By Steve Bauer
PASADENA, Calif. — Under the backdrop of the prestigious Art Center School of Design campus, Victory Motorcycles unveiled its 2009 lineup, which includes several upgrades on the company’s signature bikes, including a new engine, a new model and 100 limited edition 10th Anniversary Victory Visions to be sold via an online bidding process.
“The introduction of these bikes is really about the start of a year-long celebration of our 10th anniversary, but it’s also about imagining how far we’ll go in the next 10 years,” said Mark Blackwell, vice president of Victory. “Ten years ago we entered a very competitive motorcycle market, but it was one that our management team believed had a bright future ahead of it. We launched with our first model, the V92 C, and early on we had some struggles, but today we offer a full line of premium cruisers and now we’re entering the touring segment with the launch of the Victory Vision last year.”
Blackwell says part of the reason the introduction was held at the Art Center School of Design is because of Victory’s strong ties with the school. The Vision’s two lead designers, Greg Brew and Michael Song, are both graduates of the school.
Blackwell notes the efforts of the company’s employees and dealer network have resulted in several milestones in the past few years.
“Over the past five years, we’ve seen some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry,” he said. “We’ve significantly increased the average selling price of our bikes. This year we’ll put our 50,000th Victory motorcycle on the road. We’ve also begin to expand our distribution outside of the U.S. to the United Kingdom, and we couldn’t have done any of it without the hard work and dedication of our employees and dealers.”
Among the highlights of Victory’s 2009 lineup unveiling was the introduction of its new 106ci Freedom V-twin engine, which feature Stage 2 Cams that produce 97 hp and 113 foot-pounds of torque. The new engine will power Victory’s muscle cruisers, the Hammer and Hammer S, as well as the Vegas Jackpot. Victory officials say the powerplant is calibrated to give these cruisers the best performance possible.
For the other Kingpin and Vegas models, the Freedom 100/6 V-twin engine is now equipped with new fuel injectors and oxygen sensors, along with its new Engine Control Module. Other improvements include new gaskets, a new fuel pump and fuel tank, and a tilt sensor that shuts off the fuel pump in case the bike gets tipped over.
Victory also introduced the newest addition to the company’s lineup, the 2009 Kingpin Low. A lower 25.2-inch seat height and “scalloped” side covers make the bike 11?2 inches narrower and gives the bike its “low” look and feel. Other additions to the Low include pullback handlebars to bring the hand controls in tighter and floorboards that are now two inches closer to the rear of the bike.
In honor of the company’s anniversary, Victory is making 100 special 10th Anniverary Victory Visions, which feature Antares Red paint with Black Metallic accents and gold pinstripes to go along with special anniversary badging. The bike also features chromed parts that aren’t available on the standard Vision Tour and other special add-ons, such as a Tourtech GPS and XM Radio.
The 10th Anniversary Vision also features reverse, which Victory officials say they decided to include after input from 2008 Vision owners. Bidding for the anniversary bikes began Aug. 1, and buyers of each bike also earn a ticket to a VIP owner’s party during the 2009 Daytona Bike Week. Starting price for the anniversary edition is $28,999.
Victory’s Vision Street and Tour return in 2009 and are available in two new colors, Blue Ice and Black. The bikes are also reverse-ready, but the feature does not come standard. Both the Street and Tour come in premium versions, with heated grips and seats and an electronically adjustable windshield. The base price for the 2009 Victory Vision Street is $18,999 while the 2009 Victory Vision Tour is $19,999.
Blackwell says that even though the company has come a long way in 10 years, bigger and better things are ahead for the next decade.
“Our commitment going forward is to create a larger, global motorcycle business, and that’s a key part of a 10-year strategic plan our board and management put together last summer,” he said. “You’re going to see a steady introduction of new products, and along those lines we’re going to continue to expand our relationship with leading designers. We’re also going to continue to grow our accessories and apparel line, and build strength in our dealer network.”
Blackwell says Victory’s strength is in its modern design and commitment to innovation, and that the company is committed to continuing that trend for the long term.
“We really broke the mold of the retro bikes, many of which look like they were designed for 40-50 years ago, and we changed the game in the cruiser market from the Victory Vegas forward,” he said. “Our people and consistent track record of innovation have been the keys to our success. We really came through on the promise that we would deliver the new American motorcycle, and that is what we will continue to do going forward.”