Editor’s Note: According to my Madmen 60‘s cocktail app, a High Ball is an old school drink combining an alcohol and a mixer, and includes classics like the Greyhound, Seven and Seven, and the Moscow Mule. This Editor and his magazine do not endorse mixing alcohol and riding. We just wanted an excuse to talk about Madmen…
By Gary Mraz
This matte-black bobber sporting apehangers wreaks attitude and offers two-positions (straight up or slightly laid back). It’s a really cool feature that allows you to adjust your attitude to any situation. In the upright and “in the wind position”, the reach is comfortable from the 25-inch high saddle (second lowest in Victory’s lineup) putting the average rider bolt upright and with a slight forward lean. The alternate bar position is more relaxed and closer to the rider like found on other Victory cruiser models. Setting to the factory suggested markers, grip positions drop from full up by a whopping 8.9-inches and come back 5.4-inches. A comfortable riding position can be found for even the vertically challenged riders. The handlebar and triple tree clamps are solid, reducing the flex to nothing more than a standard handlebar.
But how does it ride? At first glance, it appears that fashion has won over function in the styling department, but the arms-up riding position was more comfortable than expected. For boulevard cruising and local hops, the fuel-injected SOHC 106 packs enough punch in the saddle to rocket from traffic signs with a smile on your face, while the high bars bring back your street cred by adding a bad-boy look.
Functionally, the High-Ball is defined by those high bars and its pair of matched 16 x 3.5-inch wire-spoke wheels. The front tire is a fat 130 while the rear is a fatter 150. This combination makes it one of the better handling bikes in the company’s pure-cruiser stable. It turns with neutral ease. Also, despite its “low” ride, its suspension does a good job eating bumps, from potholes to railroad tracks.
The High Ball, chrome-less except for the 60-spoke lace wheels, is known through its unique styling cues, including its short front fender, and the bodywork that has a raised spine running atop the fenders and fuel tank for the length of the bike. Rolling on a pair of 16-inch laced wheels wrapped with Dunlop Cruisemax tires (120/90 up front and 150/80 out back), handling is light and fun. The bike itself is relatively light, too – lightweight enough to pick up off the side stand with only your legs; it weighs in at about 700 pounds (659 claimed dry weight). It’s more flickable than other big-inch cruisers I’ve ridden thanks to the unique leverage on the bars as well as the tweaked geometry.
High-Ball is a single-seat Bobber with no passenger provisions. The front fender is bobbed, and nearly every item is in black or matte black, save for the gauge body and highlights on the engine’s cooling fins. Its couple of shiny parts are only there to remind you that the rest of the bike isn’t shiny. Even the bars are black. The blackedout engine is Victory’s 1731cc , 106-cubic incher. The single analogue gauge includes a digital window that can be scrolled to show the tach and gear-position indicator, odometer, tripmeter, or clock.
Clamping down on the pair of 300mm floating rotors with a 4-piston caliper in front and a 2-piston rear brings the Hi-Ball to a halt. Victory offers various options for the High-Ball, including custom aluminum grips, pegs and a few other do-dads, and an opened up airbox and exhaust system. For those two later parts, digital information is included for reprogramming the ECU. In roll-on comparisons during our ride, between one with the breathed-on mods and a stock High-Ball, the modified version walked the other bike in the top three gears, multiplying its advantage once it reached higher rpm. Both bikes exhibited excellent EFI response throughout the rev range.
While similar in appearance, the High-Ball is more compact than the Vegas’ line-up, making for a more nimble ride by way of a tighter rake (by 1.2-inches), longer trail, and yet a shorter wheelbase (64.8-inches) as well as overall length (92.5-inches).
With Victory’s DNA seeping into every aspect, from the ridged spine on the tank and fender, to the slash-cut dual exhaust, to the two-tone headlight nacelle, the high-bar addition to this modified Vegas 8-Ball is a perfect fit.
The bottom line for feel of performance is that the $14,499 High-Ball is without glitches and, as mentioned, it handles damn well and with ease. As with all Victory’s, it’s got a beauty of a powerplant with barely a vibration reaching the rider.