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Victory Cory Ness edition is a cool way to cruise

July 14, 2006|by ARV VOSS / Motor Matters

Victory claims to be the fastest-growing motorcycle brand in the U.S. with its mid-year 2005 sales amounting to 51 percent over 2004. That may or may not be because Victory is the "new kid on the block" as far as American-produced motorcycles are concerned. Victory actually became the first new American brand of cruiser motorcycles in more than 60 years when it built the first V92C in 1998, on July 4 - and you can't get much more American than that.

Victory is made by the motorcycle division of Polaris Industries, which is a $1.8 billion manufacturer of world-class ATVs, snowmobiles and utility vehicles, with more than 50 years of engineering and manufacturing experience. There are currently six basic models of Victory cruisers: Hammer; Kingpin; Vegas; Vegas 8-Ball; Vegas Jackpot and Touring Cruiser.

In addition, there are two unique factory showroom custom bikes based upon the Victory Vegas Jackpot, produced in limited edition numbers as the "Ness Signature Series." They are designed by none other than the royalty of the custom motorcycle scene, Arlen and Cory Ness, who also happen to be highly successful Victory dealers.

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In terms of the mechanics, both special edition Ness Signature Series bikes are the same - both are powered by Victory's Freedom counterbalanced 100/6 V-Twin, 4-stroke 50-degree, SOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder, air/oil-cooled 1634cc motor with electronic fuel injection, which delivers 90-plus lbs.-ft. of torque at the rear wheel. The transmission is a six-speed manual overdrive unit. The primary drive is a gear drive with a torque compensator, and the final drive is a carbon fiber-reinforced belt. Exhaust gases exit via dual right-side, slash-cut staggered pipes.

Both bikes sport frame-hugging body work that incorporates a sculpted, raised-center spine from the front fender through the stretched tank to the massive rear fender - a Vegas trait. Both also feature a flame-stitched, Danny Gray custom seat, and ride on Dunlop rubber - Cruisemax 80 90/21 up front and a huge Elite 3 250/40R18 out back mounted on custom chrome, billet wheels, which differ in style (as does the paint scheme) between dad, Arlen's, and son, Cory's, versions. The Arlen Ness wheels are five-spoke "Jagged-Ness," while the Cory Ness units are stylish, seven-spoke "Evil" 7-inch wheels.

The Arlen Signature bike's paint theme consists of silver tribal flame graphics over gold scallops on a Supersonic Blue base. Cory's Signature Vegas Jackpot displays a more traditional flame design, fading from blue to purple metallic with outlined silver striping on a Black base. Six coats of clear finish cover both custom paint jobs.

My test ride was the 2006 Cory Ness Signature Victory Vegas Jackpot model. The base price was set at $22,400, which includes essentially everything, but you can expect roughly an additional 8 to 10 percent for dealer handling, preparation and delivery, or a maximum of $24,640. This isn't bad at all, considering that this is a turnkey showroom custom bike that exhibits a tendency to turn heads everywhere. There's plenty of "Ness-ness" to be found on the Cory bike, with all its Arlen Ness Collection billet and chrome accessories, but not to the same degree as displayed on Arlen's version - after all, he's the original custom king. Individual signatures appear on the oil tank cover, with lots of other Ness accessories in abundance.

SUMMARY: A Victory Ness Signature Series Vegas Jackpot bike is the way to go if you happen to be in the market for a custom bike right off the showroom floor. The bike is low and sinister, with an aggressive stance, even when it's at rest on the side stand - it really looks fast simply sitting there. Starting the bike may prove to be a chore to the uninitiated as the ignition cylinder is set in a panel that nestles out of sight between the cylinders on the bike's left side. Bike security is provided by frame/fork lock loops rather than by key-lock forks.

The riding position is ideal with its low 26.5-inch seat height, easy-to-reach forward foot controls and curved, drag-style bars with pullback risers. The bike delivers plenty of power when the custom, chrome flame design grip throttle is rolled on, and shifts are made easily, via the six-speed gearbox, though with a semi-soft clunk.

Riding technique requires some adjustment if you've never straddled a bike with a massive 250mm rear donut, as it tends to dictate the directional stability in tight turns and when encountering road surface irregularities. Put a little more muscle into the bars to get it over. Wide sweepers are no problem at all, but rapidly entering tight twisties quickly reminds one that the Vegas Jackpot is really much happier when going in a straight line. The ride quality is on the soft side, but well damped and not objectionable at all. The passenger pillion's leading edge provides a welcome lumbar support for those longer rides.

The good news: The Ness Signature Series Victory Vegas Jackpot (either version) is stunning in its appearance and pleasing in its performance. The bad news: Production is set to a mere 250 each, so accessibility will also be limited.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2006

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