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2012 Victory High-Ball First Ride

Monday, March 28, 2011
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2012 Victory High-Ball First Ride Video
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We take Victory Motorcycles latest cruiser out for a spin down Main Street during Bike Week and around The Loop in this 2012 Victory High-Ball First Ride Video.
There’s something about riding a motorcycle with your arms hung high that fosters machismo. Maybe it’s because the bikes that first captured my imagination were ‘70s choppers with crazy-high Ape Hangers. As a kid, I remember seeing club members rumbling around the Bay Area, tattooed arms hanging defiantly high. Maybe it’s because Apes over a certain height will get you a ticket in some states. They’re like a finger in the face of conventionalism. This style of bars are not usually standard fare on an OEM bike, but then again, Victory Motorcycles isn’t one to follow conventions. The American V-Twin manufacturer proved that when they released the Vision.

The reach to the bars of the 2012 Victory High-Ball is just above shoulder height for me at six-feet tall. Its padded leather solo seat is slunk at a low 25 inches and the stretch to the bars tilts the ergos slightly forward. The foot controls are set more than mid-mount but don’t feel like the full stretch of forward-mounted controls and my knees are bent slightly up. The bars vibrate at speed, a buzz more than a shake. Cool thing about the High-Ball’s bars is that they can be dropped down to a more “laid-back” position with simple hand tools without affecting the control mounts or the cables.

We got a chance to take the 2012 Victory High-Ball for a first ride at Daytona during Bike Week.
The 2012 High-Ball aims to tap into a new market for Victory Motorcycles. Don't worry, no manatees were harmed during testing.
With its thick whitewall tires, laced wheels, bobbed front fender and high bars, the bike’s throwback styling has me in a chill, cruising mood as I hit Main Street in Daytona Beach during Bike Week. Behind my visor I’m noticing plenty of eyes turning as I ride by. With the high bars, the front end wants to lean in at extremely slow speeds, a situation that’s remedied with a little throttle. The stop-and-go crawl of Main Street also brings the bike’s stiff clutch pull to my attention. And though the stares the High-Ball garners are cool, I’m anxious to hit the bridge on the other side of Main Street to shoot up to I-95 and open this baby up because even though the bike’s styling screams cruiser, there’s a claimed 97 horses beneath me dying to be unleashed.

Reaching the highway on-ramp, with a good twist of the throttle the acceleration snaps my head back as I run through a few gears. The 50-degree V-Twin has a quick-revving nature. The torquey low end is matched throughout the powerband and distribution is even throughout. There’s excellent response from the EFI with every release of the clutch cable and Victory’s Freedom 106 V-Twin in its Stage 2 state of tune is one of the bike’s strongest features. It doesn’t sign off early on the top end and the tranny can withstand winding out each gear before banging it up to the next. Gearing down, there’s a generous amount of engine braking. Victory’s mill does dole out a healthy amount of heat on the right leg, a combination of the nature of an air-cooled V-Twin and the placement of the rear pipe.

The High-Ball turns in with neutral ease and handles impressively for a cruiser. Victory ditched its standard badging for a painted-on logo for the High-Ball. Victory Motorcycles introduced its latest cruiser  the 2012 High-Ball  at Bike Week.
(L) The High-Ball turns in with neutral ease and handles impressively for a cruiser. (M) Victory ditched its standard badging for a painted-on logo for the High-Ball. (R) The 2012 Victory High-Ball’s throwback styling consists of factory ape hangers, a chopped front fender, smaller, chunkier spoked-down wheels with whitewalls and plenty of the blacked-out treatment.
The High-Ball’s six-speed overdrive constant mesh transmission engages smoother than a Harley, but its lower gears are still notchy, a trait I’m beginning to believe is inherent in American V-Twin transmissions. But it’s only that initial engagement of the big gears that creates any audible noise because the High-Ball’s transmission functions quietly and efficiently otherwise. First gear will get you up to the mid-40s and carrying higher rpm in fifth will give you plenty of passing power on the freeway. Pop it into the overdrive sixth gear and the engine settles into a loping 2600 rpm at 70 mph highway speeds.

The 2012 High-Ball is based on the Victory Vegas but it’s more compact, with a wheelbase that’s 1.5-inches shorter and its overall length has been trimmed down 3.5 inches. Victory also brought in the rake to 31.7 inches, 1.2 tighter than the Vegas. Add a front tire that’s short at 16 inches but chunky at 130mm to go along with a 16-inch rear that’s relatively svelte at 150mm wide and you’ve got a bike whose Dunlop Cruisermax tires stick tight to the road and feel planted in corners. The High-Ball could easily take on more lean than the pegs allow. The flat,
White paint brings out the recess of the tank that is otherwise slathered in matte black.
The tank of the High-Ball has the raised spine of the Vegas but the high-rise bars and small analog speedo are all-new.
Hmmm... I wonder if theyll let me in Daytona International Speedway for a quick hot lap.
Hmmm... I wonder if they'll let me in Daytona International Speedway for a quick hot lap.
The blacked-out treatment of the High-Balls engine and cylinder head covers makes the machined fins stand out.
With power numbers at a claimed 97 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque, the quick-revving Freedom 106 has a torquey low end and power is evenly distributed throughout its rev range.
straight roads around Daytona Beach had us clamoring to find a corner to test the High-Ball’s handling, but on the few turns we did find the High-Ball impressed us with its neutral turn in and stability when leaned over. Our primary grievance was its limited cornering clearance. A washboarded dirt road gave us a good barometer for its suspension. The preload adjustable spring on the rear suspension is firm and admirably soaked up road imperfections at speed. While the rear is well-sorted, the telescopic front fork moves through its 5.1 inches of travel fairly easy and the front end dives a bit under heavy braking.

Speaking of the braking department, the High-Ball’s back brake is very bitey. It doesn’t take much of a push to get the two-piston rear calipers to dig hard into the 300mm floating rotor. There’s no shortage of power or feel at the pedal. The front brakes aren’t quite as impressive, though. The notable bite of the rear is not there. It takes a hard squeeze at the lever to get the four-pot arrangement on the front disc to apply the pressure needed to instill confidence in the unit. There’s no fade, but there’s not a load of feel, either.

Keeping true to its stripped-down theme, the High-Ball has minimal instrumentation. A small, round analog speedo is mounted high enough between the bars to make it easily visible. All readouts are contained within the speedo face, including a Neutral indicator, turn signals, gear indicator, odometer, clock, high beams, low fuel, tripmeter, and assorted diagnostic lights like oil pressure. A button on the switchgear of the left handlebar allows you to toggle between the odometer, tripmeter and tach. The control housings are plastic and don’t match the quality of the rest of the bike’s fit and finish.

Because for a factory bike, Victory has done an admirable job of injecting the High-Ball with vintage styling cues, from the way the white paint accentuates the recessed tank to the way the whitewalls make the chunkiness of the tires stand out. Spoked wheels stay true to the theme of the bike while its slim swingarm keeps the tail end open so you can enjoy an uncluttered view of the whitewalls. The few glimmers of white makes the blacked-out treatment of the engine, frame, bars, pipes, headlight bucket, triple trees, fender struts and cylinder head covers stand out that much more. The high cylinder heads sit compactly into the frame and the back pipe is routed cleanly out of the back of the rear cylinder head. While shooting photos at High Bridge Park on The Loop outside of Ormond Beach, an owner of a Suzuki cruiser summed it up best, saying the combination of styling cues on the High-Ball “just works.”

Custom builder Roland Sands has already demonstrated the customizing potential of Victory’s High-Ball with his version called Ol’ Vic that debuted at the New York IMS. Sands looked to hot rod culture for his version of the High-Ball and wanted to “keep it clean, keep it simple.” With Ol’ Vic he converted it to a suicide shifter, ran an internal throttle through custom bars and swapped the stock angular headlight out for a round one. He also switched out the cover on the primary drive, added a handful of stainless steel pieces and powdercoated the wheels to match the trim of the paint in a color called “camel.” Victory says accessories designed for the Victory Vegas like a passenger seat and pegs will fit on the High-Ball and claim it’s got a black 2-into-1 aftermarket exhaust in the works as well. Not bad considering the bike’s not even available until April.

The best attributes of the 2012 Victory High-Ball are its powerful engine and smooth handling. Based on the conversations we had in Daytona Beach about the bike’s styling and by the attention it garnered, it’s fair to say Victory’s engineering team captured the essence of the era they were shooting for. Then there are the intangibles, like the old school cool you feel when riding with your arms hung high, whitewalls spinning beneath you on a bike with a factory bob-job. Add to the equation it’s priced at a competitive $13,499 MSRP and fills a niche most manufacturers don’t address and Victory’s got a potential hot seller. 
2012 Victory High-Ball First Ride Gallery
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1Percenter   November 24, 2011 06:08 AM
I sat on one in a showroom. It felt light. It looks nice. Seems like the spoked wheels and whitewalls would be high maintenance when it comes to keeping the bike clean, that's something to think about if you don't have a garage and tend to leave your bike outside and would rather spend more time riding as opposed to cleaning. I think Victory let the public down by not offering color options. Lots of prospective buyers are going through a tug of war or the Harley vs. Victory which bike should I buy dilemma. I'm going through that right now. Lots of love and camaraderie at a Harley dealer, not so at a Victory dealer. But still, that's just one thing of many to consider on the pro/con list.
Willie   May 7, 2011 12:30 PM
tef8568   April 29, 2011 08:59 AM
Hi folks,
I finally got to ride one of the new Victory High Balls in late April at Trumbauer's Victory in Quakertown, PA. during the second day of the Victory Fuel It Demo Tour event.

This bike ATTITUDE !!

While it takes a little bit to get used to the high handlebars in the turns and at parking lot speeds, it is majorly fun, fun, and fun to ride. The stock pipes have a classically deep, loud, and visceral "HD-like" V-Twin sound during acceleration and the typical shotgun pipes style sound on deceleration; lots of softening rumbling thunder.

This bike handles superbly well once you get used to the high bars as the short wheel base combined with the very low seat heaight and center of gravity make it so easy to get into the long sweepers or the twisties of a mountain road next to a stream ... like our demo ride had in spades.

The wide and small diameter front tire provides excellent grip and a stable feel to the grooves and pot holes in these awful PA roads and make it easy to change lanes and shift position within a lane as needed. It takes very little effort at bars to initiate and maintain lean and turning and flipping side to side in the "S" curves.

The looks are classic and simple, the riding position is classic and very comfortable, and the thrill is potent and lingering. I had so much fun riding it. For me, it is 4rd in line to the Vegas, then the Vegas 8 Ball in all black, and then the Zack Ness Signature Custom Vegas. I like the looks of those models better, but the new High Ball is the most fun of them all to ride and sounds the best by far.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !! If you get a chance to ride one, do it. (safely)
Scoot   March 31, 2011 08:56 AM
This is a nice ride and I would take one over an outdated Harley any day. Nice looking ride and at a reasonable price. Harley better get smart and stop building parts bin bikes and design something that is really new - not warmed over 1960's leftover crap.
sololobo   March 29, 2011 05:50 PM
Not a bad looking ride. I'd like to see what it looks like with pullbacks or beach bars on it though. Just can't get into those apes.
VicFan   March 28, 2011 11:48 PM
theyre taking another $1500 off MSRP if you test drive one. I'm gonna use up that cash for 2-1 pipes,air cleaner and some led turn signals front/rear to clean up the look. And a side mount license plate should really clean up back and give it that custom look.
Maybe a round headlight like Roland did...cant wait I get mine Friday!!!
maui9   March 28, 2011 06:15 PM
I have wanted a new cruiser for a lot of years. finally a bike comes along that has just what I'm after.
There are only 2 coming into Colorado in April and one of them has my name on it!
The retro style is me all over. I can't wait!
Mitch   March 28, 2011 08:48 AM
Nice write up. I didn't realize the Hi-Ball frame was actually a little different from the Vegas. I think this is my new favorite Victory non-touring cruiser. I miss my old bobber sometimes and I think it would be nice to have a modern variation of the theme with good performance, handling, and a tach right out of the box for a decent price. The only thing I would change is the pipes though. If your walls or white you don't want to hide those babies behind a big clunky exhaust.
Mitch   March 28, 2011 08:44 AM
Nice write up. I didn't realize the Hi-Ball frame was actually a little different from the Vegas. I think this is my new favorite Victory non-touring cruiser. I miss my old bobber sometimes and I think it would be nice to have a modern variation of the theme with good performance, handling, and a tach right out of the box for a decent price. The only thing I would change is the pipes though. If your walls or white you don't want to hide those babies behind a big clunky exhaust.
VinceXB   March 28, 2011 07:28 AM
I'd take this over one of H-D's Dark Customs any day. WAY more character and the engine is top notch.