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.