If you can imagine that the Cory Ness version of the Vegas Jackpot is the high paid supermodel of the bunch then you can think of the 8-Ball as the girl next door. The 8-ball isn’t covered with chrome this or billet that but rather its style is subtle and practical. The latter is especially true with these optional accessories added: windshield, detachable saddlebags, luggage rack, leather tool bag and electronic cruise control.
Even though the 8-Ball may not be “bling’d out” like some other cruisers it has a distinctive style none the less. I personally like the blacked out theme which makes the admirer look more closely for all of the details that this model offers. The mirrors, hand controls, belt guard, triple tree’s and other chrome bits that are standard on the Vegas receive the blackout treatment for the 8-Ball. There is a sprinkling of chrome however (e.g. exhaust, headlight cover and speedometer bezel and housing) so those that need their fix won’t have to go elsewhere.
It’s easy to see that from the 5 spoke cast-aluminum wheels to the scalloped fuel tank Victory shows that it can produce an attractive motorcycle that won’t put a hole in your wallet. There’s also no mistaking that this is an 8-Ball since the front fender has an 8-Ball decal adorning it.
If you take a moment to examine the dash you’ll notice a large speedometer and a small digital trip/odometer incorporated within it. The standard warning lights for engine, oil and low fuel along with lights for high beams, neutral indicator and turn signals are all present and accounted for. One thing that is missing is a tachometer which if you’re used to shifting via a shift light or at a certain point on the tach, this might take some time to get used to. It’d be nice if Victory could incorporate this into their dash but in the meantime we’ll just have to shift when the Freedom 100 starts screaming.
Similar to other Victory cruisers the 8-Ball has a low seat of 26.5 in. which makes it accessible for both men and women riders who aren’t graced with NBA height. The seating position is comfortable but with no passenger seat your journey will have to be a solo one. This is good or bad if you have a significant other who either wants you out of the house or wants to go with you on a ride. I’ll leave it to you to decide.
Powering the 8-Ball is Victory’s Freedom 100/5 v-twin engine with a displacement of 1,634 cc. With 4 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 8.7:1, this 4 stroke 50° v-twin engine produces 85 hp @ 4,750 rpm and 106 ft.-lbs. of torque @ 2,500 rpm. The engine is loads of fun and has enough power when you want to ratchet it up a notch. The stock exhaust makes a loud growling sound when in the mid to upper rev range which is exactly where you should keep the rpm’s for maximum enjoyment (e.g. growl -> shift -> repeat).
Victory has standardized on dual 45 mm throttle bodies feeding air into their engines and as usual their EFI (electronic fuel injection) was perfect. Even during top gear roll-on’s there was no sluggishness despite high humidity and hot temperatures.
The 8-Ball features a 5 speed gearbox (with a carbon fiber reinforced belt) instead of a more common 6 speed transmission. Although having that 6th gear is sometimes necessary on some motorcycles it’s not missed at all on the 8-Ball. The stock gear ratios are ideal for cruising and there was very little buzzing (normally due to excessively high rpm’s or light bar end weights) felt in the handlebars or foot pegs while traveling at highway speeds.
Those that want a cruiser with a large rear 250mm tire might be disappointed to find out that the 8-Ball only comes with a 180mm. Sure big rear rubber looks cool but Dunlop’s Elite 3 rear (size: 180/55 R18) and matching front (size: 90/90 R21) worked extremely well. So well in fact that you’ll find yourself pushing the 8-Ball a little harder in the corners than it should be pushed. OK, fine, maybe that’s just me but you’ll certainly notice how flickable the 8-Ball is and how easy it is to maneuver it around parking lots or through city traffic.
That skinny (by comparison to a 250mm) rear tire not only aids in the handling department but it also helps disguise the 662 lbs. (full of fluids) that the 8-Ball weighs in at. Of course shedding a hundred pounds or so would be beneficial but for a motorcycle that tips the scales at over 600 lbs. you would think that you’re riding a bike half its size.
Suspension wise the 8-Ball has a 43 mm conventional style front fork with a single mono-tube shock in the rear (adjustments for preload only). Although I’m getting used to cruiser manufacturer’s supplying suspensions with limited adjustability I still believe that there are riders (yours truly included) who would want a fully adjustable suspension package on their cruiser. Then again I could be wrong as just like the Ness, the 8-Ball’s factory setting’s proved to be a worthy competitor for the back roads I took it on.
The 8-Ball comes stock with a single 4 piston caliper grabbing a 300 mm disc in front and a 2 piston caliper squeezing another 300 mm disc in the rear. Having steel braided brake lines instead of rubber lines helps in the removal of that mushiness that can sometimes be felt when squeezing the brake levers. While I’m glad to see this upgrade the brakes overall could be improved.
The 8-Ball has a fuel tank size of 4.5 gal. and with all sorts of highway conditions (including heavy traffic) I was averaging about 35-38 mpg. So if you put on less than 170 miles a week in commuting to and from your job you would theoretically fill-up only once while using the 8-Ball as a daily commuter. Filling this tank, even with premium fuel, should cost about a 1/3 of what it would cost you to fill up your car or truck.
Since you’re going to be doing much more commuting and more extended riding on the weekends let me reassure you that having the saddle bags, cruise control and windshield are features you’ll soon grow accustom to. You’ll then ask yourself: “How did I ever ride without them?”
The saddle bags provide abundant storage; so much so I was finding stuff to put in them just because. These bags aren’t the biggest but they’re not the smallest either. Each bag measures 11.5 in. x 16 in. (at the widest point) and easily stored my laptop with room to spare. Combine the 12 in. x 7 in. luggage rack and leather tool bag and you have plenty of space for almost anything (leave the couch at home though).
The 17 in. x 10 in. windshield gave ample protection from the wind at highway speeds and did a good job of deflecting the rain when the forecasters didn\'t call for a cloud in the sky (at least they were 50% right). I’ll admit I never understood why cruise control would be necessary on a motorcycle but after using it I can definitely see the benefits. Droning along for miles and miles while keeping your wrist on the throttle is far from fun. Eliminating that need with some technology is fine by me. However this isn’t an open invitation to click it on when you see a small opening in front of you while you’re on the way to 7-Eleven.
Victory’s 8-Ball proves that you can be parlaying your enthusiasm about motorcycles into your everyday lifestyle. If I could ride to work every day the words: “Where do I sign up?” couldn\'t come out fast enough. Unfortunately the weather in my area isn’t always conducive for that (i.e. snow, black ice, freezing temperatures, etc.) but for those months out of the year that Mother Nature creates blue skies with abundant golden sunshine I’d be taking the 8-Ball to work every chance I got.
The 2009 Victory Vegas 8-Ball has a manufacturer\'s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $13,799. This is $2,500 cheaper than the standard Vegas’ $16,299 MSRP because it lacks some of the chrome and styling cues from the Vegas. Still though, the 8-Ball is a head turner and with the money saved you now have gas money for the entire year. Visit Victory\'s web site for more information.