The Essential Guide to Motorcycle Travel
Tips, Technology, Advanced Techniques
by Dale Coyner

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2008 VICTORY Vision Street Premium , One look at the all-new Victory Vision Street Premium tells you everything about the effort put into design and engineering. It's a new generation of an American luxury-touring motorcycle, which takes modern style and comfort as far as it's ever been. The chassis is long and low with remarkable balance and maneuverability. The seat, floorboards, controls, and modern design are engineered for optimal riding comfort, while a new 106-cubic-inch Freedom. V-Twin with six-speed overdrive produces smooth, powerful performance.

Victory claims that the Vision totally redefines the definition what it means to be an American motorcycle. And it’s true; we have never before seen any American motorcycle with so much fairing and so much groundbreaking design. The new bikes are luxury tourers, much like a Honda Gold Wing, Harley-Davidson Electra Glide or even a BMW K 1200 LT. But the Vision Tour is different, Victory are positioning the new jumbo tourer in-between the Harley-Davidson tourers and the Honda’s and BMW’s. Vision Tour and Street gets a big air-cooled V-twin with a gigantic fairing and new technology. The design is very futuristic, and that is more BMW or Honda than Harley-Davidson. So this is a quantum leap for a manufacturer of big air-cooled V-twin cruisers.

The Tour is the fully faired and equipped version of the new Vision range. It’s based on the most outrageous of the four concept models shown earlier in 2006. Victory’s Vice President Mark Blackwell and Greg Brew, Director of the Industrial design department told us that this concept stood out as much more popular amongst the people, Victory owners and others that took part in the research. A very high percentage of those people wanted to buy the Vision Tour without any second thought and that beats a maybe by a long mile.

What we know that was not announced in public are that the new engine layout with new double exhaust produce more power and torque than any other Victory motorcycle. And since displacement has not been revealed yet there must be a reason to that. So we expect a bigger engine than the current 1634cc V-twin.

We spoke to Stacey Stewart, Stacey is Victory’s Engineering Manager. Stacey first showed us where the new 23 litre fuel tank is. It is a double tank linked at the top filler cap. But the special is that the fuel tank is up front under the front fairing. On each side of the front fork under the fairing is an aluminium fuel tank. This solution was partly done to get the weight distribution right to add more weight to the front, but it is no small engineering feat. Stacey also showed us something that could be very interesting to actually try (not…). Stacey and his engineering team found out that many people that ride big touring bikes have a bad tendency to drop the big beasts and then struggle both to get it upright again and with a huge bill for new plastics and levers. The new Vision Tour and Street have been designed in such a way that it won’t fall all the way to its side! It will stop with the footboards! If this is really the case it could be the invention of the century! You can drop your big heavy tourer and all you get is a few scratches on the footboards and the chassis details made to withstand such an accident.

Another important detail for the touring people around the world is the new brakes. They are now 3 piston branded Victory. However to me they look very much like the same Nissin combi outfit that we find on the Honda tourers for instance. To me that shouts ABS ready! Stacey would not reveal to us that that was actually the case, but after mentioning this to enough people in the Victory team during the night I got a good impression that I was pretty much spot on with my observations, and not only on the brakes... If Victory launches ABS it will be as an option though as Americans don’t seem to like such aids much.

The enormous front fairing features an equally big headlight winged by the industries biggest mirror/blinker combo. The unpainted parts you can see on the fairing are made of aluminium. All the aluminium parts can be replaced by chromed parts to make the Vision Tour or Street even more bling than it is. The windscreen is electrically adjustable from the handlebars and another feature that separates it from the Gold Wing that still features an old fashioned manually adjustable windscreen. The front mudguard also looks like one of the industries biggest. The bike has been in the wind tunnel for the aerodynamics and this is very important on such a big bike. You don’t want turbulence to twist the bike into knots whilst doing 110mph on the motorway. Below the mirrors are an air-deflector made in see-through plastic to make life easier for the pillion passenger. It has been designed to remove turbulence further at the back of the bike.

For me the highlight is the beautifully designed rear end of the bike. A big V shaped stop light symbolises the intentions in the name, both Victory and Vision. Even though this is one of the biggest motorcycles we have ever seen, the design and the lines makes the Vision look much narrower than it is. And the narrow rear end is mighty tasteful and we suppose the poser would go straight for the Vision Street. But the top box on the Tour is firmly a part of the design and enables a full 110 litre carrying capacity and a luxury Queen seat. Particularly on the Vision Street you can see the lines at the back clearly. The narrow, but long panniers stretch a little bit upwards like on an old Cadillac’s wings and the double exhaust is perfectly designed to fit with the flowing lines. It’s almost like I can’t wait to ride one and follow another Vision Street because it must look amazing cruising down the highway with its long and low stance.

The Vision Tour and Vision Street launch in Long Beach, California, USA was the biggest ever press event for Victory Motorcycles. I have never seen such a big bunch of proud people in the same room before the launch of the Vision's! It was obvious from looking at and speaking to every single person in the Victory team that night that this was a historic day for the American firm. Tony Meirovitz, Victory External relations specialist kicked off the night with a few well prepared words and Mark Blackwell, the Vice president showed confidence like Tom Cruise when he talked macho in Magnolia. So covering the event was a privilege to me as a journalist as well. I understood that this event was just as important to Victory motorcycles as when Armstrong set foot on the Moon was to NASA. So as regard to the event and to the new product, congratulations, it’s a victory to Victory!

Victory launched the Vision 800 concept in California late 2005. This was done to let people know that Victory intends to do something different. Something very different and the new Vision Tour and Street are the first evidence of that. Vision 800 might never happen in the conceptual form, but with the new air-cooled touring bikes Victory is showing us how serious they are about the future. From 2010 it is going to be extremely difficult to homologate any air-cooled engine due to new regulations coming into effect. So whatever is next from Victory motorcycles or Harley-Davidson needs to involve liquid cooled engines at some stage. Harley-Davidson has got their own liquid cooled engine technology in the V-rod models, but Victory hasn’t yet. This is where the strategic partnership with KTM comes in handy. Even if KTM are buying back a big part of its shares, the partnership continues at a smaller scale than before. But being a big shareholder there is no reason to believe that Victory have not already acquired the technology it needs for the future.

So the future looks orange for Victory motorcycles and KTM even though Polaris might acquire another European brand to escalate developments by 2010. What will be for sale by 2010; Ducati, MV Agusta or Moto Morini? No one knows, but big things are bound to happen from a company as optimistic and forward thinking as Polaris and Victory motorcycles.

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