Victory Motorcycles to be Shut Down

Parent company Polaris Industries to close Victory over next 18 months to focus on Indian and Slingshot

Project 156 race action on Pikes Peak

Qualifying #2

Project 156Jeff Allen

Starting a motorcycle company has never been easy. Keeping one going only seems to be getting harder. Polaris Industries announced it would be "winding down" the Victory Motorcycles brand over the next 18 months.

From today's announcement: "This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, my team and the Polaris Board of Directors," said Polaris Industries Chairman and CEO Scott Wine. "Over the past 18 years, we have invested not only resources, but our hearts and souls, into forging the Victory Motorcycles brand, and we are exceptionally proud of what our team has accomplished. Since inception, our teams have designed and produced nearly 60 Victory models that have been honored with 25 of the industry's top awards. The experience, knowledge, infrastructure and capability we've built in those 18 years gave us the confidence to acquire and develop the Indian Motorcycle brand, so I would like to express my gratitude to everyone associated with Victory Motorcycles and celebrate your many contributions."

Victory is indeed the very reason that Polaris was able to make Indian Motorcycle what it is today. Every element of design, engineering and marketing was honed by the challenge of building a V-twin cruiser motorcycle from scratch and building a brand from nothing over the last 18 years. That challenge established the expertise that was the foundation for Indian.

But it’s hard to argue with the business decision. Consider that in Indian’s first year on the market, motorcycle sales doubled for Polaris. That is, a strong existing brand, coupled with Polaris’ design and engineering knowledge, were able to build a line of just a few models that eclipsed Victory’s previous 16 years of efforts to grow sales. To quote the company press release: “Victory has struggled to establish the market share needed to succeed and be profitable.” Add to this an overall struggling motorcycle market with stagnating new-unit sales and consolidating and focusing on the brand that yields the greater payback on investment makes sense.

Add to this that Victory is still using the fundamental architecture of the first engine the company designed. To move the Victory brand forward would have required the huge investment in an all-new powertrain, both to meet forthcoming Euro 4 and 5 emissions regulations as well as to further differentiate Victory from Indian.

Because of the expansion of the other powersports segments in the Polaris portfolio like side-by-side, virtually all of the existing, permanent Victory employees will have jobs in other parts of the company.

Polaris will disclose its 2016 financial results on January 24, 2017. As of the third-quarter 2016 report, motorcycle sales for Indian and Victory were reported to have increased in “low-teens percent combined, while overall motorcycle industry retail sales 900cc and above was down high-single digits percent in the 2016 third quarter.”

The Victory NHRA drag racing program will continue through 2017. The company will support dealers in selling remaining inventory through the next 18 months as the company prepares to cease this portion of its business, and will continue to support owners with parts and service for the next 10 years.

Victory took many significant risks over the years, starting with that first production V92C built on the Fourth of July in 1998. Models like the V92SC Sport Cruiser, the Vision tourer, the Vegas (credited at the time for "saving" Victory), Cross Country and all the way up to Project 156, the company showed a massive amount of spirit and expertise as it recovered and learned from its mistakes and built ever-improving motorcycles.

That spirit will live on in Indian Motorcycle and our market today is better for the nearly two decades that Victory Motorcycles will have come from Spirit Lake, Iowa, factory.