Victory Vegas 8-Ball Project: Part 1

Automobiles 3299 Hits > 2010-07-23 23:02:34

Victory Vegas 8-Ball Project: Part 1

Cyber technology has all but eliminated the finger dance in the Yellow Pages, but we still have paper catalogs to help with our shopping. Trees continue to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we, as human beings and rulers of the planet, can do what we do best, and that’s consume.

As master of Evil 8 (our project bike, so named because its VIN number ends with 666), we dog-eared many pages in Victory Motorcycles’ 2010 parts and accessories catalog—officially known as Pure Victory Gear—to personalize our Vegas 8 Ball with jan-u-ine Victory custom components.

It was, you might say, a gift assignment because we essentially had carte blanche freedom to do as we pleased in selecting parts for our project bike. The Victory catalog served as our Weapon of Mass Consumption.


Our Project 8-Ball awaits the installation of these Victory accessories.


Victory plays a distant second fiddle to the endless customization options available for its Milwaukee-based competition, but Victory’s 84-page color catalog shows that the Minnesota-based company has been regularly increasing the number of parts and accessories available from the factory, supplying what is now a fairly extensive list of parts to customize any Victory.

Like any seasoned bike builder, we wouldn’t just pillage the parts bin at random. No, we needed a battle plan, so first thing was to consider a styling theme.

After a recon of the catalog, we determined that black was beautiful. It helped, too, that the Vegas 8 Ball that served as our palette was of the same color (OK, black technically isn’t a color—it’s the absence of color—but you get the picture), so we focused attention on parts of that non-color. We wanted Evil 8 to stand out in a sea of chromed and brightly colored motorcycles.

To help facilitate the process, we enlisted the help of Southern California Victory in Brea, California, to install the parts. Service technician Danny Edwards had Evil 8 in and out of the shop in only a couple hours, and we were on our way. The following account is how we overcame Evil to get our project bike on the road:

"We wanted Evil 8 to stand out in a sea of chromed and brightly colored motorcycles."

In reality, black was only part of our styling theme. We narrowed down our parts selection even more, using various components that were accented with flames. Look closely at the Bandit Solo Seat and the base of the Quick-Detach Lock & Ride Windshield and you’ll see flame graphics. It’s a subtle touch, but one that adds to Evil 8’s sinister demeanor.

The replacement Bandit Solo Seat maintains the same silhouette and contour as the original seat equipped on our bike, so there wasn’t much difference in terms of how it affected comfort and the ride, but it does add an attractive detail touch to the ride.

Victory’s accessory catalog offers windshields in three heights, so we went with the lowest profile (25 inches high). There’s also a mid-height of 28 inches and the highest at 30 inches. Our choice of the low shield was an attempt to not look too nerdy while sitting behind the screen, yet still enjoy the benefit of having that wonderful cone of silence to hide behind while confronting a headwind.

And it was mission accomplished, because even though we enjoyed a clear view looking over the removable windscreen (I’m 5’8”), my helmet wasn’t caught in the turbulence that often creates a buffeting affect by these wind-and-bug catchers.

I could ride Evil 8 all day and not feel fatigued, and then at night when it was time to look the part of a cool cruiser, off came the windscreen simply by inserting the key into the bracket lock on the right fork leg, releasing the lock and then removing the shield. It’s a simple operation; if a geeky motorcycle magazine guy like me can do it, so can you.

The 8-Ball’s original pullback-style handlebar didn’t allow enough stretch for my arms, making me feel cramped in the saddle. The solution was the Hammer Vee Drag Bars, which allowed room to stretch my arms to the hand controls. If I could change one thing about the Vee Drag Bars, it would be to narrow them, about half inch or so at each end. But that’s my personal preference, so for now I can only find solace in another phrase from the past—“different strokes for different folks.” You might like them just the way they are.

By now you’ve probably noticed the Ness Tear Drop mirrors on the bar ends, and the trained eye has spotted the addition of the tachometer, too.

Additional riding comfort is also found in the Comfort Hand Grips, and for highway cruising the Comfort Grip Throttle Boss attached to the end of the right grip serves as a cruise control. Yes, we magazine scribes are lazy SOBs who also happen to subscribe to the work adage, “work smart, not hard.”

Additional black found its way onto the blacked-out engine by attaching the Ness Black Finned Engine Covers, and we were thinking with our dipsticks when we opted for the Dipstick Thermometer to help monitor the engine oil temperature during long rides. I also like the black Vented Belt Guard that shrouds the final belt drive. Subtle, yet cool looking.

But too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing, so we swayed from the absence of color to see how we could brighten up our Evil bike. The solution was in the headlight. I like the original chromed round headlight nacelle on the 8 Ball, but since we wanted to alter our project bike’s appearance as much as possible, we took aim at the catalog’s Bullet Style Headlight.

Although a black version is offered, we stuck with chrome to help highlight the bike’s black paint. The chromed nacelle also seems to maintain the styling uniformity in the steering head area—the chromed instrument cans, windshield bracket and fork uppers dominant the theme in that part of the bike so keeping the headlight in step with them seemed appropriate.

We gave the bike a few more shiny bits and pieces, too. The braided cables and brake lines enhance the bike’s techno appearance and improve brake feel, and the left-side Vented Air Box Cover (with matching faux cover on the right side of the steering head) give eyes something else to search and examine.

Perhaps the most visual change was to the exhaust system. Victory offers several stylish (and louder…) systems, but we chose the Stage 1 Swept System for its graceful beauty. The Swept’s black bolt-on heat shields help reduce clutter while concealing the original chromed tubes that also contain baffles to help mitigate the noise level.

We complemented this 50-state exhaust system with Victory’s free-flow air filter. The final step toward easier breathing was a new map for the ECU, downloaded from the shop’s computer. This electronic tuning instructs the electronic fuel injection to accommodate the increased intake and exhaust flow.

After Danny had the bike buttoned up and ready to go, we took Evil 8 to the Cycle Doctor in Costa Mesa, California, for a checkup on their dynamometer. Cycle Doctor’s Geoff Gaites had previously gathered torque and horsepower numbers from our stock Vegas 8 Ball, plus we used the occasion to measure the noise level for the OE exhaust. We’d compare those figures to what we’d gather from Evil 8’s dyno run.

No surprise, the Swept exhaust emitted substantially more noise than the stock system. At 3000 rpm there was a 17-decibel (dbA) gain over the stock system, and at redline—when the Freedom 100 engine’s rev limiter shut things down—the spread was 19 decibels (dbA). Interestingly, too, the dbA level at peak rpm in stock configuration was the same as what the Swept system produced at 3000 rpm.

We took our sound readings inside Cycle Doctor’s dyno room, from about 20 feet behind the bike. Our figures were for comparison purposes only, and in no way reflect the absolute or EPA-certified decibel figures for either exhaust system.

Of more interest, though, was the performance change that we anticipated. And when Gaites shut down the dyno after the final run, and the dust cleared, we read the numbers. Result: a loss of about five peak horsepower and a minor drop in torque, especially beyond 3000 rpm. No doubt, those pipes look sexy and generate a vibrant sound that many bikers seek for their street rides, but fact is, you pay a price for that aural sex.

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