MOTORCYCLING AT ITS BEST

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MOTORCYCLING AT ITS BEST
ELECTRONICALLY
REPRINTED
FROM
MARCH
2005
M O T O R C Y C L I N G AT I T S B E S T
ELECTRONICALLY REPRINTED FROM MARCH 2005
HAMMER
TIME
2005 VICTORY HAMMER
BY KEN FREUND • PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN WING
Apparently, new motorcycle companies are like fine wine—they take a number of years
to mature and tempt the palate. Following this paradigm, Victory motorcycles have come
a long way in the first seven years of production. In the beginning the bikes were
somewhat conservative in appearance and performance, but more recently this newest
division of Polaris Industries has been introducing a steady stream of brash new models
that are extremely competitive with other brands out there in cruiser land.
‘‘
BESIDES THE BIKE’S OVERALL EYE-CATCHING
APPEARANCE, THAT ULTRA-FAT 250-WIDTH REAR TIRE
MOUNTED ON AN 8.5-INCH RIM IS THE WIDEST OF ALL
THE MASS-PRODUCTION BIKES.
’’
‘‘
THE CRANKCASE CASTING WAS NARROWED 10MM AND THE FRAME CRADLE WAS
ALSO NARROWED TO MATCH FOR IMPROVED CORNERING CLEARANCE.
Based on the widely acclaimed Vegas model this latest
iteration, the very extroverted Hammer, also beats its
competition in several important areas. Besides the bike’s
overall eye-catching appearance, that ultra-fat 250-width
rear tire mounted on an 8.5-inch rim is the widest of all the
mass-production bikes. The six-speed gearbox is also a
first in production big-twin cruisers and is sure to start a
trend. Don’t be surprised if that other American brand
starts to offer six speeds as standard soon. And that 100inch motor is near the top of the American-made V-twin
displacement heap.
The beating heart of the Hammer—like all current
Victory models—is an air/oil-cooled 50-degree V-twin
with single overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Those eight poppets are actuated by maintenancefree hydraulic lifters and self-adjusting cam chains. This
layout promises considerably more power than a conventional pushrod cruiser engine design.
Using Victory’s second-generation V92 (1,507cc)
Freedom engine that’s standard on the Vegas as a foundation, the Hammer’s larger 100-cubic-inch (1,634cc) displacement was achieved by boring it out 1⁄5 inch, from
3.82 inches up to 4.02; stroke remains at 3.98 inches.
The compression ratio is bumped up slightly from 9.2 to
9.8:1, which yields a little extra zip, too.
Both versions (92 and 100 cubic inches) are built on the
’’
same assembly line in Osceola, Wisconsin. Victory reports
that it has the lowest warranty claim rate of all Polaris
engines and is said to be among the best in the whole
powersports industry. So far our experience has borne that
out. There were no leaks, seeps, weeps or other untoward
occurrences from within the crankcase halves.
Besides the increase in bore size, the Hammer’s
engine received a redesigned camshaft drive, oil pump
and primary drive. This was done at least in part to
reduce mechanical whirring noises, which some folks
found objectionable.
The crankcase casting was narrowed 10mm and the
frame cradle was also narrowed to match for improved
cornering clearance. As a result, oil capacity was reduced
from six to five quarts, but that’s still as much oil capacity
as many V-8 automotive engines. We were told that the
original engine was over-engineered and this change
won’t affect engine life or performance.
Twist the cold-start lever on the left handlebar, thumb
the starter and the big twin rumbles to life immediately and
settles quickly into a steady idle even when cold. In
warmer weather you can even skip the fast-idle lever.
Rideability is good and the bike responds to the throttle
obediently. There is an initial abrupt jump in power coming
up off idle and a light surge when coasting down to a stop,
which is produced when the fuel-cut strategy (designed to
Gauges are good-looking; numbers a little
hard to see at night.
Badges announce that you have 100 cubic
inches and a six-speed.
reduce exhaust emissions) turns the fuel back on at the
injectors as the engine drops to near idle speed. These
characteristics are also present on many other fuel-injected bikes and you get used to them after a while.
We could definitely feel more power all through the rev
range compared to the 92-inch motor. The engine is redlined at 5,500 rpm and pulls strongly from just above idle
to about 4,500, where it seems to begin leveling off
before the rev limiter cuts in. This added power makes
passing a breeze, just zing it down a cog and speed
picks up quickly.
Victory states that the Hammer’s output is 88 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 110 lb-ft at 2,500 revs, up by 10
horses and 22 lb-ft compared to the 92-inch version
(measured at the crankshaft). On Barnett’s Dynojet
dynamometer we recorded 77.1 rear-wheel horsepower
at 4,600 rpm and 98.4 lb-ft of torque at 2,700 rpm from
our test bike, a production-intent model at the fifth of eight
stages in Victory’s build-proofing process—stage nine is
production. We believe our test bike to be representative of what you can buy, however.
On hot days a lot of heat comes off the right
rear portion of the engine right above the
exhaust pipes, especially in traffic—more
The Glove Says...
2005 VICTORY HAMMER
Great Engine
Not Stupid Heavy
Six Speeds
Heavy Steering
Harsh Ride in Back
No Storage
Dual front rotors and male-slider fork are
nice additions.
horsepower equals more heat. Also, some of the bikes at
the introduction and our test machine had problems with
their starters being unable to crank the engines when they
were hot due to the higher load. We were assured this
would be corrected before production began.
Clutch-lever effort appears to be slightly higher to handle the greater torque output. However, the required pull
is still reasonable and it modulates well with no chatter
or gabbiness.
With extra torque available, the Hammer drives through
a new six-cog gearbox that has a taller final ratio. Shifting
is smooth and quick for a cruiser and there’s less gear
2005 Victory Hammer
Base Price: $16,499 (California $16,749)
Warranty: One year, unltd. miles
ENGINE
Type: Air/oil-cooled, transverse,
50-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,634cc
Bore x Stroke: 101 x 102mm
Compression Ratio: 9.4:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: NA
Fuel Delivery: Electronic fuel injection
w/ 44mm throttle bodies
Lubrication System: Wet sump,
5.0-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated
wet clutch
Final Drive: Toothed belt
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Electronic
Charging Output: 456 watts max.
Battery: 12V 18AH
CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular-steel w/ dual downtubes
and cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 65.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 32.9 degrees/5.57 in.
Seat Height: 26.4 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm stanchions
w/ 5.1-in. stroke
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring
preload, 3.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual disc w/ opposed
4-piston calipers
Rear: Single disc w/ opposed 2-piston
caliper
Wheels, Front: Spoked aluminum,
3.0 x 18 in.
Rear: Spoked aluminum, 8.5 x 18 in.
Tires, Front: 130/70-R18
Rear: 250/40-R18
Wet Weight: 704 lbs.
Load Capacity: 461 lbs.
GVWR: 1,165 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals., last 0.8 gal.
warning light on
Average mpg: 36.2
Estimated Range: 163 miles
Indicated rpm at 60 mph: 2,100
The Hammer on the Dyno
noise. First through fifth gear are the same as on the
regular Vegas models, but sixth is an overdrive of
13.8 percent. This makes for a nice, relaxed 2,100
rpm at 60 mph, down about 300 from fifth gear. The
engine is tractable enough that you can lug it down to
about 2,000 in sixth, or slightly less in lower gears.
Due to the larger pistons there’s slightly more vibration from the solid-mounted, counterbalanced powerplant, but it doesn’t become noticeable until about
4,000 revs. With the tall gearing, the only time you’ll
hit that rpm is when accelerating hard.
If you want even more power, S&S Cycle (the
well-known aftermarket supplier of V-twin engines
and accessories) will soon offer performance kits,
including stroker crankshafts, through Victory dealers. We got to try out a prototype bike with a power
kit on it and it was noticeably faster than stock,
although a few fuel-injection glitches were still being
worked out. A 106-cubic-inch stroker kit should be
out this spring. Maximum power with the most radical kit will reportedly be around 115 crankshaft horsepower. When the final details are worked out the
information should be available through Victory dealers and the companies’ Web sites.
Final drive is via a stronger carbon-fiber-reinforced
toothed belt. It’s narrower to allow tire clearance but
the pulleys are both larger in diameter to distribute the
stresses. Victory tells us that with those changes the
belt should last about 100,000 miles.
Up front you’ll find a male-slider cartridge fork,
upgraded from the regular Vegas’ conventional
setup. It feels more compliant and better-riding than
the Vegas fork, which is a welcome change. Damping
and suspension control seem better than on the
standard-issue Vegas. In back a single shock that’s
adjustable for preload handles the weight. Due to the
higher unsprung weight and sidewall stiffness of the
250 tire this end rides harder than the Vegas.
Another upgrade is the dual-disc Brembo front
brakes which help haul the Hammer down; an excellent addition considering the additional power on
hand. They provide strong, consistent and fade-free
stops, but required slightly more lever effort than
we expected.
Seating is style-oriented, with comfort sufficient for
rides of moderate length. There’s also a removable
pillion cover that can be stored on an optional front
flyscreen. It looks good when it’s in place; when it’s
removed three holes and a grab handle are visible.
Unique to the Hammer is a fat, wide handlebar that
forms a V shape and flares out straight to the sides.
Perched in front of that is a pair of full-sized analog
gauges, a speedo and tach, that let riders know just
how rapid is their progress. There’s just a single trip
odometer and no clock or other frippery; keep it simple is the theme. The instrument pods are mounted
high, which puts them near the rider’s line of sight.
They look nice in gleaming chrome.
Fuel mileage varied from a low of 34.3 to a high of 38.2,
with an average of 36.2 mpg. With a 4.5-gallon tank, that
pencils out to an approximate range of 163 miles to empty.
Typically the low-fuel lamp came on at about 130 miles.
Avon and Metzeler were the pioneers in the realm of wide
rear tires. That fat Dunlop Elite 3 250-width rear gummy was
developed in collaboration with Victory’s engineers specifically for this bike and it’s said to be the tire firm’s first attempt
at such big motorcycle rubber. The 250 width has a significant effect on the bike’s ride and handling; it requires noticeably more effort to turn the Hammer and hold it in a corner
than the regular Vegas models. The higher unsprung weight
and stiffer sidewalls also make the ride firmer, and keep in
mind that a wide rear tire in combination with a narrow front
can be real tricky in the rain or on wet pavement.
At $16,499 the Hammer has a number of upscale features that the $14,999 Vegas does not, such as the premium fork, extra front brake, larger displacement and sixspeed transmission. That’s a lot of goodies for $1,500.
Some of the latest V-twin cruisers have larger engines, but
the bikes themselves have become so large that potential
buyers may be turned off by the massiveness. At 704
pounds with a 65.7-inch wheelbase the Hammer is fullsized, yet smaller than these behemoths, while still offering
100 cubes of displacement and a lot of bling bling. So if
you’re shopping for a “factory custom” bike with a warranty
at a reasonable price, this may be it. The year 2005 may turn
out to be a good vintage for Victory, indeed. 31
Posted with permission from the March 2005 issue of Rider ® www.riderreport.com. Copyright 2005, Primedia Inc. All rights reserved.
For more information about reprints from Rider, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877-652-5295
ELECTRONICALLY REPRINTED FROM JANUARY
FIRST RIDE
VICTORY
B Y A A R O N P. F R A N K
HAMMER
TODAY’S CRUISERS ARE
all about booty—and like all
things cruiser, the bigger that
booty the better. Tune into the
Discovery Channel for any of
the now-daily chop shop mashups and you’ll see the trend in
full-custom choppers is
NHRA-inspired 300mm rear
tires. Attempting to capitalize on this fat-tail
phenomenon with the introduction of its Hammer, Victory
Motorcycles steamrolls everyone
else on the assembly-line side with
a 250mm rear meat—the phattest yet fitted to a mass-produced
motorcycle, and at least 50mm
RULE!
TWINS
We drop the hammer
on Victory’s new
power cruiser, with
its bigger-than-yours
100-cubic-inch V-twin
and 250-series
rear tire
wider than anything offered by
competing manufacturers.
Viewed from behind—especially en masse as Victory general
manager Mark Blackwell leads a
half-dozen Hammer-mounted
journalists along a deserted Texas
Hill Country highway at tripledigit speeds—the Hammer is
undeniably bad-ass. It looks
almost cartoonishly
overmuscled, with
a hunk of rubber wider than that
of nearly every car on the road
bulging out from under the
truncated tailsection. In the
image-is-everything big-twin
market, it’s impossible to overestimate the visual
impact the fattire Hammer
makes.
Victory calls the Hammer
all-new, and even though the
bike shares many parts with the
company’s Kingpin and Vegas
cruisers, that’s still a fair
claim. A fat rear tire is only part
of the story; the $16,499
Hammer also debuts the
firm’s new 100/6 powertrain,
which couples an upsized,
100-cubic-inch (1634cc) version of Victory’s Freedom Vtwin with a true-overdrive
six-speed transmission.
Based on the excellent fourvalve, air/oil-cooled 92-inch 50degree V-twin Freedom mill
powering Victory’s Vegas and
Kingpin cruisers, the 100-incher
gets bored from 97mm to
101mm to gain an extra eight
cubes (stroke remains 102mm).
In addition to larger slugs, the
big motor also gets new cam
and oil pump drives and
revised helical-cut primary
gears (all to reduce mechanical
noise), plus a 10mm-narrower
sump allowing the frame rails
Victory’s new 100/6 powerplant
retains the firm’s existing dohc 50degree V-twin architecture, but
bumps displacement from 92 cubic
inches to an even 100 with a 4mm—
whoops, a 0.16-inch—bore increase.
Belt final drive is also
Victory-standard. Toxic
Green paint with
Tribal Tattoo graphics
sets off the chrome
highlights nicely.
to move closer together for
more cornering clearance.
Victory engineers say the
goal of the new six-speed gearbox is to provide a true-overdrive transmission for quieter,
smoother highway cruising.
Accordingly, sixth provides a
13.6 percent reduction from
the 1:1 fifth ratio, which translates to a drop of nearly 500
rpm at 75 mph. Victory calls
this the first true-overdrive
transmission ever on a production cruiser.
Fire up the big-cube Hammer
and you’d never guess it was any
bigger than dad’s 92-incher.
The counterbalanced engine is
impressively still at idle and,
except for a mild vibration
through the tank and pegs at
4000 rpm (which is gone 250
rpm later), it remains smooth
right up to the soft rev-limiter.
There is surprisingly little flywheel effect for such a big lump,
so the engine revs freely.
Hit the highway, though,
(105 lb.-ft.) and Yamaha’s
Warrior (98 lb.-ft.). Dump the
clutch and the Hammer
instantly reminds you why
American riders love big twins
so much; the bike lunges off
the line on that mountain of
torque, and a horsepower curve
that plateaus at 4000 rpm
keeps the party going right up
to redline. The new, solid-shifting transmission performs as
advertised. Shifts are smooth, if
a bit loud, and sixth is an antidote to the 4000-rpm vibe
band that corresponds with 75
and you’ll never mistake the
Hammer for its smaller siblings. Victory claims 110
pound-feet of torque at 2500
rpm and 88 horsepower at
4500 rpm. Those are stout
numbers, especially the torque
figure that sits well to the north
of benchmark power cruisers
such as Honda’s VTX1800
Victory’s basic
chassis is one of the
best-handling in
cruiserdom thanks to
a burly aluminum
swingarm with a
rising-rate linkage
and an appropriately
hefty 43mm
inverted fork.
mph in fifth. The only negative
here is the lever pressure required
by the stiffer clutch springs
installed to stand up to the
stronger motor. Nothing excessive, but it does take a stout grip.
Victory’s basic chassis is one of
the best-handling in cruiserdom
thanks to a burly aluminum
swingarm with a rising-rate linkage and an appropriately hefty
43mm inverted fork. Our first
question was how this stellar
chassis would handle the massive, car-sized tire hanging off the
back. The answer is with a lot of
steering input. It takes some
muscle to coax the bike onto the
edge of the tire in a corner, and
once you’re leaned over it doesn’t
want to stay there. There’s sort of
a weeble-wobble effect, as the
wide, flat tire tries to center itself
and right the bike. At slow
feels different from a traditional
cruiser, it’s always balanced and
predictable. And despite higheffort turning, on a fast, sweeping road the Hammer is big fun,
holding a line with the sort of
authority only a 657pound (claimed dry
weight) bike can
muster. This is where
you note the excellent
$16,499
cornering clearance
afforded by the narrower frame, slimmer
a/o-c 50-deg.V-twin
footrest mounts and
sohc,8v
huge rear tire.
1634cc
The only suspension
6-speed w/overdrive
adjustment on the
Hammer is rear preload, and fast, bumpy
657 lb. (claimed dry)
4.5 gal. (17L)
roads can overwhelm
65.7 in. (1669mm)
the well-sprung but
26.4 in. (669mm)
underdamped stock
suspension, especially
speeds the Hammer seems happiest pointed in a straight line.
To Victory’s credit, this behavior mostly disappears after you
become accustomed to the
Hammer. Although the bike
Victory Hammer
PRICE
MSRP
ENGINE
Type
Valve arrangement
Displacement
Transmission
CHASSIS
Weight
Fuel capacity
Wheelbase
Seat height
in the rear where there is
ample unsprung weight. The
stoppers, though—Brembo
calipers (four-piston up front,
two-piston in the rear) with
braided stainless lines—are
easily the best brakes in cruiserdom, bar none.
Even if the power cruiser
segment hasn’t yet attracted
hordes of aging sportbike enthusiasts, the relatively comfortable
allure of machines such as the
100-inch Hammer remains.
Compared with any fringed
and filigreed traditional cruiser,
it’s no contest. Even if the
Hammer’s particular definition
of performance skews toward the
straight line, there’s still enough
handling to have fun in the
twisty bits. And no one can argue
the fact this baby puts some seriMC
ous rubber on the road.
The Hammer looks
almost cartoonishly
overmuscled, with
its huge, 250mm
hunk of rubber
bulging out from
under its truncated
tailsection.
Posted with permission from the January 2005 issue of Motorcyclist ® www.motorcyclistonline.com. Copyright 2005, Primedia Inc. All rights reserved.
For more information about reprints from Motorcyclist, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877-652-5295
ELECTRONICALLY REPRINTED FROM DECEMBER 2004
LESS
is
MORE
2005 Victory Vegas 8-Ball
“
“
ON THE 8-BALL THE FRILLS ARE GONE–YOU GET A SOLO SEAT, MINIMALIST
FEATURES AND A MOTORCYCLE IN ITS MOST BASIC FORM.
BY KEN FREUND
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN WING
For 2005 Victory Motorcycles has
come up with a really interesting,
lower-priced version of its Vegas cruiser in the new 8-Ball model. It starts
with the same chassis and major
styling cues from the Vegas, with its
long, low, flowing design, one-piece
sculpted tank with a split tail blending
into the seat, stylish alloy-spoke
wheels and flush-mounted LED taillight. On the 8-Ball, however, the frills
are gone—you get a solo seat, minimalist features and a motorcycle in
its most basic form. Black bodywork,
a black fork, handlebar, swingarm and
black powdercoated engine—just like
an 8-ball—form the starting point for a
custom project or the completion of
a back-to-basics cruiser.
Throw a leg over the 8-Ball, and
you’ll immediately notice the low
saddle height, pull-back handlebar
that reaches back to greet you, and
the moderately forward-mounted
footpegs. Most riders should find the
riding position comfortable, although
taller ones such as yours truly may
notice they’re sitting on the rear edge
of the rather thinly padded seat. Pool
table jokes aside, the minimalist
theme continues with the basic round
analog speedometer with a single
tripmeter, and the recessed indicatorlamp panel. You won’t find a tach,
clock, fuel or temperature gauge or
other such frivolities. About the only
extra you will find is a hazard-flasher
switch, which we would like to see as
standard equipment on all bikes.
The 8-Ball’s 92-cubic-inch, SOHC,
four-valve Freedom V-twin engine
and five-speed gearbox are carried
over unchanged from the Vegas. This
powertrain was successfully updated a
few years ago from Victory’s original
V-92 version under the leadership of
Allen Hurd, formerly with England’s
Cosworth Engineering, a firm known
for powerful engine designs. In the
meantime, several monster cruiser
engines have come out, but this
design still outperforms most other
cruisers of similar displacement.
On the Dynojet dynamometer, we
got 75 rear-wheel horsepower at
5,100 rpm, along with 90.5 lb-ft of
torque at 3,000 revs. This engine has
a nice, relatively flat torque curve
with its peak at about three grand, but
there’s plenty of twist from around
2,000 rpm right on up to about 5,500,
where it finally starts to drop off.
Cold or hot, the fuel-injected mill
starts right up and is ready to go, with
no stumbling, hiccups or other bad
habits. In mild weather we didn’t
even have to use the fast-idle control
during warmup.
On the road, the engine has a syncopated rumble to the exhaust with a
pleasing sound that’s not too loud,
not too quiet. You’ll also hear some
gear whine from the primary drive
but it’s not annoying. Even though
the engine is solid mounted, internal
counterbalancers and rubber-mounted handlebar risers very effectively
reduce vibrations to the point that
they’re never intrusive.
There’s plenty of torque on tap
across the rpm range and the engine
seems to rev freer and higher than
most big twins, thanks no doubt to
its overhead cams and four-valve
cylinder heads. Yet it can still lug
down to about 40 mph in high gear,
then roll the power on and zoom
away nicely. At full throttle, the
engine pulls strongly through every
gear and feels good doing it. About
the only gripes we have are some
abruptness as you open the throttle in
the lower gears, and a surge when
power comes back on after a coastdown during closed-throttle deceleration. Both are glitches that several
other brands have trouble with, too.
Clutch lever effort is light (especially for a cable-actuated setup),
takeup is smooth and it’s easy to
modulate yet hooks up solidly. Gear
changes are likewise effortless, with a
light click up or down and the shift
is complete. The ratios are well
matched to the engine’s characteristics and allow you to plod along in
heavy traffic and then cruise effortlessly at highway speeds. At first it
was occasionally difficult to find neutral when stopped while idling in
gear, but that seemed to go away
after initial break-in. Final drive is via
2005 Victory 8-Ball
Base Price: $12,995
Warranty: One year, unltd. miles
ENGINE
Type: Air/oil-cooled, transverse,
50-degree V-twin
Displacement: 1,507cc
Bore x Stroke: 97.0 x 102mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Valve Train: SOHC, 4 valves
per cyl.
Valve Adj. Interval: NA
Fuel delivery: Electronic fuel
injection w/ 44mm throttle bodies
Lubrication System: Wet sump,
6.0-qt. cap.
Transmission: 5-speed, cableactuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Toothed belt
ELECTRICAL
Ignition: Electronic
Charging Output: 456 watts max.
Battery: 12V 18AH
CHASSIS
Frame: Tubular-steel w/ dual
downtubes and cast swingarm
Wheelbase: 66.5 in.
Rake/Trail: 33.1 degrees/5.28 in.
Seat Height: 26.5 in.
Suspension, Front: 43mm
stanchions w/ 5.1-in. travel
Rear: Single shock, adj. for spring
preload w/ 3.9-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Single disc w/
opposed 4-piston caliper
Rear: Single disc w/ opposed
2-piston caliper
Wheels, Front: Cast, 2.15 x 21 in.
Rear: Cast, 4.5 x 18 in.
Tires, Front: 80/90-H21
Rear: 170/60-HB18
Wet Weight: 670 lbs.
Load Capacity: 465 lbs.
GVWR: 1,135 lbs.
PERFORMANCE
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals., last 0.8
gals. warning light on
Average mpg: 39.5
Estimated Range: 178 mi.
RPM at 60 mph: 2,500
The Victory 8-Ball on the Dyno
toothed belt, which is clean, quiet and free of lash.
The solo saddle is quite thin but looks good and
suffices for rides of moderate length. It matches up
with the shape of the gas tank and adds a bit of custom appearance. Underneath, there’s no place to
stash a toolkit or owner’s manual, although the registration and insurance card can be wrapped in plastic and tucked in behind the cover over the fuse
panel. If you’d like to take a passenger, pillion seats
are available through Victory and hidden, threaded
mounting points are already in place on the bike.
Passenger footpegs will be more difficult but can be
mounted using Vegas parts.
Controls are conventional and all work well. Turn
signals are self-canceling, which is especially helpful
for us forgetful types. Both mirrors offer a shake-free
view aft and are spaced far enough apart to be useful.
A conventional, non-adjustable damper-rod fork
and single rear shock with rising-rate linkage and adjustable spring preload handle suspension chores. Ride
quality has also improved compared to previous Victory models. However, the low-slung ride height
leaves little room for suspension travel and the damper-rod front and short-travel rear can get a bit choppy over rough pavement. Repetitive concrete pavement joints really make the bike jolt and thump, too.
Steering feels surprisingly light considering the
weight; the bike turns in nicely and holds a line well
through a corner, up to the point where parts start
scraping. That long, low look also comes at a price,
as the bike runs out of cornering clearance a little
sooner than the average cruiser. When it does, the
rider’s boot heels touch first, followed quickly by the
footpeg feelers and shortly after that hard parts start
to drag, particularly the base of the footpeg bracket.
The spoked aluminum-alloy wheels, 21-inch in
front and 18-inch diameter in back, have an almostcustom look and plenty of eye appeal. Cornering is
limited by ground clearance, not tire grip. The standard-fitment Dunlop Cruisemax tires should last a
long time and offer decent traction, but really
squirm in rain grooves and along longitudinal pavement seams.
Front-wheel braking is quite strong and effort
low, despite having only one front caliper and rotor.
Rear stopping power is also good, with enough
clamping force to skid the rear tire without great
effort. Both are quiet, easy to modulate and fadefree in normal use.
You don’t buy a bike like this for fuel economy
alone, but it’s nice to know what it is. We typically
got between 37.5 and 41.5 mpg for an average of
39.5. The tank holds 4.5 gallons total and the lowfuel lamp generally came on at around 120-135
miles. Bright sunlight makes it difficult to tell if the
low-fuel lamp is on, so keep an eye on it after that
distance. Using the 39.5-mpg figure that we averaged, multiplied by rated capacity, works out to
The speedometer is easy to see in sun or
darkness, but the indicator lamps are a little
bright at night.
Victory left out the chromed-plastic “cheese
wedge” between the cylinders on the
right side of the 8-Ball.
The 8-Ball gets a powdercoated, instead of
polished, rear swingarm to reduce cost.
about 178 miles before the tank becomes completely filled with air.
Speaking of bright sun, we noticed an unusual quirk when we
parked the bike after a run, especially in the hot sun. It frequently makes a high-pitched moaning sound that apparently
emanates from the fuel tank venting system. It’s harmless but
quite loud, somewhat annoying and can attract a
crowd of curious onlookers.
At night, the speedometer and indicator lamps
are readily visible, perhaps too bright at times.
Once we got the headlamp aimed where we
wanted it, the twin-bulb lamp lighted the way
effectively with a broad, powerful beam.
We did find that the taillamp is
not very bright when viewed
from an angle off to the
side. Otherwise, lighting
is excellent.
Overall we really
liked the 8-Ball, with
its pleasingly understated looks, reasonable cost and the fact
that it works well in its
CUSTOM CORNER
Many motorcycle owners and customizing artists consider a stock
motorcycle to be nothing more than a blank canvas upon which to
apply their personal touches. In the last few years several custom
bike builders have taken a liking to Victory products, although the
8-Ball is so new that at press time we couldn’t find anyone who has
had a chance to modify one. However, we did find some other
Vegas models that have been modified, from mild to wild, and the
same things can be done to the 8-Ball.
Arlen Ness and S&S Cycle of Viola, Wisconsin, have displayed
some wild Vegas customs, and Polaris West in Katy, Texas, offers
parts to modify yours, or they’ll build you a custom to order. We
spoke to Rick Lubbeck, owner of Polaris West, and he said they are
introducing a number of trick parts for Victorys, including wide-tire
swingarm kits and a host of custom accessories.
SOURCES
Arlen Ness Enterprises Inc., 6050 Dublin Boulevard, Dublin,
California 94568; (925) 479-6300; www.arlenness.com
Polaris West, 6117 Highway Boulevard, Katy, Texas 77494;
(800) 811-0989; www.polariswest.com
S&S Cycle Inc., 14025 County Highway G, Viola, Wisconsin;
(866) 833-1508; www.sscycle.com 30
intended role. Although it’s a
substantial $2,000 less than
the regular Vegas model, an
8-Ball offers the same quality,
performance, handling and
excellent fit and finish at
a very competitive price.
During our testing we never
had anything go wrong with
the bike and didn’t notice any
defects; paint, plating and
assembly were all top notch.
The folks at Victory may
be on to something with the
8-Ball, as everywhere we
went the bike got noticed,
with a lot of thumbs up, neck
craning, smiles and nods of
approval. Now that they’ve
made their machines look
and perform on a par with
the competition, it’s time for
public perception to catch up
with the bike’s reality. If the
purchase of a performance
cruiser is in your plans, you
owe it to yourself to check
out the 8-Ball before you
make a final decision. Oh,
and Victory denies rumors of
an upcoming plain white version called the Cue-Ball. 30
To find out more, visit:
victorymotorcycles.com
Posted with permission from the December 2004 issue of Rider ® www.riderreport.com. Copyright 2004, Primedia Inc. All rights reserved.
For more information about reprints from Rider, contact Wright’s Reprints at 877-652-5295

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