There’s just no hiding it and be prepared to answer a lot of questions about it. I’ve never had more people ask me questions about a motorcycle when fueling up or at a stoplight as I did while on this Ness custom.
I can’t say that I’m surprised at people coming up to me as the paint quality on the Cory Ness Jackpot (hereby designated as: CNJ) is simply amazing. All the pin striping on the intricate design patterns are crisp and the same care given to the paint is given to the stitching on the seat which continues the theme. Everywhere your eye looks you see quality components and you come to realize that Cory took the time to understand what worked best and not just use something to “get the job done.” Good examples of this design philosophy are the chrome Ness handgrips, foot pegs, teardrop mirrors, engine covers and diamond cut cylinder fins. This is what truly separates the Ness edition apart from a crowded cruiser market.
One thing to note about the handgrips is that if you don’t own a pair of riding gloves you should buy them. The knurled grips give you great feel but unless you’re a stone mason or steel worker your palms are going to be chewed up after a long day of riding. You’ve been warned.
Sitting on the CNJ should be easy for anyone since it has a low seat height of 25.7 in. The seating position is less stretched out than you may think which is due to the positioning of the foot controls and the bars being swept back instead of straight across or raised up high. Actually I could’ve used another inch or so as I felt a little cramped. Not twisted like a pretzel mind you but after a couple of hours of riding it felt good to take a break and stretch.
With a rake of 33.5° and trail set at 5.12 in. the CNJ is a very stable motorcycle but like any cruiser it’s not a lightweight. Weighing in at 680 lbs. (full of fluids) those that aren’t used to large and/or elongated motorcycles need not apply. And since the CNJ has a wheelbase of 66.3 in. and an overall length of 95.9 in. it falls smack dab into that category.
While moving at speed that girth seems to disappear. It’s when doing slow maneuvers or backing it out of your garage that all that weight comes back to rear its ugly head. The last thing anyone wants to do is to have a tip-over, especially when this custom costs as much as a small to mid size car.
Alright, no more talk about bad mojo, let’s go to our happy place and clear our heads of such frightful images. Now insert and turn the key, press the starter button and then listen. There’s no mistaking that you’re sitting on top of a 1,731 cc v-twin engine. With 4 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 9.4:1, this 4 stroke 50° v-twin engine produces 97 hp @ 5,000 rpm and 113 ft.-lbs. of torque @ 4,300 rpm. With Stage 2 cams the Freedom 106/6 produces 12 hp and 7 ft.-lbs. of torque over the standard Vegas. Can you say torque monster? Oh baby! Twist the throttle hard when leaving from a dead stop and you’ll not only chirp the rear tire but it’ll also feel like you’re being shot out of a cannon. Loads of grunt down low and plenty of power throughout the rev range make you eat up blacktop fast.
The stock exhaust sounded nice but I’d like a little more noise especially when you have such a great engine beneath you. I’m not advocating pipes that sound like an F-14 Tomcat just did a flyby but something with a nice “hum” would really compliment the Freedom quite nicely.
With dual 45 mm throttle bodies feeding air into the engine you might be concerned about dead spots in the EFI (electronic fuel injection) but those concerns would be unfounded as there were none and the fuel injection was flawless. Even with temperatures in the 90’s there was no delay in throttle response although I’m sure there were a few ponies lost due to the hazy, hot and humid weather conditions.
If you do happen to glance down while you’re on the move you’ll notice a speedometer and a small digital trip/odometer starring back at you. Look more closely and you’ll also see warning lights for engine, oil and low fuel along with the standard lights for high beams, neutral indicator and turn signals. What? Can’t find the tachometer? Well that’s good since there isn’t one. Time to hone your hearing skills as when you hear the upper rev range approaching it’s time to shift.
Now no one wants to brag but if your friends don’t already know that this is a limited edition motorcycle one look at the numbered metal plate on the engine or the Cory Ness engraved logo on the air cleaner cover will surely tell them so. If they still don’t notice it you can subtlety point it out; I promise I won’t tell.
The 6 speed transmission with a carbon fiber reinforced belt was one of the best feeling and shifting cruiser transmissions I’ve come across. When you select a gear up or down its precise and with no interruptions. A few times I had an issue of finding neutral when stopped but I’ll attribute that to the gears being tight (the CNJ only had a few hundred miles on the odometer). That said, the clicking action was positive and when shifting you just knew that whichever gear you selected the gearbox was going to make it happen.
The CNJ has a fuel tank size of 4.5 gal. and even with my heavy right hand I was surprised to consistently get 35 mpg. Which if you’re doing the math is ~160 miles to the tank. Baby it and you might break the 175 mile mark but if you’re like me controlling your “go fast” alter ego is sometimes difficult so after 120 miles or so of riding I was looking to re-fuel.
Suspension wise the CNJ has a 43 mm conventional style front fork with a single mono-tube shock in the rear (adjustments for preload only). Since I couldn’t “dial-in” any settings I took what the factory provided and thankfully it was just right. It was like I was Goldilocks: “Not too hard and not to soft but just right.”
Hauling this cruiser down from 60 mph is 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. The steel braided brake lines not only added to the overall look of the CNJ but also provided a nice feel at the lever. Although these brakes aren’t going to win any awards they are none the less more than capable of doing their job effectively.
Whether standing still or on the move the CNJ has a stance that’s all business. Helping personify that character are the razor sharp looking rims with beefy rubber. With a front tire of 90/90 R21 (21 x 2.15 in.) and a rear tire at 250/40 R18 (18 x 8.5 in.) the CNJ is ready to either cruise down the boulevard or eat up the highway like a hungry tiger.
The Dunlop Elite 3 tires took everything I could throw at them and seemed no worse for wear after long periods of riding. I for one was not going to return these tires with the huge chicken strips that were present when I first picked up the CNJ.
I should also mention that I think these tires work best in dry conditions as when a few thunderstorms rolled into town the Elite’s weren’t very confidence inspiring.
Having a fat rear tire looks great and works fine if you’re going in a straight line but deviate from that thinking and you\'ll find out why every motorcycle doesn’t have a 250-280 mm tire out back. Unfortunately the CNJ’s handling is hindered somewhat by this feature. Sure it will go through tight winding roads but only because your route happened to find them. Stick to long gradual sweepers and smooth paved roads and the CNJ will feel right at home.
Clearly this motorcycle is not for everyone (especially beginner riders) but rather for those that are utterly familiar with riding this type of motorcycle and want a custom cruiser without paying an exorbitant amount of money to get one (think custom built choppers). Cory Ness has turned a production based motorcycle into something special and his vision can easily stand alongside any custom one off cruiser/chopper built.
The 2009 Victory Cory Ness Signature Series Jackpot has a manufacturer\'s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $24,499. This is a $6,000 premium over the standard Vegas Jackpot since that’s priced at $18,499 but for that extra money you have a motorcycle not many can say they own.