2017 Victory Octane: First Ride Review

Victory Motorcycle's new liquid-cooled performance cruiser

2017 Victory Octane
2017 Victory Octane profileBarry Hathaway

They started with their eyes fixed on Pikes Peak. The team at Victory Motorcycles wanted to take gold on a totally new type of bike, and while they didn't win the race up the mountain, they did produce an incredible new power plant that would pave the way for the Octane. This bike was bred for speed, handling- just pure performance, then wrapped in a matte, aggressive cruiser-style package that screams Modern American Muscle. Victory says this bike is just the beginning, and we can't wait to see the rest.

The tests we put the bike through over the two-day launch were not only trying and designed to push the limits of the bike, but they were incredibly fun. We hit the drag strip at Orlando Speed World where Adam Waheed pulled a 12.005 second quarter mile, finishing at a speed just shy of 110mph. There was a handling course where we pushed our limits as well as that of the bike, looking through the pintails and dragging some rear brake before gunning it out into the little straight of way to try to make a quick time. Most exciting of all, we had a training session with the Victory stunt team: Tony Carbajal and Joe Vertical. They gave us hands-on instruction on burnouts, hard launching, rolling burnouts, and then initiating a drift. The potential of the bike was exhibited in an incredible way, showing that it could handle tight turns, was an absolute whip off the line, and is lightweight and nimble enough for some people who have never stunted before to learn and try out some pretty aggressive maneuvers.

2017 Victory Octane
Finding some of the hardest turns in Central Florida on the Octane LaunchBarry Hathaway

A surge of power comes on quickly, and very smooth as you roll onto the throttle. Putting out 104 horsepower and 76 ft/lbs of torque, the Octane is one lively beast. The 60-degree V-twin features short-stroke engine geometry, allowing higher revs and more HP, as well as a quick engine response to the throttle. The electronic 60mm throttle body feeds the dual overhead cam, four-valve liquid cooled 1179cc engine. The transmission has been geared with shorter legs for quick acceleration and a torque-rich feel, which it absolutely has. Demonstrated beautifully by its ability to go from 0-60 in less than four seconds. The low-end speed is balanced by an engine that doesn’t hit the rev limiter until around 8k rpms, a number that is pretty incredible and damn near unheard of for an American V-twin. All this gives the powertrain a feel much closer to a sport bike than your typical cruiser, but with the look and sound that we’re looking for. It’s incredible.

2017 Victory Octane with rider
Handling the OctaneBarry Hathaway

Chassis design another aspect of this bike that makes it stand out in the genre. Cast-aluminum front and rear sections are supported by two steel backbones. The engine is hard-mounted into the Octane, and is a load-bearing member of the frame. The whole setup has a nice, lightweight, rigid feel. Up front you’re equipped with 41mm forks, which were great in the turns but were a little soft over the bumps and a had a little more dive when hitting the front brake than I would have liked to see. Rear suspension was a little soft on the bumps as well, but a couple of the test bikes were equipped with the upgraded rear suspension offered from Victory, which made a big difference. Braking power was perfectly adequate and actually somewhat impressive for a single two-piston caliper up front and one piston caliper in the rear. All in, this bike was a blast to throw into the corners and never got squirrely. Suspension upgrades are nice, but this bike is perfectly rideable stock.

Victory Octane with stunt team
The Octane with Victory's stunt team, Joe Vertical and Tony Carbajal.Barry Hathaway

The whole bike sits quite low, with a seat height of only 25.9 inches, and a gas tank that doesn’t raise too much from there. I’m a pretty tall guy at 6’4” and my knees stuck up a little bit over the top of the tank. The low-slung bars had a good amount of pullback and were quite comfortable. I didn’t get sore in the shoulders and arms, but after about an hour, I could barely feel my butt. I noticed a lot of the other journalists were getting squirmy about the same time and when we got off the bikes, they all agreed. The hard seat and soft shocks in the rear made for a little bit of soreness, but nothing obscene.

The undeniable comparison when riding the Octane is the Indian Scout. Similar engine, similar frame, similar look. Octane’s engine mapping is completely different, giving it a much stronger feel off the line. It also has a lower lean angle, and slightly pulled back forward foot controls, giving it an awesome feel in the corners. The wheelbase is only about half an inch longer than the Scout and the Octane actually weighs four pounds less, but it feels like a larger bike. Something about the Scout still feels entry-level to me, and while the Octane is very approachable, I wouldn’t say it’s a beginner’s bike.

Victory Octane engine detail
Victory Octane engine detailsBarry Hathaway
2017 Victory Octane
Victory Octane at Orlando Speed WorldBarry Hathaway
Stunt training on the Octane
Editor Morgan Gales learning the rolling burnout with the Victory Stunt TeamBarry Hathaway

All of the amazing things about the Octane are made that much more impressive by it’s price. For $10,499, a rider can get a bike that’s ready to go anywhere you want to take it, with a strong and reliable new power plant, and a wealth of Victory accessories to customize with. This bike isn’t the freight train that we’re used to from American cruisers, this is a bottle rocket. This is the tire-screeching, slideways getting, hooligan machine that’s ready to inspire riders to take some risks and push their cruiser limits. It’ll go straight down a highway comfortably if that’s what you want to do, but if you’re ready for it, the Octane is here to do so much more.

Tall rider on Victory Octane
Editor Morgan Gales at 6'4" sitting on the Victory OctaneBarry Hathaway

For more info on the 2017 Victory Octane, check out VictoryMotorcycles.com