Common Tread

Victory unveils new Octane, we experience deja vu

Feb 19, 2016

After a long, slow strip-tease, Victory has unveiled its newest model, the 2017 Octane, and it looks quite … familiar.

This dance started at the EICMA show in November when Victory showed its Ignition concept bike built by Swiss custom builder and drag racing champion Urs Erbacher. I, for one (and maybe Lemmy, for two) got pretty excited about this bike, not because I expected Victory’s next new model would be a total departure from its history of building cruisers, but because they suggested this was the first of new models to come that would build on their Project 156 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb race bike.

More skeptical types tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Uh, I don’t know, man, looks a lot like a warmed-over Indian Scout to me.”

Victory Octane
One race bike and two concept bikes later, we now get a look at the real Victory Octane. Victory photo.

The third step in the build-up was the release of the Combustion concept bike built by Zach Ness. Now we have the real thing. So we can begin to answer the question, is this the first step in a new direction, as I wrote back in November, or is it just a lightly buffed Indian Scout in Victory clothing?

Well, I still hope Victory will diversify beyond its cruiser-only roots and introduce more performance-first motorcycles. But as for the Octane itself, I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look a lot like a lightly buffed Indian Scout in Victory clothing. Or, to be more accurate, an Indian Scout with the cylinders bored out five millimeters, four additional horsepower, and different size wheels.

Victory Octane
Victory is emphasizing the Octane's hooligan credentials. This bike is not being presented as a laid-back cruiser. Victory photo.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, or too disappointed. Although Victory and Indian sales are on a positive trend, there are still plenty of signs that the market is weak, and parent company Polaris is having a hard time selling snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. Polaris even laid off 100 salaried workers at the end of January. An incremental step makes more sense than a risky, all-out assault on a sport bike market that’s withering anyway.

It's rare to the point of non-existent to see manufacturer photos of a cruiser doing wheelies. Victory is playing this one differently. Victory photo.

Victory is emphasizing performance with the Octane, using the tagline of “Modern American muscle” to promote it and pointing out that it makes more horsepower than any previous Victory model. In that context, a slightly modified Scout is not a bad thing at all, because we really like the Scout, starting with its modern, liquid-cooled, V-twin that likes to rev in a way most cruisers don’t. The Victory Octane spec sheet backs up the performance claims, at least in the context of a cruiser, but it also reminds us that this new motorcycle is virtually identical to a Scout.

Victory Octane Indian Scout
Engine 1,179 cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin with four valves per cylinder 1,133 cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-twin with four valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke 101 mm x 73.6 mm 96 mm x 73.6 mm
Claimed horsepower 104 100
Claimed torque 76 foot-pounds at 6,000 rpm 72 foot-pounds at 5,900 rpm
Transmission Six-speed, belt final drive Six-speed, belt final drive
Rake/trail 29 degrees/5.1 inches 29 degrees/4.7 inches
Wheelbase 62.1 inches 61.5 inches
Lean angle 32 degrees

31 degrees

Seat height 25.9 inches 25.3 inches
Front tire 130/70-18 130/90-16
Rear tire 160/70-17 150/80-16
Front suspension Telescopic fork, 4.7 inches of travel Telescopic fork, 4.7 inches of travel
Rear suspension Dual shocks, 3.0 inches of travel Dual shocks, 3.0 inches of travel
Front brake Single 298 mm disc, two-piston caliper Single 298 mm disc, two-piston caliper
Rear brake Single 298 mm disc, single-piston caliper Single 298 mm disc, single-piston caliper
Claimed dry weight 528 pounds 545 pounds
MSRP $10,499 ($300 more in California) $11,299

As you can see from that spec chart, if the Victory Octane and Indian Scout aren't identical twins, they're at least fraternal twins. I was hoping the Octane would, instead, be the more athletic cousin. You know, something with more than three inches of suspension travel and with mid-position controls, so I could shift my weight around for performance riding, instead of being stuck with my butt glued to the seat until I park.

Victory Octane
The 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels are really the only reason some of the Octane's specs, like seat height, trail and lean angle, vary ever so slightly from those of the Scout, which rides on 16-inch wheels front and rear. Victory photo.

Victory Octane fairing
Personally, I like the Octane's bikini fairing. Victory photo.
At first glance, there are a few things I like about the Octane, over the Scout: the small fairing looks good and the price is actually a little lower than the cost of the Indian, despite the slight performance bump. And, as mentioned before, the good thing about the Octane being a Scout in Victory clothing is that the Scout is a fine motorcycle.

Of course spec-sheet opinions are hardly worth the paper that is no longer used to print them in these digital times. What matters is how the bike works when we get our hands on one and Lemmy can apply his butt dyno to the seat. That should be soon. Once we have more solid opinions, you'll be the first to know.