2016 Victory Octane review: muscling in on the act

Victory Octane
The Octane is all about muscle Credit: Felix Romero

The Victory Octane gives its stablemate, the Indian Scout, a run for its money

Before its unveiling the Octane was hyped as the first of a new breed of high-performance machine from Victory, which has been repositioned as the brand of “American muscle” following its owner Polaris’s takeover of the more heritage-focused Indian, which also produces all-American V-twins.

Then the covers came off to reveal a cruiser that is closely related to Indian’s Scout. The Octane’s angular styling mimics the Scout’s, gaining a slightly sportier look with a bikini fairing and smaller mudguards, plus an understated finish of grey paint with black engine and exhaust.

The engine is a slightly larger version of the Scout’s liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-twin. It has reshaped combustion chambers, raised compression and new camshafts, so it’s odd that its 103bhp is only three horsepower up on the Scout’s.

Sportier looks set the Octane apart from its sibling, the Indian Scout Credit: Barry Hathaway

Its straight-line performance is boosted by lower gearing, making the Victory quick off the mark. The engine remains smooth until about 6,000rpm as the bike accelerates.

Despite the shorter gearing the Octane cruises at 70mph with a relaxed feel, the small fairing providing a modicum of protection. The chance to ride on a drag-strip confirmed it pulls reasonably briskly before topping out at about 130mph; sufficient for a cruiser.

The chassis layout is similar to the Scout’s, with a tubular steel and aluminium frame and the same 29-degree fork angle. Suspension at both ends is stiffer, with the twin shocks more vertical, while the wheels are a larger diameter.

The Octane handles well, but would benefit from a tyre upgrade Credit: Felix Romero

It handles well for a cruiser, too, with enough leverage for respectably light steering despite the lazy geometry, and the long wheelbase ensuring stability. There’s sufficient ground clearance to allow fairly spirited cornering before the footrests scrape, while the ride quality is adequate on all but very bumpy roads.

The launch bikes were let down by a combination of hard Kenda tyres and reasonably – but not excessively – powerful single-disc front brake, which for the US market is not fitted with ABS. Several riders fell at slow speed after locking the front wheel under braking. ABS is standard on UK bikes, but insist on a tyre upgrade.

That obvious flaw apart, the Octane is a welcome addition, not least because at £9,799 it’s £700 cheaper than the Scout. The Indian’s more glamorous name will ensure higher resale values, though, unless Victory’s image can be boosted. Aggressive marketing might help – but the Octane’s story shows that it’s best not to promise more than the machinery can deliver.


Victory Octane

Tested: 1,179cc four-stroke V-twin, six-speed gearbox

Price/on sale: £9,799/now

Power/Torque: 103bhp @ 8,000rpm/76lb ft @ 6,000rpm

Top speed: 130mph (estimated)

Verdict: Despite the hype, this V-twin cruiser provides a respectable blend of performance, style and sophistication

Telegraph rating: Three out of five stars

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