Victory Motorcycles made a savvy marketing move in 2004. It enlisted the services of the Zen master of custom bike building, Arlen Ness, and his son Cory, an accomplished builder in his own right, and gave them free rein to select two Victory models each year and overhaul them with Ness mojo. For 2010, Arlen selected the street version of the Victory Vision, a cruiser he not only customized for a limited edition production run but a motorcycle I’ve seen him riding personally on more than one occasion. With two days to utilize the bagger as we made our Bike Week rounds, we couldn’t think of a better motorcycle to cruise down Main St. in Daytona Beach. It’s hard not to get noticed when you’re riding a motorcycle with avant-garde styling and custom treatments by master custom bike builder Arlen Ness. The bike is visually striking, with its futuristic-looking
Every year since 2004, Victory has enlisted the services of Arlen and Cory Ness to apply their customizing skills to two of its motorcycles. For 2010, Arlen chose the Victory Vision.
front fairing spreading like large, wind-deflecting wings and side panels that flow seamlessly into the combination faux fuel tank and bridge console while simultaneously sheltering a rider’s legs from windblast . The wide padded leather seat, with four inches of foam padding and lumbar support, sits invitingly between the rounded humps of the hard saddlebags as the swept-back bars disappear into the vast front bodywork. All fasteners, hinges, latches and welds are tucked neatly out of sight. Tall and regal up front and wide and rounded out back, even the distinctive V-shaped taillights add to its unique character.
Like much of the Vision’s engineering, the fairing’s job is two-fold. Besides aesthetics, it conceals the three-piece cast-aluminum frame that lies underneath while supporting the stylish canvas of bodywork. The front fairing not only provides a sweet pocket of rider protection, it also covers the forward-mounted fuel cells mounted high on the frame on both sides of the bars. Situated just below the headlight is a big 11-liter airbox that channels wind through the casting that serves as the bike’s backbone. Its design not only increases the airflow to the engine, but it also cools the oil flow, allowing Victory to use a fairly small oil cooler. You won’t find a downtube either because the engine serves as a stressed member of the frame while supporting the upper casting.
The Freedom 106 cam-driven engine used in the Arlen Ness Victory Vision does an admirable job of propelling the 804-lb (claimed dry weight) motorcycle quickly off the line for a bike its size. Get it into its meaty midrange and the surge is even better. With six gears at the disposal of its constant mesh transmission, by the time it hits sixth gear, the Victory
Victory’s Freedom 106 engine, a 1731cc V-Twin, has no problems launching the big bagger off the line. With styling cues from the Zen master, the Arlen Ness Victory stands out even when sitting still.
Vision settles sweetly into overdrive for plenty of comfortable, low-vibe highway miles. Gear engagement is solid and reliable with a deliberate ‘clunk’ noticeable in the first few gears, but overall it pops into gear noticeably quieter than its American counterpart but not quite as smooth as some of the Japanese competitors. With a 45mm throttle body and four-valves operating within the 101mm bore, fuel delivery from the electronically fed V-Twin is spot-on. The only occasion it became a bit choppy is between 0-1500 rpm in the first two gears. Though we didn’t have an opportunity to put the 2010 version of the Vision’s Freedom 106 on the dyno, our previous test registered power numbers of 84.4 hp at 5300 rpm and 94.9 lb-ft of torque at 3100 rpm. The Vision’s large front fairing and airbox design also cut down some of the engine noise we noticed coming from the mill of the 2010 Victory Cross Country.
It didn’t take long in the saddle to remember how friendly-natured the handling of this big cruiser is. It dips into turns with an ease that belies its size. Its out-of-plane rear suspension allowed Victory to drop the saddle to a low 24.5-inch seat height and a low center of gravity contributes to its nimble feel at the bars. It’s also refreshing to ride a big bagger that isn’t constantly grinding floorboards. On the contrary, the Vision can be tilted at a generous lean angle thanks in part to its healthy 4.8-inches of ground clearance. The motorcycle’s impressive handling is complemented by its well-sorted suspension. The 46mm telescopic fork never reached the bottom of its 5.1-inches of travel during our time in the saddle and in combination with its single spring and constant rate linkage on the rear, the tandem provides a plush ride. Victory makes it easy to regulate the mono-tube air shock for load by installing a pump-adjustable Schrader air valve within the left saddlebag.
Where else can you cruise along the beach but Daytona? White sand, the smell of salty sea in the air, and plenty of sunshine add up to rider nirvana.
The Arlen Ness Victory Vision features a linked braking that provides much better feel than the company’s standard package. It’s linked one way, back to front, and only engages when you need it the most during heavy braking. A little more bite from the dual 300mm floating discs with its 3-piston calipers would be beneficial, but the rear’s 300mm floating rotor with a 2-piston caliper helps compensate. Victory offers ABS for its Vision Tour, but it’s not an option yet for the Arlen Ness version.
Though not exclusively a touring bike, the Arlen Ness Victory Vision is decked out with enough touring amenities that it easily can be loaded up for a long haul. Capacious hard saddlebags, a push-button adjustable windscreen, cruise control and a six-gallon tank mean it’s more than equipped for highway miles. The cockpit is attractively layed out with its easy-to-read analog speedo and tach sitting just below one’s line of sight. You also can’t miss the large digital gear indicator smack dab between the two. An odometer, two trip meters, a clock, trip riding time, air temp, average speed, current mpg, average mpg, and fuel range remaining complete a cool list of instrumentation. Big mirrors integrate cleanly into the cockpit and provide a great field of view. Controls for the Vision’s audio system are built into the bridge console on the back of the tank, but volume and system toggles and push buttons for its electronically controlled windscreen are conveniently located on the left handgrip. The right handlebar houses the bike’s cruise control and is easily operable with gloved hands. The knurled hand controls come straight from the Ness collection are some of the grippiest around.
You’ll find Arlen’s influence everywhere on the bike. Its big V-Twin is decked out with diamond-cut heads and billet engine covers. The Vision’s custom wheels, knurled hand
The 2010 Arlen Ness Victory Vision was the perfect bike for cruising around and even on Daytona Beach during Bike Week.
and foot controls, and custom-stitched leather seat have also been given the Ness touch. Throw in custom tribal graphics and a paint scheme designed by the man as well and you’ve got the makings of a production bike that’s the next best thing to a one-off custom built by the hands of the master himself.
The limited-edition Arlen Ness Victory Vision is the total cruising package – striking good looks and big power in a bike with rider-friendly handling that’s loaded with touring amenities. And while attaching Arlen Ness’ name to a bike could sell bikes by itself, Victory didn’t settle for that. The 2010 Arlen Ness Victory Vision is injected with the best technology the Minnesota-based manufacturer offers, and runs as good as it looks.