2017 Victory Octane: First Ride
One thing's for certain. This is not the same motorcycle. Victory's new muscle bike, cruiser, sportbike..., the 2017 Octane, see...
Victory's new muscle bike, cruiser, sportbike..., the 2017 Octane, seems to go in an entirely different direction than the rest of the Minnesota-based company's line up. Powerful, aggressive, and throaty, it extends the American V-Twin culture into an entirely new genre of motorcycling.
The Octane is effectively the production version of the "Project 156 Bike" that finished with the second-fastest time at the 2015 Pikes Peak Hill Climb. It's based on the same engine, though with an entirely different chassis.
So when Victory loaned us one for review, we grinned and rubbed our hands together in anticipation...
To discover what the Octane is all about, I rode it along Lyons Valley Road in the hills of San Diego County, a road known for its tight turns and twists up and down rocky hills, but countered with long straights of oak-laden ranches.
What was noticeable right away is the Octane's ease of handling and light feel compared to other cruisers and even other Victory models. Slow speed turns along Lyons Valley's hairpin curves were so remarkably easy, it was like riding a 600cc sportbike. You know how a lot of cruisers have that heavy steering, where it feels like the front wheel wants to fall over? The Octane doesn't have that. It's almost as if Victory designed it for tight turns.
However, it's still along the straights where the Octane shows itself off. Some generous twists of the throttle mixed with some fast shifting threw my body backwards as I tightened my grip. This bike makes a lot of wind, really fast! The clutch grabs right away and gives you all that its 1133cc muscle factory can crank out.
And for those who think the single front disc is not enough to stop on a dime, think again. I was able to come to quick stand-stills, probably due to the Octane's lightweight aluminum frame.
Even with the factory exhaust, the Octane sounds roars when launching off from start. I wouldn't want it any louder.
OK, but how does it really ride, you ask?
Well first off, with me standing at 5'8", it felt like I was planted firmly into this bike. Well flat-footed, elbows bent, seated upright, it was as if I'm the perfect sized rider for the Octane. And having said that, I had an absolute blast! There's so much torque to throttle out of a slow speed turn in high gear. You could just pick a gear and leave the Octane in it for miles through twisted canyon and always have the power at hand.
I found that it's more of a bike that I can finesse rather than have to use my body weight or momentum to manuever. I'm sure you've heard of that old motorcycle cliche of "minimal input", well that's really what the Octane gives. I wouldn't advise it to anyone, but I had fun letting go of the handle bars and steering this bike with my body on the easier turns.
Even as a commuter bike, it's ideal. Here in California where it's still legal to lane-split, I smiled like a thief threading the needle at 50mph between stopped cages. I mean heck, at $10,499.00, it's priced less than a Hyundai, and makes you look way more cool. You just need a backpack to carry your lunch.
Overall, the Octane is a sportbike, cruiser, and musclebike rolled into one. It wouldn't be right to peg it into one category or another, because it really does feel like a motorcycle made for carving canyons and urban commuting, yet still great for smoking tires at bike night.
Women and height-challenged guys really ought to give the Octane a look. It's lighter weight, easy handling, low seat height, opens up all kinds of possibilities for those tired of looking at Sportsters and V-Stars.
And if being American-made is important to you, it's got that too.