The Cheshire Cat has nothing on the grin pasted to my face. It would be seen from a mile away if it wasn’t hiding under my helmet.
I’m surprised that the apehangers are allowing this bike to manoeuvre so well. Grrrrind, another tight turn and a little more metal disappears from the underside of the foot pegs, and occasionally the exhaust. For what Victory calls its “bare bones, badass bobber,” the High-Ball is surprisingly flickable around town.
|For 2014, cast wheels replace the spoked ones on the 2013 black and white High-Ball pictured here. The flamed version below keeps the spokes.|
The matte black and cream look is subtle but strong; I can’t imagine what you could do to the bike to improve on its looks. The lines are clean and flowing, with just the right amount of attitude. The stripped-down, minimalist look works. It’s like rock artist Pink in a little black evening gown. Or, if you need to reach a little further back in time, Billy Idol in a tuxedo.
Riding around town, I can’t help but feel cool and a little macho. The most obvious impetus of this new found attitude is the ape-hangers. I had imagined that they would be quite uncomfortable, but even after an hour’s ride into the countryside, I’m still at ease. The forward pegs and high bars result in a riding position that puts your arms up high and forward, waist back and feet forward, completing a C-like position that almost looks and feels like a yoga move.
A nice Victory detail allows the ape-hangers to be adjusted; if you happen to be riding in a jurisdiction that has an issue with your stance (meaning the distance between the seat height and the grips, which is restricted in some provinces and states), simply drop them down and back to keep the authorities happy.
The engine is a blacked-out version of Victory’s fuel-injected, air/oil-cooled 106 cubic inch Freedom V-twin, and it pulls nice — real nice. The spec sheet claims 97 horsepower and 110 lb-ft of torque, and judging by the internal glee deep inside me as I accelerate away from every stoplight, it’s all there. Despite riding bikes with more horsepower the day before I rode the High-Ball (including an afternoon on a modified 240 hp Triumph Rocket III), I’m more than satisfied with the Victory’s power. The staggered slash-cut dual exhaust even has a nice bark to it without being annoying to the churchgoers on Sunday morning.
A loud clunk is heard when the bike is put into gear and while shifting in the lower gears — all part of the attitude, I guess. Otherwise, shifting is very smooth and positive. Cruising down the freeway, sixth gear serves as a real overdrive gear, meaning that if you want to get around someone quickly, you will want to downshift for more get up and go.
The bike rides low, with a 635 mm (25.0 inch) seat height, but the suspension soaks up pavement cracks in town and is stiff enough to carve sweeping corners without bottoming out. The High-Ball uses a 46 mm conventional fork up front (up 3 mm from 2013) and an air adjustable mono tube rear shock that gives the back end a clean, classic bobber look. Twin rear shocks would compromise the look, so kudos to Victory for keeping styling at the forefront. The swingarm is a massive cast alloy piece with a clean, 3-D forged alloy caliper backing plate.
|Apehangers and whitewall tires bring attitude and style. 106 cubic inches of V-twin muscle provide plenty of power.|
For 2014, the two 16 x 3.5 inch wire spoke rims of our 2013 tester have been replaced by cast versions on the black and white-themed High-Ball, while a black and flamed model retains the classic spokes. Each sports a meaty 130 tire on the front and 150 on the back, whitewalls serving as a throwback to an earlier time.
A small, round, analogue-style speedometer is mounted high enough between the bars to make it easily visible, and all info is contained within the speedo face including a neutral indicator, gear indicator, turn signals, odometer, clock, high beams, low fuel, tripmeter and assorted diagnostic lights. A button on the High-Ball’s switchgear of the left handlebar allows you to toggle between the odometer, tripmeter and tach. Overall, the gauge cluster is clear and easy to read.
|The High-Ball shows off attention to detail and has a quality finish throughout.|
Slowing the 300 kg (659 lb, dry) machine down are single 300 mm floating rotors at each end. Unlike other models in the Victory fleet, there’s no ABS, and though the stopping power seems adequate, I suspect that a second rotor on the front of the bike (standard on Victory’s touring and bagger lines) would be welcomed in emergency events.
Victory is now in its 16th year of producing American motorcycles with over 100,000 units sold. The $14,999 High-Ball is one of six cruisers in Victory’s 2014 range.
With the High-Ball, Victory has achieved an ideal balance between performance and styling. It exudes personality and attitude while remaining refined and charming, just like a custom production motorcycle should.
Great styling, attitude and personality
High functionality for a bare-bones bobber
Mirrors needs a longer stock so knuckles don’t contact it
No steering lock
2014 Victory High Ball
Suggested Retail: $14,999
Colours: Suede Black & White, Suede Black with Flames
Engine: Air/oil-cooled Freedom 106/6 V-twin
Displacement: 106 ci / 1,731 cc
Bore & Stroke: 101 x 108 mm
Compression Ratio: 9.4:1
Power: 97 bhp, claimed
Torque: 113 lb-ft, claimed
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
Final Drive: Carbon fibre-reinforced belt
Weight: 300 kg (659 lb), dry
Transmission: Six-speed with overdrive
Frame: Tubular steel double-cradle
Wheelbase: 1,647 mm (64.8 in)
Seat Height: 635 mm (25.0 in)
Suspension (front): Conventional 43 mm telescopic fork
Suspension (rear): Mono tube with constant-rate linkage, air adjustable
Tire (front): 130/90-16 67H Metzeler 880
Tire (rear): 150/80-16 71H Metzeler 880
Brakes (front): Single 300 mm floating rotor with four-piston caliper
Brakes (rear): Single 300 mm floating rotor with two-piston caliper
Fuel Capacity: 17 L