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2009 Victory Motorcycles First Ride

Monday, November 17, 2008
I think we missed the turnoff to Hollister a few miles back!!
Ten years. Almost 50,000 motorcycles on the road. Not bad for what started as a small subsidiary out of Minnesota.
When the first Victory V92C debuted at Planet Hollywood in Minnesota’s Mall of America in 1997, who would have thought that a small subsidiary of Polaris Industries would be a bona-fide contender in the American V-Twin cruiser market in 2008? But lo and behold, ten years and almost 50,000 motorcycles later and Victory continues to crank ‘em out, making a name for itself by not being satisfied with the status quo. Just as its Freedom Engine has evolved from square cylinders and a sump to rounded cylinders and a small oil cooler to the new 1731cc beast that debuted this year, so has continued the evolution of the small offshoot from Minnesota. Victory shook up the luxury-touring scene last year with the introduction of its distinctive Vision Tour and Street motorcycles, and continues to carve its niche with clean, contemporary cruisers and touring bikes.

So when the invitation arrived to check out the 15 new models in the 2009 Victory lineup in Del Mar, CA, who are we to say no? True, of those 15, only one was a brand new bike, the Kingpin Low. But the list includes a limited edition 10th Anniversary Victory Vision Tour model, two new bikes styled by custom gurus Arlen and Cory Ness, and three motorcycles sporting the new engine, the Freedom 106.

Seeing as how the Vegas and Kingpin lines received the new powerplant, lighter wheels, and new lights fore and aft, we penciled them in as the bikes we would most like to spend time on. Sure, the new Freedom 106 is claimed to put out 14% more horsepower with its Stage 2 Cams, but how does that feel at the throttle? Is it all marketing fluff, or does
Cory Ness lent his designing chops to this 2009 Vegas Jackpot  including signature Ness handgrips and mirrors  a special monochromatic custom paint scheme and wicked  Landshark  wheels.
Cory Ness lent his designing chops to this 2009 Vegas Jackpot, including signature Ness handgrips and mirrors, a special monochromatic custom paint scheme and wicked 'Landshark' wheels.
the new mill provide more pop? Inquiring minds want to know, so MotorcycleUSA set out to give Victory’s claims some seat-of-the pants testing.

Our first ride of the day is the 2009 Hammer. Big pipes, big tire, big engine. It only takes a quick glance to realize why it is considered a muscle cruiser. The rear end is anchored by a black swath of Dunlop rubber. The 250mm-wide Dunlop Elite 3 is showcased beneath a short, wide rear fender that’s cut high and away from the tire. The cylinders on the Freedom 106/6 V-Twin stand tall and look powerful within the bike’s A-frame. V-shaped handlebars invite you to climb on and give it a rev. A short, color-matched front fender cups a tall 18-inch front Stingray wheel with dual 300mm floating rotors waiting at the ready to put a stop to the action. Dual staggered slash-cut exhaust chrome-up the right side nicely.

Hopping on board, I give the clutch lever a firm squeeze and thumb the electric starter. The Hammer thrums to life as dual 45mm throttle bodies are electronically-fed into healthy 101mm cylinders. The dual exhaust barks with each twist of the throttle and sends familiar vibrations through my body. The pipes are loud but not overpowering, and the engine idles with nominal vibes.

I drop the 6-speed constant mesh transmission into first gear and give the Hammer a handful of throttle. Response is almost instantaneous and I have to give the grips a tight squeeze to counter the impressive lurch off the line. I rev first
The 2009 Victory Hammer benefits from the bigger Freedom 106 engine with more power off the line.
It's Hammer time! The 2009 Victory Hammer gets a boost in torque from the new Freedom 106 engine, with claimed output at 113 lb-ft.
gear out to almost 45mph until redline approaches. The transmission shifts smoothly as I kick it into second and wind it out until reaching almost 70mph. The pull is strong and even and tops out at a claimed 4000rpm, but not before dishing out its prodigious 113 lb-ft of torque.

The motorcycle feels right at home on the highways of Southern California. But once we leave the valley and start to climb the mountains in between the coast and Borrego Springs, the heft of the 250mm tire becomes apparent. The Hammer turns-in without much effort, but the inside handlebar requires constant pressure in the turns to maintain the bike’s arc. It does, after all, still carry a claimed 669 lbs of dry weight around, and the combination of mass in motion and a big tire mean that the motorcycle prefers being upright over leaning. Victory has actually trimmed the weight of the Hammer down by 11 lbs from the 2008 model. Most of this is achieved by virtue of its new Stingray wheels. Hollowed-out hubs and spokes help shave off 15.9 lbs, as a manageable 18-inch front teams with the 8.5-inch-wide meaty backside.

Traveling north on Hwy 79 towards Julian, the road begins to climb and curves become more frequent. The Hammer effortlessly powers up the grade. I throttle up between turns before confidently grabbing a handful of front brakes as the 4-piston caliper setup bites hard on dual 300mm discs. On a long straight, I mash the pedal to the rear. The 2-piston caliper, single 300mm disc on the rear locks up easier than expected and I leave a black rubber snake on the pavement from my fishtail. This scenario would again be played out on the freeway and confirmed that the confidence I have in the front brakes does not parlay to the rear.

"If I felt like a hooligan on the Hammer, the Hammer S only magnified my malevolence."

The combination of forward-mounted foot controls, the pull-back of the V-shaped handlebars, and 26.5-inch seat height place riders in an aggressive riding position with weight tipped slightly forward. Sitting upright with a claimed 97 hp at your disposal, the bike fosters muscle car attitude. The new Freedom 106 is potent. The styling is hot, from the tribal graphics tattooed on its Sunset Red paint job to its broad scalloped tank to its butch fenders. And though the rear tire isn’t the sharpest handling, it’s almost worth the trade off for the muscular stance the 250mm rear adds to the overall package.

Can you see how Victory claims it looked toward American muscle cars for inspiration in the styling of the Hammer S
The 2009 Hammer S has a Shelby Cobra-style race stripe and X-Factor wheels to go along with its new mill.
And if I felt like a hooligan on the Hammer, the Hammer S only magnified my malevolence. Victory pulled the white racing stripes off a Shelby Cobra and ran them down the middle of the Hammer S’s Boardwalk blue tank, fenders, and headlight. It also has the best-looking wheels of Victory’s 2009 lot, the blue X-Factor wheels. The hub and spokes of the trick wheels have been cored out and extend from the hub in an X-pattern. The new spinners are claimed to be 16.8-lbs lighter than the ones on the ’08 Hammer, a difference Victory emphasized during its presentation by handing us a 16.8-lb dumbbell that took two hands to be passed around. But the extra coolness of the Hammer S doesn’t come without a price. The competition racing stripes and custom wheels means you can tack a grand onto the Hammer’s $17,499 MSRP for the super-sporty Hammer S.

Climbing off the Hammer S and onto the 2009 Kingpin Tour, the increased pull of Victory’s new powerplant is immediately apparent. The Kingpin Tour continues to utilize Victory’s standard 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin, and though it has the same 45mm throttle bodies and EFI, its six millimeter-shorter stroke and lower 8.7:1 compression ratio can really be felt at the throttle. Don’t get me wrong, though. The Freedom 100 has been tuned so that the Kingpin Tour gets the most out of it, and delivery is linear and powerful. But the claimed 12 extra horsepower and the seven extra lb-ft of torque give the new mill more character down low.

And while there was noticeably less pull than with the new engine, the Kingpin Tour handles much smoother in the turns despite weighing even more than the Hammer, tipping the scales dry at 728 lbs. The 18-inch tall/130mm-wide arrangement on the front and the 18-inch/180mm set-up on the rear make turn-in much easier. The rider-friendly front suspension dips in nicely until the sound of scraping floorboards let you know that you’ve reached the tipping point.
The 2009 Kingpin Tour comes with a leather topcase and saddlebags  chrome engine crash guards  and ample floorboards.
The 2009 Kingpin Tour I rode came with a leather topcase and saddlebags, chrome engine crash guards, a windscreen and ample floorboards.
The conversion of the Kingpin to a touring package includes the addition of a stylish leather topcase and leather saddlebags, floorboards, fender trim, a windscreen and a touring passenger seat with backrest. The bags aren’t oversized, but still provide a claimed storage capacity of 22.2 gallons. The topcase will easily hold a full-face helmet. The motorcycle could benefit from a few more techno touring goodies, like a rider/passenger communication system and a nav system. But, after all, a little room’s got to be left for a trip to the ever-expanding Victory accessories catalog.

And while the Hammer brings the beef, the Kingpin defines itself with more classic lines, showcased by its sweeping flared fenders. The floorboards for both rider and passenger offer a more laid-back ride while a heel/toe shifter add more of a classic vibe. Throw in a two-tone paint job where the Pearl White scalloped recesses of the 4.5-gallon tank contrast the Midnight Cherry splashed on the top of the tank and you’ve got one sharp-looking touring-cruiser. The two-tone paint also directs a lot of attention toward the signature swooping fenders. The bike doesn’t have the full complement of luxury-touring goodies but it doesn’t have the heft and heavy-handling either, and stickers for a little less with a MSRP of $18,399.

My time spent on the Kingpin Tour ended with a lunch break in Borrego Springs. I hitched a leg over the 2009 Vegas Jackpot just in time to sample the funnest leg of the trip, a serious combination of elevation gains and switchbacks overlooking vertical cliffs. The Vegas Jackpot has also received the new Victory Freedom 106, and the extra power is welcome as the road gets more vertical.

Cresting the mountain and dropping down the other side, I notice the exhaust note booming off the monolithic rocks is richer and deeper. And despite running the same engine as the Hammer, the motorcycle feels even livelier at the
The Black Turn Down Exhaust add pizzazz to the blacked-out Victory 8-Balls.
Victory aftermarket exhausts, like this set of Black Turn Down pipes, not only boost output but sound incredible as well.
throttle. At the next pull-out I learn that the bike has Victory’s Stage 1 performance exhausts which provide a claimed boost of about eight ponies and 6 lb-ft of torque. And though I didn’t have a dyno to test said claims, it was a noticeable difference between the two motorcycles with the same engine, akin to a Harley-Davidson CVO model decked out with a Screamin’Eagle performance package. You could feel the pipes when you ripped open the throttle. Of course, this translated to more vibrations through the handlebars, but if I was going to buy a Victory, I’d make sure it had a set of these pipes on it.

And despite the fact that the ’09 Vegas Jackpot is running with the same 250mm rear Dunlop Elite 3 as the Hammer, the Jackpot felt more stable while cornering. At 25.7-inches high, its seat height is almost an inch shorter and it weighs in 20-lbs lighter, all factors that contribute to its easier-handling nature. It runs the same 43mm telescopic front fork up front, but has a custom-style 21-inch tall front Stingray-style wheel that Victory has cropped a whopping 17.8 lbs off of in comparison to last year’s wheels. With the rider sitting more in the bike and the powerfull drivetrain spinning lighter wheels, the 2009 Vegas Jackpot has just the right blend of power and handling for hours of grin-inducing riding.

The Vegas Jackpot is in Victory’s class of custom cruisers, identifiable by its tip-to-tail raised spine that runs down both fenders and the center of the scalloped tank. The frame, swingarm, and fenders are all color-matched, and though professing to not being a fan of green, the Lucky Lime and extreme graphic combo in combo with the fatty rear and sharp Stingray wheels are custom-quality. Ownership will set you back $18,499, and if you’re going to throw down this kind of dough, take my advice and get the Stage 1 pipes. You’ll be happy you did.

The limited-edition 10th Anniversary Vision Touring motorcycles sold out in less than ten minutes.
The limited-edition 10th Anniversary Vision Touring motorcycles sold out in less than ten minutes. It looks striking with its Antares Red paint and Black Metallic trim.
Last, but far from least, I got an opportunity to spin the wheels on the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Victory Vision Tour. This is a limited-edition motorcycle that sold out of its 100 units in just over seven minutes. In this version, Victory pimped out its Victory Vision luxury-touring bike with anniversary badging, added chrome accents in just about every nook possible, and upgraded the list of techno goodies to include GPS, XM, and CB.

The 10th Anniversary Victory Vision is powered by its own version of the Freedom 106 engine that is tuned a little differently than the 106 in the Hammer models. The engine remains the same as last year’s, but the mufflers get a boost from a set of Gatlin exhaust tips. Every little bit helps when you’re launching an 850-lb motorcycle off the line. And while the Gatlin tips are a nice touch, the inclusion of reverse is probably the best thing about the new luxo-tourer. It is a feature that is optional in all 2009 Victory Visions but comes standard in the anniversary edition.

It was a pleasure to ride the Vision again. The bike handles much better than you’d expect from looking at the size of it. The engine is very soulful, and puts out 94.9 lb-ft of torque at 3100 rpm and 84.4 hp at 5300 rpm on our dyno in last year’s test. The powerband is broad, never dipping below 90 lb-ft until 4800 rpm. In stop-and-go situations, you become aware of the motorcycle’s bulk, but it holds its line impressively when leaned over at speed.

In its ten-year tenure, Victory Motorcycles has set its standards high. It stakes a claim to the highest customer satisfaction scores the last four years running. To keep those consumers coming back during uncertain economic times, Victory’s V-P, Mark Blackwell said that “Victory will ride out the current economic crisis by delivering quality, value, and making sure our customers are satisfied.” Testing the waters of the global market is also an avenue for potential profits. Retail sales for the Minnesota-based company in the UK are said to be up 90%, and Victory is looking into expanding into Germany. It also has a company-owned store in Melbourne that will soon be joined by dealers in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. Victory has made a name for itself these first ten years by offering an alternative to the traditional American V-Twin. It will be fun to see how it continues to reinvent itself and compete in the decade to come.

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The 2009 Hammer has an aggressive arms-forward riding position.

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Jeremiah -Never Again  August 5, 2010 01:03 PM
I have a smoking hot 2009 Hammer S that is a huge lemon. Took over a a year of trying to get help from the dealership and Polaris directly and they can’t figure out what is wrong with their own motorcycle. Having owned a HD, Honda and BMW, all bought new, I will never buy Polaris ANYTHING again.
T.J.Rap -Harley Owner  March 7, 2010 06:32 PM
Have a 01 fat boy Girl friend rides a Suzuki,ride them both my Fatboy rocks but i'm looking to get a Cross Roads looks so sweet can't wait to test ride one.....Get back let you all know what i think....later...
Old Combat Vet -Biker for 32 years  January 20, 2010 05:32 PM
Bought a Mean Streak new in 2007. It was a 2006 Special Edition. Paid $10,000 and added a few custom touches. It has it's fluids changed when their supposed to be and I keep it clean. It also has 30,000 miles on the odometer that include plenty of gravel roads. I was offered $6,500 trade in value by the local Victory dealer today if I want to trade. That's over 60% of my original purchase for a 4 year old bike. The days are over for those who expect a decent resale value based entirely on a manufacturer. I think that the value of any bike today depends more upon how you take care of it than it does whose name you're sporting on it.
Lone Wolf Thor -Valkyrie Dragon  January 14, 2010 10:55 AM
For those of you who don't know the Valkyrie does have stamped on it's motor "Made in the USA" Ohio to be exact. AND it is a muscle cruiser. Also, it will go pretty much 150,000 to 200,00 miles with just keeping up with the oil changes. How many of you can claim that?

Now for all of you Harley and Victory guys who think that your bikes are 100 percent American made, wake up and smell the coffee. DO a little research and you will find out the wiring is Japanese, not to mention many other components as well. And then to top it off, how many of you maybe add, different grips, highway pegs, etc. Yep, pretty much all Japanese as well. So get over yourselfs folks. Just remember the bike doesn't make the man....the man makes the bike. What matters is that you ride and you ride free.....
gary -vic owner  November 28, 2009 07:42 AM
Own a hammer, love it, best thing about it, it doest leave oil spots on my garage floor!
bret luyet -harleys american made?  November 20, 2009 08:54 PM
harleys arent all american made anymore,llok up the facts before you make a statement about american built
orangmiskin -nice  October 23, 2009 09:39 PM
nice ride ..hope i can have it someday :)
GB -skeeter  October 16, 2009 04:50 PM
what a fool you are. you have no knowledge of motorcycles or riding except what the "moco" (aka madison avenue) tells you. so go back to your hole and put your little village people harley outfit on and remember to give that little secret "V" sign to all you butt riding buddies. you are pathetic.
Skeeter -Harley-Davidson  October 9, 2009 08:54 PM
All of you guys are just so JEALOUS of Harley riders. It really amazes me! You are a bunch of foolish yuppies that feel inferior. We don't want to wave at you in your stupid looking full face helmets, and we don't want you drinking in our bars. Go somewhere that plays Barry Manilow, and serve vegi-wraps and Perrier! It's time to get over the fact that we kicked your a**es in high school.
c.l. hale -re: Victory Motorcycles  September 25, 2009 06:16 PM
I've never ridden A Victory----any model. I've owned more than a few Harley's. I have nothing to do all day but to look up bikes on the computer and wish that I could ride another American Made bike down the road again. (Paraplegic) Just want to let people out there know that ANY American made bike is better than the alternative.
There is a big difference between Fast and CLASS!!!!
Jeffrey -Jackpot front suspension  August 20, 2009 07:59 PM
I think there's an error in the Jackpot specs. Unless I'm reading this wrong, it says inverted forks on the Jackpot which pics and Victory's website seem to disagree with.
matt -victory play time in wisconsin  July 26, 2009 08:24 PM
you can have the best of both worlds. i have the hammer, fun bike but not good for long trips. so hang on ,i took the jackpot rear fender added the jackpot touring seat and bam! i got the best of performance and handling. add on the ness pull back handle bars and now i have a jackhammer and does that turn heads..
Allen -Victory Hammer  June 29, 2009 06:24 PM
Being American made is a bonus. I bought my 09 Hammer for the same reason I ought my Meanstreak. They are a blast to ride. The Hammer is a torque monster. Harley had to get the Germans to build a bike that could compete with it.
toolman -victory  June 21, 2009 12:58 PM
i have riden bikes for over 26 yrs ive had sportster,vulcans,magnas i just purchased my first victory kingpin 8ball 09 , awesome tour cruiser powerfull and comfortable. there is a definate diff all american made is shown in the workmanship of this bike. keep it usa and you will know the diff.
toolman -victory  June 21, 2009 12:48 PM
if your an american you should want to support american made quality not foreign, victory or harley thats the way.
Misty -IF you know where I can get a bag or lunch bag  June 8, 2009 06:57 PM
email me at mistygrl24@yahoo.ca
Misty -Bag  June 8, 2009 06:52 PM
Can anyone tell me where I can get an ordinary shopping bag with the word "Victory" on it (from the motorbikes of course) or even a lunch bag.
wtdub -victory  June 6, 2009 04:27 PM
Did the rice burner tour, tried the harley,bought a kingpin end of story!
andy gb -victory hammer s 2009  May 22, 2009 07:53 AM
just in the process of buying one think there the tops dealers are 100 % customer driven and got a great deal on after market bits.
Woody -Victory or Harley?  May 19, 2009 11:03 AM
I have ridden a few Harley's Hammer and a Vegas! I must say I cannot find a reason to buy any of the Harley's even the Rocker but did like them before I rode the Victory's the Hammer is nice but the Vegas is the one no contest.
Boris the great - John Little comment  April 23, 2009 09:31 PM
i like some of the victory models , some harley models aThey all have the heart, soul and mystique, that only american bikes can bring to the table. as for soul .... I'l ride a triumph rocket anyday
Red Dog -Say what????  April 22, 2009 07:03 PM
Why would I pay 10-12k for a basic Harley when I can get a fully loaded import for less than 9 grand? Or a nicely loaded BMW or Victory for 4-5 grand less than a comparable harley? The only thing harley has is it's name. If the came out with them today, NOBODY would buy them.
John Little -Harley riders  April 12, 2009 12:06 AM
I own Harleys and i love them. I own a few victory bikes as well. I love them.I collect custom choppers as well , and I love them for the art. They are all American made machines... They all have the heart, soul and mystique, that only american bikes can bring to the table.
Disgruntled -Even Victory dont think their bikes are worth much  April 11, 2009 09:51 PM
bought a hammer new, in 2005, paid 18k for it. Was told how they will keep their value?...Yeah, B.S.!!! 2009 now and looked into 4 dealers for a trade in and ALL offered around $6500.00...thats 2 grand less than even blue book or nada trade in value, not to mention thats an almost 12k loss of value in only 4yrs. If you want to get took BIGTIME!, go ahead, buy one. Victory dealers are nothing but a bunch of money theiving Ho's !!!
RMH -Harley H.P.  April 5, 2009 04:15 PM
44 HP per litre is the HP Harleys make. My VMax Makes around a 100 HP per litre. End of argument
Ken -Made in USA  March 22, 2009 04:23 AM
Good bikes, Tried the hammer, did not like it.Maybe I would have like the king pin better. I just don't think they are for me.
Nick -to HWA(Sigh)  March 18, 2009 05:51 AM
You are the reason I ride a Victory you idiot. What part of Made in the USA do have a problem with?
HWA -(Sigh)  March 13, 2009 01:47 PM
To all the Victory guys out there. Just remember: " There's only two kinds of Riders: Harley Riders and those that wish they were"
GB -Vic owner for life.  March 11, 2009 05:49 PM
the most fun ya can have with your clothes on!!!
MJC -Victory Motorcycles #1  December 17, 2008 04:33 PM
HELL YA! Go get 'em Victory! I have had two Vics now and I will be a life long Vic rider! American made, bad to the bone, quality built and NOT a Harley!