Victory had enough staying power that I actually thought it was going to give The Motor Company something to worry about. With the might of Polaris behind it, that theory actually had a little weight to it. We all know how that turned out, though one can make the argument that the challenge is stronger than ever with Polaris resurrecting Indian.
Nevertheless, nipping at the heels of the Harley Softail in 2009 was the Victory Vegas 8-Ball. Coming at Harley with a cheaper price tag, its 100 cubic-inch V-Twin (of which the aesthetics I have always liked), and its stealth black treatment, the Vegas 8-Ball got a host of updates for 2009. Here, former E-i-C Kevin Duke takes one for a spin in and around the beaches of Daytona and tells us what it’s like to ride.
A commuter-ized cruiser
Like many of our moto brothers, we often succumb to the power of bling. Bigger often seems better, so much so that we sometimes forget some of the appealing motorcycles that support a manufacturer’s flagships.
Case in point: the Victory Vegas 8-Ball. Cynics might say it’s simply a de-contented Vegas and therefore not worthy of consideration. However, this elitist attitude would overlook what is a very competent and stylish cruiser priced about $2,000 cheaper than a comparable Harley-Davidson Softail.
The Vegas 8-Ball first appeared in 2005, but it’s since had plenty of updates. Key among them is the addition of the powerful 100 cubic-inch engine which now produces a claimed 85 hp and 106 ft-lbs of torque. This mill got a host of enhancements in ’08, including larger 45mm throttle bodies as part of a new, sequential, closed-loop fuel-injection system.
A reduction in the compression ratio to 8.7:1 allowed more aggressive ignition timing, bumping up power marginally. A redesigned oiling system allowed the use of a smaller oil cooler that is less obtrusive. An annoying ticking sound from early Freedom motors was alleviated by slower valve closing speeds and longer closing ramps, and extraneous noise is further damped by additional sound-deadening ribbing on the engine’s primary cover.
The Vegas 8-Ball is distinct from the upmarket standard Vegas primarily by its black theme. Many of the Vegas’ chrome bits receive dark finishes on the 8-Ball. The only remaining chrome is found on the exhaust, headlamp nacelle, instruments and the clutch and brake levers. The 8-Ball also does without the Vegas’ sixth gear, cool headlight and removable passenger seat (and footpegs). As compensation, the $13,799 8-Ball comes in at a price $2,500 cheaper than the Vegas’ $16,299 MSRP.
|Saving money on the 8-Ball’s original purchase cost has the potential to give a rider customization options. In the case of our 8-Ball test bike, it is|