Two Victory Custom Motorcycles

Two Victory employees wanted their V92Cs to stand out. A dynamic duo was born. From the October 2001 issue of _ Motorcycle Cruiser _ magazine. By Andy Cherney.

The theme is echoed constantly in movie plots -- twins born to the same mother are separated at a young age, grow up in vastly different environments and become unique individuals. Later on they're reunited, only to find out that underneath the external trappings and lifestyles, their basic core is essentially the same.

A quick glance at these two custom V92Cs reveals uniquely distinct motorcycles -- which originated from the same womb. The fact that two such aesthetically opposite machines could be distantly related might seem amazing, but the manner in which each arrived at its final destination is even more of a marvel.

**Aim High **

David Wager, Zone Sales Manager for Victory Motorcycles, was determined to create a custom V92C but just couldn't seem to find any interested builders. Things took a turn for the better when Wager ran into renowned craftsman Don Hotop at Sturgis in 1999, who agreed to ponder a Victory project. Wager procured a 1999 V92C and just as the project was getting onto its feet, he witnessed Denny Berg's lavish Cobra Victory showbike at Daytona's Bike Week 2000.

Enthused, Wager asked Hotop only that his bike be "better than that Cobra bike." Then Wager stepped back to let the customizer work his magic. Hotop's motivation was simple; known primarily for his awesome work with Harley-Davidsons, the builder wanted to ensure his new creation wouldn't be mistaken for a Milwaukee machine. But he was also determined to keep the design visually clean and ridable, like any real-world motorcycle should be.

**Frame It Up **

Although it was important to both men that the bike be recognizable as a Victory, it didn't stop Hotop from taking liberties with the design. The frame was stretched two inches to lengthen the silhouette, with an aggressive rake of 35 degrees further lowering its profile. Rippling 45mm Marzocchi forks with GMA triple trees gave the bike a menacing stance, and the rear was dropped another inch-and-one-half.

Hotop remedied the V92C's notoriously bland left side by adding cosmetic structure to the swingarm, and looked to do the same to the stock fuel pod -- the tank was extended, its height shortened and the frame underneath narrowed to accommodate the Victory's tall cylinders. This process also made the cylinders less awkward visually, and provided breathing room for the capacious airbox Hotop wedged in for better airflow. A modified Drag Specialties air cleaner serves as a shiny punctuation mark.

Keeping It Real

Since the bike was to be a daily driver, Hotop insisted on correcting the clunkiness of the first-generation Victory transmission. Grinding down the gear dogs for more clearance quieted the entire assembly and smoothed the shifting process noticeably while GMA forward controls and a low profile seat added a requisite hot rod riding position. Hotop also ripped out the wiring harness and simplified control lines to clean up the front.

The builder didn't skimp on the finishing touches -- an Arlen Ness flattrack-style handlebar was perched atop a custom riser, with black handgrips from Drag Specialties providing a stark contrast to the chrome. A custom Hotop headlight and speedometer/tach boast clean profiles for a minimal look.

Every custom needs a shine, so the cases and cylinders were sent out for polishing at West Coast Choppers. RC Components chipped in a 19-inch polished front wheel and a fat five-inch wide polished rear disc, shod with portly 200 series Avon rubber. GMA six-piston calipers grip single discs at both ends, and the ample rear fender from Wernimont carries a futuristic eye-shaped taillight fashioned by Hotop. Beefy Samson slashcut exhausts underline the entire package with gleaming authority and a throaty bark.

A flamed scheme in gradient paint (by Damon's Motorcycles) serves as the garnish on this sleek custom. The liquid-like application transitions through three House of Kolor hues along the gas tank and fenders.

Wager's finished bike was delivered less than a year later, and he says it was well worth the wait. Wager was blown away by Hotop's eye for detail, and how ridable the bike is -- custom or not. As he tells it, "I did all the whining, and Don did all the building!" As for Hotop, he's so pleased with the outcome of his first Victory, he was working on a half-dozen more as we went to press.

On the Edge

If Hotop's project opted for a traditional feel, Eric Chesnut's design skidded out of this world altogether. To the untrained eye, the Polaris employee's orange monster doesn't even appear to be a V92C -- only after close inspection does the bike reveal its pedigree. Oddly enough, this is Chesnut's first Victory project (like Hotop, he'd only worked on Harley customs). A quick ride on a V92C, however, convinced him that a Victory had to be his next custom creation. Even though Chesnut came to the process without many of the connections a more experienced builder might have, consultations with top customizers Arlen and Cory Ness encouraged this ambitious beginner.

Trashing the Envelope

Chesnut was nervy from the get-go, stretching the stock frame 5.5 inches in length and finishing it with orange powdercoat. Adding three degrees of rake slammed the bike to the ground, and massive 63mm inverted Arlen Ness forks on Ness triple trees were extended two inches for an intimidating front end. The cylinders, heads and cases were sent out for polish at Arlen Ness, with Chesnut taking care of random cosmetic chroming himself.

No part of this bike seems untouched, save the internals. Except for the addition of hotter Andrews cams and a K&N; Power Commander module, he left the powerplant virtually stock -- although there is that wee nitrous bottle hanging in back, for the occasional on-demand G-rush.

The bodywork is pure Chesnut. He fashioned a fuel tank out of two Harley Fat Bob cells and stretched the finished unit. The rear fender was crafted in the same manner by marrying two anonymous stock pieces to match the massive tire width. Subtle Pro-One turn signals blend into the fender sides.

Power equals volume you know, so Chesnut bolted on a set of two-inch D&D; drag pipes for an ear-splitting roar. Jesse James' slim front fender hugs a 21-inch RC Components front wheel and hub, and a Jay Brake caliper slows the whole assembly. A polished RC Components wheel also supports the monster 250 Avon rear tire, which required stretching the swingarm 1.5 inches and widening it two inches to fit.

Don't Call It Orange

The glistening orange paint job? Chesnut tells us it's Tangelo Pearl from House of Kolor, which he applied himself. The finishing details -- headlight, taillight, grips and footrests -- were sourced from the Ness catalog. Le Pera supplied that sliver of a seat, and Carlini flat drag bars and high riser topped off the triple tree.

The final product is striking from any angle, and Chesnut tells us he gets as much pleasure out of building bikes as he does riding them. In fact, he's already cooking up a kettle of ideas for his next showbike.

The fact that both these bikes are independently owned by Polaris employees suggests a motorcycle company with strong loyalty in its ranks. We haven't run across many custom Victorys, but we'll sure as heck be keeping our eyes peeled now. After all, we know which DNA characteristics to look for.


Arlen Ness
(510) 276-3395

Avon Tyres
(425) 771-2115

Custom Chrome, Inc.
(408) 778-0500

Damon's of Long Beach
(714) 990-1166

Don's Speed and Custom
(319) 372-6216

GMA Engineering
(800) 348-4539

House Of Kolor
(800) 328-5139

Jesse James (West Coast Choppers)
(562) 983-6666

Pro-One Performance Mfg.
(800) 884-4173

RC Components
(502) 842-6000

Samson Motorcycle Products, Inc.
(800) 373-4217

Victory Motorcycles
Call (800) 765-2747 for your nearest dealer

Available through Drag Specialties
(800) 222-3400

For additional evaluations of, comparisons of, and shopping advice for motorcycle gear and accessories, see the Accessories and Gear section of

Photography by Dean Groover
_The sleek tail lamp is a Hotop original. _
Hotop stretched and plumped the sterile swingarm for a bit more character.