Mike Song had a problem. As one of the senior members of Polaris’ 30-man Industrial Design team, he was expected to compete on new projects if he wanted to work on them, and he wanted the next one: Victory’s midsize cruiser. He had already designed the extremely well-received Victory “CORE” showbike.
“If we were going to do a midsize cruiser, it was the perfect time to do something like CORE,” Song recalls. “But I was buried with the design work on the Indian Chief/Chieftain [his projects]. So I just dug in and did a design even though I had no time.”
Victory Product Manager Brandon Kraemer remembers Song simply doing a sketch on an overlay sheet right over the top of an image of CORE. In any case, it was good enough to be the winning design—which of course is right when Song’s problems really started.
“Trying to take a concept vehicle that had zero restrictions, trying to capture that with production cost and packaging constraints—that was a monumental challenge,” Song says.
Take the fuel tank, for instance. “We had to get a big airbox that we needed for power, and we had to get a minimum 3-gallon fuel tank to meet our range goals,” Song says.
The CORE, in contrast, had a skinny tank that didn’t have to worry about any of that. “We did six or seven fuel-tank variations trying to get close to the original design,” Song admits.
It even influenced the frame design. Notice that the engine makes up a big part of the frame structure, with only minimal backbone rails running over the top of the engine—which helped give the volume needed for the airbox and tank.
Song explains how he wanted to push limits with the design: “The Indian brand is heritage and history. When Indian came aboard [at Polaris], it allowed Victory to push further. If you look at the form language of the Octane, it’s very modern. Look at that final fuel tank: There’s nothing traditional about it. We wanted to push the boundary while staying in the American cruiser market.”