All Victory motorcycles, regardless of the genre or category that they might be pigeonholed into, tend to personify highly customized, turnkey bikes right off the showroom floor. For the past several years, Victory has called upon Northern California-based custom bike guru, Arlen Ness, who also happens to be a Victory dealer, to produce limited signature series editions of select bikes.
For the 2011 model year as part of the specialized Signature Series, patriarch, Arlen Ness chose the Vision Tour for his 2011 custom palette. Son Cory Ness picked the Cross Country to make over, and Grandson Zach Ness selected a Vegas 8-Ball model to customize. Each specific Ness model is numbered and signed by its creator, and features unique physical touches, custom paint and graphics and specially stylized wheels. I have already reviewed the Cory Ness Cross Country and the Arlen Ness Vision Tour. A review of Zach’s bike now follows.
Zach’s bike is a custom street bike. It happens to be the sportiest and most agile of the three Signature Series rides. The base for Zach’s custom creation is the chassis and drivetrain of the Victory Vegas 8-Ball, which is powered by Victory’s new1,731cc (106 ci) 4-stroke 50-degree SOHC, 8-valve Freedom V-Twin with electronic fuel injection, dual 45mm throttle body and split dual exhaust with crossover. The potent motor makes 97 horses at 5,500 rpm along with 113 pound feet of torque at 2,900 rpm. Driving energy reaches the rear wheel via a six-speed constant mesh overdrive transmission with overdrive and Primary Drive with torque compensator to the carbon fiber reinforced belt final drive. The new motor produces a fuller and deeper exhaust note.
The Z-Ness Vegas is suspended on inverted, conventional 43mm inverted telescopic forks with 5.1-inches of travel up front and a cast aluminum swingarm with rising-rate linkage, single monotube gas shock with 3.0-inches of travel and preload adjustable spring. The bike rolls on Dunlop Elite 3 rubber, 90/90/21 forward / Dunlop D417 180/55 – B18R16 aft, mounted on 21×2.15”-inch front / 18×5.5”-inch rear 5-double iron blade, machined-spoke alloy wheels. Reining in this street maurauder is a conventional hydraulic braking system with a 300mm floating rotor and 4-piston calipers up front and a 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston calipers in the rear.
The Z-Ness Signature Series Vegas 8-Ball comes with the following standard features: Black suede (flat) paint with Zach Ness designed graphics on the bodywork and a flat black frame; there’s also a Ness handlebar crossbar; Ness custom billet wheels; Ness custom mirrors and oil line cover; Ness “Holeshot” billet handgrips, billet footpegs and engine covers. The exhaust exits the motor via twin, staggered right-side chrome exhaust, and there’s a custom-stitched leather seat. A facsimile of Zach’s signature appears on a numbered engine plate.
As with all Victory models, there is a center character line that runs the entire length of the bike from the front composite fender, through the headlamp and fuel tank, and continues through the rear fender to the teardrop-style taillight. The
streamlined, extended tank also features a distinctive side sculpting. The fuel filler is a locking door centered forward on the tank, on a raised panel.
The solo seat height measures a low 25.2-inches (.07-inches higher than Arlen’s custom creation).
The Z-Ness Victory Vegas 8-Ball is the lightest of the three 2011 Ness models, tipping the scales with a dry weight of 645 pounds. Zach’s bike also serves up the most attitude, delivering an exceptionally balanced ride and crisp maneuverability, thanks in part to the narrow 21-inch front wheel and tire. Riding the Z-Ness Vegas 8-Ball is very comfortable, with forward controls and an upright riding position, and the 106 cubic inch motor cranks out plenty of get up and go, with little effort.
SUMMARY: The 2011 Victory Vegas 8-Ball Zach Ness edition displays a kind of “Rat Ride” persona, but in a clean presentation. If there’s any downside at all, it would have to be that the stock exhaust note, which emits a low thrum, would benefit from a more pronounced and thunderous note.
The suspension travel tames rougher road surfaces for a more comfortable ride. The modified six-speed gearbox is both smooth and relatively quiet. There’s plenty of power on tap with a very broad torque range for when you’re in the mood to minimize shifting gears. There is no fuel gauge – only a low fuel warning light, so planning one’s journey becomes paramount.
This latest Ness Signature Series Victory is the sportiest of the three, with the least amount of bling. The base price was set at $18,999. with the price as tested coming to an estimated $19,299.after adding for dealer prep and handling, which can vary from state to state and from dealer to dealer.
In a final wrap-up of the three Ness Signature offerings, it all comes down to different strokes for different folks. Arlen’s Vision Tour will appeal more to long-range cruisers for its “long-haul” amenities and storage. Cory’s Cross Country is the flashiest and most custom looking, and Zach’s Vegas 8-Ball is expressive in a rebellious sort of way, and may well be the most fun to ride. In any case, all of the Ness custom designs are a cut above the basic 2011 Victory lineup.