Sick wheels, eye-popping paint, a big engine and an even bigger back tire, Cory Ness outdid himself with this year’s 2009 Victory Cory Ness Signature Series Vegas Jackpot.
Victory Motorcycles made a chess move worthy of Bobby Fischer in 2001. That was the year it first enlisted the services of one Arlen Ness, aka the Godfather of Custom Motorcycle Builders. The introduction of the Arlen Ness Signature Series Accessories made exclusively for Victory followed. It was a savvy marketing strategy. What better name could you have associated with your motorcycles than Arlen Ness, a legend in the custom building world? The only move that could sweeten the pot more would be to enlist the services of Arlen’s son Cory as well, who is a distinguished custom motorcycle builder in his own right. This would initiate a longstanding friendship and working relationship between the Ness family and Victory Motorcycles.
But Arlen wasn’t satisfied with solely providing a line of aftermarket parts with his name on it. He soon recognized the customizing potential of the 2003 Vegas, a motorcycle he and son Cory helped develop, and by the next year, Victory launched the 2004 Arlen Ness Signature Series Vegas. The Arlen Ness customized Vegas was a hit and took numerous “Cruiser of the Year” awards in motorcycle industry magazines. Arlen and Cory have lent their styling chops to a Victory model every year since. For 2009, Cory used the 2009 Vegas Jackpot for his palette. Internally, it’s a Vegas Jackpot. But on the outside, it’s all Cory Ness custom.
We spent a day at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World shooting the 2009 Cory Ness Jackpot with the lead float of the Orpheus Krewe, a 140-foot long mythical sea creature called Leviathan.
It’s easy to see why Cory chose the Vegas Jackpot to customize. Big engine, big rear tire on a beefy bike that’s stretched long and low. Better yet, the cruiser motorcycle is powered by Victory’s new Freedom 106/6 engine. That translates to a claimed 14% increase in horsepower over last year’s powerplant, with engine calibrations set to get the most out of the bigger mill. The 4-stroke V-Twin utilizes Stage 2 Cams to push its dyno numbers to a claimed 97 hp at @ 5000rpm and 113 lb-ft of torque earlier in the range at 4300rpm. Gobs of torque are readily available as soon as you twist the throttle, which makes it easy to bark the tires in first and second gear. By the end of the wide second gear, you’re already at highway speed with four more gears at your disposal. Third and fourth gears provide a stimulating ride until around 5000rpm before they begin to sign off. Kick it down into sixth gear and watch rpm drop as the engine settles into a smooth, low-vibe, highway-cruising rhythm, idling along at around 2400rpm at 70mph.
The 4-valve overhead cam engine utilizes self-adjusting cam chain tensioners and features new gaskets to seal everything up tight. The 101mm bore remains the same as in last year’s 100 cubic-inch engine, but the stroke has been lengthened by six millimeters to 108. The longer stroke gives a boost to the compression ratio, which has also been
The ’09 Cory Ness Jackpot is equipped with Victory’s newer, bigger engine, the Freedom 106/6, and horsepower is claimed to be up 14% thanks to the longer-stroked mill.
increased from 8.7:1 to 9.4:1. The 50-degree V-Twin sits pearl-like in the double cradle frame with its diamond-cut cylinder heads reflecting every glint of sunlight it catches. Vibrations coming off the counterbalanced engine are nominal, and a combination air/oil cooled system keeps heat down to easily tolerable levels. Victory did an admirable job of tucking the oil cooler unobtrusively between the front downtubes.
With every twist of the cable-actuated throttle, a closed loop fuel injection system operates the dual 45mm throttle bodies. Clutch pull is a tad tight but I wouldn’t trade it out for its responsiveness. While rolling down New Orleans’ Magazine Street in stop-and-go traffic, fuel delivery did become a little choppy when downshifting into lower gears if I didn’t have the rpm up. A new fuel pump and fuel tank assembly help the closed loop system run efficiently otherwise, and features like new tilt sensors that shut off in case the bike is tipped over and keeps it off until the ignition key resets the system offer riders a little extra peace of mind.
Kicking the six-speed overdrive transmission into gear, I am greeted by the familiar clunk of most transmissions mated to an American V-Twin engine. That same sound resonates with each shift of the constant mesh tranny’s first few gears, but mellows out in the upper three. Running up and down the gearbox, I experienced no false neutrals or missed shifts, and the stickiness becomes familiar after a few days in the saddle. Luckily, the boom of the staggered slash-cut dual exhausts relegates any shifting noise to an afterthought. The exhaust note from the stock pipes echoing off the tight, vertical streets of the
The ship behind me may have been called ‘Lucky One,’ but I was the real lucky one who got to sample the 2009 Cory Ness Vegas Jackpot touring the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
French Quarter is full-bodied, a guttural growl that turned heads with every blip of the throttle. If I’d been running Victory’s Stage 1 performance exhausts that I sampled at the 2009 Victory model year intro, those pipes probably would’ve gotten me run out of town for disturbing the peace.
The roads in and around New Orleans are in a constant state of disrepair, its broken pavement and hidden potholes testing every inch of the telescopic 43mm fork’s 5.1-inches of travel. The overall ride quality is firm but not punishing, with the front end more forgiving than the short-travel rear. A single, mono-tube gas shock sits beneath the seat and is preload adjustable, but accessing it requires a little effort because of its tight location next to the battery. The final piece to the chassis puzzle is a chrome swingarm that shoots off the Cory Ness Jackpot’s left side, the thick bar of chrome adding more luster than the color-matched swingarm of the standard Jackpot.
Its industrial design is needed on the backside, because mounted to the swingarm is a fat 250mm rear wheel wrapped in a Dunlop Elite 3 Tire. To maintain the motorcycle’s balance, Victory had to counter the girth of the back with a 21-inch tall front tire. With 66.3 inches of wheelbase in between the two, it would be reasonable to assume that the handling of the Cory Ness Vegas Jackpot would be sluggish. That’s where I was pleasantly surprised. Turn-in initiates easier than
A 250mm rear tire gives the Ness Jackpot an imposing stance. Better yet, it handles well for a motorcycle with such a wide tire.
anticipated and handling is pretty much point-and-shoot, no easy feat for a motorcycle with a 250mm rear tire and a 21-inch-tall front. The Dunlops provide plenty of grip in the rain, as spring storms greeted us both entering and leaving New Orleans. But the best part is how the wide rear gives the motorcycle character, providing an imposing stance without totally sacrificing handling. And if the fat back doesn’t give the bike attitude, then the black Ness ‘Landshark’ billet wheels do. They’re some of the sharpest looking wheels around, with machined highlights bringing attention to the wheels’ jagged points and edges.
Stopping the 649-lb cruiser is the duty of 300mm floating rotors, one front, one back. A four-piston caliper on the front outshines the dual caliper setup on the back and is less prone to lock up, but in tandem they have no trouble scrubbing off speed. The setup performed admirably in the rain, though pressure I applied to them was slow and even. Braided stainless steel cables provide plenty of feel to the rider and add to the motorcycle’s curb appeal.
And appeal is what this motorcycle is all about. It starts with head-turning paint on the tank, fenders and headlight. Putting it simply, the paint pops. The frame is Pearl White broken by patches of dark Metallic Purple. The purple is broken by Pearl White graphics, and the color combo is the creation of Cory Ness himself. Black Ness Fly Bars place rider’s arms just below shoulder height and out wide. Teamed with forward-placed knurled Ness footpegs, the rider’s triangle provides a comfortable riding position for my six-foot frame. A hand-stitched leather seat and 25.7-inch seat height place riders low enough that windblast doesn’t become a factor until you’re exceeding speed limits. The leather seat has stitching that matches the aggressive graphics woven into the paint and comfort was never an issue, even after three days on the road. The
The Ness Signature Series knurled handgrips were very grippy but the tear drop mirrors offered a limited view.
knurled design of the Ness footpegs and handgrips look hardcore and provide solid grip, while Cory’s tear drop mirrors add to the custom flow of the bike but don’t offer a very wide field of view.
Remember those sharp-looking ‘Landshark’ wheels? Well, the bike’s chrome drive sprocket has the same ‘Landshark’ design as the wheels. The headlight has a new, lightweight housing, and has a custom-inspired design. The one on the Ness Jackpot I rode looks great but was set too low and didn’t project very far in front of me. The new, multiple LED taillight on the other hand was plenty easy to see. The 2009 Cory Ness Jackpot has the model’s signature raised spine running tip to tip on both fenders and down the center of the custom-style scalloped fuel tank. And if that wasn’t enough, chrome touches to the front end, headlight housing, swingarm, exhaust mount, foot controls, housings and braided stainless steel cables set it apart from the standard Vegas Jackpot. Having a metal plate stamped with the bike’s Limited Edition number and a copy of Cory Ness’s signature on it just add to its selling points.
Leave it to forward-thinking Victory to create a factory
custom motorcycle that has plenty of go to go along with its show. To put your personal stamp on the motorcycle, there are 215 accessories available for the Victory Vegas Jackpot, from the performance exhausts I mentioned to heated grips. While the standard 2009 Victory Vegas Jackpot lists for $18, 499, the custom paint, extra chrome, Ness Signature Series accessories, Landshark wheels, and bragging rights that you ride a motorcycle pimped out by none other than Cory Ness runs $6K more with an MSRP of $24,499. Harley-Davidson’s version of the factory custom, its CVO models, starts at $25,299 for the 2009 CVO Fat Bob. Then there are the intangibles, like riding a motorcycle that can make you feel like the King of Mardi Gras as you roll down Bourbon Street, intangibles that riding the Cory Ness Jackpot can elicit.