Victory pushing bounds of American performance at Pike's Peak

Victory Motorcycles and Roland Sands have teamed up to build one of the coolest, loudest bikes you'll ever see -- a bike aimed at tackling the Pike's Peak International Hill Climb later this month. BikerNewsOnline sat down for an exclusive interview with the folks at Victory to talk about the bike and what it means for the future of American motorcycling.

Getting its name from the 156 twists and turns encountered on the Pike's Peak course, the Project 156 motorcycle features a prototype liquid-cooled Victory V-twin engine and a chassis that was hand built by Roland Sands Design. The bike will be ridden up the mountain by Cycle World test editor Don Canet.

Canet raced at Pike's Peak last year and managed to earn a spot on the podium despite having major tire issues. In an article he wrote for his own publication, Canet said he is excited to be part of Project 156.

"I'm losing sleep because of my burning desire to post a result that satisfies the investment and effort of all involved," he wrote.

Video of Project 156 was released recently, and along with its great look the aspect the bike drawing the most attention is its sound.

"This bike's unapologetic" said Roland Sands.

Victory External Relations Manager Robert Pandya agrees.

"It's definitely the loudest thing on the mountain. It's a total beast," he told BikerNewsOnline. "It has these massive throttle bodies and the whole top part, the body work on top of the engine, that's 100-percent air box... it's definitely built to attack the mountain."

The Victory team is still in the process of testing the bike in preparation for the June 28th race, but practice runs have delivered positive results.

"As it goes with custom motorcycles, there's a lot going on in the bike to shake it down anyway, let alone adding in 10,000 feet of elevation," Pandya said. "It started out a little rough; it was rough on throttle and that, but we've really got to tip our hats to the guys from MoTeC in taking a base map and really tweaking it for the needs of the bike."

Preparations for the run have been a little more challenging this year thanks to weather conditions on top of the mountain. The area has seen an unprecedented amount of snow in recent months, with snow drifts up to 15 feet. Crews are working 'round the clock to get the road cleared in time but it has forced some changes in routine. But that may work out to the team's advantage.

"Guys got to practice through a transition area where they don't normally get to practice and that made Don Canet pretty happy," Pandya explained. "He came out of that happy because he got to go at speed through a section he didn't get to practice at last year."

Work on the Pike's Peak project first came about, Pandya said, because of Victory's desire to improve its performance side.

"Racing Pike's Peak is an idea that's certainly been floating around our side of the motorcycling world for a while," he said. "It's something we've been wanting to do, to find the right way to do it. This prototype engine ended up being the right way to do it."

Asked about the likelihood of customers seeing that prototype engine in a production model any time soon Pandya stressed that he doesn't talk about future projects but offered this:

"Obviously we're doing this for a reason. I think that anybody who's on a current Victory, in the current category, it's well known for being a high-performance, high-quality product," he said. "When we speak to performance, we speak to not just drag race times, we speak to the overall package. And that's really what we're working on here: to expand the engine side of the package and keep pushing what American performance can be."

Project 156 is just one of many exciting performance-related projects that Victory has involved itself in over the last year or so. It set a speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats last year; earlier this year it began participating in NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle drag racing; and it is currently preparing to compete in the Isle of Man TT.

Pandya said there is a theme in choosing to take part in many of these events.

"Part of it has to do with the iconic nature of all those venues," he said. "We want to be in epic places. That's a desire for any enthusiast: to be in an epic place on a cool bike. Also, (Bonneville, Isle of Man and Pike's Peak) are some of the last great venues of the garage-tuning tradition. You know, you can't go NASCAR racing out of your garage any more; you can barely go club racing.

"Another thing: These are places where there's a very low BS factor. They're all really friendly venues. I can't say enough for the people we've found, the way that other competitors open up and let you in... All those venues speak to truth and honesty and tenacity, and that's really what the Victory brand's all about."

The Pike's Peak International Hill Climb takes place 28th June. You can find out more about Project 156 by visiting the Victory Motorcycles website.


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