Highlights of Victory Motorcycles' 2008 model year release includes two new models, a beefier engine, a new braking system, and more validation as "The New American Motorcycle."
While the effects of Victory's
plunge into the luxo-touring market, with its bold Vision
models, is still burning in the corneas of its competitors, the motorcycle manufacturer prepares to unleash its second wave of industry attacks with a full contingent of power cruisers for 2008. The Victory arsenal includes two new additions, the Vegas Low and Kingpin 8-Ball models. Other notable Victory claims for the upcoming model year include squeezing more torque out of its 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin. To reign in that power, Victory has also revamped its braking system for its 2008 offerings. As the Minnesota-based company closes in on its 10th anniversary, Victory Motorcycles is working hard to validate its claim as "The New American Motorcycle."
At the heart of the 2008 Victory models (excluding the Visions) is the 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin. Changes to the powertrain include a new airbox that Victory claims enhances air intake to help produce more power. This could be a factor in the Freedom's increase in torque that Victory says has jumped from 103 ft-lb to 106 ft-lb. The 1634cc engine also benefits from new fuel injectors, oxygen sensors and idle air control. The Engine Control Module is also new for 2008, and includes a closed loop fuel injection system. The throttle bodies have been bumped up slightly, from 44mm to 45mm. All these changes were accomplished while simultaneously lowering the compression ratio from last year's mill, down to 8.7:1 from 9.8:1. Changes to the 6-speed trannys, with a lower ratio first gear and taller sixth gear, complete the list of powertrain changes to Victory's 2008 Freedom 100/6 V-Twin.
Victory has also attempted to improve the braking capacity of the '08s. New components include the 4-piston calipers on the 300mm floating rotor front brakes and the 2-piston calipers on the 300mm floating rotor rear. The hand brake lever has also been switched out and the plumbing has been updated. All models are running the new brakes. The only difference is that the Hammers have dual discs up front, but all the other bikes, including the Ness Signature Series, run singles up front.
The 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin has a claimed power output of 85 hp and 106 ft-lb of torque to go along with its closed loop fuel injection system.
The latest addition to the Victory Vegas line is the Vegas Low, which receives its designation through a combination of reconfigured ergos and reshuffled hand and foot controls. The seat height has been dropped more than one inch from prior Vegas models, down to 25.2 inches. In comparison, Harley-Davidson's 2008 Sportster XL 1200 Low sits at 28 inches.
The Vegas Low's frame skirts one inch closer to the ground than the Vegas as well. The hand controls have been moved in thanks to 2-inch diameter pullback handlebars, placing the grips and hand controls easily within a rider's reach. Victory has made the front brake lever adjustable to enable riders to dial in a comfortable finger reach. Foot positioning has also been brought back 2.25 inches on the '08 Vegas Low and scalloped side covers make the bike 1.5 inches narrower than the standard model. During the press intro for the Vision, a diminutive female motojournalist was gushing over the Vegas Low's dimensions, and I'm convinced the demands of the burgeoning women riders' demographic was high on Victory's list of points to ponder in configuring the bike's ergos.
The Vegas Low has the Vegas' signature sculpted, split-tail 4.5-gallon fuel tank that flows seamlessly into a solo leather seat. And I do mean solo. There's no passenger seat or footpegs, so the focus of the bike is pure rider-oriented. The Vegas Low has a cool flush-mounted tail light that is standard Vegas fare which Victory claims is less prone to damage. Power is provided by the 1634cc Freedom V-Twin, the lump of choice for all the Victory 2008 models. A true 6-speed overdrive transmission divvies out the power, with a 6-speed design coming standard across the Victory board, except for its two 8-Ball models which utilize 5-speed trannys. The Vegas Low comes in three solid color choices - Black, Midnight Cherry, and Boardwalk Blue. Victory lists the MSRP at $15,999, so if you start saving cans and bottles now, you might be able to buy one by 2012.
The 2008 Victory Vegas Low has a 25.2-inch seat height, hand controls that are closer to the rider and is narrower than prior Victory models.
The Vegas line features three other models, the Vegas, Vegas 8-Ball and the Vegas Jackpot. A quick survey of the spec sheets shows that besides the tweaks to the engines and the improved brakes, the bikes remain essentially the same. There was one noteworthy area of change I noticed. Both the Vegas and Vegas 8-Ball have gained weight. The '08 Vegas lists at 658 lbs, up from '07's 635 lbs. The 8-Ball went from 635 lbs to '08's 652 lbs, while the Jackpot dropped one lb from 2007, from 659 to 658 lbs.
The other newbie in the Victory stable is the Kingpin 8-Ball, a bike that Victory claims combines the performance characteristics of the Kingpin with styling cues of the 8-Ball. It looks as if Victory has moved to the dark side. The '08 Kingpin 8-Ball has been blacked-out, front to back. The dark scheme includes blacked-out body paint, engine, wheels and bars. Throw in a black fork, triple clamps, mirrors, belt guard, and sprocket and you've got a bike Darth Vader would feel at home on. Even the swingarm and strut covers have engine-black paint. The chrome of the staggered slash-cut dual exhaust and the chrome cruiser headlights put a little shimmer on an otherwise dark exterior. The black looks great on the big classic-styled flared fenders that have become a signature for the Kingpin. The driver floorboards with a heel/toe shift lever also lend classic-cruiser appeal to the '08 Kingpin 8-Ball. Better yet, Victory has worked on a vibration-isolation system to the floorboards to enhance the riding experience.
The ergos are the same as the standard Kingpin except for the noticeable absence of a passenger seat. Like the Vegas Low, this bike is a one-person show. Internally, the Kingpin 8-Ball doesn't have the 6-speed overdrive of the Kingpin and Kingpin Tour models, but runs on a 5-speed constant mesh transmission. And if you don't like black, then don't bother checking out the Kingpin 8-Ball, because that's the only color it's offered in. Of course, the $13,999 sticker price might persuade buyers that maybe they do look good in black.
Not only has Victory expanded the number of bikes in its stable this year, but its apparel and accessory line has also grown substantially. Nice jacket, dude.
The Kingpin Line has been a best-seller for Victory and the motorcycle manufacturer has kept to the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." For the most part, the models have remained the same as the '07s.
The Kingpins do have new handgrips and end caps to go along with new switch housings. The grips are set up so they can be easily converted to Victory's optional heated grips, but changes for 2008 remain isolated to the handlebars. Of course it has the new brake system and updated engine, but on the Kingpins, the song remains the same, which isn't a bad thing when you've already proven your worth in the market with high sales numbers.
And speaking of sales, having the names Cory and Arlen Ness associated with your motorcycles won't hurt in that department. Victory continues to collaborate with the custom building icons as styling consultants for its 2008 Ness Signature Series. The models blend Ness styling with the performance of the Vegas Jackpot. The bikes have the formula for success. Limited edition, numbered bikes with a stainless steel badge that includes the bike's number and Arlen and Cory's signature on it lure in custom fans like trout to hot pink Powerbait.
Aesthetics are high on the Ness Signature Series priority list. From Arlen's Sunset Red graphic-adorned bike with custom Ness "Tri Bar" billet wheels to Cory's Metallic purple and graphic combo and sick-looking Ness "Landshark" wheels, the motorcycles meld the talents of Victory and the Nesses. It is a sweet deal for both. The Nesses benefit financially from having their accessories on the bike, like the new Ness knurled footpegs and handgrips and Ness teardrop mirrors, and Victory benefits in overall sales from having a bike with the Ness name on it. Literally. The Ness Signature Series have custom tank badges, a silver leaf on the Cory-designed model and a gold leaf on the Arlen model. Add to the equation a sharp-looking chrome swingarm and muffler support bracket and you've got a highly marketable package. With a listed MSRP of $23,699, the bikes are priced a lot lower than the Ness originals I saw at Laughlin.
Victory has turned to the dark side with its 2008 Victory Kingpin 8-Ball, with a long list of blacked-out components including the engine, wheels and bars.
The last member in the 2008 Victory line is its Hammer and Hammer S. The Hammers continue to add muscle to the Victory cruiser line. Fat 250mm rear meats with a high-cut fender to show it add the beef to the back end. The tires have been designed specifically for the Hammer by Victory and Dunlop tire techs. The front end's handling revolves around the performance of its 43mm inverted cartridge-type fork and the bite of dual front disc brakes on its 18-inch wheel.
The Limited Edition'08 Hammer S has received a similar shot of the blacked-out treatment of the Kingpin 8-Ball. The blacked-out list includes the engine, handlebars, switch housings, master cylinder, mirrors, speedo, tach, fuel cap and foot controls. The fork tubes and brake rotors are black anodized and the custom-style headlight has been color-matched to the bodywork. The backside has a color-matched cowl that conceals a passenger pad underneath that converts quickly for 2-up riding. Unlike the Kingpin 8-Ball, the Hammer S does have a splash of color to offset its dark features with Turbo Silver racing stripes that run from the headlight to the tank and down the middle of the cowl.
The spec sheet shows the Hammer and Hammer S's engine, chassis, suspension and brakes are the same. The Hammer has four color options, Solid Black, Midnight Cherry, Supersteel Gray and Boardwalk Blue while the Hammer S has a one-color-suits-all Black and Silver scheme. The biggest difference is the MSRP. The Hammer lists for $16,999 while the Hammer S is bumped up to $19,866.
The 2008 Ness Signature Series features bikes styled by both Arlen and Cory. Cory's model features a Metallic Purple paint scheme with Cory Ness graphics and sharply-styled "Landshark" wheels.
Other news circulating out of the Victory camp is its expanded apparel and accessories line. The apparel line includes Victory carbon fiber helmets, transition sunglasses with lenses that lighten and darken according to the amount of light, cordura pants, and leather Striker and Duke jackets. The Victory accessory line has greatly improved as well. The Kingpin model family now has over 265 accessories alone that you can find listed in the 146-page 2008 catalog. Hot ticket items include custom-designed billet wheels with a 5-spoke pattern, swept pipes, and a new hydraulic clutch that Victory says takes less effort to control. And, of course, it wouldn't be a Polaris-owned company without the optional heated handgrips for cool autumn rides. Snowmobilers aren't the only ones who like to keep their hands warm.
Motorcyclists attending the 67th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will be the first riders to get a crack at the 2008 models. Victory will be at Sturgis from Aug. 4-11. Visitors can take advantage of the demo rides that include the Victory Visions in addition to the 2008 cruisers. A Victory Riders Association (VRA) party is scheduled for Aug. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. There is also a new location the new Victorys will be displayed at where interested parties can check out the new models. It's at the Top 50 Rally Park between Sturgis and Rapid City. With free rides on new bikes, parties, and chances to pick up the latest Victory swag on tap, the Victory tent will be a worthwhile stop if you're in the area.
Lehman Trikes and Victory Motorcycles have collaborated on Lehman's Pitboss. The trike is built and designed by Lehman but uses Victory's 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin and 6-speed tranny for its powertrain.
Victory Riders attending Sturgis can also take advantage of Lehman Trikes' invitation to tour its Spearfish, SD assembly plant. The tours are exclusive to Victory Riders and will be held Monday, Aug. 6 and Friday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. on both days. So why are Victory owners getting the preferential treatment? Because Lehman's Pitboss is powered by Victory's 100 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin and 6-speed overdrive transmission. Lehman Trikes and Victory have teamed up to develop and market the Pitboss. The trike is built and designed by Lehman, but the initial structural testing was done by Victory. Though the design features were controlled by Lehman, the Pitboss has the same scalloped tank and smooth, round rear fenders that characterize Victory's motorcycles. The tank even has a Victory badge. Lehman is offering demo rides on the Pitboss daily during the rally, starting Aug. 4-11, running out of the Lehman facility every hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Victory continues to expand its horizons in 2008. It has extended production into a new niche, increased its number of available models, beefed up its engine, developed its own braking system and continues to utilize beneficial relationships between other players in the motorcycle industry. Does it deserve to be recognized as "The New American Motorcycle?" We'll let the 2008 sales figures be the judge of that.
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