2012 Victory High-Ball - First Ride

Ready to rumble with Harley-Davidson’s Dark Customs, Victory rolls out its factory fresh American V-Twin bobber.

2012 Victory High-Ball - First Ride

2012 Victory High-Ball - First Ride

A matte-black mad-bobber, the Victory High-Ball is a store-bought custom that makes an aesthetic statement you either love or hate in one glance. In that glance you’ll notice that it’s a bike that can give you the feel of the wind through your hair; the hair in your armpits, that is.

Kudos to Victory for making a bike that has to be dealer adjusted to comply with some states' laws concerning handlebar height. Matched to the bike's 25.0-inch seat height, the High-Ball's apehangers, in Victory's preferred high position, are in some states politically incorrect by law, not just by opinion. So there are two available settings. I rode the bike with the bars in the highest setting, the full arms-forward, banned-in-Boston, Frankenstein reach. (Yes, the bars exceed the Massachusetts mandated 15-inch maximum from seat height.)

Apehangers aren’t just defining of a riding position, they’re a statement. Apehangers are an evil gesture. Apehangers are a bit like flipping off the world, without having to separate one finger to do so. If there’s a picture of you sitting on a High-Ball on your Facebook page, you might want to remove it before applying for a job (depending on the job, of course). So does it matter if these bars are comfortable or not? Probably not. And if you don’t regularly ride a bike with apehangers, the question of their comfort can’t be fairly judged.

2012 Victory High-Ball

Functionally, the High-Ball is defined by those high bars and its pair of matched 16 x 3.5-inch wire-spoke wheels. The front tire is a fat 130 while the rear is a fatter 150. This combination makes it one of the better handling bikes in the company’s pure-cruiser stable. It turns with neutral ease. Also, despite its “low” ride, its suspension does a good job eating bumps, from potholes to railroad tracks. It’s a kidney-friendly bike. And for those riders who like to drag parts and chance indiscretions, the High-Ball is stable in gnarly, undulating sweepers ridden through at a mph that equals the bike’s count of claimed horsepower, whose number I’m hoping the editor doesn’t specifically mention here.

Being a bob-job, or bobber, if you prefer, the High-Ball is a single-seater with no passenger provisions. The front fender is bobbed, and nearly every item is in black or matte black, save for the gauge body and highlights on the engine’s cooling fins. Its couple of shiny parts are only there to remind you that the rest of the bike isn’t shiny. Even the bars are black. The blacked-out engine is Victory’s 106-cubic incher, which is 1731cc for you librarians out there. The single analogue gauge includes a digital window that can be scrolled to show the tach and gear-position indicator, odometer, tripmeter, or clock. Interestingly, which is a word I use when trying not to express meaning, the gear indicator reads blank when the clutch is disengaged. That does have a ring of truth to it, but why it hides knowledge of what gear it is in, though not engaged, we’re unsure.

For braking there’s a single 300mm rotor on each wheel. Riders who are used to cruisers will find this combination excellent, but riders who are front-brake biased will wish for more stopping power up front. The recommendation is to learn how to brake a cruiser that carries its weight down low, and use the right foot as much as the right hand.

Victory offers various options for the High-Ball, including custom aluminum grips, pegs and a few other do-dads, and an opened up airbox and exhaust system. For those two later parts, digital information is included for reprogramming the ECU. In roll-on comparisons during our ride, between one with the breathed-on mods and a stock High-Ball, the modified version walked the other bike in the top three gears, multiplying its advantage once it reached higher rpm. Both bikes exhibited excellent EFI response throughout the rev range.

The bottom line for feel of performance is that the $13,499 High-Ball is without glitches and, as mentioned, it handles damn well and with ease. As with all Victorys, it’s got a beauty of an engine and barely a vibration reaches the rider. But we have to wonder if the real question is simply whether or not you dig matte black and apehangers.

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