Rolling The New Victory High-Ball

On January 20, 2011, the unveiling in my Blog of the new Victory High-Ball pictures and tech-sheet provoked a record number of your comments, exceeding those you made after the release of the Harley-Davidson new Blackline model.. At the time you told me that you would love that I test ride it and Victory Motorcycles executives reading my Blog, one of the only 6 High-Ball available at the time (until delivery to their dealers in the coming weeks) was waiting for me at their Daytona Bike Week display. The High-Ball was launched with a very confident tagline “it’s new, bad ass and the bike you want to be seen on”… By a beautiful but very chilly Florida morning I straddled a High Ball to check on so many promises…

Leaving the Victory display, I was immediately caught in heavy traffic on Daytona International Speedway Blvd, taking advantage of too many idling times among a sea of bikers to evaluate each bike detail and functionality. My first big surprise was the number of people around me giving me the thumb up, either in appreciation for seeing the High-Ball up close for the first time….or thinking that I was riding a one-off custom Victory? I realized again how much matte black with no chrome is popular and because of today’s taste for everything retro such a “paint scheme” still attracts more eyes than most fancy flashy multicolored mural paint job. Victory got the good idea to replace the usual badge by a new designed painted-on logo, re-enforcing the custom look that all manufacturers are after. So, a first compliment to Victory for meaning custom right away with a mass produced model.  Seat very low position (25″ unladen) with a bike clearance of 4.7″ made me feel like on one of  my ground up customs and makes the High-Ball very easy to manage at very low speed. Position with hands on high rise bars (I kept them in the highest position during all the test, but they are easily adjustable by any owner with simple hand tools without having to re-adjust cables and wiring) felt very comfortable and relaxing. And it works well with the macho attitude you are supposed to have when riding a “dark” custom  Single gauge instrumentation with speedo, tach, tripmeter, warning lights is extremely clean designed, offering excellent readability. Half an hour in traffic was not the torture I expected thanks to a a clutch that I could hold long times without any fatigue. and to a very precise neutral that you will never miss.

Finally, I entered I95 in direction of Titusville about 70 miles south of Daytona with the intention to test (over the legal speed limit, huh) the hefty 113 ft-pounds of torque produced by the 106″ (1731 cc) Victory Freedom Engine. Rapidly shifting up 6 gears, the highway pounding engine transports you right away in a riding experience half a century forward from the past time that inspired the High-Ball styling. A few bikers going in the same direction must still wonder what kind of hopped up job was done on this “old bike” engine.

After testing power, I took a few back roads around Florida farms, testing comfort at cruising speed, ability to do some aggressive cornering, stability under heavy braking on 300mm floating rotors with a front 4-piston and rear 2-piston caliper, agility at entering main roads. Speeding or cruising along I never found the High-Ball in any difficulty to accomplish the tasks I required. Coming back towards Daytona Beach via a very bumpy Ridgewood Boulevard, I appreciated the combination of 5.1″ of travel from the beefy 43 mm front forks and the 3″ of travel of the mono-tube gas, cast aluminum rear suspension. Maybe a little bit too much of diving in the front suspension when I had to squeeze hard the front brake to avoid a car front of me stopping when a light turned yellow. Vibrations are minimum at most speeds and in cruising mode, the bike prowls with a very pleasant low tone.

The last experience I wanted with the High-Ball was to see the reactions from the young custom builders setup at the Limpnickie Lot and from the old timers gathered at the party of Joe Robison. Again, at each pit stop the High-Ball did its job at provoking a lot of interest with the new old school styling pleasing equally both generations (but please Victory, replace this high tech headlight and unappealing exhaust design, both out of place for an old time look!). At a lower price than its competitors (13,449 in US 49-state) the new Victory High-Ball offers an excellent combination of value, performance and style and is a very serious contender in the market of Bobber/Stripped Down production bikes such as the Blackline and the Cross Bones models offered by Harley-Davidson. all along my test ride, the High-Ball was a very pleasant surprise. I bet that it will be a success. Victory Motorcycles.

Zipper's

54 Responses to “Rolling The New Victory High-Ball”


  1. 1 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:27 am

    It was nice seeing you and the bike in person in Daytona. The bike looks nice except as you mentioned the aweful headlight and exhaust. Looks better in person than the photos.

  2. 2 Hddave Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:29 am

    You’re right Cyril nice retro look, but that headlight has got to go!

  3. 3 Luis Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:32 am

    It needs a side mount license plate too.

  4. 4 Rod Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:34 am

    I was waiting for your impression on this bike after you published that you would test ride it in Daytona. Now, I have to convince my wife that it’s the right time to replace the old HD Fat Boy.

  5. 5 G. Heller Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Hey, Cyril I guess Victory obliged you to wear a helmet. You passed me on US 1 and didn’t recognized me! LOL.

  6. 6 Mr. Potts Mar 31st, 2011 at 10:02 am

    That headlight looks like something off a cheap bicycle at WallMart! Great review!

  7. 7 colemanfu Mar 31st, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Much cooler than the HD Fatboy Lo.

  8. 8 Robert Pandya Mar 31st, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Cyril – thanks for taking the time to ride the new bike – we’re glad you enjoyed it. The design and engineering team is proud of the work put in, and the end results speak for themselves. In fact the dealer orders for the High-Ball have exceeded expectations, and we have planned a very strong production run out of the Spirit Lake, Iowa plant this and next week.

    For those who wish to change the headlight and exhaust – cool! Make the bike yours! In our own parts catalog is a round headlight from an earlier version 8-Ball, and there is a matte black performance shotgun system that looks great and includes a more open airbox and the correct EFI mapping.

    Any of you familiar with the DOT / EPA certification process know how much money is put into exhaust R&D – and how expensive those parts are to produce – and how quickly they get changed!

    We’re looking forward to seeing what customers do to High-Balls. We commissioned Roland to build a bike (Ol’ Vic) that a garage mechanic could build – no frame or motor work – but mostly paint and attitude. And as planned – that bike shows how much can be done on the stock High-Ball platform.

    Again Cyril – thanks for your write-up and thanks for reporting on all the aspects of the industry. Your blog has become a strong bellwether of the industry, and we certainly appreciate your enthusiasm for motorcycling, customs, and the souls who make up this great industry.

    See you down the road –

    Robert Pandya
    External Relations Manager
    Victory Motorcycles

  9. 9 1550tc Mar 31st, 2011 at 11:15 am

    except as you mentioned the aweful headlight and exhaust.

    the same fuggggly look as the japs…….its almost like WTF cant anyone in the usa design an exhaust and headlight??

  10. 10 live2rideaglide Mar 31st, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I applaud the effort , and I kow what they were shooting for, but like most FACTORY customs , butt ugly. notaglide.

  11. 11 Chopster Mar 31st, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    For a factory custom I think that Victory did a great job. At 13 K, I believe Cyril when he sees a very good value and the possibilities for customization.

  12. 12 R. Brentwood Mar 31st, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Interested to buy one. Will visit a Vic dealer and ask for a test ride.

  13. 13 zyon Mar 31st, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    If I were looking right now, it would be between this and the new honda chopper “Fury” I saw one at my local shop with a few tweaks (mostly exhaust) and it looked really nice for a mass produced Chopper. I’m glad to see another company figure out what new and younger buyers are after. If only Harley could figure out that the massive land cruisers are out! This bike looks great. I agree about the exhaust but the headlight does not bother me too much.

  14. 14 Woody Mar 31st, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I know there’s no EPA testing required on the headlamp so it’s a shame the answer to a quite common opinion from real riders was in effect, “too bad, throw it away and buy a new one”. How much would a replacement go for at a Victory dealer and why would you think folks should have to dig for that amount to get a headlamp that matches the bike, rather than Victory admit they have one already available at time of build that would be received more favorably. Looks like success is breeding arrogance?
    Sigh, Nice looking bike-but needs a different headlamp 😉

  15. 15 Robert Pandya Mar 31st, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    There are in fact DOT beam spread, brightness and pattern requirements that must be met, as well as internal Victory product durability tests. Many of you guys would not believe what is mandated and required.

    We styled the bike with that signature headlight as the designers felt it works for the model and the brand. I’d bet it would be a quick forum post to swap someone with a round headlight from an earlier bike – they want to update, you want the round.

    Easy.

    R

  16. 16 2Low Mar 31st, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Cyril, You should customize one and show Victory

  17. 17 Steve Hog Radio Producer Mar 31st, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Great write up and it is a nice looking bike.

    By the way what is a chilly morning. Just asking since I can’t think of FL being too cold.

  18. 18 golfish Mar 31st, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    I hope this bike goes far. I really like Victory MC’s…I’d like to see this with a swing arm mounted (dropped) fender and a bobber seat. This bike could clean up real nice.

  19. 19 Richard Mar 31st, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    The head light, exhaust need to be re-designed as is noted above. The “apes” need to be in the same line as the forks. I’d like to see an “old time” style tailight….The tank (Arlen Ness style) is way too “swoopy” for this style bike. Concept wise it’s cool!

  20. 20 R. Spiegel Mar 31st, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Hey guys, you will never find any factory bike pleasing you 100%. The real question is how much to spend above the 13,5 K price to make it yours . Not much I think. So, I it’s a good deal if you take in account the very valuable warranty of a manufacturer like Victory.

  21. 21 chopperfreak29 Mar 31st, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Wouldn’t take too many changes to make it suit my taste and that can’t be said for most bikes. Mustang style tank, round headlight, 21 inch front wheel, new exhaust, z-bars or skinny apes, skinny chrome fender and a tall sissy bar all attached to the swingarm, ditch the whitewalls….and pretty easy to change it again if or when a new style strikes my fancy. Basically a wicked chassis with what seems like good geometry, great potential and an awesome powerhouse drivetrain. All in all I’d buy one if I wasn’t poor.LOL Besides changing stuff is half the fun, if they sold it exactly the way I wanted it then what’s left for me to do??

  22. 22 Kiwished Mar 31st, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    its easy to pick faults with any factory bike, especially by those who would never buy one any way. Go into any Harley dealer and see how many of the parts that get changed before a new bike even leaves the shop, every one wants to be different. To my mind you buy a new bike because you like that style, otherwise like a lot of us we build our own and have whatever headlamp, exhausts and bars we desire.
    Still it’s good to see another US company building nice bikes, well done Victory for sticking your neck out.
    Laters

  23. 23 Wiz Apr 1st, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Maybe i’ll cruise over to Spirit Lake on one of my customs ‘an take thiers fer a little spineroo! Let you know what I think of this new-fangled scooter. Wiz

  24. 24 Carl Kurtz Apr 1st, 2011 at 6:43 am

    @Robert Pandya – could you tell me exactly what year and model the round headlight from your parts catalog is? Does it have a black or chrome bucket? I’ve checked the online parts catalog and couldn’t find the headlight you’re referring to. I’m taking delivery of a High-Ball in May and the headlight is one of the parts I’d like to change.

  25. 25 Steve 'brewdude' Garn Apr 1st, 2011 at 9:04 am

    So, you pick Roland for the garage build? What does Roland have in common with small shops or those who do their own work? It would of been better to let 5 small shops do the work to get different attitudes.

  26. 26 Woody Apr 1st, 2011 at 9:35 am

    OK, fine with me. If the designers thought a smashed VTX headlamp was the cornerstone of the bike-so be it. Just because a lot of folks who’s opinions I respect think it’s out of place doesn’t mean it’s so. I could’ve nitpicked the front fender or bad choice on the curved risers etc but I didn’t because overall the bike works well. I actually was trying to be helpful but hey, have a nice weekend 🙂

  27. 27 Odlamn Apr 1st, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I’ll take it from reports the bike is reliable and a reasonably good performer. But style? C’mon. The design is way off. Nothing distinctively new, just a warped out (read: homely) re-do of the real classic, H-D.

    These varied impressions reinforce the truth we are all different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    O.

  28. 28 zyon Apr 1st, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Walk into a harley dealership and demand they put a new pipe and a new headlight on the bike before you buy it and I bet you walk out with a third item in your pocket…a sales receipt for a new pipe and headlight. They will charge you for it…in fact, that;s a big part of their business now.

    Every company does product testing and consumer opinion testing before launching a product. I’d guess, the opinions of those people were okay enough to put it into production. Personally, I’ve never owned one thing where I couldn’t say “I’d like to change this part.” So what do I do, I change it. I don’t bitch about how the the company won’t retool their build processes, end or modify contracts with suppliers and spend tens of thousands in the necessary approvals to change the part.

    if you want a motorcycle that has every little thing you want, just the way you want it, get out into your garage and build it because you won’t get it off the sales floor.

  29. 29 martin Twofeather Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Excellent Cyril…..

  30. 30 Boomer Apr 1st, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I had the opportunity to test ride a High Ball last week when a local Victory dealer sponsored a demo truck ride where the big tractor trailer rig from Victory comes through with all the different models to test ride. There’s also a $1000 dollar toward accessories incentive that goes along with the test ride (good for 10 days) which effectively puts the cost at $12.5k. I even heard many dealers are offering an additional $500 off the price. At $12k this is an amazing buy on a factory custom with a bullet proof engine.

    The bike had shotgun pipes w/stage 1 so it sounded excellent and had even more pep in its step. It had a few other visual changes that are available through the Victory parts catalog. I don’t understand why some people don’t like the headlight. Looks good to me. The turn signals on the hand look very out of place on this bike.

    Handled really good. Had a very light feeling to it with a fantastic power to weight ratio. It would easily blow away most, if not all, other V-twins in the same class. If I get a windfall; I’ll get this bike to bomb around on locally. I would probably contact Kewllmetal to see if a 5 or 7 degree rake kit was available.

    My overall impression is Victory hit a home run with this model.

  31. 31 cwglide Apr 1st, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Robert Pandya, Meeting VSMS108 for lighting has to do with the reflector, and position of the light source, not the shape of the headlight. Don’t let the designers tell you otherwise. You’re right about vehicle manufactures such as Polaris that are required to meet all kinds of regulatory standards. To meet that standard in some cases compromises have to be met in regards to styling. So an aftermarket part is offered to address the ugly. I get it Robert. Victory has some great motorcycles, well engineered and i see continuous styling improvements. Personally i really like the Cross Roads. I’ll have to stop by Ness shop and take them up on a demo ride. Thanks Robert for responding!

  32. 32 Roberto Benini Apr 1st, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    I was hesitating but I think I am going to visit Arizona Victory in Phoenix to try one. If I am disappointed, you are responsible. lol.

  33. 33 Finnee Apr 1st, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I do like this bike even if bobber style bikes are not my thing. There are a few things that do seem out of place on this or any retro bike. The modern headlight does look out of place on it and would look better with the round one. I do not like the exhaust, and for some reason the only chrome piece left on the bike was the speedo. Mind you I have a Kingpin and love this headlight on the kingpin but do not like it on this bike.

    For the most part I hate all stock exhaust looks and had the pipes changed on mine before I even picked up the bike. Like others have said people change things to make the look their own on almost every bike sold. So for a out of the box bike this is a home run.

  34. 34 LucyJayne Apr 1st, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I had the oppotunity to try-on the High-Ball and it was incredibly comfortable and just fit. I didn’t get the opportunity to ride it but will hopefully soon. The design of the bike is on point with Victory’s brand and personality so I don’t think I would change it. My Harley is custom, if I had a Victory—it would be stock.

  35. 35 Matt Apr 1st, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I’ve often seen Victory as filling the cruiser gap between the retro/premium priced Harleys and the modern/ value driven Metrics and I think the styling, engine, features, & price of the Hi Ball demonstrates that nitch quite nicely.

  36. 36 morpion Apr 1st, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    victory should take roland sands for designer

  37. 37 Keith Apr 2nd, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Can u upgrade a larger seat to accomadate a passage and passage foot pegs? I Love this bike.Just left victory motorcycle dealership, no highball yet. They did have have a very nice hammer 8 ball, that would accomadate a passage. Dont know if i should wait or go ahead buy the hammer. Need some help.

  38. 38 Robert Pandya Apr 2nd, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Howdy – SO…sorry this is late – I had a flight and a Rockers vs Mods party to go to…

    You will need one of each to build a complete headligt assembly. The stock stylized headlights use two of the same wattage light bulbs where the old 8-Ball round headlight uses a low and a high beam. The owner would use one of the stock light bulbs s/he already has in her stock bucket, then replace the other with the high beam bulb in this list. The mounting bracket is the exact same for both style headlights.

    The headlight part #’s are:

    5246789 – Bezel
    2410536 – Housing (the lens & reflector)
    5246396 – Ring, Headlight bulb mount
    1014663-156 – Bucket, Chrome
    4010805 – Bulb, High Beam
    5412231 – Grommet
    7547126 – Nut, Nylock
    7518064 – Screw

    All told – it’s a pretty spendy way to get a round headlight – I’m sure you custom guys have a cheaper solution than buying stock parts – like I said – lots of owners with older bikes would love to swap for the newer look of stock High-Ball.

    And when you get done buying, building and photographing your custom round headlighted High-Ball – please do share!

  39. 39 Robert Pandya Apr 2nd, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Keith – you can order up the parts from a standard passenger seat and footpeg assembly. They fit – and there is a touring seat accessory as well. the Hammer seat will not fit – different rear fender design.

    High-Balls are due into dealer at the end of April and are being built in Spirit lake Iowa last and in the coming weeks.

    Back to the weekend for me –

  40. 40 Keith Apr 2nd, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Thank You, Robert. I think im going with hammer i like it alot and feel that i can add the ape bars later to give it the syte i want.

  41. 41 Carl Kurtz Apr 3rd, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Thanks for the detailed info Robert, now I have something to work with!

  42. 42 Robert Pandya Apr 3rd, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Carl – FYI – Popular Mechanics magazine is building a project bike – taking a stock Hammer and building a more comfortable 2-up “Hammer Tour”. Not sure when the bike will be public, but from some of the preview shots I’ve seen it might be just the sort of thing you are looking for. I believe they have finished and photographed the bike – so see if you can find a Borders that has not closed yet and check the racks.

  43. 43 Brett Apr 3rd, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    I really like this bike EXCEPT that headlight. I dunno, looks out of place.

  44. 44 Brett Apr 3rd, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    This bike is cheaper then a Blackline or a Crossbones, but it isn’t cheaper then Dynas…The people who want a Crossbones I believe want it for a springer front end & I believe they pay the extra amount for that.

    So again, the Street Bob is $1,000 less then the High Ball & the Fat Bob is $1,000 more…In my book it’s really a wash…so how does this bike compare to either a Street Bob or Fat Bob because both of those can be purchased blacked out as well…..

  45. 45 Boomer Apr 4th, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Brett: Ride them all and you will have your answer.

  46. 46 Jim Apr 4th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Vic takes a Vegas 8-ball puts 16″ WWW tires on it with apes… I must say for such modest changes, the end result is pretty cool.

  47. 47 JSDiamond Apr 4th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    Better than the Blackline (IMO).

  48. 48 Adam Apr 8th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I love this bike. Victory did a fantastic job on the design. I have been looking for someone to build something like this for years. My wife broke her back last year so it isn’t in the cards for me right now but maybe in the next 2 or 3 years I will be able to step up and buy one. LOVE IT!!!

  49. 49 Best Real Estate Investment Program Apr 15th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    new victory analysis no matter how well conceived is a peripheral representation on its reality. I think that you were right on with this article. Another good post Cyril.

  50. 50 Bucky Apr 25th, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Has anyone seen these at the dealers yet? I want one but can’t seem to find any yet and the military discount is going to end at the end of April!

  51. 51 Robert Pandya Apr 25th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    The High-Ball is in dealers now with customers taking delivery – Victory posted a program to reward the first High-Ball owners to hit 1000 miles. The Popular Mechanics issue with the Hammer build is on news stands now – for those of you who remember what news stands are!

    All the best –

    R

  52. 52 Jude May 23rd, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Just got my new highball 3 weeks ago and i love it! I added back seat and custome backrest and i am now shopping for extended controles because im 6’3 and cramps me a little and exhaust or just differant mufflers or tips 2 get more sound out of it. Finding it difficult because so new!

  53. 53 Ken Sep 13th, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I appreciate the info from Robert. It is very important to me to connect to the designers of a bike if possible. Not real possible with the metric Japanese models. I’ve owned plenty of bikes, gosh, my family and friends can tell you that. But, this will be my first Victory.
    The High Ball was designed for me.
    Thanks Robert, Thanks Victory.

  54. 54 highballphil Nov 1st, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    To all just return home from key west florida , rode my 2012 highball all the way there leaving from lindenhurst long island the bike was amazing thru out the ride , love the bike

    highball phil

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