The Victory Octane is what the Indian Scout should have been with more power, upgraded suspension, shorter gearing and a cheaper price tag.
The power cruiser rides, handles and performs better than the Scout and costs $1000 less at $18,995 ride away.
In fact, the only thing holding it back is that it has a Victory badge instead of an Indian badge which has more street cred.
Except for the badge, they look almost identical in format, frame and engine.
And the quality of build is similarly very high with tidy and discreet plumbing and one of the neatest integrations of a radiator in the motorcycling world.
So how could something so similar in looks be so different in feel and ride?
Victory tells us that only 30% of components are borrowed from the Scout.
The differences are many, including the wheels, tyres, fork rake, higher footpegs, frame design, rear shock, fork springs and engine internals.
Let’s start with the liquid-cooled powerplant which has been bored out 2mm to 1179cc from 1133cc in the Scout giving it a marginal power increase from 74.7kW to 77kW and torque up from 97.7Nm to 103Nm.
The V-twin has dual overhead cams and four-valve heads to rev smoothly and quickly beyond 8000rpm.
But what really gives this bike urgency in the throttle is the lower gearing right through the six cogs.
It simply sprints off the line like there is no tomorrow with quick shifting producing rapid acceleration.
Victory claims that at 12 seconds, it is their quickest motorcycle down the quarter-mile and the fastest from 0-100km/h in less than four seconds.
The Octane has a moderately heavy cable clutch, yet the relocated transmission feels smoother than in the Scout with neutral easier to find and no false “angel gears”.
You can quickly rip through the gears and slip it into sixth at 80km/h and about 2900 revs. Surprisingly, roll-on acceleration from there will see you challenging the speed limit in quick time without any pinging or labouring as you would expect on the Indian.
At idle and right through the revs and gears, the water-cooled engine feels smooth and refined with the mirrors showing little vibration or blur.
Running at highway speeds, it’s purring at 3600 revs, which would be good for all-day touring with no tingling in the fingers.
One annoying characteristic that does remain from the Scout is the surge on constant throttle at low speeds.
Like the Scout, the Octane only has a single 298mm disc up front but it feels adequate for the job with a two-piston calliper and steel braided lines for good feel. The rear brake also has reasonable effect.
It comes standard with ABS which comes on fairly abruptly and stutters the bike to a solid stop.
Riding position is very similar to the Scout, but you can feel the slightly higher and close footpegs which give marginally better cornering clearance (32-degree lean angle), although you will still scrape them quite easily.
The solo vinyl seat is more comfortable than the leather Scout seat, but not as cushy as the Scout Sixty vinyl seat.
Reach to the bars is the same and the bike feels similarly low and light, despite its 242kg dry weight.
Apart from the gearing, the biggest difference from the Scout is the handling and ride.
It’s a result of different wheels, suspension and steering geometry.
The Octane turns sharper and more deliberately than the Scout which has a “round” feeling to the steering.
I still can’t work out why, because on paper it should steer slower thanks to the bigger wheels (18” front and 17” rear, up from 16” front and back on the Scout), the slightly raked-out forks and the wider 160mm rear tyre.
Maybe it’s the lower profile of the rubber and the upgraded suspension, but it now handles more nimbly and rides firmer.
The Octane suspension has dual-spring-rate rings in the forks which cancel the jack-hammering effect of the Scout and the rear shock is more vertically positioned with better springs and damping.
Consequently, it doesn’t pogo, bottom out or bounce around like the Scout.
It feels more planted on the road, able to absorb the bigger hits and keep the front and back wheels in tune with each other so it doesn’t wallow in corners even over irregularities in the road surface.
The Octane has similar instrumentation to the Scout with a single pod showing analogue speed and a digital screen with odometer, tripmeter, clock, rev counter and engine temperature.
You can toggle through these displays via a convenient switch on the back of the left handlebar switchblock.
However, neither the Octane nor Scout has a fuel gauge for the 12.5-litre tank or a range reading, only a low fuel light.
We achieved fuel economy better than 5L/100km which is good for more than 200km in normal riding before the fuel light comes on. About that time the seat will be forcing you to stop, anyway.
Accessories include a slip-on stage one muffler, adjustable piggy back shocks, tachometer with shift light and drag bars.
If you desire a power cruiser that feels nimble and powerful and you can get past the lack of an Indian or Harley badge (the new air-cooled Roadster costs $500 more), the Octane is a competent alternative.