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Victory Plays Hard-Ball to get at the Heavyweight Cruiser Market

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?

138 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Many of the comments I read here remind me of when Victory released the Vision and despite those who didn’t care for the aggressive styling and claimed it would be a flop for Polaris, it was still their best selling model till the Cross line came out. Personally I think the idea of a hybrid cruiser makes sense in this market. Not everybody has the space or budget to have a Bobber, Tourer, and Sport Cruiser in their garage but now Victory is offering the next next best thing. My only suggestion though would be to knock a grand or two off the price.

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  2. JR says:

    I own a 2011 Victory Cross Roads. I have quite a few extras on it. I have ridden a lot of bikes in 40 years including Harley. I was going to purchace a used 2009 Road Glide. It was a beauty. I road it twice. Then, for some raeson I stopped at Victory. I rode the Cross Roads. I couldn’t believe the ride! I went back and drove the Road Glide over the same road. Then, back to Victory for the second ride, same road. Rough, smooth, rail road tracks and curves. The victory stock was smoother and more powerful than the Harley with pipes and a 110 kit. But, it was also $6000 dollars cheaper. They gave me a five year unlimited warranty. The Harley had 30 days. I got $50 oil changes for as long as I own it. AND, the clencher was the cost of service. The Harley was going to cost $750 the first 2000 miles I own it. The Victory $50 for the first 500, then $50 every 5000 after.

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  3. BlueSkyGuy says:

    If you thought you would see a Harley in a Victory your wrong. They are doing their own thing and I like what they do. Fpls that own them like them, enough said.

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    • carl says:

      They are doing there own thing? How? Still the same basic V-twin copy of what HD has been doing for 100+ years with Vic styling twist. Ducati does there own thing, triumph does there own thing they build cruisers but not with V-twins, BMW does there own thing. Even the Japanese couldn’t resist trying to copy HD. Apart from Victory styling and even then when you look at the CCT and Ultra they are still the same basic design.

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  4. carl says:

    After reading so many negative comments, one wonders if Victory should even bother to put this bike into production. Doesn’t seem like they are going to have many sales.

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    • Pat says:

      Almost every model that Victory comes out with, I hear how ugly it is, how it will never sell, and things like WHAT IS VICTORY DOING?? Funny, but Victory seems to be doing just fine. Everyone seems to thing that since THEY don’t like the bike, and wouldn’t buy it, EVERYONE else must be thinking the same thing. It’s comical.

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      • carl says:

        Well this is kinda like a random survey and its mostly negative. I do like other Vic models and in fact probably going to add the new Victory Cross Country Tour to my collection. How well they are doing is hard to say, how many bikes per year they are putting out I have no idea, I use my wing for touring and all of last year I saw 1 Cross Country the whole season of riding.

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  5. Z1 says:

    It looks like something someone made in their backyard…or in high-school shop class.

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  6. Jim says:

    Wish Victory the Best, but don’t think this will improve their image. I agree with Todd about building a smaller bike for less than $10K and would do it in Cruiser, Roadster and Cafe Racer forms. Each one having a slew of accessories, and 3 electronic motor tunes. Total bike weight under 500#dry. I know this is a Norton or Suzuki SV650 take-off, but to me that is a good thing. You could actually have 3 bikes in “kit form” in the garage and only one engine/chassis combo. Customizing options endless. The technologies are there .. it seems Management’s imagination is stuck in Cruiser World.

    I currently ride hard in the Rockies on a ZRX1200R and Honda Magna 750 Cruiser and avoid Interstates with a passion.

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  7. PN says:

    It looks like a replica toy.

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  8. Jamo says:

    No, VIctory isn’t listening. THey’ve been in a soundproof room since they launched the “Nessie” lineup years ago. The Nessie frame isn’t a classic design, like HD. It was kind of cool at first, because it hadn’t been seen before and looked custom, but now it’s just dated.
    Big, heavy crusisers aren’t coming into vogue. It’s been done. Like someone else said, make it light and less than $10,000, and build up a following. As it is, VIctory is trolling for Harley rejects. It’s low class nomenclature, “8-Ball,” “High Ball,” “Crapshot,” and low class style. I don’t want to be an 8-Ball or a Joker.
    Make a high class ride, like BMW. You cannot appeal to a lower class than Harley appeals to. It isn’t there. You have to aim higher, not lower.

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  9. Tom says:

    I like it and I want one.

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  10. Variance says:

    That is a good looking bike with an attitude . Well done.

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  11. todd says:

    I never understood the direction of bikes like this. If I wanted a bike to travel all over, Id want it to have stellar protection from the elements. If I wanted a bike to just ride around town I’d want a smaller 8 or 900cc lighter weight bike with smaller saddle bags and a smaller seat. I dont care about paint to much (I love od green). The thing is if I wanted either of the bikes I talked about and wanted a victory I’d buy a 8-ball or their way out there cruiser (which I love).. To me there is no place for this bike. Personally I dont want any bike like this right now. I want a dual sport. I know victory could knock one of those out of the park. 34″ seat height, under 270lbs, 500cc dual sport with factory accessorys would do the company good

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  12. James says:

    Victory, here’s a suggestion; Make a sub $10,000 bike!! If you really want to get your foot in the markets door, make a model for less than $10 G’s!! Do what your competitor (harley) has done…Make a model that’s more about owning the name (883 sportster) rather than catering to people who make $50,000+ a year and have to tuck there tie into there button down shirt before jumping into there convertible. You want market penetration?? Build a bike for the 18+ age group where financing is affordable and build an excrement ton of accessories for it so they can make it there own and I will guarantee you will sell as many as you can make!! Highball? $13K?….cool, but off the mark. Hardball? $19k?? Wrong direction……Or am I OFF the mark??

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    • Tom says:

      Hope Victory is reading this! James, if you are looking for work you may want to contact them.

      Victory has the ability to build an excellent bike. I can say this because my wife rides a Vision Tour with over 40,000 trouble free miles. While many traditionalists do not like the styling of the Vision, I have never seed a bike that attracts so much attention. Everyone from teenagers to old people like it.

      On the Hardball, I too think it needs some serious styling work.

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    • superbikemike says:

      no…. your not off the mark, but victory ain’t listening… $19k 4 this model, in these economic times… their deaf…. ;)

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    • Jason B says:

      I agree that their top heavy line up is part of the problem. But with close to 15 years in business now the only thing Victory has proven is that you can’t reroute the HD faithful. I think Victory has more ground to gain in the non-cruiser markets. I truly believe there are American buyers that want an American bike that’s not a cruiser, but there are no options. Polaris Industries has the engineering capability to do this which is why it’s so disappointing that they haven’t yet. The Japanese manufacturers still struggle with the fact that building a better bike doesn’t equate to beating HD, you can’t engineer an image. Despite the fact that Victory is an American manufacturer they will always struggle against the same thing in the cruiser market against HD. I truly believe that branching out into other segments is their best chance at greater success with the brand.

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      • Jim says:

        Agreed! I was hoping for a Buell Uly XT someday, but everything US built is cruiser. What about a adventure-tour, standard, maybe a cafe look for the kids? Can’t hurt to start below $10K. Triumph Bonnie & Tiger800, Kawi Versys, Suz Wee………

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  13. ABQ says:

    Complaining that a bike looks ugly implies that you would ride something that looks pretty. Really? You big bad bikers don’t like ugly???

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  14. mickey says:

    I didn’t want to comment, but when I looked at the bottom pic I immediately thought “Russian Tank” for some reason.

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  15. ham says:

    I love the appearance of this bike. Finally something unique. You me too Harley guys just won’t see it. Now I hope the test ride is as impressive.

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    • Reinhart says:

      Yep, all we see is a hunk of junk! If you read all the messages you’ll see that it’s not just Harley people that think this bike is a POS…it’s practically everyone out there!

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  16. superbikemike says:

    these comments get funnier and funnier…. you can just feel the love for this model…. well maybe not… ;)

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  17. N says:

    Reminds me of a Ural bike in a way.
    Can’t say I expect good sales with this look; I personally like matte paint and simplicity, but this definitely looks unfinished in some crucial areas.

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  18. I agree with many of the commenters on this: it’s butt fugly. I’m a fan of Victory bikes overall (Hammer S? Drool!), even their out-there big tourers, which got better looking over time. But this looks like Cletus down at Chucks Harley Barn drank too much PBR, put it together out of spare parts and then rattle-canned it. That cow-catcher in front of the engine- WTF? And those wanna-be ape-hanger Z bars are ugly as sin and don’t look either safe or comfortable. Then tag on a butt-ugly king/queen seat and that camel tank and this is all sorts of wrong rolled into one big black turd. Kudos to Polaris/Victory for thinking outside the box, but this is a swing and a miss. I’d love to have a powerful, long-haul bike with comfy seats, a big tank and spacious luggage, but I think even I could have designed something more aestheically pleasing than this contraption.

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  19. Neil says:

    It looks hideous! The paint looks unfinished. The panel under and to the side of the seat. That radiator like thing. Horrid. The bags. Like something left over in a department store bargain basement. The seat! What the…???! Some guy in China had nothing to do that day!

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  20. Not a cruiser fan says:

    I like it more than the ‘me too’ bikes most companies crank out. Then again I also love my Buell 1125R, so obviously I’m among the minority. I’m not a big fan of cruisers, but if I were, this is the kind of styling I’d go for. Which is what they need. People who are obsessed with H-D are not the target market. They’re looking for people who are fence sitters and pulling them in with superior engineering and styling that stands out.

    That being said, I freaking hate forward controls and that automatically disqualifies this bike as something I would ever consider buying.

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    • Kent says:

      I’m not getting the 1125R comments. I think the Buell 1125R is a fantastic bike and looks great too.
      As for attracting fence sitters, I think this styling just scared them right off the fence, out the door, off the property, never to be seen again.

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  21. Kent says:

    What a Mess………

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  22. Mike says:

    Motorcycle style is a very personal thing as we all know, but I have seen Victory and Harley bikes in the same market segment side by side and have to say in most cases the Victory model is clearly the better looking design….so I dont understand the negative comments on most of the Victory models.

    One thing I do know for sure is the stock Victory motor is superior to the stock Harley motor in most if not all respects.

    I wonder if just putting the Harley tank badge on the comparable Victory would change alot of the negative views here about the Victory styling

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  23. Mat says:

    heh carl- you are right on the money….now if only victory would realize “LESS IS MORE”

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  24. Leif Mann says:

    Victory makes a well-engineered and high quality bike. Unfortunately, most of them are wonkishly ugly. How long will they continue to buy-into the Arlen Ness debacle ? All of their bikes are slammed-out, forward foot controls, weird-looking body panels and just plain funky ! This “new” model adds insult to injury.

    I hope they can use their recently acquired Indian brand as a ticket into some classically-styled road art the likes of which has made their american manufacturing cousin famous and successful.

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  25. Brendan says:

    It is nice to see Victory are obviously an equal opportunity employer. They have employed a Vision impaired designer. A bold move but one for which they should be commended.

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  26. Reinhart says:

    I really wish Victory would read these comments and perhaps begin to design bikes that actually look nice. Aesthetics sure go a long way when it comes to selling bikes. Perhaps Victory is happy being the most “invisible” bike manufacturer out there? A lot of people (even some riders!)have never heard of Victory and most think it’s some kind of metric cruiser. If they keep styling bikes like the one above, they will soon be out of business! Too bad they can’t open their thinking up a bit and offer something other than a CRUISER to the riding public. I would personally like to see an Victory offer something other than a cruiser and have almost given up hope when it comes to Victory motorcycle as their bikes just keep getting uglier and uglier. First step should be to divorce themselves from the whole Arlen Ness design team. That would be a really good first step!

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    • Jake says:

      Reinhart says: “If they keep styling bikes like the one above, they will soon be out of business! Too bad they can’t open their thinking up a bit and offer something other than a CRUISER to the riding public.”
      Polaris tried with the very first Victory back in Y2K — the V92C Sport Cruiser. Very *sporty* looking (for a cruiser) — and it died a painful, early, death. Americans buy cruisers — plain & simple. Potato…potato…

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      • Reinhart says:

        V92C Sport Cruiser sound an awful lot like a cruiser to me! They’ve never ever built anything other than a cruiser!

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      • Pat says:

        The SC model that Victory had was not their first model, the C was. But neither of them, nor the variations of the C ever sold like Victory would have liked. That’s why they went the direction that they did. And while many of the “style experts” here disagree, the bikes sell. You may not like the bikes, but someone does, as Victory keeps selling them. As far as this bike goes, I dig it, but not the price that it carries. I guess I’ll keep my old school looking ’02 TCD with 88,000 trouble free miles on it.

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  27. Don says:

    I ride a Harley and am a fan of Victory’s styling – until now. Not sure what they where thinking but “Butt Ugly” is the only work that describes this unit….

    Just my thought….

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  28. Biker says:

    I’m really not sure about that.. something is just ‘wrong’ with the design… a bit like the Buell 1125r (but not as horrendous)

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  29. slimlids says:

    Yuck. That thing is sad looking. Those Ness boys are trying WAY too hard. This thing is the Motorcycle equivalent to Guy Fieri. A loud, obnoxious, pile with highlights and stupid sunglasses.

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  30. carl says:

    I enjoy all bikes cruisers, sport and touring. My beef will all these bikes is why can’t they simply make a bobber style cruiser or any bike for that matter. SIMPLE, clean design and if it has no function then leave it off. It seems to me bikes are getting heavier with just junk added on. Can never understand why the harley crowd loads there bikes with extra chrome and crap that adds nothing to the bike. I’ve always felt if it doesn’t do anything why add weight to a bike.

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  31. Dirt-Ball says:

    Me Likes :-)

    21 gallons of storage, abs, 106ci (97 hp), 6 speed trans… I really like the lines and the entire design flows flawlessly from the front to rear and I love that phat azz! I guess you can’t please everyone. Ness no longer has input in design at Victory (designer is greg brew) but the ness’ do still offer custimized versions of a few models from the lineup.

    The apes are adjustable and can be tilted back to whatever angle suits your needs for touring or bar hopping. They also have easy on/off fairings and windshields that are already available for the cross roads that will work on this bike for touring when needed.

    The so called ‘radiator cover’ is there because there is no frame in front of the motor. The frame is cast aluminum with the motor as the stressed member which provides a lighter bike and better handling. The front cover finishes off the look of the front of the bike as well as providing a mounting point for the oil cooler.

    You Tube video showing cast aluminum frame: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CefevDiTowM

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