Victory Octane Test



Comapact killa.

“Pin-able. Highly, eminently pin-able. It actually needs the type of self control at the throttle hand that normally comes with riding a modern sports bike, rather than a cruiser.” was how most of the conversations started when I was asked about riding the new Victory Octane.

The other question that came up more than once was “Isn’t it just an Indian Scout in different clothes?”

Well … I have to admit that when I was first taking to Brum about this article I thought that might be the case too – but that was until I spent a week with the machine. It turns out that the differences are more than just skin (and flared guards) deep.

Compared to the Scout, the Octane has an additional 46cc capacity (via a bigger bore) resulting in three more ponies (103) and an extra 3.8ft lbs of torque (76@6000rpm) on call. It’s also four kilos lighter.

No big deal on paper maybe, but the difference is in the riding and the Victory has better suspension and is geared far more ‘aggressively’ than its more ornate Indian stable mate.

The real joy of the machine is the power plant. It’s a beauty. It really does require a deal of self-control because giving the liquid cooled 1200cc, 60 degree V-Twin a handful is a pure delight. It hammers. Victory claims that the engine is “derived from the Project 156 Race bike developed for Pikes Peak. It has 4-valve heads with twin overhead camshafts and is geared for acceleration.” And accelerate it sure does. At 240kg dry and 103hp it isn’t modern sportbike kind-of fast, but it does have more than ample hurry-up. The way the bike is geared also makes for quite remarkable top gear acceleration and roll on. Even hauling my payload it pulled readily away in top gear from 40-45kph - with ease and a very pleasant torque hammer – and it keeps on pulling. With the stage one exhaust system fitted it makes for a very nice note while doing so too.

What made pinning it even more enjoyable is one of the sweetest gearboxes I’ve used. Sure shifting, confidence inspiring, hot knife through butter, no matter how sloppy – or urgent I was – both up and down shifting. Rowing it through the cogs is most satisfying. The wet, multi plate clutch is mechanically actuated and is also suitably efficient.

On the road the Octane’s manners are pleasing. The frame is high-tech cast aluminium and its rigidity no doubt contributes to the solid and neutral feel of the ride. It’s stable at normal to high speeds and it corners and handles reliably. It also felt very well balanced while performing low speed U-turns and manoeuvres and wasn’t thrown off line at all by irregularities in the road surface – even when giving it a real handful on exits.

That said, it is a firm ride and you do feel those irregularities with 120mm of travel available from the 41mm front forks (fitted with dual rate springs). Another of the important differences between Scout and Octane are the rear shocks. The Octane’s have dual rate springs with (threaded) pre-load adjustment and are fitted at a noticably steeper angle that the Scout’s. They offer 75mm of travel and suited my weight much better than the standard Indian’s.

Overall I thought chassis the dynamics were well suited to the engine’s output and the 32 degree lean angle is good for a muscle cruiser, although with that engine, and the pleasing way it does tip in, it’s still pretty easy to start dragging pegs and grinding hard parts not long after. But, for a cruiser it is agile and rewarding, particularly in an urban setting. It’s pretty good on a set of twisties too. The 18-inch front wheel runs a 130 section tyre while the 17-inch rear has a 160 and they are fitted to 10 spoke cast alloy wheels. That no doubt helps in the agility stakes, as does the bike’s aggressive rake and trail.

Stopping it is by way of Dual piston 298mm disc brakes front and rear (with ABS as standard). They are good brakes without being ‘killers’ - with genuine two-finger fronts. I did use the rear more than some others I’ve tested lately, but that also had something to do with ‘utilising’ the engine’s output - as well as the brake’s stopping power.

The ancillaries are in keeping with the quality of the machine. The headlight is remarkably effective considering the size of the reflector, the self-cancelling indicators - and the overall comfort levels of the machine are good. Like the rest of the package, the saddle is much more comfortable than it looks.

Victory have also addressed the fact that not everyone is average height and weight by offering three different fitment packages for the Octane. The standard unit has pulled back handlebars and mid/forward lower controls that gave me a pretty upright riding position. Also available for us tall guys is an extended reach option that includes a saddle with the bolster further aft ($308 fitted), extended reach lower controls that put the pegs a few inches forward ($397 fitted) and drag bars ($778 fitted).  Shorter inseams are also catered for with a ‘Reduced reach’ package that costs the same for saddle and a set of mid controls, but has reduced reach handlebars for $397 fitted. Bravo!

The $1437 (fitted) Stage One exhaust system isn’t ‘too’ loud, sounds great and it really does help that lovely engine breathe. A set of Victory piggyback shocks ($1290 fitted) would also be on my wish list, particularly if two-up riding is on the agenda, although I thought the Octane is more of a selfish pleasure and I tended to ride it more ‘violently’ than I would when carrying a passenger (did I mention pinning it everywhere?). The accessory catalogue does offer pillion seat, pegs and luggage options to make it suitable for more general duties too.

Overall I found the Octane to be a very pleasing motorcycle. I liked its modern, mono-chrome, high tech appearance. Flowing back from its bullet fairing and hard creases it has some tidy lines. It’s a look-ahead machine with spirited performance from a delightful engine fitted in a competent package, but most importantly it’s great fun to pin … err … ride it.

GUTS & BOLTS

GENERAL
Bike: Victory Octane       

ENGINE   
Type:     Liquid-cooled 60° V-twin       
Carburetion: Sequential Fuel Injection with single 60mm throttle body       
Bore x Stroke (mm)     101.0 x 73.6mm
Exhaust: Dual slash-cut mufflers with common volume       

TRANSMISSION
Type: 6-speed       
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate       
Primary Drive:       
Rear Drive: Belt       

FRAME
Type: Cast Aluminium       

WHEELS & TYRES
F Rim: 18 X 3.5-in. cast, 10-spoke       
R Rim: 17 X 4.5-in. cast 10-spoke   
F Tyre: 130/70-18 63H       
R Tyre: 160/70-17 76H       
F Brake: Dual piston caliper, 298mm disc ABS as standard           
R Brake: Dual piston caliper, 298mm disc ABS as standard
       
SUSPENSION
Front:  41mm damper-tube forks with dual-rate springs; 4.7-in. travel       
Rear: Twin shocks with dual-rate springs, adjustable preload; 3.0-in. travel   
       
PAINT & FINISH
Colours     Matte Super Steel Gray
Colour/Graphics     Matte Super Steel Gray

DIMENSIONS
Overall Vehicle Length     2286mm
Fuel Capacity (Litres)     12.9 LTR
Rake/Trail     29.0° / 130mm
Wheelbase     1578mm
Seat Height     658 mm
Curb Weight     240 kg
Lean Angle     32 degrees
   

To Scotty's on a Springfield

Friday July 29th in South East Queensland was typical of the lovely winter’s days you often get up here. Temperatures in the early 20c range, hardly a breath of wind and nary a cloud.

The photo gig I had booked for the morning was postponed, there’s grandkids running amok in the lounge room and I have Indian-Victory Brisbane’s new Springfield Demo bike in my shed for testing.

Yes. Exit, stage right. Pronto.

I didn’t need much encouragement. The Springfield has been a lust affair since I rode it home on Wednesday. Three days into the test and the desire has not abated, in fact with every run it’s only getting worse.

Editor Brum is doing the main write-up and the article in the Magazine, but I will produce video and some on online bits.

The challenge with photographing such a fabuloso looking heritage styled machine in and around Brisbane is that the city is so new and modern. There are a few older brick areas around the Showgrounds, but on the whole the city is a concrete, glass and steel environment and not old-ee world-ee at all. To the North and South of the city are the tourist strips and the same applies. Glass and pebblecrete.

The majority of the heritage buildings are further afield. Ipswich to the west, Toowoomba atop the ranges even further West, and the hamlets of the ‘Scenic Rim’ have better old-school buildings and backdrops (or ones that you can park a bike near anyway), but I was actually already decided.

Several of the crew had posted images on Facebook from ‘Scotty’s Garage’, just to the east of Toowoomba.

The maps app said it was 1 hour and 45 minutes from base and I hit the road at about 10:30am in the aforementioned ‘near-perfick’ conditions.

I wheeled onto the M1 and followed the Freeways and toll roads south then west for about an hour. For freeway cruising the Springfield is a joyous machine. It’s rock solid, virtually vibration free, enormously comfortable and quite luxurious.

The cruise control works well. The boys at the shop lifted the handlebars slightly for me and they now fit perfectly for a relaxed posture. The saddle is plush and the ‘flattened’ top of the crash bars works well as foot or leg rests if you need a stretch.

A quick fuel stop near Ipswich and in what seemed like no time I was at the Gatton turnoff. In hindsight I probably didn’t give due consideration to the route plan. I just entered the target address into my phone, plugged in the earphones and followed Siri. (1709 Upper Flagstone Creek Rd, Upper Flagstone QLD 4344)

But today I was having the kind of luck where the App’s calculation of the most direct route was without doubt also the most interesting. After crossing the lush Lockyer Valley floor I followed narrow and (relatively) twisty back roads through the Foothills to Flagstaff Road and on to Scotty’s.

The Springfield is essentially a Chieftain without the fairing. Same geometry - with steeper rake that the other 111cui Indian models (The Classic and Vintage).

The Chieftain had always been the best handling of the Thunderstroke range due to that steeper geometry. But without the 20-25kgs of fairing, stereo, speakers and power screen hanging off the front forks, the Springfield now claims the title.

I’ve had the bike three days and haven’t scraped the footboards. I haven’t tried to – but then I haven’t ‘not tried’ to either. It has very good cornering clearance for such a big girl. Even on suburban roundabouts.

On the back roads the bike is also a delight. Same solid road manners, same big torque hammer, confidence inspiring ABS brakes and the best, easy shifting gearbox on a ‘big’ Indian so far.

I was seriously in my happy place by the time I pulled in to Scotty’s at five past lunchtime. The quality of the photo op that opened up as I rounded the car park corner had me beaming.

By the time I had dismounted, unplugged and got my camera kit out of the (central locking) panniers the bike had drawn a small crowd of the pensioners who had also stopped for refreshment.

Yes, they still make them. Yes, it is beautiful. Your brother’s Indian was probably built in the 40’s. And all the ensuing standard enquiries that come with riding a new Indian.

I enjoyed it, and walked into ‘The Barn’ and ordered a snack with my newfound posse of grey.

The Barn part of Scotty’s establishment is just that – a farmyard barn converted into an eatery with a ‘travelling-food’ menu, al fresco decks and a pleasant outlook.

I took my leave and headed back outside to begin work on images. Later in the day would have been better for the photographing, light-wise, but even still, the garage setting was ‘only perfect’ for the job at hand.

Two lens changes, a quick snack, a heap of exposures, various angle changes and setups later, the proprietor, Scott, invited me to step inside ‘Scotty’s Garage’ and have a look at ‘his’ Indian. He was giving some of the paying customers the guided tour of what is essentially a small museum. He built the Garage as part of the site’s development and it’s only a relatively recent addition, but the work he’s done in giving it a genuine period look and the ‘rustification’ of the fa├žade is quite a work of art.

Inside the building there are a number of examples of the engineers art. Several classic vehicles, motorcycles and assorted moto-paraphernalia fill the floor and cover the walls. The ’48 Chief is a stunner.







He then threw open the doors at the back of the Museum and it actually took me a little aback. The Thunderbird diner it revealed is somewhat reminiscent of the theme restaurant in ‘Pulp Fiction’. They cater for functions and it’s a quite spectacular small venue.

We then headed back to the bike and talked for a while about the venue, bikes in general and Indians, while I reeled off another series of pics.

I can’t recommend the experience highly enough. Interesting, friendly - they even ‘stopped me’ with the chips – I couldn’t finish them all.

It’s an excellent riding destination, but if you are a big group – give them a call and book. The details are all here:

http://www.thebarnandscottysgarage.com.au

The shadows were starting to get longer as I retraced my route back to the Freeway and dialled in the Indian’s cruise control for the run home. I was early enough to beat the worst of the Freeway peak hour snarl and had an incident free run all the way back to the coast. Livin’ it LARGE.

I arrived home an even bigger fan-boi of the Springfield than I was before I left. It’s a premium motorcycle and as far as day-rides go … well … this one was worth framing.

Fortunately, I have pictures.

Victory Octane Images

Spent a lot of the weekend chasing images for the Heavy Duty Magazine test on the Victory Octane. It's a very enjoyable motorcycle.
A relatively compact package with a stonking 1200cc power plant and capable handling, brakes and suspension. Even the saddle is more comfortable than it looks. This one is fitted with stage 1 pipes and it sounds great too. If I had to describe it concisely it would be 'Very Pin-able'.