Victory motorcycles is a division of parent company Polaris Industries. The bike division celebrated its 10th Anniversary in 2008, entering their second decade of “New American Motorcycle” production with significant enhancements to their 2009 lineup of bikes in both the cruiser and touring categories. The company added two new touring models for the 2010 model year– the Victory Cross Roads and Victory Cross Country. As with all of Victory’s models, regardless of category, the bikes fulfill the company philosophy of delivering highly customized turn-key units right off the showroom floor.
For the 2011 model year, Victory chose to up the ante and increase the power motorcycle in their lineup with their 106 Freedom V-Twin – 1,731cc (106 ci) 4-stroke 50-degree SOHC, 8-valve Freedom V-Twin with electronic fuel injection, dual 45mm throttle body and split dual exhaust with crossover. The motor mates to a new and improved six-speed constant mesh overdrive transmission, capable of cranking out up to 97 horsepower, along with 113 pound feet of torque.
As part of the special custom lineup, the Ness Signature Series represents three generations of custom Ness designs. Patriarch, Arlen Ness has chosen the Vision Tour as his 2011 custom palette, while son Cory selected the Cross Country to make over, and Grandson Zach picked the Vegas model to modify. Each specific Ness model is numbered and signed by its creator. My personal favorite for 2011 is Cory’s Cross Country bike, which features a Cory Ness engine cover, stunning custom paintwork and Anvil-design 5-spoke alloy wheels.
That covers the high end of the Victory spectrum. On the reverse end of the Victory stable are the Victory 8-Ball models – not stripped mind you, but lacking the level of bling that comes with the Ness special edition rides. In fact, the 8-Ball Series bikes have the least chrome and the fewest frills, offering the most black and the greatest value. The 2011 8-Ball lineup consists of the Vegas 8-Ball, the Kingpin 8-Ball, the Hammer 8-Ball and at the head of the pack, the Victory Vision 8-Ball. The first three models are powered by the new 97 horsepower Freedom® 106/6 Stage 2 V-Twin, with a new deeper and fuller exhaust note, a new speedometer capable of displaying either MPH or KPH with blue backlighting, indicator lights on the gauge face and a large LCD that provides a clock that’s viewable at all times ,gear position, tachometer, odometer, trip meter and diagnostic readouts, and a new black “Bullet” headlight.
The biggest bike in the 8-ball lineup is the Victory Vision 8-Ball, also powered by the new Freedom® 106/6 V-Twin, but in stage 1 form producing 5 horsepower and 4 pound feet of torque less than the smaller bikes with the Stage 2 version. All of the bikes come in solid Black with no graphics and feature blacked-out components such as handlebars, exhaust (except the Vision 8-Ball which has chrome exhaust pipes), wheels, belt guards, frames, bodywork, side stands and more. The Vision 8-Ball also lacks ABS as standard fare. Accessories for 8-Ball models include: windshields, backrests, saddlebags and other touring gear. There are also a wide range of grips, lower controls, covers and trim in chrome, billet or black finish. New X-Bow and Tri-Pro Stage 1 performance exhausts.
The 8-Ball Series bikes provide the same ride quality and performance as the standard models, but in basic black. Visually, the same center character line runs the entire length of each bike from the front composite fender, through the headlamp and fuel tank, and continuing through the rear fender to the stylized “V” taillight of the Vision example. The streamlined, extended tank also features a distinctive side sculpting, as do the contoured, composite, lockable hard side bags. The fuel filler cap is positioned to the right of the centerline of the otherwise uncluttered tank top – the only non-symmetrical styling cue on the bike.
The Victory Vision 8-Ball is exceptionally pleasing to the eye, and is not as futuristic or radical in appearance than the larger Vision models are. Large floorboards are provided for the rider, with pegs for the passenger.
The Victory Vision 8-Ball rolls on Dunlop Elite 3 rubber — 130/70 R18 up front and 180/60 R16 aft mounted on 6-split-spoke alloy wheels. The suspension componentry consists of front 43 mm inverted cartridge telescopic forks with 5.1-inches of travel and a single rear monotube gas shock, with a cast aluminum, constant rate linkage swingarm providing 4.7-inches of travel. Bringing the Vision 8-Ball to a stop is accomplished by a conventional hydraulic system with forward dual 300 mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers and a single 300 mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper in the rear.
The seat is a low set (24.5-inches), comfortable one-piece affair ideal for vertically challenged riders, with a stepped up passenger pillion and a strap grip for the passenger. Dimensionally, the Vision 8-ball has both a long wheelbase and overall length than many Harleys, yet it weighs in at less than the Harleys thanks to the use of composite materials in the bodywork. The cost of the Vision 8-Ball is also considerably less.
My test Victory was the 2011 Vision 8-Ball model. The base sticker was set at $17,999. Add $250 for California emissions. Dealer charges for prep and handling will vary, but average $250. Figure $18,499 for a bike sold in California.
SUMMARY: The 2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball displays a dramatically pleasing visual presence, with styling cues rivaling the appeal of a custom Harley, but in sinister black theme. All the angles and contours flow harmoniously, with the 106 cubic inch motor displayed in the frame as a jeweled focal point. The motor not only looks good, it hauls one’s bootie with gusto. If there were a downside at all, the stock exhaust note, which is actually pleasing would be better with a little more of a thunderous roar. On the plus side of that issue, it probably won’t offend your neighbors when cranking it up.
The riding position is particularly comfortable and well-balanced. Vision8-Ball is an extremely satisfying touring machine where everything works well from the handlebar and floorboard positioning to the well-padded seat. The suspension travel smooths out rough road surfaces for more pleasant, long distance rides, and the new modified six-speed gearbox is definitely smoother and quieter. The positive Neutral finder is a nice touch unless you actually don’t want to find Neutral, which happened to me on more than one occasion. There’s plenty of power on tap with a very broad torque range in case you don’t want to do a lot of shifting of gears.
The national press launch, took riders from the Gateway Canyons Resort (about 60 miles out of Grand Junction, Colorado) to Mountain Village, above Telluride for lunch (about 100 miles) and back. The ride took us along a river, through towering red cliffs that served up a remarkably picturesque scenario. On the return leg, the ride became less pleasant, rolling through thunder and lightning joined by a torrential and soaking downpour that failed to make for the most enjoyable riding conditions, but the bike soldiered on with stability, making the best of a negative scenario. The balance was superb as was acceleration and braking.
The company’s new tagline “Fuel It” refers to fueling one’s passion for hitting the road on two wheels, and in the final analysis, Victory’s new 2011 Vision 8-Ball provides a custom look right off the showroom floor in a lineup that now offers a wide selection of models that has something to satisfy nearly every Cruising and Touring rider. The New American motorcycle should continue to forge ahead in popularity.