Victory's luxury rig cements the OEM's place in the touring market.
In the hours before the press test ride of Victory Motorcycles' new luxury rig, the Vision, employees for the new motorcycle were visibly pumped.
A hailstorm had just pelted the countryside surrounding the Wyoming, Minn., R&D compound with pea-sized pellets. Mixed among the talk about the new bike were complaints about dinged and dented cars waiting out in the parking lot. There were explanations that the storm's track would be monitored in preparation for the next day's trip south to Spirit Lake, Iowa.
But this was the Vision's proving ground, where parent company Polaris had invested millions of dollars and countless man-hours to test and refine its anchor product in the luxury touring market. Rough summer weather endemic to the Midwest wouldn't slow things down.
Over the next couple of hours, Victory finally unveiled the Vision's guarded details through a tour of the plant and multiple presentations. Company engineers explained the bike's unique chassis and drivetrain, which features the new Freedom 106/6 V-twin.
Victory explained the hows and whys of one of the most polarizing motorcycle designs in ages — how form and function were styled to meet the demands of the luxury touring demographic. It was then up to the bike itself to define these details across the highways and country roads stretching across southern Minnesota and into Iowa.
Over the next two days, the Vision did just that.
As it's already been well documented, Victory has researched this bike and market to a fare-thee-well. In doing so, it identified and moved into a niche where a relaxed comfortable riding position is key and modern styling is paramount.
The Vision comes in two models, the Street version and the Tour. The former features integrated saddlebags and runs $18,999 or $20,499 depending on which of the two packages the customer chooses. The latter also features a top case trunk and retails for $19,999 to $21,499 in three different packages.
With a demographic that is largely male, 54 years old (thereabouts), keeps a household income of $100,000 and has been riding for about 28 years, it's easy to see why comfort was one of the two targets of developing the Vision. A guy just wants to relax when he's tooling across multiple county lines.
At first intimidating, the Vision seems more pared down in real life. The 26.5-inch seat height helps one settle into the bike while its 804 lb. (for the Street model) and 103.5-inch length isn't as noticeable. Once riding, it's even more tame. After a while, handling becomes more a second thought, even at low speeds.
The riding position is adjustable as there are huge floorboards that allow multiple leg positions. Accessory highway pegs make it even easier to stretch out.
Along the comfort lines, the Vision features several levels of electronic doodads, starting with the premium sound system that is MP3-player-compatible. On the Tour model, a CD changer can be fitted into the trunk.
Other on-the-road creature comforts include an optional electrically controlled windshield (available in optional sizes), cruise control as standard, and GPS as an extra.
One interesting note about the luxury touring demographics, Victory says that 82 percent are married. Not only does this point to a lot of two-up riding, but it underscores the importance of selling to both husbands and wives.
It's understood that women have a major influence over what their significant other is buying, but with the touring market it's an easy guess that said S.O. also needs to be sold on comfort as well as accessories and parts.
To this end, Victory has planned an entire line of Vision-related gear that includes leather riding apparel, full-face helmets, rain gear — anything a tourer might need.
There are also 60 other accessories in the works, including tailgunner exhaust tips, billet wheels, chrome everything and a Victory performance exhaust system.
It's been 10 years since Victory was introducedm and the Vision plants the company squarely in a new market. It's a heckuva foothold, too. Even for a touring bike neophyte, the Vision felt like old home week by the end of the ride; comfortable beyond belief and enough power to always ride easy. The six-speed overdrive transmission provided great umph for passing. The bike's controversial looks even became familiar after a while. In fact, its long, low lines are downright stunning when lived with for a day or two. The Vision is no longer alien-looking and almost makes other similar rigs pedestrian-looking.
It's clear that Polaris is firmly committed to its motorcycle brand, with the Vision as proof.