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Victory’s ninth year features nine models – August 14, 2006

August 14, 2006
Filed under Features

Victory’s 2007 model line represents the brand’s ninth year and features nine models, all shown at Polaris Industries’ recent dealer meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Included in the upcoming line-up is a new long-haul bike called the Kingpin Tour, a “Limited Edition” Hammer S and two new Ness Signature Series models. The company also revealed plans to enter the luxury touring market, displayed a pre-production three-wheeler developed with Lehman Trikes and showed updated returning models.
Arguably the hottest piece of news to come from the Polaris meeting for Victory dealers is the brand’s decision to enter the touring segment of the motorcycle market. A 2007 model called the Kingpin Tour (49-state MSRP:$17,999) serves as the company’s new entry into the segment.
“The Kingpin has been a really good bike, but many customers have told us there is just not enough luggage capacity, so we put really nice saddlebags, a top-box with passenger backrest and wind deflectors on it,” Mark Blackwell, Polaris vice president of Victory Motorcycles and international operations, told Powersports Business. “What the Kingpin Tour does is sticks our toe into the segment. And that’s an important move because of our other news — our planned entry into the luxury touring segment over the next year or so.”
Victory ended production of its first tourer, the Touring Cruiser (TC), this year after a five-year lifecycle. It was the last of the old generation Victory. From now on, Blackwell said, the brand’s bikes will have a number of common design elements — the split tail at the back of the fuel tank, how the seat flows together, etc.
The Kingpin Tour is what Blackwell calls a “light touring” bike — complete with windshields, bags and some other long-haul amenities. Like the BMW LT, Honda Goldwing and Harley-Davidson ElectraGlide Classic, the “luxury touring” bike is a fully fared unit with larger carrying capacity and many more amenities.
Victory provided dealer principles a glimpse at a pre-production luxury touring model in an effort “to motivate them to prepare for the company’s next stage of growth,” Blackwell said. The product was revealed behind tight security — special passes, signed confidentiality agreements, banned cellphones and cameras.
“We think they need to be preparing their dealerships today for the future of Victory,” he said. “If we’re going to go into luxury touring with a range of models, we want to give them ample time.
“Basically, the point is we’re telling everyone now that we plan to enter luxury touring next year, with a gradual release of more information in the next six to nine months. We’ll gradually reveal more and more about the plan as the year goes on.”
HAMMER S
A second new offering from Victory for 2007 is the Hammer S ($19,749), a limited edition muscle cruiser outfitted with the brand’s Sunset Red paint scheme, blacked-out engine and components, and wheels by Performance Machine.
“The Hammer has been very successful with riders looking for big power and performance in a cruiser, but we’ve seen that there is another, younger group of customers who want an even sportier look and feel to their cruiser,” Blackwell said. “These are Gen X or Gen Y guys coming off of a sportbike who weren’t ready for an old guy’s bike. For them, we have the new Hammer S.”
Like the returning Hammer, the Hammer S receives a custom-inspired headlight, a cast and not forged swingarm, the Victory Freedom 100 engine, 250mm rear tire, inverted cartridge-type forks, and big 300mm floating rotors with four-piston calipers up front.
TRIKE
A third surprise for Victory dealers at Polaris’ recent business meeting was a display of pre-production trikes built by Lehman Trikes.
Two years ago, during Polaris’ 50th anniversary celebration at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, Victory showed two concept trikes — a Vegas version and a Kingpin version developed with Lehman. The trikes at the anniversary celebration were included in what Blackwell called “Phase 1” of Victory’s partnership with Lehman.
At the time, Victory said furthering a relationship with Lehman would depend on dealer reaction. If a good reaction was garnered, Phase 2 would include building prototypes and testing, and Phase 3 would include Victory supplying Lehman chassis and allowing the trike builder to begin production.
“The reaction from dealers and consumers — both ours and Lehman’s — was awesome, so they developed a prototype and we helped them with testing and validation,” Blackwell said. “We don’t have a sidecar and we don’t have a three-wheeler of our own, and we’ve got our buckets pretty full coming up with cool bikes like the Hammer, Jackpots and luxury touring bikes, so we thought rather than us consume our resources, why don’t we partner with the market leader in that segment?”
Blackwell said he suspects 10 to 15 percent of Victory dealers may have an interest in carrying trikes. “It’s a very specialized product and needs a very specialized dealer,” he said.
RETURNING MODELS
Returning Victory models — the Vegas ($15,799), Vegas 8-Ball ($13,999), Vegas Jackpot ($17,499), Hammer ($16,899), and the brand’s top seller, the Kingpin ($15,999) — all were updated for 2007.
Changes to all models include new custom-inspired headlights, swingarms that are cast and not forged, and emissions decals that have been moved from the swingarm to a less obvious location on the battery box.
Additionally, each bike in the line-up now features more than 100 optional Pure Victory accessories.“There’s a pretty big perception out there that we don’t have much in terms of accessories and clothing,” Blackwell said. “The truth is, we do. For 2007, we have a great new PG&A line-up with more than 70 new accessories and an apparel line that is 85 percent all-new.”
As for the Arlen and Corey Ness Jackpot models ($22,999) — returning for a fourth year — they get new paint and graphics for 2007, plus cylinder head cooling fins that are diamond-cut, seats from LaPera Enterprises, custom wheels and a number of Ness components.
THE MARKET
Victory retail unit sales grew by 43 percent in 2005, and year-to-date in 2006, they are up more than 25 percent. Polaris officials expect the brand to be a $300 million business unit by 2010.
“We had a great year in 2005,” Blackwell said. “The industry grew at about 4.5 percent, and we grew at about 43 percent. It’s still small numbers, so we’re still a relatively small player, but we’re growing fast and I think gaining credibility in a variety of areas — the quality is really good and customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. I’ve been around powersports for about 30 years, and I’ve never seen customer satisfaction as high as what we’re seeing with Victory right now.”
Blackwell said Victory’s dealer network also continues to grow. “We have about 335 dealers at the moment,” he said. “We expect between 350 and 375 by the end of the year, and roughly 450 by the end of next year.”
Expansion plans include the entire country.
“We’re not trying to have a dealer on every corner,” he said. “Our strategy is just to have good, solid representation in all the major markets. We’re adding very carefully because we want to be sure we aren’t hurting existing dealers. But what we’ve demonstrated pretty consistently is that we go into a big market and we add one or two dealers and it actually improves sales for all the dealers. What happens is more aggregate advertising and promotion.”

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