2017 American Iron Motorcycle Buyer’s Guide: Performance Cruisers
Since OEM’s have been busy unveiling the latest crop of 2017 motorcycles, we’ve put together a series of “Buyer’s Guides” to bring you up to date on the latest and greatest offerings from American manufacturers. With the performance bar being raised higher and higher, it’s an exciting time in the industry. Victory unveiled its 2017 Octane by inviting a bunch of journalists to the track for some runs down the dragstrip and a little Stunt Riding 101 taught by Joe Dryden and Tony Carbajal. Dryden further demonstrated the Octane’s prowess by setting a Guinness World Record for the “World’s Longest Burnout.” Harley countered by bringing back its racy Roadster model for 2017 with stronger brakes, beefier suspension, mid controls and lowered bars. These days, “cruisers” don’t necessarily mean simply “sit back and enjoy the ride.” With that in mind, we take a look at the 2017 segment of American-made motorcycles that lean more toward the performance side of the equation than typical cruisers do.
One of the first to break down those stereotypes is Harley-Davidson’s V-Rod. Launched in 2001, the V-Rod was a big departure from the norm for The Motor Company. Powered by a liquid-cooled, 60 degree Revolution V-twin developed with the help of Porsche, the motorcycle came straight from the factory ready to rip up the quarter-mile. With its low rise bars, streamlined tank, fastback tail section and meaty 240mm rear, the V-Rod sure looks the part. Thanks to a powerplant with arm-stretching torque, Brembo brakes, ABS, and a “slipper” clutch, the V-Rod has the “go” to support its “show.” Joining the 2017 Night Rod Special is the 2017 Muscle with its faux air-rams on the sides of the tank, straight shot dual exhausts, rear turn signals integrated into the fender and more chiseled lines. If you’ve ever thought about plunking down the money for a V-Rod, the time is nigh because we’ve heard rumors this is the last year it will be in production.
One motorcycle that isn’t going anywhere is Harley’s Sportster. The iconic motorcycle is heading into its 60th year of continuous production in 2017. Offering the Sportster in both 883cc and 1200cc versions in a variety of configurations contributes to its longevity. This rings true once again in 2017. Harley got ahead of the game by releasing the 2017 Roadster a few months before the rest of its lineup. Positive reviews rolled in thanks to its 43mm inverted fork, adjustable rear suspension, dual front discs and a sporty riding position. The popular Forty-Eight returns in 2017, another 1200cc powered Sportster that runs a 49mm fork along with 16-inch cast aluminum wheels front and back and chunkier tires. While the Forty-Eight and Roadster both sport the heritage Peanut tank, the Sportster 1200 Custom has the 4.5 gallon tank and a lot more chrome than its 1200cc siblings. The Iron 883, a member of Harley’s Dark Custom line, is back in 2017 as well, the 883cc equipped Sporty with its blacked-out styling and solo seat a great gateway bike for just under $9K. Speaking of gateway motorcycles, the Street 750 and Street 500 featuring Harley’s liquid-cooled Revolution X engine both made the cut for 2017. While Harley improved the braking package on the Street models last year, in 2017 both are offered with a couple new options, including ABS for $750 or the H-D Smart Security System for $395.
Similar to Harley and its Roadster, Victory got the jump on its 2017 offerings by releasing its Octane back in March. The motorcycle represents Victory’s first foray into liquid-cooling, its 1179cc 60-degree V-twin said to be good for over 100 horsepower. Compact and quick, American Iron’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Lita said “I don’t ever recall riding any V-Rod that offered the agility or the pared-down muscle car feeling of the Octane or left as much spending money in my wallet,” in his first ride review. With a cast aluminum frame and wheels, Victory’s Octane rockets up to 60 mph in under four seconds. A sticker price of $10,499 leaves a little of that pocket change Lita mentioned.
Joining the Octane in Victory’s performance cruiser stable is the 2017 Hammer S. With a pro-street style stance, rear cowl, and 250mm rear, the Hammer S is a long-running staple in the Victory lineup. Powered by the tried and true Freedom 106 engine, the Hammer S sports an inverted fork, dual front discs and 18-inch tires front and back. Offered in a blacked-out Hammer S Eight Ball version last year, in 2017 the Hammer S comes in Gloss Black with White Racing Stripes only.
For 2017, Indian Motorcycle Co. enters the niche with two models, the 1133cc 2017 Scout and the 999cc 2017 Scout Sixty. With its revvy engine, cast aluminum frame, slick gearbox and low center of gravity, the Scout has been a tremendous sales success for the company. Last year, Indian offered the Scout with ABS as a $1000 option, which is a carry over to 2017. The two-tone paint schemes for the 2017 Scout are new, though, the contrast helping define the bike’s lines even more so than the monochromatic ones.
The 2017 Scout Sixty is also offered with ABS, but only on the Indian Motorcycle Red version. Though the engine is smaller, the Scout Sixty displays much of the same character as its stable mate, from the revviness of its engine to its sure-footedness in turns. Primary differences between the two include one less cog on the transmission of the Scout Sixty, smaller cylinder sleeves and a remapped ECU. The other differences are mostly cost-saving cosmetics, from less machining to less chrome to seat materials. But at a buck under $9K, the Scout Sixty is priced competitively enough to leave a little change for customization. Roland Sands Design used the Scout Sixty as a base platform for its SuperHooligan flat trackers it has been racing over the last year at events across the country.Be sure to check out the 2017 Harley, Indian and Victory Cruiser Buyer’s Guide in American Iron Magazine issue # 344! To order a back issue of this or any other issue of American Iron Magazine, visit Greaserag.com. Follow American Iron Magazine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! To subscribe to the PRINT edition, click here. To receive DIGITAL DELIVERY, click here.