2005 Victory Hammer & 8-Ball Intro

Touring Cruiser, Vegas, Kingpin, they’re all equipped with an excellent 92 cubic inch overhead cam V-twin and they all tend to posses superior dynamic qualities compared to typical cruisers. This is because Victory hasn’t been mired in “tradition”, instead they’ve tried (successfully) to balance function with form. For 2005, Victory introduces two new models with drastically different executions. Their star player is the new “Hammer” with an extra-w-i-d-e- rear tire, a new 100 cubic inch V-Twin and a 6-Speed gearbox. The other new model is a blacked-out and de-contented Vegas based cruiser called the “8-Ball”. I was fortunate enough to ride both of these new models at a recent Victory Press Intro, held in the rolling foothills surrounding Austin Texas.

2005 Victory Hammer – MSRP $16,499

Victory labels the new Hammer as a “Power Cruiser”. However if you ask me (or look at our old dyno charts), all Victory motorcycles are “power cruisers”. I say this, because unlike most other manufacturers, Victory always gives you a full potency motor that hasn’t been “dumbed-down” for mass consumption. Furthermore, Victory motorcycles always have outstanding Brembo brakes, that aren’t tuned to feel like a handful of mashed potato-potatoes. Yes, I have a lot of respect for Victory and you’ll do well to keep that fact in mind, as I proceed to bitch and moan about their decision to saddle an otherwise decent bike with a silly 250mm wide rear tire.

Powered by a thoroughly redesigned version of the Freedom 92 motor, the Hammer’s Freedom 100/6 ads 8 cubic inches of displacement and an extra ratio to the gearbox. One might assume that the Freedom 100/6 is meant to be a Hot Rod but in reality, the idea was to add an “Overdrive” ratio to the gearbox and the displacement boost was aimed primarily at boosting low and midrange torque, to help prevent the motor from “lugging” while pulling that tall gear on the highway. Now displacing 1,634cc, the new engine is claimed to boost horsepower by 10% and torque by 22% over the Freedom 92. The last Freedom 92 we tested (2004 Kingpin) made 76.5Hp and 89.1LbFt, so if Victory’s claims are accurate, the new 100/6 should produce in the neighborhood of 84Hp and 109LbFt. Those numbers are nothing to sneeze at. Not content to rest on dyno figures alone, the Victory rep went on to tell me that the Hammer posts the same acceleration numbers as a 1,670cc Yamaha Warrior (3.9sec 0-60 and mid-12 second 1/4 mile times).

When the cover is on the seat, the windscreen’s black base still serves to deflect the breeze. If your trolling is successful, you simply pop the seat cowl off the passenger pad and snap it onto the windscreen base for instant passenger accommodations. This entire operation (not including the trolling and hook-up) takes about 5 seconds.

On the road, the Hammer did indeed feel stronger than the Freedom 92 powered 8-Ball that I rode on the same day. First gear acceleration is strong, linear and more importantly easy to modulate. However, the nature of the roads we were riding caused me to spend most of my time in the Hammer’s ultra-tall “Overdrive” sixth gear. If birds were chirping, I would have probably heard them, thanks to a redesigned valvetrain, primary gears and misc other internal parts that all serve to drastically reduce the signature gear whine of the V92 series. Cruising along at 80MPH through a beautiful 80° Texas day, the Hammer allowed me to relax and enjoy the undulating topography, fragrant vegetation and an occasional glimpse of a lake or river. Meanwhile, the Freedom turned over at a mere 2,900RPM with the little green O/D light shining merrily from the base of the tachometer.

MO Rides the Victory Factory Hop-Ups
(All kits are labeled “For Off-Road Use Only” and should be available April 2005)

Stage I: Free flow (louder) exhaust and revised ECU mapping. The Stage I bikes benefit from an enhanced sound and a slight but noticeable improvement in mid-to-high RPM breathing. Overall output and delivery remain somewhat docile, but the improvement in sound and tactile feedback means the kit is a worthy addition to any Freedom 92 or 100 engine. Though the power gains are modest, I found that the added “character” encouraged frequent twisting of the loud handle and made the Stage I Hammer more engaging to ride.

Stage II: Big Bore kit to convert Freedom 92 motors to 100 cubic inches.

Stage III: Includes the Stage I&II items, plus high performance cams. Victory says a properly tuned Stage III equipped Freedom V-Twin will generate 115Hp at 6,000 rpm. The lumpy cams added a noticeable edge to the Stage III’s exhaust note and backed that sound up with a healthy increase in pull. Due to the Hammer’s funky feeling rear end, I didn’t try any sideways shenanigans, but this motor would be an awesome addition to an 8-Ball, where the lighter weight and reasonable sized rear tire would encourage sideways corner exits and frequent smoky rolling burnouts.

Stage IV: Is a new 106 cubic inch Victory/S&S crate motor. This kit is claimed to generate 122+ Hp and 115LbFt of torque. No further details are available at this time.

Check this out! The chromed-out Stage I Hammer that I tested came equipped with a cool new body colored accessory windscreen. The screen is actually two pieces, with a black base and a painted cover that doubles as a sea cowl.

When the road tightened-up and called for a lower gear and a reduction in speed, the Hammer was more than happy to oblige, with low effort shifts that were smooth and positive. Fuel injection mapping and overall engine response are quite good and acceleration in the middle gears remains strong and progressive, allowing a choice of any one of three gears for most situations. Overall, I would rate the new Freedom 100 engine as a 15% improvement over the Freedom 92 engine and I think it’s a shame this engine isn’t available on the Touring oriented V92TC and Kingpin models.

Speaking of tighter roads and changes in speed, like all Victorys, the Hammer is graced with a set of Brembo brakes, braided stainless lines and dual 300mm rotors that are tuned more like a “standard” motorcycle than a cruiser. Even though the Hammer is not a lightweight and even though it has a moderately raked-out front end, the brakes allow effective speed retardation, with no noticeable fade and excellent feedback. Other cruiser manufacturers would do well to take note of the fact that just because it’s a “cruiser” doesn’t mean it has to brake like something from the 50s’. Once slowed sufficiently, the Hammer is able to lean 2° farther than the rest of the Vegas family, thanks
to a narrower bottom-end on the motor and a redesigned frame that mounts the footpegs closer to the bike’s centerline. When you get used to the compromises forced by the rear tire, it is possible to ride the Hammer at a reasonable backroad pace and you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up with the typical “barhopper” crowd.

Ergonomically speaking, the Hammer offers a moderate riding position, with a low seat, reasonably flat handlebars and moderately placed foreward-controls that offer a decent compromise between “pose” and control. The accommodations remained comfortable for several hours, aside from the usual lower back and arm fatigue caused from trying to fight windblast while sitting in an easy chair position. The Stage I Hammer that I rode was equipped with an accessory windscreen (see sidebar) that did a great job of alleviating the tiresome windblast and only caused the slightest amount of helmet buffeting.

Now that I’ve established the new engine situation and discussed the rest of the Hammer, it is time to cover the controversial (to me at least) key feature of the bike. How wide is “too wide”? That’s a question Victory’s engineers should have asked, before compromising an otherwise excellent motorcycle. Unfortunately, they saddled the new Hammer with a 250mm rear tire. Like all bikes with ultra-wide low-profile rear tires, the Hammer’s relatively flat rear contact patch causes the bike to misbehave on uneven surfaces, with an unsettling tendency to hunt, dart & weave, as the bike is leaned over on rough pavement. I suspect the major problem with this arrangement is that the tire’s profile creates a broad/flat contact patch with an awkward transition at the shoulders.

This problem is compounded by the fact that the contact patch moves nearly ten inches from side-to-side, while the front tire’s contact patch remains near the bike’s centerline, when the bike is leaned into a turn. The effect is something like trying to lever the rear end
up and over onto its sidewall and once the desired lean angle is established, it takes constant input to maintain a smooth cornering arc. This isn’t a big deal on smooth pavement, but when a corner is off camber, the tip-in takes additional concentration and muscle. Transitional behavior suffers as well, as the inherent imbalance between front and rear causes the bike to react more slowly to steering inputs. By comparison, the “normal” tires on the 8-Ball made it feel like a TZ-250 roadracer, next to the comparatively dimwitted handling of the Hammer. However, even with my admitted bias for function-over-form, I must admit that the Hammer looks pretty cool from behind. When following a Hammer on the road, the rear tire disappears into the closely fit rear fender and the whole assembly looks great, in a muscular sort of way. An added benefit is that the rider’s ass is made to look narrow in comparison, so you big boys out there can impress the ladies with your trim physique, at least until you stand-up that is.

The Hammer presents a mixed bag of “improvements”. Its fit and finish are outstanding, and the new Freedom 100/6 powerplant should be standard on all of Victory’s motorcycles. However, this bike is really more of a styling exercise, than a true “rider’s” motorcycle. If you are looking for something flashy to roll up to the next group ride on, this might be the bike for you.

Hammer ** SPECS PROVIDED BY POLARIS ** MSRP $16,499

Engine
Engine Type 4-stroke 50° V-Twin
Cooling System Air/Oil
Displacement 100/1634 cu.in / cc
Bore x Stroke 101×102 mm x mm
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Valve Train Single overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic-adjusting cam chains, hydraulic lifters
Fuel System Electronic Fuel Injection with 44mm throttle bodies
Fuel Capacity 4.5/17.0 U.S. gallons/liters
Exhaust Large bore slash-cut dual exhaust with common volume
Oil Capacity 5/4.75 U.S. quarts/L
Charging System 38 amps max output
Battery 12 volts/18 amp hours
Primary Drive Gear drive with torque compensator
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed Overdrive constant mesh
Final Drive Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt
Brakes
Front Brake Dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers
Rear Brake 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Dimensions
Length 92.7/2355 in/mm
Wheelbase 65.7/1668.8 in/mm
Seat Height 26.4/669.3 in/mm
Ground Clearance 5.8/148 in/mm
Rake/Trail 32.9°/5.57/141.5 in/mm
Dry Weight 657/298.6 lbs/kg
GVWR 1165/529.5 lbs/kg
Suspension
Front Suspension Inverted cartridge telescopic fork, 43mm fork tube, 5.1in/130mm travel
Rear Suspension Single, mono-tube gas, Forged and Cast Aluminum with rising rate linkage swing-arm, 3.9in/100mm travel, Preload adjustable spring
Tires
Front Wheel 18×3.0 inches
Rear Wheel 18×8.5 inches
Front Tire 130/70R18 Dunlop Elite 3
Rear Tire 250/40R18 Dunlop Elite 3
Colors
Solid Colors Black, Indy Red, Cosmic Sunburst, Flame Yellow
Multiple Colors Indy Red with Tribal Tattoo, Toxic Green with Tribal Tattoo
MSRP
MSRP $16,499
*All specs are for standard Victory Models. Specs may change with the addition of custom order options. Seat height reflects 180 lb. operator weight. Prices listed are MSRP for stock solid black model. Alternate paint options or additional options may increase price. Victory reserves the right to change specifications at any time without incurring obligation.

2005 Victory 8-Ball – MSRP $12,999

The 8-Ball is the bike I’d buy, if I was shopping for a cruiser.Victory claims that they were surprised by the success of the 8-Ball. I have no idea why, because the 8-Ball is just about perfect in every way. Based on the popular “Vegas” platform, the 8-Ball is striped down and painted black, giving it a clean and purposeful look. Aside from its name, there is very little pretense in the 8-Ball. It is simply a roadster with handsome proportions and tasteful styling, ready to “go” at a moment’s notice.

I’m no cruiser guy, but my comments betray the fact that I obviously like the 8-Ball. Can you blame me?
While most of the Journalists in attendance made beelines for the Hammers, I didn’t hesitate to throw my leg over the new 8-Ball and set off on my own route to the lunchtime rendezvous.
Once underway, I found the familiar Vegas riding position and performance that I expected, with a slightly enhanced sportiness that I suspect was 50% “attitude” and 50% thanks to the fact that the 8-Ball is probably about fifty pounds lighter than a Vegas or Kingpin. Whatever it is, I had a ball locking-up the rear tire and hacking to a stop at lights (I can’t help myself, I’m just an idiot) then challenging the more powerful Hammers when those lights turned green. Surprisingly, the 8-Ball hung right with those Hammers from stoplight-to-stoplight, though MotorcycleUSA’s Kevin Duke claimed he “wasn’t trying”, I know he was giving that Hammer the whip. After all, be it Zuma scooter or ZX-10R, when he and I are together on press intros there is never a time when we aren’t racing each other.

The 8-Ball is powered by the same V92 motor as the Vegas and Kingpin, yet its lighter weight and roadster attitude make it a bit more fun to ride.Except of course, when I’m suckering him into full on dragstrip launches, as I sit there laughing while he roars away in front of the State Trooper. Press Intros sure are fun.

Back to this beautiful black bike. My only complaint is that both of the 8-Balls I rode in TX suffered from downright balky gearbox action on the 2-3 upshift. Downshifting wasn’t a problem, and aside from a couple of missed 2-3 shifts, I didn’t have any other problems with the 8-Ball. It handles better and costs a bundle less than the Hammer and has a cool, lean look that just begs you to customize it to your own idea of the perfect cruiser. There’s really isn’t much else to say about it that hasn’t already been covered in our Vegas or Kingpin reviews, except that this is the bike I would buy, if I was shopping for a cruiser. The 8-Ball just hits a “sweet-spot” in person and the only thing I’d add is a set of matte black passenger pegs, a small pillion seat and a Stage III kit.

8-Ball ** SPECS PROVIDED BY POLARIS ** MSRP $12,999

Engine
Engine Type 4-stroke 50° V-Twin
Cooling System Air/Oil
Displacement 92 cu in/1507cc
Bore x Stroke 97x102mm
Compression Ratio 9.2:1
Valve Train Single overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder, self-adjusting cam chains, hydraulic lifters
Fuel System Electronic Fuel Injection with 44mm throttle bodies
Fuel Capacity 4.5/17.0 U.S. gallons/liters
Exhaust Staggered slash-cut dual exhaust with common volume
Oil Capacity 6.0qts/5.7ltr
Charging System 38 amps max output
Battery 12 volts/18 amp hours
Primary Drive Gear drive with torque compensator
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Transmission 5-speed constant mesh
Final Drive Reinforced belt
Brakes
Front Brake 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston caliper
Rear Brake 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Dimensions
Length 96.3/2445 in/mm
Wheelbase 65.6/1690 in/mm
Seat Height 26.5/673 in/mm
Ground Clearance 5.8/148 in/mm
Rake/Trail 33.1°/5.28/134 in/mm
Dry Weight 620/281 lbs/kg
GVWR 1135/515 lbs/kg
Suspension
Front Suspension Conventional telescopic fork, 43mm diameter, 5.1in/130mm travel
Rear Suspension Single, mono-tube gas, forged and cast aluminum with rising rate linkage swing-arm, 3.9in/100mm travel, preload adjustable spring
Tires
Front Wheel 21×2.15in
Rear Wheel 18×5.0in
Front Tire 80 90/21 Dunlop Cruisemax
Rear Tire 180 55-B18 Dunlop D417
Colors
Solid Colors Black
MSRP
MSRP $12,999
*All specs are for standard Victory Models. Specs may change with the addition of custom order options. Seat height reflects 180 lb. operator weight. Prices listed are MSRP for stock solid black model. Alternate paint options or additional options may increase price. Victory reserves the right to change specifications at any time without incurring obligation.

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