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2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball First Ride

Monday, October 25, 2010
Victory Motorcycles broke the staid classic cruiser mold when it introduced its Vision Street and Tour models in 2008. American V-Twin manufacturers weren’t known for taking risks or forging full-steam ahead with a man the torpedoes and damn the consequences attitude. But Victory isn’t afraid to take risks.

The 2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball comes in a sharp-looking black finish to go along with a blacked-out 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin.
The 2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball comes in a sharp-looking black finish to go along with its blacked-out 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin.
Vision is an appropriate name for it because it is a vision to behold. The angular front fairing spreads like the wings of a Stealth bomber and converges at the large prism of a headlight. Below it, the fairing lowers draw a sharp line down its front while shielding rider’s legs from wind and debris. Viewed from the side, the bodywork tapers down and back before meeting at the V-shaped taillights. The tank and side panels follow the same smooth, rounded contours of the saddlebags like two waves in an oncoming set.

Below the gloss of the panels is a three-piece cast aluminum frame with a tall 50-degree V-Twin pulling double duties as a downtube in its role as a stressed member of the frame. A large void between the bottom of the front fairing and fender vacuums up air and forces it through the casting that serves as the backbone as the 11-liter airbox cools both engine and oil. Blacked-out bars seem to come from nowhere. Love it or leave it, people can’t take their eyes off it. The Vision never fails to be a conversation starter.

It’s easy to see how the 2011 Victory Vision gets its 8-Ball designation. A black finish covers all fairings, fenders and bodywork. No diamond-cut fins here as the 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin is also blacked-out. The treatment extends to its Roulette wheels, 18 inches up front and 16 out back, which are wrapped in a dark swath of Dunlop Elite 3 rubber and are complemented by black brake calipers and rotor mounts. Floorboards, handlebars, passenger grab bars – ditto, black. Only a few select covers and long chrome pipes prevent it from being able to disappear into the dark of night.

The Victory Vision stands out in a crowd thanks to its distinctive bodywork.
The Victory Vision 8-Ball stands out in a crowd thanks to its distinctive bodywork.
At first glance, the 2011 Vision 8-Ball looks identical to previous iterations. But upon closer inspection, slight revisions divulge themselves. The heel-toe shifter has been replaced by a standard floorboard shifter. The old passenger floorboards have been swapped out for foot pegs. The side crash guards formerly mounted below the saddlebags are gone. The model we tested had no audio system so the cheap, plastic-looking switch housings that were suspended below the bars on prior models are adios as well. Last of all, the sidestand now has more of a hook design and is easier to deploy.

Throwing a leg over the saddle and kicking that new sidestand up, one of the first things a rider will be cognizant of is the 24.5-inch low seat height. The motorcycle looks big and does carry a lot of mass, a claimed 800 pounds of dry weight in fact, so dropping the seat low allows riders to firmly plant both feet on the ground at a stop. It also drops the center of gravity as you sit comfortably in the bike behind the wide front fairing with a relaxed reach to the bars, a fact that contributes to its neutral handling characteristics as well.

Our 10 day, three state tour on the 2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball began in the high desert around Grand Junction, Colorado. A romp through the sweeping turns of red-rocked canyons provides an excellent testing ground for the merits of the Vision 8-Ball’s chassis. The motorcycle, with its 4.8-inches of ground clearance, is capable of generous amounts of lean before scraping a floorboard. Tilted over, the Vision is rock-steady through the turns, a testament to the proper balance of low seat height, a generous 65.7-inch wheelbase and a capable 180mm rear tire. It is surprisingly agile for a bike you’d assume would be unwieldy based solely on aesthetics. But riders can confidently attack tight turns on the Vision 8-Ball without fear of repercussions because its handling for a cruiser is definitely one of the motorcycle's strong points.

Its Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 V-Twin also leaves a favorable impression. Victory sources its 1731cc powerplant across the board now, with a Stage 1 V-Twin equipped with lumpier cams mounted in Victory cruisers while the Stage 2 propels its touring-minded models. The undersquare mill is good for a claimed 92 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. The tried-and-true Victory arrangement utilizes single overhead camshafts with self-adjusting cam chains and hydraulic lifters. At idle, the four-stroke V-Twin vibrates with a hearty lumping character. Twist the throttle and open up the dual 45mm throttle bodies and the engine has a wide spread of power, capably pulling from as low as 1500 rpm. Hitting the open straights of I-70 across Colorado, the Vision 8-Ball cruises along at 85 mph with the tach sitting steady at 3200 rpm. Crossing the Vail Pass with an altitude of 10,600 feet, opening up the throttle to climb the challenging grade is necessary and the altitude leans it out a tad but the electronic fuel injection system never bogs. On the contrary, cars and trucks are left in my wake as they struggle with the angle of ascension. The most notable demerit we find with the mill is the calf-roasting heat it emits, despite the voluminous airbox and the combination air/oil cooler.

Though touted as a cruiser motorcycle  we found the Victory Vision 8-Ball to be a very capable touring mount as well. We got to sample what the Vision 8-Balls got in top gear at mid- to high rpm across the wide open plains of Wyoming.
Though touted as a cruiser motorcycle, we found the 2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball to be a very capable touring mount as well as we made our way across Colorado and Wyoming on our way to Sturgis for the 70th anniversary Black Hills Rally.
Besides equipping all of its motorcycles with the Freedom 106 engine, the other major development in the Victory camp for 2011 is its revamped tranny. Victory has instituted a "hi-lo dog/pocket" design, aimed at offering smoother engagement and decreasing driveline lash. They’ve also redesigned the shift forks for better durability, the bearings are larger and gear-sets are wider in 4th and 6th gears. Helical gears in all but 5th and new gear tooth counts have been instituted to reduce whine and make for a quieter ride. And in some areas, they have been successful. Less mechanical noise, especially in lower gears, is noticeable. Engagement is solid and smoother than before, albeit still less refined than some of the Japanese competitors, and we did experience a couple of false neutrals between first and second gear. The new tranny also features a centrifugal Neutral Selection Assist, a handy feature at stoplights, but popping it into first from neutral at times requires more than one kick.

Fortunately, there is no kick in the pants from the Vision 8-Ball’s suspension. Ride quality is smooth thanks to a 46mm telescopic fork with a healthy 5.1-inches of travel. A single spring with constant-rate linkage on the rear with 3.65-inches of give is easy to dial in for rider weight and load thanks to a pump-adjustable Schrader air valve located in the left

Old meets new as the futuristic styling of the 2011 Vision 8-Ball contrasts with the aging brick building of this art deco theater.
saddlebag. The plush suspension, along with one of the most comfortable factory saddles around and a buffer against wind blast provided by the low windshield and wide front fairing leave me feeling refreshed even after a 450-mile ride. I never feel like I’ve been wrestling with an 800-plus pound bike all day. Ergos are spot-on for my six-foot frame and the saddle offers good support for the lower back. Ample-sized floorboards allow riders to easily shift their weight or stretch their legs out on long runs.

The 2011 Vision 8-Ball sources proprietary Victory brakes. Dual discs up front with 300mm floating rotors and three-piston calipers are assisted by a single 300mm floating rotor with a twin-pot arrangement on the back. The rear is hydraulically linked to the front brakes and work in two ways. Light braking with the rear pedal engages only the rear brake, but when the foot control is pumped hard in moderate to full-braking situations, the rear gets an assist by the front. The hand lever has moderate feel and a progressive bite, adequate in most situations. Together, the system reliably brings the action to a halt in a controlled manner.

The Victory Vision 8-Ball’s cockpit features an easy-to-read analog speedo and tach sitting just below a rider’s line of
2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball Gear Bag
sight. All the necessary readouts are present - odometer, trip meters, clock, and fuel gauge. Blue backlights highlight the gauges well and make them easily visible at night. The mirrors are large, provide a great field of view and integrate cleanly into the front fairing. Though it’s not a full-on touring bike, a healthy six-gallon tank and saddlebags give riders the option to hit the open road if they so desire. Stops between fill-ups are infrequent as we generally topped off at around a quarter of a tank and it only required four stops to travel 1000 miles while we arrived at our final destination, Sturgis, with about half a tank. The saddlebags, though they look big, are narrow and offer limited storage capacity. But the Vision 8-Ball is marketed as a cruiser, not a luxury touring motorcycle.

Styling is subjective, but in our eyes the 8-Ball treatment on the Vision is the most complementary to date. Its glossy black look suits its 21st century styling well. Throw in a thumping engine tuned for plenty of low-down torque with surprisingly rider-friendly handling in a cruiser with excellent range and an ultra-comfy saddle and its $17,999 MSRP is a little easier to swallow.
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2011 Victory Vision 8-BallSpecifications
Engine: Four-stroke 50-degree V-Twin
Cooling: Air / oil
Displacement:106 ci / 1731 cc
Bore x Stroke: 101 x 108 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.4 : 1
Fueling: EFI w/dual 45mm throttle body
Fuel Capacity: 6.0 gal 
Exhaust: Split dual exhaust with crossover
Oil Capacity: 5.0 qts / 4.75 ltr 
Primary Drive: Gear drive with torque compensator
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission:Six-speed overdrive constant mesh
Final Drive: Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt
Length: 103.5 inch
Wheelbase: 65.7 inch
Seat Height: 24.5 inch
Ground Clearance: 4.8 inch
Rake/Trail: 29.0 degrees / 5.6 in 
Dry Weight (claimed): 800
Front Suspension: Telescopic fork, 46 mm diameter, 5.1 inches travel
Rear Suspension: Single cast aluminum with constant-rate linkage, 3.65 inches travel
Front: Dual 300mm floating rotors w/ four-piston calipers
Rear: 300mm floating rotor w/ two-piston caliper
Front Wheel: 18 x 3.0 in
Rear Wheel: 16 x 5.0 in
Front Tire: 130/70R18 Dunlop Elite 3
Rear Tire: 180/60R16 Dunlop Elite 3
Colors: Solid Black
 MSRP: $17,999

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Victory Rider -Nice bike  November 8, 2010 04:03 PM
I tip my hat to Victory. Unlike Harley Davidson who seems to be unable to produce a new model, Victory comes ahead with new styling and technology that leaves HD in the back seat. I chose a Victory because of the styling and the dealer really wanted to please me. When I stopped at the Harley dealer (2 of them) I was treated like shit. The salesman looked like 2 morons with there long hair and tattoos. The Harley group was more interested in selling me a performance kit and leather bags etc than the actual motorcycle. I could not believe the crowd hanging out at the Harley dealer. A bunch of idiots in the parking lot reeving there weak motors without mufflers seeing who could make the most noise. I could not get out of there fast enough and I am glad I bought my 8 Ball.
Larry Crockett -professor long-term rider  November 7, 2010 02:52 AM
As a 2010 owner of a Vision 8-ball, I think there are several mis-statements in the review. Mine has no heel-toe shifter and I prefer it that way since I can make full use of the long boards. The 8-ball does not come with a radio, but on mine it can be added. The engine picture above must be a stock photo of a non-8-ball, since it is not blacked out. I'm sorry to hear the tip system is gone--that is one reason I bought it and it has not been a problem. As the owner of 4 bikes, including a Gold Wing, this bike is my favorite overall. Yes, I wish it had the smoother engine and transmission of the '11, and I had to do lots of upgrades (cruise control, wind deflectors, electric windshield, backrest/rack, grips, etc.), but it is remarkable blend of cruising and touring capabilies—much more manageable than the Tour, which I rode. It is tough looking, gets lots of looks, handles very well, and growls menacingly, which is what you want in a cruiser, yet all I have to is throw on my bag on the rack to head off on an-interstate tour with my wife. It eats miles nearly as well as my Gold Wing and has better fairing protection to boot. People who disparage the Vision in general or the 8-ball in particular without spending lots of time on one are judging prematurely. This is one fine motorcycle.
steveinsandiego -8-ball vision  November 3, 2010 07:28 AM
no heel/toe shifter? pleeeeeze. heck,i want one on my ninja 650r. :)
Mike in WV -Milwaukee Mike is a Moron  November 2, 2010 01:25 PM
Milwaukee Mike is a moron and a poser. He constantly makes idiotic refferences to "real bikers" and "metrics" and in fact, has avoided every opportunity to objectively explain the superiority of SAE over metric. As far as real bikers...if you call a guy decked out head to toe in HD leather and accessories and rides bar to bar so he can chum up with other pirates, then you're right moron, I must not be a real biker...because I've riden a bike most of my life and my leathers are the color of ash from years of rain, sun and bugs. My bikes have more miles in 6 months than 90% of the HD's for sale in the local papers and cycle trader. See...Milwaukee Moron won't talk about things like HD threatening to move production out of WI, even possibly out of country, or the fact they have layed off hundreds of employees and frozen wages for 7 years. That's really something to be proud of isn't it moron? Tell ya what moron...climb back into that knotty pine waterbed with your HD sheets and pillow cases, HD fleece bedspread and turn off the light of that HD lamp shaped out of a RoadKing...close your eyes and dream of the day HD can make a bike as good as a Victory. It has to be a dream moron because until HD invests in some new technology and design, everyone else is leaving them behind...Victory is converting pirates every day...HD can't say that.
Nick -Always good for a laugh  October 31, 2010 08:28 PM
Funny how Milwaukee Mike puts the "real" in "'real' bikers" in quotation marks.

It's a good thing there are products out there for sale to assure other people and ourselves about our masculinity. Because, otherwise, how would they know?
milwaukee mike -Bozo bike  October 30, 2010 03:11 PM
But some people like that kind of thing. I'm quite sure more "real" bikers prefer a more "traditional" style,....but if your willing to risk ridicule,.....go ride with (gay) pride.
daryla -love the 8-ball  October 29, 2010 11:05 PM
i like the 8-ball version.
it looks good in black and rides like a dream.
the bags are bigger than you think and with a pair of thunder
sticks this thing sounds awsome...
you can add the rear tip over protection if you want the front is still on the bike...
Cliff -Sign me up!  October 29, 2010 10:53 AM
This bike appeals to me for a few different reasons. If anything, it's different than what you see on the street every day. Those of us that don't want to be part of the "me too" crowd tend to go for that kind of thing. Whether or not you *like* the styling as a motorcycle, you can't deny that it's a work of art. The balance of curves and hard lines is amazing. It actually flows in such a way that your eye is ultimately drawn to the engine... a very slick trick. The Vision 8-Ball WILL BE my next bike, which is saying something when you consider I ride a 1200cc sportbike right now.
Mitch -Scooble. Strat & X-Coutnry Franken-bagger  October 29, 2010 08:34 AM
I've said before if they could find a way to put that monster Yamaha mill in a Cross Country chassis You would have arguably the best performing/handling production v-twin bagger out there.
Scoobie -buzzy  October 29, 2010 08:10 AM
I've liked the Vision from the get go. However I'd probably opt for the Cross Roads. Not that I stray from somewhat controversial styling because I currently own a Stratoliner which is reviled slightly more than the Vision by critics not only because it's unusual, it's also a Japanese cruiser. My only problem with the Victory is the motor. Actually I think it's the best looking v-twin out there, but it's peak power band is narrow and high up in the RPMs where it gets really buzzy. I think v-twins should thump not buzz.
JC -Victory owner  October 29, 2010 05:29 AM
The 8Ball is a nice cruiser. Remember they are not pushing it as a tourer so it won't come with all the tourer bells and whistles. There are people that don't like the look and some that love it. Victory motorcycles have always been great handling and power. If you don't like the style will not like people coming up to you asking you what it is and who makes it. I own an "old" style '99 V92C that has 56,000 miles on her. I traded my '03 V92C in with 47,000 miles for my '09 10th Anny Vision that now has 26,000 miles. I know an 8Ball owner that had a stereo and cruise control installed and is happy as a pig in poop. I think they did a great job on the 8Ball and that it opened the Vision market up to riders that aren't looking for a tourer but something big enough to put some miles on a weekend trip. You could buy a black trunk and slap it on when extra storage is needed. 15 minutes on 15 minutes off so you don't have to have it mounted when you get where you are going. See you on the road.
MikeD -Mike in WV and DM.  October 28, 2010 05:41 PM
Thanks for your comments and insight.
DM -Mike D. - Apples to Oranges  October 28, 2010 06:50 AM
As the owner of a Nomad 1700 I can tell you as far as new bikes go it is a good touring cruiser for the $$$ and the "flex" actually comes in handy when you pack the bags to the gills like I do =). Having said that if I didn't do as much extended touring I would gladly take the Vision 8-ball if somebody spotted me the extra $3k. My next bike down the road though will probably be a Vision Tour. I think of it as the best of both the Electra and the Goldwing combined together.
Stan -???  October 27, 2010 05:00 PM
It looks like a Harley had sex with a Suzuki and this was the result. Not really sure if the styles quite match up. But then again all the top HD's look like want-to-be Goldwings.
Dave -Cruiser/tourer  October 27, 2010 03:40 PM
I like the looks. If I were looking for a big heavy twin, this would be on the list.
Mike in WV -Mike D  October 27, 2010 11:01 AM
Well, I've had a Vision (Currently have a Cross Country)and the saddlebags are the same on all the Visions. Packed right, they still hold a good bit but I don't remember the actual acapacity. The Nomad probably does hold more, but to me, the saddlebags seemed really flimsy. As far as a comparison, comparing any other bike to a Vision is like comparing a circle to a square or a Ford to a Chevy. It's just personal choice. Personally, I love the lines of the Victory bikes...especially the Cross bikes...but if you like the old school, retro look, then you probably prefer the other bikes. The Vision handles like a dream...all the extra's you can add on if you like the style of the bike. The 8ball's are all minimalist and blacked out.
MikeD -Apples to Oranges?  October 27, 2010 10:45 AM
Someone knows what's the Saddle bags capacity? Does it have smaller capacity than the regular Vision or is it all in my head?

I have been comparing it to the Nomad 1700 and besides a "maybe" better air flow management and "good looks"(on the eye of the beholder,lol) i couldn't justify the $18k Price Tag.
For crying out loud, the Nomad 1700 comes with what seems bigger bags(10Gal/38L) and CruiseControl standard! with a slight chance that the Nomad weight less too. All for $15.5K.

Maybe im comparing apples to oranges here. Anyone?
PMag -Ugly  October 26, 2010 06:18 PM
That thing was the ugliest motorcycle ever made when it came out, and with the new model, it made it again. World's ugliest two wheeler!
Bobber Bob -Tip-Over Turmoil  October 26, 2010 08:01 AM
The rear tip-over was eliminated to give the bike more lean-angle I heard from an enginerd in Sturgis. Those guys weem to know what they are doing. I rode one and the bike really handles well. The bike will still hold itself up on the front tip-over, so other than losing weight, gaining lean angle and cleaning up the lines of the bike - I see no disadvantage to losing the rear tip. I'll be the lower CG of the lowered suspension lets that work out.
MikeD -Baggers...the new Hot Cruiser Class?  October 25, 2010 09:47 PM
Recently Kawasaki's Vaquero...now Victory...who's next? LOL.

I like it, and that's coming from a "Away with Cruisers" guy.
mikedard -MPG  October 25, 2010 06:21 PM
"Stops between fill-ups are infrequent as we generally topped off at around a quarter of a tank and it only required four stops to travel 1000 miles while we arrived at our final destination, Sturgis, with about half a tank." Based on your stated fuel usage references, and a 6 gal. tank: would I be correct saying you averaged 47.6 MPG? That's really good. It would be nice to see some kind of MPG figures in future reviews. I had to wake up my 6 year old to figure this out, and that upset the wife, which could screw up any hopes of buying one of these.
R34 -hmm...  October 25, 2010 04:04 PM
Victory should remove itself from the 2wheeled market and enter into 4. Their motorcycles are looking more and more like, well...cars!
ohio -Best example to date of an American motorcycle  October 25, 2010 02:38 PM
I'm a sport and dirt rider... I don't own a cruiser or touring bike. But if/when I buy one, this is at the top of my list. I love the styling and I think it's a fantastic piece of engineering as well. It's great to see an American company taking chances, doing something distinctive and evolving the breed, especially this successfully.
Desmolicious -Got rid of the tip over protection????  October 25, 2010 12:55 PM
"The side crash guards formerly mounted below the saddlebags are gone." Why? That was a huge selling point. So now if you drop the bike you have to pay thou$and$ in body repair? Not cool. Does this bike have anti lock brakes? You can get that on the Harley tourers.
GB -ride it  October 25, 2010 11:09 AM
tho i'm not a fan of the looks of the vision, after test riding the 8 ball i'd love to have one. handles like a 650 and will pull away from any harley costing 10 grand more.
Tim -Black Tourer  October 25, 2010 10:04 AM
That is a tourer with one box missing. I'm not sure how they consider it a cruiser.

I have to say the Vision looks much better in black!
KerryC -Get one while you can.  October 25, 2010 10:02 AM
Wish I had pulled the trigger on one after I took a test ride last year. A week later though the only two in the area had already been sold! It's certainly not for the mainstream but as the article attests nobody that has twisted the throttle can claim the Vision doesn't ride and handle like a dream. Aside from not having last years no tip system It is awfully tempting to pick up a 2011 but given the lack of radio or ample storage I think I will bite my lip and hold out for the tour version.
Jay Mack -President  October 25, 2010 08:47 AM
It's not for me. I just like motorcycles.