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2008 Victory Motorcycles: What’s New and Selected Riding Impressions


2008 Victory Vision Tour

We have already provided an in-depth riding impression of Victory’s all-new touring package for 2008, the Victory Vision. That story is here. Recently, Victory invited us to sample a number of their bikes (including the Vision) and get an update on changes to their line-up for the 2008 model year.

When Victory started out in 1998, no one knew how far the brand would go, or whether it would survive the vicious competition in this industry. My own perception of Victory is that it started a very difficult endeavor (creating a motorcycle brand from scratch), but did a number of things right. The timing was right, because the motorcycle industry was ready for a healthy growth spurt. The product was also right. Although some teething problems inevitably surfaced early on, Victory quickly addressed those, and developed one of the finest cruiser engines on the planet.

The 100 cubic inch Freedom V-twin is a gem. It not only looks beautiful, and is framed well by the various Victory bikes that employ it, it performs. With 85 horsepower and 106 foot/pounds of torque (measured at the crank), Victory bikes are healthy performers to say the least. Outstanding fuel injection lets you unleash all that horsepower and torque in a controlled, smooth manner. The engine also gives off the vibes and character that make riding cruiser motorcycles a special experience.



2008 Victory Vision Tour

We have to give Victory credit for developing an engine displacing over 1600cc, coupled with a six-speed overdrive transmission, before much of the competition. Victory has aggressively developed its bikes, not just its powertrain, since the beginning. For 2008, the big news is the Vision tourer (actually two models, designated “Vision Tour” and “Vision Street”) that we have previously tested. The Vision gets a larger version of the Freedom V-twin displacing 106 cubic inches.

By the way, the Vision’s 106 cubic inch engine produces a claimed 92 horsepower and 109 foot/pounds of torque (increases of 7 horsepower and 3 foot/pounds of torque over the already potent 100 ci Freedom power-plant). This motor mates well with the big touring machine, as we found out when Dirck spent some time on the bike (Tor was our initial tester).

Before we tell you what else is new at Victory for 2008, let’s give you a little bit more background on Victory. Victory Motorcycles is a division of Polaris Industries. Polaris had sales in 2006 of 1.7 billion dollars (roughly one-quarter the size of Harley-Davidson). Polaris is not all about motorcycles. Its heritage is rooted in the snow mobile market, and it continues to manufacture snow mobiles, ATVs, Victory Motorcycles and the Polaris RANGER (for recreational and utility use). Victory Motorcycles represents a big part of the growth plans at Polaris.

Apparently, employees at Polaris all own stock in the company. Getting employees to think, and act, like owners is a big part of the Polaris philosophy. Victory Motorcycles, according to Victory, has been growing at ten times the industry average, and is still growing despite the industry-wide cruiser sales slowdown.

For 2008, the Victory line-up includes the all-new Vision, together with returning models such as the Vegas, Kingpin and Hammer. There is a new version of the Vegas called the “Low”, and the Kingpin line-up for ’08 includes an 8-Ball version

We have previously tested the Hammer here. This bike is known for its massive 250mm rear tire. It comes with the Freedom 100 ci engine, dual disc brakes, and inverted front fork. The Hammer “S” model features blacked-out engine, bars, mirrors and gauges, as well as black powder-coated billet wheels from Performance Machine. We did not ride the 2008 version of the Hammer, but know from experience that its essence is that of a drag bike for the street.

2008 Victory Kingpin Tour

The Kingpin is an interesting bike. In its basic format, the Kingpin is pretty light at 676 pounds (claimed dry weight), but moves out quickly with the Freedom 100 ci pulling it. The bike is also very comfortable, with good all-around ergonomics and generous floorboards. The Kingpin is available in a Kingpin Tour edition that adds a windshield, luxury touring seat and 22 gallons of lockable cargo capacity.

A new Kingpin model for 2008 is the 8-Ball. We did ride this machine (see our impression below). It has all the same performance attributes of the regular Kingpin, but offers a spare, blacked-out starting point for customization.

The Victory Vegas has been around since 2003 when its custom looks and geometry seemed quite radical when compared with the rest of the OEM industry. With help from Arlen Ness, Victory brought some beautiful style and attitude to the OEM cruiser experience with the Vegas.

Featuring the Freedom 100 ci engine, the Vegas gets a single disc brake up front, and conventional forks. 2008 brings new “anvil” billet wheels to the Vegas. Another Vegas model is the Jackpot, which one-ups the standard Vegas styling with more radical paint schemes, custom headlight, color matched frame and fat rear tire (not to mention extra chrome work).



2008 Victory Kingpin 8-Ball and Vegas 8-Ball

New for 2008 is the Vegas Low. The Vegas Low is what the name implies, lower and more laid back. It has a frame one inch lower than the standard Vegas, footpegs 2.25 inches further back and bars pulled back by two inches. At 25.2 inches, the Vegas Low has the lowest seat height in the Victory line-up for 2008.



2008 Victory Vegas Low

We spent some time on the new 2008 Kingpin 8-Ball, riding it for an hour or so through tight twisties, and a wide-open freeway. We were really impressed by the handling, brakes and engine performance of the 8-Ball. The suspension is firm, but supple at the same time. We have asked Victory for an 8-Ball to conduct further testing, and should have a test unit within a few weeks. Stay tuned for a full report.

2008 Victory Vision Street

Dirck also had a chance to sample the Victory Vision touring models tested extensively by Tor, including the Vision Tour (with saddlebags and trunk), as well as the Vision Street (with saddlebags and no trunk). Dirck thinks Tor was right on the money in his review. Specifically, the Vision Tour and Street models are extremely comfortable with outstanding wind protection. Seat comfort and ergonomics were top notch, and the adjustable windscreen had a position that would please just about any size rider.

Dirck also felt the Vision Street and Tour models handled well. In fact, turn-in is almost too quick, at first, as these big touring bikes displayed remarkable agility in the twisties. This agility is coupled with good straight line stability, as well.

Vision Instruments

The Vision bikes have nice touches, including outstanding cruise control (which is very easy to use) and a powerful sound system that seems to make as much sound at half volume as some competitors make at full volume.

If the controversial styling of the Vision models sits well with you, and you are in the market for a touring cruiser (one of the faster growing markets these days), you have to take a close look at the Victory Vision Street and Tour models.

If you want something a little more rare than the other 2008 offerings from Victory, there are special bikes available this year from Arlen Ness and his son Cory based on the Vegas platform. Known as the “2008 Ness Signature Series Vegas Jackpot”, these bikes offer Ness-designed paint schemes, chrome forks and swingarms, tear-drop mirrors, special billet wheels and hand-stitched leather seats. The engines on these bikes feature “diamond-cut heads”.



2008 Victory Vegas Jackpot

Like most cruiser manufacturers these days, Victory has an extensive line of accessories for its bikes, including every bolt-on part imaginable. Take a look at Victory’s web-site for details (see link below).

The motorcycle market may be slowing somewhat, but Victory is charging ahead with its radical new Vision Street and Tour models, as well as refinements to its existing line-up. For additional details and specifications, visit Victory’s web site here.