As promised, Victory Motorcycles added another Touring model to its 2012 lineup over the weekend with the new Hard-Ball. The bike plays on the popularity of both baggers and ape-hangers and adds some edginess to the more conservative Touring lineup.
Although it looks, at first glance, like the High-Ball, it’s actually a very different model. The High-Ball uses the tube-steel chassis of Victory’s cruiser models, although it does share the same Freedom 50-degree, 106 cubic-inch V-Twin as the Cross-Roads based Hard-Ball. That means the Hard-Ball is significantly heavier—and more expensive—than the 660-pound High-Ball, but it also benefits from a rigid aluminum monocoque chassis, 5.8-gallon gas tank, standard ABS brakes, 600 pounds of carrying capacity and cartridge-fork front suspension.
Although the Hard-Ball shares basic architecture with the Cross-Roads, it has some important differences to make it a unique model. Blacked-out height-adjustable ape hanger bars let the rider choose between fashion or function. Black 18-inch spoked wheels with red pin striping lend a distinctive, old-school look. Locking hard bags offer up 21 gallons of storage, and the bike is finished in a minimalist matte-black finish with more red pin striping. The Hard-Ball will be priced at a buck under $19,000 when it appears in Victory dealers next year.
Great-looking bike, but isn’t Victory fighting for a slice of the shrinking heavyweight cruiser pie? Actually, that pie may now be growing. Harley-Davidson shipped 182,387 units through the month of August, and if the fourth quarter is like the other quarters, the company should be on track to ship 230,000-250,000 motorcycles worldwide, up sharply from the low-water mark of 210,494 reported to shareholders in 2010. And H-D isn’t alone—both Triumph and Ducati have trumpeted increased production and sales.
Let us know if you own a Victory or are considering the purchase of one. Why did you buy it? Why would you consider it? What kind of community do Victory riders have?