If last Friday you were not present at the New York International Motorcycle Show, you discovered the 2013 Victory Judge model first in photos in my blog, then in a video where it was shown in action flexing its American muscles. But this new model unveiling is only part of the story. Some of you know that a few hours later the Victory staff was also unveiling to the press and public present at the Manhattan Javits Center the first ever Custom Victory Judge designed and built by Zach Ness.
It must be noted that, as far as I know, Victory Motorcycles seem to be the only major manufacturer to release in simultaneity both a production model and its radical custom version. A great idea that I wish all manufacturers should follow…
I asked Zach to tell me the story of this radical custom Victory Judge named NessCafe, how it got started, his approach in designing it and the mods he had to make with his crew to turn the new production Judge into a pure and original American Cafe Racer.
“It all started at the Polaris corporate headquarters in Medina, MN. Victory gained me clearance to Polaris’ high security R&D and design facility where the full range of Polaris products are developed. It was there when I first saw the new cruiser model “The Judge”. Victory then gave me the task of building my own custom Judge for the model release at the New York IMS show, giving me a total of 6 weeks to complete the build. They wanted a highly modified bike, not the usual bolt on and paint mods but a complete change from the frame up. The only guidelines I had to follow were to keep the stock headlight and tank, the rest was free style. Once I received the bike I took it for a ride. The bike handled and performed very well, and I immediately knew I wanted to do a Café style bike. The concept was simple: Gain performance and handling, drop weight, and create a simple classic café stance with new/different modern design details.
The frame was cut in half and rear section completely re-designed. The heavy stock castings were replaced with chromoly tubing varying in size from 1 inch, inch and an eighth, and inch and a quarter. I kept the stock suspension and motor mount location so I didn’t step too far away from the new model but put much work into improving the style and strength. An additional set of side frame rails were added to gain additional strength and give the “continuous” frame look that, to my knowledge, hasn’t been done on a Victory. The tail section was a one-off design that accented the rear of the gas tank. Complementary side moldings and brake/turn signal LED pockets were fabricated for added detail. The battery, ECU, power commander, and fuse box are all contained within the tail section. Dzus button fasteners were used throughout for a clean look and ability to make technical adjustments on the fly. The tank was lifted in the rear to gain the slight downward sloping line found on traditional Café Racers. Both front and rear of the tank received custom tank mounts.
Ohlins built a one-off fully adjustable TTX rear shock according to the bikes specifications. The shock adjusting knob was mounted to the newly installed side frame rails for easy adjustability and a clean look. The front fork tubes were slipped an inch through to gain the desired stance. The bike was sent to Lloyds Motorworkz in Pine Bush, NY the week before the show. I met the bike there on Monday where we pulled the engine and completely re-built it. Engine mods included: crank weight reduced by 10 lbs, cams, raised compression, heads port and polish, custom built ECU, power commander, Lloyds Torque Tube intake, and nickel plated rocker boxes.
The painted sheetmetal and seat were shipped to Lloyds where they were installed Wednesday night (2 days before unveiling) and the bike was completed Thursday morning. We then headed to New York City and revealed the bike on Saturday.”
Zach added that he was very thankful to Victory Motorcycles for giving him the opportunity to work on the new Judge because he is perfectly aware that many other builders out there would have been as qualified as him to complete such a radical build. Of course he also acknowledged the hard work of his team helping him complete such a radical project on a short notice from Victory.
During this interview I also learned that the Judge model and Victory NessCafe releases set records of web traffic for the Victory corporate website and its social media sites… All this confirming what I have thought right away when, before the launch, I looked at the Judge for the 1st time. This model has the muscle strength to attract many buyers from other brands and is particularly fit for many customization styles. Ness Enterprises.
Re-engineered cam to reduce weight by 10 pounds
S&S 495 Cams
Port and Polish Heads
Raised Compression from 9 to 2, 10 to 1
Custom built ECU
Lloyds Torque Tube Intake
Nickel plated Rocker Box’s
Lloyds Nickel Plated Engine Covers
Completely re-designed rear frame section: Removed heavy stock steel castings and replaced with Chromoly tubing varying in size from 1”, 1 1/8”, and 1 1/4”. Resulting in a dramatic weight loss and increased strength while keeping factory suspension angles
Added second frame rail for a continuous frame look never before done to a Victory and added strength.
Foot Controls moved an additional 5” back
Gained an additional 3-5 inches of ground clearance (adjustable)
One-off tail section housing battery, ECU, and fuse box. Integrated LED taillight and turn signals.
Tank remounted to raise rear and lower front to achieve café look.
Dzus fasteners used throughout for clean look and ability to make technical modifications/fixes on the fly.
Ohlins TTX rear shock. Fully adjustable. Custom built by Ohlins for bikes specifications
Ness 10-Gauge wheels, rotors, and pulley. Sizes: Front- 18×3.5 Rear-18×5.0
Ness “Slot Track” grips from our new Fusion Series grips and pegs.
Ness RAD III hand controls
Vortex 43mm clip on’s
Goodridge Sniper Brake lines and Stainless Steel fittings
Barnett clutch and throttle cables
Alloy Art/Todds Cycle rear brake reservoir
One-off handmade exhaust. Chrome ceramic coated then Scotchbright finished. Accel header wrap
One-off seat by Danny Gray, comprised of Mercedes AMG leather
Paint: PPG Black Cherry, with Candy Red panels and variegated gold leaf border
Painter: Ogawa Designs
Powdercoating: Maas Brothers
Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems