marketing spend – up a massive 65% for next year.

Which really highlights the issue with Harley-Davidson – its continued reliance on style over substance. No doubt, Harley-Davidson’s image is its biggest draw, but it’s also its greatest weakness. Essentially, you either love Harley-Davidson’s or hate them and hence why Polaris has made such inroads with both Victory and Indian. Polaris has created one brand and resurrected another and have relied instead on good quality motorcycles at fair prices.

Not only has it captured some older riders who previously would have opted for a Harley, it’s grabbing younger and newer riders for the brand before HD gets a chance due to their cost. Polaris reported just two days ago that its motorcycle sales jumped 154% in its latest quarter to $160.4 million and given that Victory sets to expand its range to sportsbikes plus their acquisition of electric manufacturer Brammo, that momentum is likely to continue.

In fact, buyers in the US and other countries can now get a brand new Victory or Indian bike that is sometimes cheaper than a second hand HD. And when your bikes continue to suffer quality concerns, that second hand purchase is increasingly risky.

Harley-Davidson have often been criticised for the quality of their bikes. Some of that is undeserved as they do make some good machines. But it’s also fair to say that some of their bikes are overpriced and below par. The statistics back this up. Recalls of Harley-Davidson bikes have increased tremendously over the last few years. All manufacturers issue recall notices but HD has stuck out like a sore thumb in recent times.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, 210,000 HD bikes were recalled in 2014 and 312,000 have been recalled this year as of September. That compares with an average of 94,000 annually in the 10 years through 2013. Recent Harley recalls have involved problems including a faulty cylinder that could prevent the clutch from disengaging, a defective fuel-pump seal, and a clasp that could allow saddlebags to fly off the back of the bike. Harley reported 35 crashes or other incidents from the defects and six minor injuries.

The article further stated that the recalls have cost Harley-Davidson about $30 million in the three years through 2014. That is up from $7.9 million in the three years through 2004, even though Harley sold about 27% more motorcycles in the U.S. in the earlier period.

So what can Harley-Davidson do? It needs to realise that the baby boomer generation that was behind so much of its success is waning and they need to completely overhaul their image for broader appeal. To do that they need to start making quality bikes with technology that comes from the 21st century and isn’t priced so far ahead of competitors. So far, Matt Levatich doesn’t seem to be too interested in rocking the boat. Let’s hope it doesn’t spring too many more leaks.

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…”