Having an 100-cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin engine and a six-speed overdrive gearbox, the subject of today’s review can be considered a performance cruiser and it actually is, but what immediately betrays and totally uncovers it in front of its audience are the custom paint schemes, flush-mounted taillight and signature sculpted tank.
What I have noticed during the time I spent on the Victory is that people aren’t considering it the “other American bike manufacturer” any more, but give it its hardly gained credit.
Being first introduced in 2003, the Victory Vision isn’t that filled-with heritage as the rest of the bikes I’m about to mention, but even from the first year, this big custom-built twin made a damn good impression. It featured a 91.96 cubic inches (1507 cc) V-Twin engine, spoked wheels, a smaller headlight, but the same characteristic stylish lines which made a difference. The bike easily stood out as it featured Black, Red, Blue, Yellow and Silver paintjobs.
Biggest technical change for 2004 model year was the addition of fuel injection while visually the Vegas had now custom stand-out wheels.
In 2005 the upgrade consisted in the electronic fuel injection system with 44mm throttle bodies. Also, the wet/multi-plate clutch was added. But what best represents that model year is the custom paintjob. Also for 2005, the Ness family pushed the Vegas even further and named it 2005 Ness Signature Series Vegas, a bike that featured custom fingerprint.
2006 brought the 8-Ball version, a totally black, Victory Vegas.
Last year, displacement increased to 100.01 cubic inches (1639 cc). Colors to mark the upgrade were Turbo Silver with Firemist Clear, Multicolored and the classic Black.
This fight is clearly given among American builders so the Harley-Davidson Dyne Wide Glide is its closest and fiercest competitor. It is being fitted with a 96 cubic inches air-cooled, twin cam V-Twin engine that is fed through an Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection system. This makes it even scarier for the Victory and if we take in consideration its rebel looks and the fact that for 2008 we are witnessing Harley’s 105th anniversary, there isn’t much left for the Victory to do but head towards other competitors.
Have it put up against the Honda VTX 1800, a long and lean bad boy bike which is one of the best Japanese representatives for this fight. Its 1795cc liquid-cooled 52 degree V-Twin is practically built to perform awesomely, just like the U.S. muscle bikes.
But together with the VTX we are also attracting the biggest and meanest custom Star motorcycle, the Rider S. This is probably the wildest looking machine which clearly reflects that Star is a maker of its own as it introduces such outstanding looking machines which are much apart from the old Yamaha models. The engine is a 113-cubic-inch (1854cc) air-cooled V-twin with four valves per cylinder and fuel injection is also present.
Probably the best offering of them all, the Boulevard M109R. With its radical styling, the “Suzy” addresses to the riders who crave for original looks and stunning performance. Its 1783cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, V-Twin, DOHC, 8-valves is an incredible power and torque supplier so all of the previously mentioned have some serious worrying to do.
Once someone has been introduced to the Victory Vision, there is simply no way to second think the bike’s originality and performance looks. If I was to characterize it with a single word I would say stylish and it is all due to the excellent smoothen out apparel and fit and finish.
The chopped fenders mold perfectly on the custom chromed rims and the gas tank is sculpted basing on the V-Twin’s shape. This is proof of the fact that designers and engineers worked carefully together and aimed at a low and perfectly blended in motorcycle.
Handlebars are pulled back and so offer a more relaxed riding position and the sleekest look. There are as much chromed elements as possible: rims, forks, headlight cover, instruments, handlebars, mirrors, engine cooling fins, exhaust, rear fender ornaments, etc and the goal is to shine beautifully together with the solid colors (Black, Midnight Cherry, Supersteel Gray) and multiple colors (Midnight Blue/Black and Sunset Red with Flames).
When it comes to riding a cruiser everybody expects at a comfortable riding position, cowboy-like feet arrangement and preferably pullback handlebars and before I got on the 2008 Victory Vision I was also reviewing all of these features. After spending a full weekend in its seat and going almost 350 miles, the bike proved that I was right when forming a good impression immediately I see all of those features gathered on a power cruiser.
A 26.5 inches seat was exactly what I needed in order to feel like I could go on and on forever and I’m not going to lie, it can really go as long and as hard as you feel like pushing it.
For starters, the 100 cubic inches air-cooled 50 degree V-Twin is a real torque provider. From as low as 1500-1600 RPM, the engine announces it enjoys pulling strongly and this will help you between red lights where you’ll be willing to leave traffic behind and go your own way. Frankly, I would preferred the DOHC fuel control system, but the single overhead camshafts acting on four valves per cylinder are enough efficient to keep anyone satisfied.
Cruisers tend to rev higher and higher these days and although I won’t enjoy a drag race with the Suzuki Boulevard M109R, the big Victory is more than decently powered and the rider will enjoy a strong mid-range as far as the city barriers allow it.
But who says that you should ride it in town? Personally, I went and picked it up and during my enthusiastic departure, I managed to test it in this unforgiving environment, but the open road is where it belongs. Here is where the riding position won’t become a nightmare and the seat will show off its plusses immediately. It is also the best time to see how such a bike handles…wonderfully, that is. It has a low center of gravity and corners are happily taken by the Vegas and although you won’t scrap the footpegs at the first courageous lean over, I recommend keeping in mind that the straight line is its best friend and that’s all I’m saying.
The suspensions have 130mm front and 100mm rear travel so they will soak up easily and have all to do with the smooth riding experienced on this cruiser. Even after six hours of riding, stopping only for gasoline and tea, my back wasn’t screaming for help. I guess that the Victory Vegas is just one of those bikes with which a rider gets familiar and never wishes to go down from.
On the highway, the maximum speed I have experienced was close to 110 mph in top gear, which is sixth, by the way. There is no wind protection or aerodynamic position so you will struggle to cover some ground at such speeds. It is a good thing though that there are no bothering vibrations.
I very much appreciate this bike’s transmission. The six-speed overdrive constant mesh values best the engine’s power and torque leaving the rider with the simple task of changing a gear or two, depending on what roads its adventure takes it. The belt drive passes unheard and that is one of the bike’s advantages compared to the competition (not the Star, of course).
During the bike’s development the manufacturer wanted to find the potential owner’s opinions and many concerned the front brake which shouldn’t be that powerful at such a thin wheel. As a result, both front and rear brakes feature 300mm discs with four piston calipers front and 2 piston calipers rear. This way, the stopping power is being distributed more effectively and safety reaches higher levels.
With an MSRP of $15,999, the Victory Vegas is being situated among the most advantageous power cruisers out there.
Victory motorcycles are truly reliable and awesome performing so it is too bad that its name is slightly being shadowed by the oldest motorcycle maker. Maybe if there would have been created on another continent we would have witnessed a greater success, the one that it is worthy of.
Engine and Transmission
Engine Type: 4-stroke 50° V-Twin
Cooling System: Air/Oil
Displacement: 100 ci/1634cc
Bore x Stroke: 101x102mm
Compression Ratio: 8.7:1
Valve Train: Single overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder, self-adjusting cam chains, hydraulic lifters
Fuel System: Electronic Fuel Injection with 45mm throttle bodies
Fuel Capacity: 4.5/17.0 U.S. gallons/liters
Exhaust: Staggered slash-cut dual exhaust with crossover
Oil Capacity: 5.0qts/4.75ltr
Charging System: 38 amps max output
Battery: 12 volts/18 amp hours
Primary Drive: Gear drive with torque compensator
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: 6-speed overdrive constant mesh
Final Drive: Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt
Chassis and Dimensions
Front Suspension: Conventional telescopic fork, 43mm diameter, 5.1in/130mm travel
Rear Suspension: Single, mono-tube gas,cast aluminum with rising rate linkage , 3.9in/100mm travel, preload adjustable spring
Front Brake: 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper
Rear Brake: 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Front Wheel: 21x2.15in
Rear Wheel: 18x5.0in
Front Tire: 90/90 21 Dunlop Elite 3
Rear Tire: 180 55-B18 Dunlop D417
Length: 96.0/2439 in/mm
Wheelbase: 66.3/1684 in/mm
Seat Height: 26.5/673 in/mm
Ground Clearance: 5.8/148 in/mm
Rake/Trail: 32.9°/4.9/126 in/mm
Dry Weight: 658/298 lbs/kg
GVWR: 1151/522 lbs/kg
This is the bike that first got out the production line in 2003, the inspiration source for the rest of the models and the one on which I based this review.
It is immediately recognized thanks to its blacked-out body paint, blacked-out engine and blacked-out rims as well as handlebars, but underneath all that paint there is the heart and soul of the simple Vegas, the 100 cubic inch Freedom V-Twin. Different from the Vegas is the fact that the 8-Ball only features a 5-speed gearbox. MSRP is 13,599.
For 2008, Victory also presents the brand new Vegas Low. Its name says it all and the plan is to increase comfort with the long and low stance. But don’t be thinking that they didn’t had a name for it and they called it Low, no sir; this bike is an inch lower than the Victory Vegas. Engine and tranny are exactly the same like on the simple version. Colors available are Solid Black, Solid Midnight Cherry and Solid Boardwalk Blue. No matter color, the MSRP is $15,999
What make the Jackpot stand out is the custom paint schemes (Solid Black, Solid Midnight Cherry, Solid Broadwalk Blue, Two Tone Black and Silver with Graphics, Two Tone Black and Red with Graphics), the custom headlight, a color matched frame and a super fat rear tire. Just like the Low, the Jackpot keeps the engine and tranny from the basic Vegas. Having an MSRP of $17,999, the Jackpot is the most expensive of them all.