With the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb just around the bend, Victory Motorcycles has unveiled the final version of its hand-built prototype sportsbike that is set to debut at the infamous "Race to the Clouds." To be raced by Cycle World road test editor Don Canet, Project 156 is an all-American effort designed in co-operation with Roland Sands Design that could give US spectators something to cheer about.
In less than two weeks' time, the second oldest motorsport event in USA (the first is the Indy 500) will get underway for the 93rd time. When Victory teamed up with Roland Sands Design to race this historic event the aim was to create a race bike with a prototype engine within a very short timeframe – they only had four months’ time.
Information on the technical side of this motorcycle is scarce. All we know is that it’s powered by a liquid-cooled V-twin using titanium valves that runs of a very high 15:1 compression ratio and is housed in a tubular steel frame. There's no word yet on displacement or power figures.
Suspension is handled by Ohlins with a rear shock linkage apparently coming from a Ducati 899 Panigale. Braking has been outsourced to Brembo, Dunlop supplied its GP-A Pro tires, Motec offered the base for the electronic management of the motor, and K&N purifies the air it breathes. We also know it sounds great – the proof is supplied in the video at the end of this story.
Another irrefutable fact is that Project 156 will race, instead of just playing out a marketing scheme as a showbike. Don Canet, a former racer and road test editor for Cycle World, is fresh from his Pikes Peak debut last year where he took third place on a Ducati Multistrada.
"My role is simple but hugely important: twisting the throttle with full faith in the skill of those behind the engine and chassis, which, Lord willing, will carry me safely to the 14,115-foot summit," writes Canet in his blog. "I’m losing sleep because of my burning desire to post a result that satisfies the investment and effort of all involved."
The motor’s testing was concluded in late May and the shakedown took place at the Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Southern California during the first days of June. Last week, Victory took Project 156 to Pikes Peak for some official in situ testing. Although it is unclear how many competitors were present, Canet’s best run took him to second place behind a Honda CBR1000RR ridden by Jeffrey Tigert. Considering that the latter is a proper Heavyweights racing competitor, things are looking very good for Victory’s participation in the UTV/Exhibition class.
Now, to feed the rumor mill, the prototype motor does bear some aesthetic resemblance with the Scout’s production power plant. In the Cycle World review of the Scout Canet wrote that "the low and lanky Scout fits the cruiser mold, yet this American bike has a sporting heart. One hard run through the gears kindled my imagination regarding future applications of this liquid-cooled V-twin." That was last October.
Then this from Canet's Editor-in-Chief, Mark Hoyer, in the same article: "What a nice surprise to find liquid-cooling and Ducati-worthy intake and exhaust ports on this all-new 60-degree V-twin. Most intriguing is the 86 horses it makes on the dyno. That’s conservative for 1,133cc, which promises a bright future. When I said to Kevin Cameron I thought there was an easy 140 hp in this powerplant, he upped the ante quite a bit. How about a Sport Scout with similar styling and a standard-style riding position?"
Actually, this line of speculation would make a lot of sense. A few months hardly offers sufficient time to design a new engine out of thin air, though it is enough to develop a production engine to racing level.
Victory has just made an appearance at the Isle of Man electric race and could well be planning ventures into new categories. Indeed, with all the American heritage it bears, a Scout-related sportbike standing squarely against the European and Japanese competition would no doubt attract a strong following, in the USA, at least.
We can almost infer such a notion from Rod Krois, Victory General Manager, as he explains that, “we have an intense focus at Victory Motorcycles to prove the performance of our vehicles. Competing as an American OEM at America’s race is an exciting opportunity. The grueling conditions at Pike’s Peak provide the perfect proving ground for our new Project 156 race engine."
Taking advantage of the opportunity, the American Victory Rally will be held in the Colorado Springs area, June 25-28. Victory owners will have the chance to ride to the summit of Pikes Peak on June 27 and on race day a premium hill climb viewing area has been reserved exclusively for Victory owners.
The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is held west of Colorado Springs every year since 1916, except during war years. The timed race negotiates a 12.42 m (19.98 km) twisting road that climbs from a 9,390 ft (2,862 m) elevation up to 14,115 ft (4,302 m) at the peak, composed of 156 turns – hence the Project’s illustrative name.
Below is the latest of the official videos that followed the evolution of Project 156 throughout its course. Another great video is hosted on Cycle World, with Canet’s testing run on the actual Pikes Peak racecourse.