Victory Octane Test
“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
Bike: Victory Octane
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
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Rear Drive: Belt
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
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
Overall Vehicle Length 2286mm
Fuel Capacity (Litres) 12.9 LTR
Rake/Trail 29.0° / 130mm
Seat Height 658 mm
Curb Weight 240 kg
Lean Angle 32 degrees