2012 Victory High-Ball Preview
Victory's latest cruiser embraces the bobber style
Just when we think certain trends in motorcycling may have peaked, leave it to a major motorcycle manufacturer to keep the trend alive – or at least catch on to the cresting wave.
Victory Motorcycles today unveiled an all-new model called the High-Ball.
The High-Ball’s minimalist, tough guy appearance results from its tip-to-tail matte finish black-out treatment, chopped fenders, ape hanger style handlebar, solo saddle and 16-inch spoke wheels carrying plump whitewall tires.
It’s a look that unabashedly draws inspiration from the lowbrow bobber scene, where riders and bike fabricators in that two-wheeled subculture eschew brand loyalty, and instead fashion motorcycles into no-nonsense machines that seem to make some kind of anti-moto-establishment statement.
While this latest offering from Victory is ultimately still mainstream, it does an impressive job of mirroring the “just gimme what works, man” sentiment that seems to issue forth from the bobber crowd.
"It’s a look that unabashedly draws inspiration from the lowbrow bobber scene..."
Powered by Victory’s 106-cubic-inch, sohc, 50-degree V-Twin with 6-speed gearbox, this 106/6 is also graced with Stage 2 cams, and is likely the same engine design the Hammer, Hammer S and Vegas Jackpot models run with. Victory says this engine platform is good for 97 hp and 113 ft-lbs.
The High-Ball looks as though it may have started life as Vegas 8-Ball. But aside from atypical Victory cruiser styling and the hot-rodded Freedom 106/6 powerplant, the High-Ball’s chassis dimensions also help define it as a new model.
A shortest-of-all-Vic-models 64.8-inch wheelbase joined by a 31.7-degree steering rake make for a pretty aggressive combo of steering dimensions when compared to most other current Victorys, but the High-Ball’s longest-in-the-lineup 6.7 inches of trail helps tame those assertive numbers, and will likely serve up a somewhat quick steering but stable cruiser. The new Victory’s 25.0-inch seat height is second lowest in the line – only the Vision 8-Ball and Arlen Ness Vision have lower saddles at 24.5 inches.
The High-Ball’s 43mm telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel, and rear suspension providing travel of 3.0 inches, is the same setup as on the Vegas, Vegas Jackpot, Vegas 8-Ball and Kingpin 8-Ball.
Unique among Victorys is the High-Ball’s adjustable handlebar position that allows a rider to hang ‘em high in true ape hanger style, or rotate the bar into a lower, laidback setting. Victory says all that’s required to reposition the bar are simple hand tools, while control cables – and presumably switchgear wiring – are already setup to accommodate either position.
Victory isn’t the first big brand to the ol’ skool motocool party. Harley-Davidson delivered the Cross Bones in early 2008, reaching into its own heritage for design inspiration, with touchstone features like a springer front-end, bobbed fenders, blacked-out motif, chubby tires and solo springer saddle that recall Harley’s post-war past.
Yep, once again, H-D was there first.
However, the 106 c.i. mill in the High-Ball is more powerful (although certainly not smoother) than the 96 c.i. counter-balanced Twin in the Cross Bones, and the High’s seat is a whopping 5.1 inches lower than the Bone’s springy saddle.
Furthermore, with an MSRP of $13,499 for the new High-Ball, Victory has created a $3500 dilemma for riders that were just about to saddle up to the more expensive Harley retro bobber.