When the Victory story came to an end in 2017, the brand left behind a legacy. Or rather, the departure of Victory left a hole in the market that still hasn’t been filled. While many riders may state that the market is already saturated with American-style cruisers, Victory offered something different.

It breathed a breath of fresh air into a stagnant market right when it needed it most. And just when things were starting to get really exciting for the brand, Polaris went and pulled the plug.

This is the short history of the greatest American brand that could’ve been.

The Beginning Of Victory Motorcycles

The concept behind Victory first emerged in 1994. Polaris Industries, a company renowned for building power sports products such as jet skis, ATVs, and snowmobiles, announced plans to enter the motorcycle arena. To do that, the company embarked on a market research exercise that produced interesting results.

Polaris learned that there was room in the market for something to rival Harley-Davidson. Big American cruisers were (and always will be) popular, but consumers were looking for another manufacturer to buy from, rather than buying into the Harley-Davidson dream.

During the mid-90s, motorcycle sales were soaring, and the likes of Harley-Davidson were experiencing an unprecedented sales boom. Polaris decided to capitalize on that demand by offering a more affordable, yet still American made, product.

In 1997, Victory was born. In the same year, Polaris pulled the covers off of a new American cruiser: the V92C.

Victory V92C Side View

The Victory V92C went on sale in 1998. The new kid on the block featured a 1,507cc V-twin engine, making it the largest displacement cruiser on the market at the time. But there was more to this exciting new model than size.

The engine was modern. It featured modern engineering that resulted in a smooth, fast, and reliable power that outclassed everything Harley-Davidson had on offer. If that wasn’t enough, the new Victory V92C boasted a unique, head-turning appearance.

Retro design themes swept across the V92C from tank to tail. Taking inspiration from the automobiles of the 1930s, the new Victory has curves in all the right places.

What’s more, the entire motorcycle was almost 100% American-made in Minnesota and Iowa. Everything was American aside from the Brembo brakes and British-made fuel-injection system.

Victory Motorcycles had arrived, launching a new era for the American motorcycle industry.

The Return Of Indian

Success didn’t occur overnight. Like many fledgling brands, Victory took a few years to establish itself in the market. By 2002, Victory began to turn a profit. This allowed the brand to expand, tempting Polaris to develop new models and broaden the product range.

One of the most unusual and exciting Victory motorcycles to roll into production was the Victory Vision. The Victory Vision first appeared in 2008. It was a 21st-century touring machine built on the legacy of traditional American tourers, but with a futuristic edge.

2008 Victory Vision Street Side View Studio

Its arrival was ill-timed, with the 2008 economic crisis just around the corner. Sales weren’t as high as expected. Still, it proved that Victory was a brand that could innovate. Proof that there was more to the marque than edgy Harley copies. This enthusiasm helped keep sales up despite the global economic hardships.

The success of Victory increased Polaris’s interest in the motorcycle market. This led to Polaris making an incredible investment. This investment was a momentous event for the American motorcycle industry, but it would have a knock-on effect that would hail the end of Victory in the years that followed. In 2011, Polaris purchased the Indian Motorcycle marque and revived it for the 21st century.

With a lineage that dates back further than Harley-Davidson, Indian was a true heritage brand.

Armed with two impressive marques in its portfolio, Polaris planned to promote Victory as a contemporary power cruiser brand, while pushing Indian as a more traditional, heritage manufacturer. Victory was for the more modern rider. Indian was for the old-school crowd. Together, they were a formidable force and managed to corner an impressive percentage of the US market share for road motorcycles.

A New Direction?

Polaris’s portfolio expanded once more in 2015 when it purchased Brammo. Brammo was an American electric motorcycle manufacturer. To help keep Victory relevant as an innovative brand, Polaris decided to lend Victory Brammo’s technology to launch the Victory Empulse. This would be the brand’s first electric motorcycle—which was essentially a Brammo with a Victory badge–and it was an absolute firecracker.

In 2016, the Victory Empulse RR raced at Pikes Peak and secured second place in the competition’s overall standings, and first place in its class. The Empulse’s gas-powered counterpart, the Victory Project 156, also managed to win its class and third place in the overall standings. In the weeks before, Victory also managed to secure an exciting second place in the Isle of Man’s electric TT.

Victory Empulse Side View

Victory’s new pivot towards electric motorcycles and mainstream racing success was an unexpected direction, but one that was lauded by the motorcycling press and motorcycle riders of all stripes. A new breed of American motorcycle was on the way.

However, for traditionalists, Victory also offered a sleek new cruiser that straddled both the contemporary and the heritage worlds: the Victory Octane. Though it shared a lot of DNA with the Indian Scout, it was a fresh model that helped push Victory more into the spotlight.

But alas, this new and exciting direction for Victory was short-lived. Unfortunately, just as things were beginning to get interesting, the Victory dream was over.

Victory’s End

In January 2017, Polaris issued a press release stating that Victory would cease operations and the brand would be discontinued. The release explained that Victory was no longer profitable, and it would take significant investment to make it a viable product.

It was true.

Within Victory’s last five years, it only managed to turn a profit in three of those years. What’s more, Victory was significantly underperforming when compared to Indian.

2016 Victory Octane Side View

In a short time, Indian had managed to surpass Victory’s sales and turn a greater profit. It also seemed that Indian’s potential was far greater than Victory’s ever could be, as customers seemed to prefer the look and feel of the Polaris heritage brand over the opinion-dividing but innovative Victory.

“Given the significant additional investments required for Victory to launch new global platforms that meet changing consumer preferences, and considering the strong performance and growth potential of Indian Motorcycle, the decision to more narrowly focus Polaris’ energy and investments became quite clear,” the press release stated.

Production of all Victory models ceased at the brand’s Iowa factory. The existing stock was sold off, and the Victory story came to an abrupt end. Just like that.

The Legacy That Victory Left Behind

Victory Motorcycles may be no more, but the brand’s legacy lives on. Today, used models are still available, and Polaris will still provide parts and dealership support until 2027 at the earliest. The brand may have been discontinued, but it will be remembered for more than just its excellent range of more than 60 motorcycles. Here are a few key things that Victory brought to the cruiser arena:

Firstly, it brought the fight to Harley-Davidson. The brand produced American-made power cruisers to rival the Bar and Shield, and for a significantly cheaper price. American-made V-twins had never been so affordable and accessible.

Secondly, Victory was able to break away from traditional American cruiser stereotypes. Futuristic and daring shapes replaced the bling and chrome more commonly associated with the cruiser scene. It wasn’t for everyone, but Victory proved that there was more to the cruiser market than previously thought.

Lastly, Victory brought performance to the cruiser scene. Not only did the brand enter into world-class racing competitions, but it also added unexpected performance parts to its stock models. Brembo brakes were equipped as standard, and the rear suspension of Victory’s models really was a cut above the rest.

Victory is no more, but its legacy lives on in Indian and will continue on in the next chapter of the Polaris story.

Victory Motorcycles Logo



  1. September 21, 2020

    I think the association with Ness doomed Victory. The gaunt sharp edges and swoopy lines, avant-garde wheels – and especially those weird headlight cowls, turned off the masses. There will always be a lunatic fringe that will buy anything, but the vast majority of bikers like smooth, clean, aerodynamic, ergonomic design cues.

    • Hahahaha
      March 16, 2021

      As opposed to bikes that look like parts bins thrown together… Don’t confuse the design of one Ness bike, the Vision with all the other Ness designed bikes, especially the Jackpot and Hammer that look custom, right off the showroom floor. The only attractive HD’s are the aftermarket customized ones.

  2. Carlos Ferraro Chavez
    September 21, 2020

    Perhaps, maybe, the brand might resurrect one day, but for the entry level, ie 250, 500, 750 cc motorcycles for the young crowd that do not want huge bikes.
    But that is a thought.
    In the end, it is all business.

    • March 17, 2021

      I just picked up a vision 2008 so the bikes resale. Resells make the victories still valuable and a lot of people Why solid engineer that went into it. The balance of the machine is superb when driving it and even to up I will still recommend and looking one.

  3. Christopher E Johnson
    September 21, 2020

    I was a fan of the Victory marque from the very beginning, having ridden pre-production bikes at their demo during Bike Week at Daytona. Alas, they remained aspirational as I was limited to a budget more in line with my KLR-650. To this day I would like a Victory Cross-Country in my garage, as one of the most comfortable touring machines I’ve ever ridden. But Victory suffered from the same issues as other aspirational marques like Moto-Guzzi in my neighborhood – no significant dealer support.

  4. RobG
    September 21, 2020

    They went away because they didn’t sell!

    • James H Wiiliams
      November 19, 2020

      Kinda like harley in the 70’s you know when they needed AMF to keep them from going under and turned the bike into a shit show

  5. Rob G
    September 21, 2020

    Their only legacy is that they didn’t sell.

  6. Olly Downie
    September 22, 2020

    I fully embraced Victory in Melbourne Australia. The company was steadfastly behind Australia and NZ, offering great support and the riders were all great advocates of the brand here. I still have two Vics, a 2008 Vision and a 2013 Hardball. Both are great big powerful, great handling, great looking machines. Beauty is afterall, in the eye of the beholder. They will live on in the hearts of their current owners forever.

  7. Carol
    September 25, 2020

    The Victory Cross Country is one SMOOTH bike! Luv it!
    I have not ridden anything that comes close to the feel, balance and handling of this bike.
    It looks awesome too….. have received so many complements on it.
    In fact, I think the Indian is starting to look a bit like a Victory 👏
    Please bring Victory back.

  8. Joe Kunkel
    January 17, 2021

    Hands down a head and shoulders above engine design with the Freedom 106. It surprises me that harleys antique engineering and indian didn’t take more from that engine design.

    • C W
      March 17, 2021

      They did, it is called the Scout and Challenger, both started as Victory patents…

  9. Clark Hunlock
    February 25, 2021

    In 2016 looking for a bike thinking Harley or Indian but a buddy had a2013 Victory C C tour unbelievable deal ,bought it and couldn’t be happier ,smooth dependable comfy.Harley bros need to stop more than me on cruises

  10. Allen Cooper
    March 14, 2021

    I bought my v92c in March of 2000, Im still riding it and it still looks great and runs great.

  11. Rick Gordon
    March 15, 2021

    I love my victory so much I had to I will never ever sell this bike I was so into Victory I even got a tattoo on my arm to commemorate it I was in an accident and the bike saved my life so it was rebuilt thank God it was just cosmetic I had no marks on me the bike was built like a shitbrick house the bikes I have own been Bulletproof it was sad that they had to stop making it but what a great bike

  12. Steve M.
    March 15, 2021

    My KingPin is the bike I purchased after my Hd Springer was just another pretty face on the block. When I got my HD in 1988 there was a 6 month wait for new HD’s but by the end of the century they were EVERYWHERE. If you wanted to be different, to rebel against what everyone else had, Victory was and still is the way to go

  13. Mark Glynn
    March 15, 2021

    I have owned a Victory Jackpot for 3 years but drooled over them since they arrived in Australia in 2009. Sadly bike riders are conservative and were unwilling to leave HD
    for the modern engineering and design of Victory. Dollars talk so Polaris walked.

  14. Johnny Dee
    March 15, 2021

    Yes, Victory lives on with Indian. Two of the three Indian chassis were designed for Victory. The Scout was to be a Victory but was switched to Indian right before it was released. The Challenger was going to be the next generation of the Victory Cross bikes. Polaris learned how to make motorcycles with Victory and money through Indian.

  15. Darrell R Hannah
    March 16, 2021

    Victory Motorcycles are excellent bikes. My first Victory was a black 2011 Cross Roads. It had great road manners and I loved it. I bought my wife a 2012 Victory King Pin which she loves and will never part with. She has logged 50,000 trouble free miles on it. In 2013 I bought an Antifreeze Green Cross Country that I have over 40,000 trouble free miles on. Since they no longer make Victories, we will just have to keep on riding what we have. And that isn’t a problem becaues they all have been incredibly reliable motorcycles. Just do the pre ride inspection and go. Some don’t care for the design but I think they are awesome. to each their own. Ride one and you’ll own one.

  16. D Harris
    March 17, 2021

    Bought one in 03, traded it on another one in 06 and when I heard they were stopping production I raced out and bought another. Love em, More reliable and faster than it’s main competitor. Impressive in stock form and respond well to modification without sacrificing reliability. Ya just put gas in and go, like you would a Honda.
    However all air cooled engines are doomed as they have to run lean to meet the new E5 emission standards. Harley had to water cool their cyl heads and the new liquid cooled Indian Challenger motor was originally slated for Victory. Business decision…..If you have to redesign the power plant you might as well cut your losses and put the new engine in the Iconic brand name. And what an engine it is. Read any test report on it.

  17. Jim Collier
    March 18, 2021

    I bought a 2007 Victory Hammer from a local dealership and still have it today. The Nuclear Orange paint is a Love it or hate it color and one of those that always attracts people. The fat rear tire, low center of gravity, inverted front forks, smaller and wider front tire and overall stance is something that is hard to beat. I have added many OEM chrome accents, stage 3 performance kit (cams, filter and swept pipes) and other OEM accessories. When they announced that Victory was to be discontinued I was PISSED and still am. Indian bikes are nice but in my opinion the failure was a lack of marketing on the part of the parent company and not and the bikes. As with Indian I hope that someday soon we will see the return of Victory

  18. April 6, 2021

    Victory was just starting to get its feet wet .My friends were all going to get rid of their harleys and switch to victory.When Polaris slammed the door in out face I saw everyone I stead of going to Indian go back to Harley. Even though they where so happy to have the Victory choice and everyone who had a Victory like me had 2 was nad and just went back to Harley even though we all loved our Victory.

  19. Stan silber
    April 6, 2021

    Have an ‘’08 kingpin eight ball. Never had a moments problem. Wherever I go people admire it. Sold my last Harley a few years ago

  20. Micah
    April 7, 2021

    I’m a first time rider and like a fool I bought the biggest engine I could find. The V92C. It had less than 9k miles on it and in the short time I’ve had it I’ve already put nearly 6k miles on it myself. I absolutely love the bike and will buy another Victory down the road.

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