Victory Combustion Concept – FIRST LOOK REVIEW

Project 156 takes another step closer to production.

Victory Combustion Concept project static side view

What comes after ignition? As any gearhead will tell you, it's combustion. So it came as little surprise when Victory followed its Ignition concept bike with another called Combustion.

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Victory Motorcycles Project 156 engine gets a new life in a custom build by Urs Erbacher.

It's man versus mountain as Don Canet tackles Pikes Peak on a custom-built Victory, the Project 156.

Both are built around the 1200cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder, 60-degree V-twin that powered Project 156, which Cycle World Road Test Editor Don Canet raced at the 2015 Pikes Peak Hillclimb. Except where Project 156 used a prototype engine and Ignition's was pre-production, Combustion's is said to be production-spec. Victory spokespeeps say Combustion is the third and final installment in a series of teasers that will ultimately lead to a new line of production motorcycles. There's no definitive word on what bike (or bikes) are forthcoming, but word is we will see something as soon as 2016.

To recap, Project 156 was built by legendary California custom builder—and 1998 AMA 250cc Grand Prix Champion—Roland Sands. Intended only to be raced, it featured minimalist streetfighter styling and no concessions to street legality whatsoever. Ignition, which debuted at the 2015 Milan Show in November, was built by Swiss customizer Urs Erbacher. Envisioned as a two-wheeled version of a vintage 1960s-'70s musclecar—Erbacher is an accomplished top fuel drag racer, after all—it had at least a semblance of street equipment, moving the project one step closer to production.

Victory Combustion Concept project engine close-up

Which brings us to Combustion, which was unveiled at the International Motorcycle Show in New York City in December. This was created by Zach Ness, son of Cory Ness and grandson of OG California customizer Arlen Ness, all of whom have designed motorcycles for Victory in the past. Is this bike in fact a one-off custom, or does it foretell a production future? No one is saying for sure, but given that Zach Ness worked alongside Victory Motorcycles’ Senior Industrial Designer Michael Song on the project, we wouldn’t bet against it seeing an assembly line.

“Our family has a long-standing relationship with Victory Motorcycles customizing many Victory production bikes in the past,” Ness confirms. “It’s always fun to look into the future—so to have the trust of Victory to create a more conceptual bike has been great. Also, as one of the first to ride this new engine, it absolutely rips!”

Victory Combustion Concept project fuel tank close-up

“This platform is awesome–loads of power, and an insane engine sound,” Ness continues. “The inspiration for the bike came fully from the throttle. I wanted to create a bike that was fast, light and ready to attack the next green light.”

As with Ignition, Combustion draws influences from American musclecars. Yet where Ignition looked a bit rough around the edges—in a good way!—Combustion looks ready for prime time. This carries through to the use of Victory’s trademark raised spine, and a slew of Arlen Ness-branded components. Is that a matter of convenience, or of production intent? We’ll know soon enough…

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