Friday, April 6th, 2012
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Looking cool has never been easier
Every time I hear the word “highball” I dream about an old girlfriend. I also can’t help thinking of the Rat Pack, all the boozy style they brought to the table and their ring-a-ding-ding.
For you teetotalers reading this, traditionally a highball is basically any alcoholic drink served in a tall glass with ice. In the railroad industry, the word refers to a ball of light that is hoisted to the top of a pole to signal the initial moving of a train or to indicate a locomotive is cleared to run at full speed. A totally different meaning comes from military slang for a hand salute. More recently, the folks at Victory Motorcycles have thrown their two cents in the mix and brought the term to the motorcycle world by creating a new, factory-built, apehanger-clad, classic bobber and naming it the High-Ball.
Released in 2011 as an early 2012 model, it was created by transforming the company’s popular Vegas platform into simple ones, but they definitely produced some dramatic effects. First, it comes in any color you want so long as its Suede Black with graphics. Secondly, passengers are not welcome since the 25″ high seat is solo and the only place to put your feet is on the forward controls. And, finally, it only has a small single gauge that contains the speedo, tach, tripmeter, and idiot lights.
One for the bigger changes the engineers made was to give this bike a new stance by getting rid of the 90-21″ and 180-18″ tires found on a standard Vegas. Instead, the High-Ball rolls on whitewall Dunlop Cruisemaxx rubber fitted on 16″ stainless steel spoked wheels that feature gloss black rims and hubs. To maximize this look, the rear wheel has been slimmed to 150mm while the front has been plumped up like a Thanksgiving turkey to a 130mm. The chubby front wheel is stuffed unber a minimalist front fender while new triple trees accommodate it by widening the bike’s rake to 31.7 degrees and increased its rail to 6.7″.
Moving up from there, it’s hard not to notice the high-rise apehangers. The neat thing with these bars is that they can be adjusted in either an upright or laid-back position. Since the hoses and cables need not to be changed, this task can be done rather quickly and easily using a couple of Allen wrenches (5mm-6mm) and a screw driver to realign the switch housing. A bonus is that between the two settings the only place this bike would be illegal is in the 51st state. Surprisingly, I found I had plenty of leverage even with the bars in the high position.
With the High-Ball Victory has taken blacked-out style one step further than it did on the Vegas 8-Ball since everything is blacked out, including mirrors, exhaust, handlebars, headlight bucket, triple trees, frame, fender struts, cylinder heads and covers.
Overall, the changes work well on this bike, and it has a smooth, comfortable ride, but there are still a few things on the High-Ball that are remainders of where it came from. Most notable is that frenched-in taillight and the raised spine that runs the length of the bike atop the fenders and the fuel tank. In actuality, the only difference in sheet metal is the new front fender and 4.5 gallon gas tank that has a painted-on logo rather than a badge.
Like all the company’s cruisers, this model’s powertrain is a fuel-injected, counterbalanced 50-degree 106″ Freedom VB-Twin engine with Stage 2 cams that is mated to the standard six-speed gearbox. A gear-driven primary drive with torque compensator delivers power to the rear wheel through a right-side, carbon fiber reinforced belt. I have no reason not to believe the claimed 97 hp and 113 ft-lbs. of torque since the bike is a quick and responsive in all situations. So much so that I totally appreciate the fact that there are front and back 300 mm floating discs being squeezed by a four piston caliper up front and a two-piston binder out back.
I was surprised how much I liked cruising around on the High-Ball. Nothing makes me feel more wanted then riding with my knuckles pointed skyward, feeling like a badass while being totally legal on a $13,499 production motorcycle. I know that’s inconceivable, isn’t it?
When you come down to it, I’m not so sure if I would like this bike as much if I were in the saddle for a few long days, but I didn’t even try to use it for that. In my opinion, this bike is most at home cruising around town trying to make its rider look cool, so that’s what I did with it.
Truth to be told, the most fun I had with the bike was cruising the highway with one of my favorite low profile helmets then I just park it, kick back, and drink some bourbon highballs with the girls.
Courtesy of American Iron Magazine by Joe Knezevic