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Polaris, a Minnesota company with sales of approximately $1.8 billion
per year, was one of the earliest manufacturers of snowmobiles.
Polaris also manufactures ATVs and, until recently, personal
watercraft. Seeking to diversify its product line, and observing the
sales enjoyed by Harley-Davidson and other manufacturers, the
company decided to produce a large motorcycle built entirely in the
United States.

Victory vehicles follow the larger (and louder) American style of
motorcycle defined by Harley-Davidson, rather than the more
racing-inspired designs of Japanese manufacturers such as Yamaha
and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, or the European styles of Triumph
Motorcycles and BMW.

In 2010 Polaris engaged in a major expansion of production and
marketing of the motorcycle.

The first model, the V92C, was debuted at Planet Hollywood in the
Mall of America by Al Unser in 1997. Production began in late 1998,
and the first official model year was 1999. At 92 cubic inches (1,510 cc)
the V92C was the largest production engine available at the time, and
sparked a race among motorcycle manufacturers to build bigger and
bigger engines. Triumph, now holds that honor with the 2294 cc
Rocket III. All components were manufactured in Minnesota and Iowa,
except the Italian Brembo brakes and the British-made electronic fuel
injection system. Victory engines debuted with five-speed
transmissions (later six), single overhead cams, dual connecting rods,
hydraulic lifters, and fuel injection; most fuel-injection components
are standard GM parts. The V92C engine was designed to be easily
tuned by the owner.
The 92 cubic inch Victory engine carries 6 US qt (5.7 L) of oil in the
sump, about the same as most automobiles. This makes it unlikely
the engine will be damaged by low oil, but also makes it
dimensionally larger than other motorcycle engines, such as
Harley-Davidson, which carry oil in tanks. The sheer volume of oil
can also impede engine performance in a racing environment. Top
speed is about 120 mph (190 km/h) at 5,500 rpm; the ECM contains a
rev limiter which can be overridden by reprogramming the EPROM.
The Victory engine is air-cooled, and also circulates crankcase oil
through a cooler mounted between the front frame downtubes. A
section of the rear swingarm can be removed to change the drive
belt or the rear wheel.

The motorcycle's designers had approached several European
manufacturers, particularly Cosworth, about designing and
producing the engine, but ultimately decided to design and build it
in Osceola, Wisconsin. Several variations on engine-frame geometry
were tried until the best configuration was found, with the
crankshaft geometrically aligned with the axles, a concept
developed by Vincent Racing in the late 1950s. The V92C weighed
about the same as a Harley, approximately 650 pounds (290 kg). The
original V92C engine produced about 55 horsepower (41 kW) at the
wheel; with high-performance cams and pistons, this could be
boosted to 83 hp (62 kW) and torque of 86 ft·lbf (117 N·m).
1999 Victory motorcycles were priced at approximately $12,000,
somewhat less than the comparable Harley-Davidson, but
considerably more than comparable Japanese bikes. Reviewers did
not find the V92C, with its functional styling and square cylinders,
particularly attractive. One magazine said it "looked like a self-
propelled compressor."

In its advertising Polaris emphasized the bike's American
manufacture, not its performance, which was surprisingly nimble for
such a large motorcycle. Many buyers wondered whether Victory
would survive, and adopted a "wait-and-see" attitude.
Excelsior-Henderson had recently gone into bankruptcy, but there
remained stiff competition from Harley and other manufacturers,
such as Titan, which produced expensive cruisers based on the
Harley design, using S&S engines. Indian Motorcycles of Gilroy, CA
were also selling well using modified S&S engines. Japanese
producers,
Yamaha in particular, soon began producing comparable
motorcycles at much-lower prices, and Harley-Davidson introduced
the V-Rod.

Victory had a distinct advantage over Titan, Indian and
Excelsior-Henderson: its parent company, Polaris, had deep
pockets and long experience in manufacturing recreational vehicles.
Polaris hoped to tap into the Harley market but was aware Victory's
sales might remain flat no matter how many they made. There were
rarely more than 25 on the payroll, and initial production runs were
about 2,500 units a year.

Both Indian and Excelsior-Henderson built new factories based on
unrealistic sales projections (Excelsior-Henderson tooled up to
produce 20,000 motorcycles per year), and ultimately went into
bankruptcy.

Dealers came and went because the Victory alone could not support
a dealership. The engine covers were sandcastings, and chrome
tended to flake off.

In 2002, the Freedom Engine was introduced. It had the same
dimensions as the old engine but better power output, and with
rounded cylinders and smaller oil cooler it was much more attractive
visually. The V92C became known as the Classic Cruiser, and was
phased out of the model lineup after the 2003 model year, but
remains a favorite with Victory riders. There was also a Special
Edition version featuring special upgrades in 2000 and 2001 model
years, and Deluxe models for several years. Polaris, Victory and
Indian Sales were up 40%
over 2012 and sales are expected to be 1 Billion Dollars by 2018.
Polaris sales were up 7-9% in 2014. Victory closed up shop,
January 2017.
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The History of Victory Motorcycles
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