After reminiscing over Victory's 2003-2016 Vegas 8-Ball we also take a look how the American cruiser faired alongside similar performance motorcycles.
What we said about the Vegas 8-Ball then?
“It’s American made, but unlike a Harley-Davidson has a much more modern level of performance, while still looking stylish. It might be missing the Harley badge, but it has everything else, including an affordable price tag.” - MCN launch report, 2003.
But what is the Victory like now?
I vividly remember the first time I rode a Victory. It was a Vegas and I was really impressed – my first words after the ride were ‘it’s like a Harley that actually works!’ Which for me has always been Victory’s key selling point.
Modern Harleys are a different prospect, but back in the late 2000s Harley’s range was quite limited for non-traditionalists like myself. There were a few highlights such as the V-Rod, but overall they didn’t offer much to tempt riders who wanted a bit of performance in their cruiser. Then Victory arrived on the scene and filled this hole perfectly. And it is this uniqueness that has always made me warm towards Victory, which was why I was sad when parent company Polaris announced earlier this year that they were shutting their doors. But does a Vegas still impress, considering the new breed of modern performance cruisers such as the Ducati Diavel, Indian Scouts or even Harley V-Rods?
Sitting on this Vegas 8-Ball (one of the many post-2010 Freedom 106-engined Victory variations), I’m instantly impressed by the clean view. All you have in front is a single clock and a set of pulled-back bars. Hit the starter and the big 1731cc air-cooled V-twin rumbles into life. A good solid clunk of the gearbox and you are away.
Riding a Victory takes a bit of getting used to as the skinny 21in front wheel and surprisingly powerful four-piston brake caliper with no ABS means care is required, especially in the wet. But on a bike that has the Vegas’ turn of pace, I’d rather have too much than too little braking. And the Vegas can shift, despite its 301kg weight.
Just like other cruiser manufacturers, Victory don’t quote power figures, but we reckon it’s got about 89bhp with 110ftlb of torque, which is more than enough for enthusiastic cruising. And the handling isn’t bad either.
Again, we are talking a cruiser with a 2462mm wheelbase here, not a sportsbike, but you can enjoy the bends on a Vegas. Ground clearance is limited, but the Victory’s size and weight gives a welcome feeling of security and you can’t help but grin. And that’s the key to the Vegas’ charm, it’s a fun bike to ride that looks and sounds like a cruiser, just with a bit more attitude.
Any obvious Victory faults?
The only major disappointment on this bike is the corrosion on the metal fixtures and fittings, which is a Vegas Achilles’ Heel. On a bike as good looking as this I would have to get them all re-finished, which wouldn’t be a big or expensive job and would make an easy winter project. The paint flaking off the engine’s fins would be trickier to sort, but again, it’s do-able.
Or worthwhile bike extras?
This bike has a Stage 1 kit, which consists of a fruity exhaust, performance air filter and ECU re-map, and is worth every penny. Not only does the Vegas sound more spirited, it has a bit more poke. The panniers I can take or leave, but they are easy to remove. The horrible tool roll attached to the forks needs to be binned.
Should you buy a Vegas 8-Ball?
It's a cool modern take on a cruiser that still has a nice raw edge to it. The styling is spot on and the engine and chassis are pleasingly performance-orientated. I just wish it was a bit cheaper in the used market. Thanks to Krazy Horse for the loan of this Vegas 8-Ball. It is currently for sale in their Bury St Edmunds shop for £9850.