Divine Wheels?

July 14, 2009 at 6:55 am 1 comment

That’s a real church. And that’s also a real motorcycle. Were they meant to go together, like, divinely? Maybe not. But do they? Oh yeah. Like crankcase and dipstick. Like wafer and wine.

Real church and a Real motorcycle. Divine? Heaven-sent? Yes, both, both.

Real church and a Real motorcycle. Divine? Heaven-sent? Yes, both, both.

Victory motorcycles recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary. I was fortunate enough to be at the original introduction event near the company’s headquarters in Minneapolis, where the leaders of Polaris Industries (Victory’s parent) introduced the 1998 Victory V92C. It was a motorcycle that appealed only to a few fans of classic cruisers. It was five more years before Victory introduced the Vegas, the stylish motorcycle that began to show the real Victory attitude. Maybe it took that long for the manufacturer to find its religion? Aahh, enough of the church references, for now.

Like the church of the same name, Victory has found its independence. The Jackpot is just one example of this. Take a close look at what the manufacturer is doing with Arlen Ness, and especially with its new Vision touring bikes. Independent, for sure.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been racking up the miles six days a week on the 2009 Victory Jackpot. On the seventh day, I’m at church, one just down the road from this one. And at about 100 miles a day of commuting and fun, I can say a thing or two about this Minnesota Made Motorcycle (hmm, 3M?).

The first few miles of every ride on this Jackpot are almost always the same. A couple miles out of my neighborhood and I hit the freeway where I’m greeted by more head-turning auto pilots than I’ve ever experienced in Southern California motorcycling. I’ve hucked down the freeway on a scooter. I’ve transformed local scenery on the eye-catching Suzuki B-King. Neither of these two-wheeled treks got me the looks like I got aboard the Victory Jackpot. It’s a cruiser, yes, and often mistaken for a “Harley,” and yet it has a visual appeal that is unmatched. And that all happens in the first few minutes of my ride, and the ego trip begins.

I’m not even a visual-appeal kinda guy; I’m usually more about function than fashion. The Jackpot’s 106-cubic-inch six-speed engine delivers a stated 97 hp and 113 ft. lbs. of torque. Hey, I’m just a guy with a blog – no dyno – but I know one thing: The Jackpot packs the power. It maintains a fairly light dry weight of 649 pounds. That power-to-weight ratio gives a powerful reward to any rider with a twitchy throttle hand. Best of all, for my crazy Cal. commute, I can quickly power around the freeway’s desert-race trucks, Italian sports cars and those sensible Hummer limos. And they say motorcyclists are crazy, but I digress.

The independent designers certainly gave the Jackpot a great look with that thin front tire on a beautiful styled wheel closed out with that fat 250 meat at the rear end. This stylish punch does require a different handling technique, but it’s not difficult to master. And I’m not going to be one of those writers who complains that this long cruiser scrapes the pegs in corners and handles more slowly than a sport bike. Yes, all that’s true, and it’s okay.

The front forks do an adequate job of smoothing the ride. The only issue on the front end appears when leaned over a bit and you hit a squared-off bump at high-speed – not uncommon in California freeway riding. That narrow front rubber can send some jarring feedback up through the bars. Just need to be prepared for that.

Rear suspension action is better than I thought it would be on this eye-catching bike. The rear shock sucks up otherwise-jarring highway bumps very well; I was surprised. With a seat that’s fairly thin and leaves no room for movement, this compliant shock is much appreciated.

These fundamental motorcycle strengths can make you forget you’re on one of the best-looking cruisers available today. Until another driver idles up staring at you. One fundamental I would like is a more complete gauge package – give me a tach, and a fuel gauge, please.
No doubt Victory is on a mission with its inimitable cruisers. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 10 years now. And the manufacturer certainly has a long way to go. Name recognition remains weak – I talk to a lot of veteran motorcyclists who have heard of Polaris snowmobiles but not Victory motorcycles.

But maybe if it expands this unique partnership with churches nationwide …


Entry filed under: Motorcycle/ATV, Personal.

Give – whatever ya got Misleading For Sales: The New Journalism?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Bill Kniegge  |  July 16, 2009 at 3:34 am

    Nice little story on the King-Pin… I had a similar experience on their Vision last Spring… several weeks of riding in CA and several thousand miles. Yes.. they are just quietly gong about the business of building nice products that peoople will enjoy owning.. Looks !! As you say… amazing how attractive they are to folks in 4 wheelers on the freeway.. Keep it up Victory.


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