2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball TestThe phrase “less is more” is certainly a well-worn cliché. However, in the case of the 2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball, the cliché becomes a fact. It is the least expensive motorcycle in the Victory lineup at $12,499, yet it may be the best choice for the buyer who is focused on riding above all else.
The Vegas 8-Ball is stripped down to the basics, which is the hallmark of the various 8-Ball bikes in the Victory lineup. Regardless, the Vegas retains Victory’s signature Freedom 106/6 powerplant, so you get all the power you pay for in Victory’s premium offerings. In this case, we’re talking 110 ft.-lb. of torque at peak output – serious grunt.Hop on the 2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball and you are rewarded with a truly natural riding position, thanks to pulled back bars and moderately forward pegs. The solo seat supports you nicely, and it’s low to the ground – just over 25 inches above tarmac.The Vegas 8-Ball weighs in at a claimed 638 pounds dry, making it the lightest of the Victory cruisers. At a rest or in action, the Vegas 8-Ball does not feel heavy. The ergonomics and low center of gravity conspire to disguise the mass of the tallish motor, which features an overhead cam and four valves in each cylinder, and 108mm stroke (the bore sits at 101mm). Up front, a 21-inch Dunlop Elite 3 keeps the steering light, and the Dunlop on the rear is a reasonable 180mm, so the bike is willing to change directions.In town, you can slide between cars with ease, and roll-on power is good, but not overwhelming. To really tap into the Freedom 106/6 power, you need to let it rev a bit. The bars aren’t too wide, and the mirrors are small, so maneuverability is good. Sure, the bike isn’t short at 97-inches long (wheelbase is 67 inches), but the design of the Vegas makes it feel much smaller than it is on the spec sheet.If you take it out into hill country to your favorite watering hole, the Vegas 8-Ball is willing to go along, though most of its performance will be in a straight line. Cornering clearance is limited, and we wish the pegs were spring loaded. It’s easy to touch the feelers down, so we’d like a little resistance and pop back when they do.Working within the parameters of the cornering clearance limitations, the 2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball has quite good handling.Bikes with 21s can have a sketchy front end, but the burly 43mm forks, high-quality Dunlop rubber and excellent seating position all make the bike feel reasonably planted in turns. The rear wheel travel is only three inches, but that’s only a problem on rough roads – on smooth turns it is fine.Winding the motor up a bit will get you moving at serious speed, so rely on the 300mm rear disc brake and let the 18-inch tire put some rubber on the road.There’s a single 300mm floating disc with a four-piston caliper up front, which is fine for the small contact patch of the 21-inch Dunlop. There’s no ABS, so you do have to pay attention on less than ideal surfaces – I did skid the rear a few times coming up to red lights at oily intersections.Freeway and highway riding is fairly comfortable. The balanced Freedom 106/6 motor never fully smooths out, so you’ll want to take breaks every now and then. After 60 miles, I was usually ready to get off and give my arms (from holding on in the wind) and legs a bit of relief. Riders with back and neck issues will be glad to know that the bike puts no pressure on those areas. The solo seat rides as good as it looks, even on hours-long tours over city streets.I had the same transmission issues with the 2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball as I did with the 2014 Victory Judge – when in neutral at a stop, it often takes two downshifts to get into first. You get a good feel and sound as if the tranny has engaged, yet it stays in neutral. This happened often enough to be annoying, and it’s embarrassing when you’re in the front row of vehicles to not pull away smartly when the light turns green.Befitting of the bike’s 8-Ball status, everything about it is sparse but fully adequate, from the paint and styling, to the instrumentation and adornment. Having said that, the Vegas 8-Ball isn’t quite a Plain Jane machine; the wheels are top-notch and attention grabbers on the primarily blacked-out machine. The thin front fender is nice, as is the tire-hugging rear fender. Victory has a distinctive style for its headlights, and it looks great in all black on the Vegas.There really are two customers for the Vegas 8-Ball. One is the pure rider who wants a big bruising cruiser without any bells and whistles. The other would be someone looking to fully customize the bike and wants as blank a canvas as he can get. Either way, the 2014 Victory Vegas 8-Ball delivers a truly enjoyable riding experience, and that is why we get in the saddle – especially a solo perch.Photography by Kelly CallanRiding Style:
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!