Victory to Race Isle of Man TT with Electric Motorcycle

Polaris capitalizes on Brammo’s electric motorcycle business as a new Victory emerges.

Victory Isle of Man electric motorcycle studio 3/4 view

If there were any lingering doubts that Polaris Industries is committed to Victory Motorcycles following the parent company's acquisition of Indian, let them be crushed.

On the heels of Victory launching an NHRA drag racing program and announcing the "Project 156" Pikes Peak International Hillclimb effort using a "prototype performance engine" hung in a Roland Sands Design(ed) frame comes news that Victory will also be racing a pair of prototype electric motorcycles at the Isle of Man in the one-lap SES TT Zero Challenge race.

That’s two bucket-list real-road races in one month (June) from a motorcycle company that’s never officially turned a wheel roadracing.

The electric bike in question is a reworked Brammo. Polaris partnered with Brammo for the past three years and acquired its electric motorcycle business in January.

“It’s pretty much a new bike,” said Gary Gray, whose official title is Motorcycle Product Director/Leader of Polaris Electric Motorcycles. And while base frame and overall design are the essentially the same as the Brammo’s, the battery, controller, and Parker Hannifin-sourced motor have been upgraded and zeroed in for best the performance on the Isle of Man’s bumpy 37.73-mile lap. “We repackaged the battery cells because there is a lot of shock and vibration in racing, but particularly at the Isle of Man. We also got 20 percent more capacity, and the motor has new windings. The control system and wire harness are new. It’s more sophisticated in how we bring power from the battery pack to the motor. We’ve got new torque and power configs that maximize our performance specifically for this race.”

Gray says the setup is, of course, optimized for 37.73 miles. “You set the bike up to pull as much power as you can out of the battery and finish as close to zero as you can,” he says. “Heat management is critical. You have to determine where your peaks are going to be, so we have simulations of the bike going around the track, where it accelerates and decelerates and power cycles. That’s helps us predict how much heat we will be generating and how the systems we have on the bike cool it.”

Victory Isle of Man electric motorcycle studio side view

In addition to a new, more aerodynamic and lighter monocoque carbon-fiber subframe, there are additional aerodynamic changes to come for the bike that aren’t shown in the current photos.

“We’re excited about the effort we’ve put in,” continued Gray. “Racing at the Isle of Man for the first time, we’re not overly confident but we definitely want to be competitive so we’ve done a lot to make sure the bike is.”

To that end, Victory hired William Dunlop of that famous Isle-of-Man racing family, and Lee Johnston, a 26-year-old Irishman considered a rising star in real-roads and TT racing. Both riders have class wins at the Isle of Man at the Classic TT. Dunlop has been on the podium in Supersport at the traditional June TT races, and Johnston's best finish of fifth came in Superstock.

Lee Johnston has visited the US for test sessions on the bike to help with a baseline setting for him and Dunlop. Final tuning will be done during TT week in practice leading up to the race.

Victory Isle of Man electric motorcycle studio 3/4 view

The IoM and other racing efforts are part of Victory’s effort to rebrand and differentiate itself from other cruiser competitors in the market. It also indicates Victory is where Polaris will “play” to expand two-wheel market share outside of heavyweight V-twin cruisers.

“Our big push with Victory this year is that we want to prove American performance,” said Gray. “That’s why we’re investing in racing like this. We think it’s pretty cool that in the month of June we’re at NHRA tracks running the quarter-mile in the US, in Colorado we’re running Pikes Peak—one of the most prestigious races in the world—burning gas, and another very significant world-level race at the Isle of Man burning kilowatts.”

Brammo’s motorcycle business is but one piece of the larger puzzle for Polaris Industries’ acquisitions and partnerships executed in recent years. From snow blowers (Ariens) to snow bikes (Timbersled) and so many other transportation- and gear-related companies (Klim), this American manufacturing company is growing and evolving in ways that suggest the story is only just beginning.

Does this mean a production electric bike is on its way from Victory?

“Can’t say,” replied Gray. “People see performance in our products today and will see even more of it in our products of the future.”

Don’t bet against a Victory electric motorcycle in a showroom near you.

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