Polaris has positioned itself advantageously in the American motorcycle industry. And the recent unveiling of the Ignition concept at the International Motorcycle Show in Milan last month, and last night’s reveal of the Combustion concept at Union Garage in Brooklyn, is a statement of intent. In the absence of Buell, and with Harley-Davidson’s aging image, Polaris has put Victory at the reigns of the two-wheeled American muscle market. With modern engines, contemporary takes on classic design and a recent dive into competitive motorsports, Victory is filling an important gap in the market that the European manufacturers have been all to happy to divvy up.
Following their first podium in the Isle of Man TT Zero class (in their first try), Victory announced the Empulse TT, becoming the first major motorcycle manufacturer to offer a fully electric motorcycle. Shortly after that, Victory teamed up with famed bike builder Roland Sands to create a prototype bike to take on Pikes Peak. Project 156, as it was named, is a strong departure from any basic design currently offered by the manufacturer. Forgetting for a second all of the one-off racing components, the standard riding position, high tail and squared-off tank is a far cry from a Victory Vegas. But the Ignition Concept from the Milan Show, built in conjunction with Swedish bike builder Urs Erbacher, was meant to look like a road-going version of Project 156. Victory maintains that it’s purely a concept, though.
Longtime Victory collaborator Zach Ness was on hand last night to unveil the Combustion concept, which he helped design. Like the Ignition concept, Ness was given a pre-production engine to build a bike around. When asked about the goal of the design, Ness said, “The Ignition concept was an evolution of the Project 156; the Combustion concept is more of an evolution of Ignition.” Where Ignition is influenced more by European drag bikes, Ness’s Combustion leans more towards what he says the American audience would be looking for. But taking a look at how every manufacturer now offers some type of scrambler or cafe racer bike, it’s easy see both concepts doing well if they were to go into production, as is. When asked how far the Combustion concept was from production (if it were to go to production), Ness commented, “Concept bikes can be really out there. I wanted to make a realistic, everyday, bitchin’ ride,” then added “It’s reminiscent of something that might exist.” With the production-ready-looking parts and design, and Victory brimming with confidence, the concepts they have on display at this weekend’s New York International Motorcycle Show may just be the best look at Victory’s coming lineup.