Victory High Ball: The Solo Test Bike

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Lieback’s Corner (#12) / 8.24.2011

East Coast Motojournalists constantly struggle with one major problem – obtaining test bikes.

My options: either fly out to California and ride a bike back (actually not such a bad option), or find press fleets here on the East Coast, hopefully in relative distance to my hometown in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

And when you find a fleet from certain manufacturers, setting up the loaning process is a whole other rabid animal. But this wasn’t the case with my current test bike. After days of back-and-forth emails, I quickly got a new machine in the garage – a Victory High Ball. And the best part? I didn’t have to travel; the High Ball was delivered to my driveway.

I’ve always had a passion for cruisers, although 90-percent of my riding is split between sportbikes and sport-touring machines. But every year when the leaves are about to change I get that ape-hanging urge. And this is exactly the reason why I requested a High Ball.

I wanted all-out, ballsy horsepower on a slim chassis that screamed bad-boy styling. And the High Ball has these characteristics. Of course it’s far, far, far from the quick sportbikes (that I own) in my garage, and was built with one style in mind – laid-back cruising. But once you’ve scrapped the forward-control pegs down a bit, opening up additional lean angle, you can really have some spirited fun on backcountry roads.

Of course this kind of spirited riding becomes a quick challenge on a cruiser with 15-inch ape hangers, but the rewards of finding a style to push such a bike in the opposite direction it was designed for are endless.

But much more on that in my test, which won’t be complete until I surrender the High Ball back to my friends at Victory mid-September. But until then, this bike will be tested in every possible way.

As stated before, I may not have a garage full of shiny-new test bikes like every motorcycle journalist on the West Coast (including the Ultimate MotorCycling staff based in California), but when I do get one, it acquires almost 100-percent of my time.

I’ve already put over 800 miles on the High Ball, and that was just on my “Mountain Course” that’s used daily for spirited sportbike treks. I’m going to do much more canyon carving on those roads, some around-town cruising and take it touring on a few-day trip to Wildwood, N.J., for the Roar on the Shore event.

And like many other cruiser events, I’ll be descending on a plethora of Harley enthusiasts in Wildwood. Diverse opinions are bound to be heard about the High Ball, this V-Twin made from the “other” American company, Victory. The hometown Harley lovers opened up this assumption; just a few rides around town on the High Ball and a few Facebook pictures already got the local Harley crowd roaring…it’ll be interesting to throw it in an even larger crowd of ardent Harley folks.

These opinions count; there’s nothing more fulfilling to a journalist when he’s high on criticism, whether good or bad. And with only one bike in the test stable, there’s more time on the bike, which means more criticism. Sure, I’d rather have a garage full of test bikes, able to pick from various machines as the West Coast motojournalists do (and yes, I’m very jealous, but I love my East Coast), but one bike at a time has it’s positives.

The solo test bike becomes the center of attention, and allows a thorough testing, one that will help a fellow rider decide if the asking price is what the machine is worth. This puts a smile on my face, and gives much incentive to scrape those High Ball pegs down even further…

Stay twisted; throttle yr soul
– Ron Lieback

Lieback’s Corner is the Online Editor’s column, which delves into RL’s recent motorcycling mind breaths and wanderings.