Not only do you have a plethora of viable options coming from Japan when shopping for a cruiser, America’s unions offer a few options as well these days. While whittling the choices down to the “new” American builder might have been hard, ergonomics and cost play a strong part in your decision making as well. If you wanna ride far yet still comfortably reach the ground, Victory offers the lowest saddle height in the class with its new-for-oh-ten Vision 8-Ball. Combining style and comfort with a dash of stealthy cool, Victory helps you blend in while standing out from the crowd. The blackened paint scheme blends into the world of night cruisers yet you’ll still wanna show it off, take it on a tour and get the thumbs up from the neighbor.
As the biggest member of the Victory 8-Ball family, the Vision strips away the pomp and extravagance found on the 10th Anniversary Vision Tour that you read about last summer and delivers a blank canvas ripe for personalization. For model year 2010, there’s also a sleek and slim version of Victory’s Vegas, Kingpin and Hammer models packed into the new family of four blackened 8-Ball bikes.
The Vision-8 is powered by the same big 106 cubic inch Freedom V-Twin found on all the Victory tourers this year, as well as the new Vegas LE introduced just a few weeks ago. You’ve seen the counterbalanced 50-degree V-Twin time and time again, but what you haven’t seen is simplicity like this in a touring cruiser.
The Vision’s backbone is a modern, beefy cast-aluminum frame offering rigidity that translates into a responsive, obedient handler. Add in a lower saddle height and center of gravity, and the term “sport-cruising” is born in the minds of riders now blazing new trails through the canyons as well as over the super slabs.
Cornering like no other cruiser, the Vision 8’s lean angle is more akin to the Honda Goldwing than a low-slung chopper – ready for thousands of miles before you ever scrape a floorboard -- unless you wanted to, of course. It’s steady in the canyons and stable on the freeways. Gription is provided by Dunlop Elite 3s; 130 wide up front and a common and cruiser-conservative-but-solid 180 in the rear.
From tip to tail, the Vision 8-Ball is covered in black paint, from its fork tubes to primary cases, with just the right amount of chrome. Pete suggests that it looks like a custom bagger, and the public agrees, tossing thumbs skyward from passing automobiles on a daily basis.
That slammed and blackened look reeks of custom, yet it’s a blank canvas you can either enjoy as is or use as a jumping off point. A catalog of Genuine Victory accessories are also available for the Vision 8-Ball, ordering a la carte. Many of the comforts found on the more expensive Vision models can be had: heated grips and saddle, stereo, tail pack, electrically adjustable windscreen, HID driving beam, cruise control, taller windscreen, a bunch of Arlen Ness goodies and even a reverse gear. The Vision 8-Ball is also prewired to accept all these accessories. Victory even left a non-functioning windscreen adjustment toggle on the left-hand switch-cluster to remind you of the potential to upgrade the windscreen.
The Victory trunk pack is also an option for the year-rounders or long-distance riders. As with all the Vision models, the styling is rather deceptive and the saddlebag capacity is less than we found on the Cross Country. An easily accessed non-locking glovebox provides for a bit more storage up front.
The big 6-gallon fuel tank sucks up the vapors with ease. The first few tanks went by so quickly I thought we’d find very poor mileage. Turns out that the miles just melt off thanks to the comfort of the ride; the in-dash economy gauge tells us that we got 38 miles per gallon for an average range of 200 miles, give or take.
The Vision-8 sports the lowest saddle (24.5-inches) in Victory’s entire lineup by about ¾-inch, combining the air-shock and coil spring rear suspension with a drop of 1-inch from the standard Vision. With the saddle being cut an additional inch as well, the ride height on the Vision-8 is overall 2-inches lower that the standard Victory Vision.
With such a trimmed saddle however, you’ll find your leg gets rather warm being so close to the right side exhaust; the added warmth is nice on cool rides, but probably not so fun during the hot summer stints.
The saddle itself, as a result of being so low, is stepped like a king/queen saddle of yesteryear, with a new-century update of being dished as well. The passenger level is nearly the height of a helmet above the operator, offering a clear sightline to the road ahead. Benefits to being the king, there’s built-in lower back support from the stepped saddle, handy when riding solo or two-up.
The two-tiered saddle is one of the most comfortable seats I’ve been on in many years. And for a taster’s choice, I rode “biotch” for a short stint around LA while photographing the Vision just to see how the generously sized passenger saddle felt, and I came away wishing that my office chair was merely half as comfortable. Perched eye-level above the operator, and happily planted with my own floorboards, grab rails and comfortable saddle, I could ride there all day.
When traffic blocks your escape path, the Vision’s braking system comes into play with a rear brake that is hydraulically linked to the front. On moderate to heavy application of the front brake, the front brakes (dual 300mm discs with 3-piston calipers) are also applied to assist in slowing the beast quickly. With light application of the rear brake, only the pair of rear pistons clamp down on the 300mm rear disc. The big “Vee” taillight impresses the masses but lacks in brightness when compared to the LED version found on the Cross Country or top-shelf Vision.
One compromise you might find yourself making -- if you’re a loud-pipe cruiser lover – is with regard to the overall tone of the Vision 8-Ball. Although the bike sounds like a running dishwasher when idling, it’s no different from the other Vision models and in need of a manly aftermarket pipe. Victory offers a Stage 1 performance exhaust and chrome fluted exhaust tips to feed your fever, but we can’t vouch for its tone until we hear it.
While I’m often a big fan of heel-toe shift bars on cruisers, Victory tucks that one in the accessory catalog, offering one as an accessory for all their Vision’s. Oddly, I prefer this bike to not have one –giving free reign to place my feet in infinite positions from the typical cruiser clam stretch to a more standard ass-over-heels placement.
Perhaps you’re considering a Japanese tourer for the amenities and comfort but didn’t wanna leave the cruiser world just yet. The Vision-8 can help bridge the gap. The fully tricked out Vision has all the bells and whistles of a Honda Goldwing, but it comes at a premium.
Sure, the looks are something to get used to, but it’s been four years now, the bulbous fairing only looks big from the outside. Pete says it’s his favorite version of the Vision. When you get on the Vision, the scale just melts away.
Compared to the competition
How does the Victory Vision 8-Ball stack up to the competition? Well, there seems to be few direct competitors. Against the whole range of tourers, the Vision 8-Ball stands by itself as a price-point winner with tons of style.
|Vision 8-Ball||Bare bones ala carte||$18,249|
|Vision Tour||Accessories come stock||$23,949|
|Arlen Ness Vision||ALL the goodies||$25,249|
|Kawasaki Voyager 1700||ABS for an extra $1000||$16,799|
|H-D Road Glide Custom||Semi-full fairing but no tailpack||$18,999|
|Honda Goldwing||Starting MSRP||$22,899|
The V-8-Ball offers a $5700 savings compared to the next Victory tourer, and it's a bitchin' lookin' bike to boot!