Will the Victory Octane replace the Judge and Gunner as the company’s most aggressive muscle cruiser?
The Octane is the company’s first water-cooled model with a 1200cc engine to compete against the Harley-Davidson V-Rod.
While the high-revving sporty machine is an aggressive muscle cruiser, there is still plenty of bare-knuckle appeal about the Judge and the Gunner.
Until the Gunner came along, the Judge was my favourite of the Victory Motorcycles line-up.
When it was introduced in 2012, the Judge stood out as their first modern muscle cruiser among the retro hot-rod Victory line-up.
It featured an aggressive riding position and style with mid-mount pegs, drag bars, side racing number plate, white-lettered drag tyres, under-sized headlight, fat front tyre and curvaceous seat.
The Judge is based on the Vegas with different wheels and styling that goes back to the 1960s when the Yanks stripped the Pontiac GTO to make a low-cost muscle car called the Judge.
It may have retro influences, but it still looks modern.
I fell in love with it on the US launch through the San Jacinto hills outside of Palm Springs where I chamfered the hero pegs into oblivion.
In 2014, Victory took some of the aggression away from the Judge by moving the bars back 10cm, the pegs forward 10cm, adding a two-piece seat and modern side panels to replace the retro racing “number plates”.
Thankfully those changes were only for the USA and Australia retains the original look.
In fact, the only change since its launch is the introduction of ABS last year.
I recently rode the bike for the first time in nearly five years and it instantly put a grin back on my face.
The mid-mount pegs reduce the lean angle, so you grind the hero blobs even on slow urban corners, attracting the attention of passers by.
This review bike is also fitted with an aftermarket Cobra pipe which gives it one of the meanest, yet not annoying, sounds around. Cobra also apparently make the standard pipes.
While there haven’t been many obvious changes since its launch, the engineering and build quality seems to have improved.
The gears feel less clunky, neutral is easier to find, the engine doesn’t vibrate as much and the quality of the paint, the frame and even the welds is outstanding.
And while it may have limited corner clearance, it performs well out on the streets and up into the hills around BrisVegas.
It feels enormous when you hop on board. The reach across that wide and long tank pulls you forward into an aggro lean.
Clutch pull is a little on the heavy side, but this is not a bike for weaklings.
Click it into gear, let the clutch out and the 106 (1731cc) Freedom V-twin slingshots the bike with intent into the traffic.
The Victory Motorcycles engineers have somehow made the engine mechanically quieter and smoother so the well-placed mirrors don’t vibrate at any revs, giving clear and un-obstructed views of the vehicles you leave behind in your dust.
While the heavy cruiser has only one front disc brake, it is 300mm and has braided steel lines for extra feel, plus there is a very efficient rear brake because of the bike’s low and rearward weight distribution.
Use the front and rear brakes together – as you should – and the bike squats and pulls up with brute force and little fork dive.
Ride is firm without being harsh and even big bumps won’t crash the rear spring on to the bump stops.
The cartridge forks are firm and the progressive single rear shock is pre-load adjustable for heavy or aggressive riders and the extra load of a pillion.
This combination of muscle, stopping power, low corner clearance and firm ride means you can fire it toward a corner, brake late, arc through the bend, then fire it out to create swift progress through a series of twisties.
Will the new Octane replace this as the boldest and most aggressive cruiser in the Victory line-up? You be the judge!