Since the introduction of the Vegas for the 2003 model year, Victory has given its line of cruisers a series of bad-boy, macho-sounding names-some with gambling overtones. Hammer, Vegas, 8-Ball-whatever you may think of them, the gamble seems to be paying off, because Victory sales are up by more than 50 percent year-to-date. You could say it’s hit the jackpot, in fact, and to celebrate, Victory has made numerous improvements in its 2006 lineup and named the premier new model among them the Vegas Jackpot.
Based on the Vegas series of cruisers, the Jackpot is intended to be an extreme custom cruiser that delivers greater value than competitive models from other brands. The idea here is that it would cost a lot more to install a wide rear tire, increase displacement, switch the gearbox from five to six speeds and add custom paint after you purchase a new bike, or to buy a limited-production custom with these features. And instead of winding up with a mishmash of parts and sources, the Jackpot comes with a full factory warranty and can be readily financed and insured.
Some of the items that make the Jackpot stand out from the crowd are sharp-looking paint, fat rear rubber with a skinny 21-inch front hoop, along with big cubic inches and a six speed. The rear seat cover also adds to the clean lines when riding solo. Five paint schemes are offered, including three unique paint jobs that feature custom graphics and color-matched frames. Jackpot’s front wheel, conventional fork and single front brake setup are sourced from the regular Vegas, while the 250-profile Dunlop rear tire on an 18-inch rim is shared with the Hammer model.
Power comes from Victory’s Freedom 100/6 powerplant which was first introduced in the 2005 Hammer. It is a fuel-injected 1,634cc V-twin coupled to a six-speed gearbox. For 2006, all of the Freedom 100 motors are fitted with redesigned camshafts to improve low-end torque and acceleration. Other than that, Victory engine specifications are essentially unchanged from last year.
To further differentiate it from the Hammer, the Jackpot is lowered, has a custom-styled headlamp and has a unique rear fender that wraps closely around the tire.
That long, lean ground-hugging look required the engineers to reduce rear suspension travel, from about 4 inches at the axle on the Hammer down to 3 inches on the Jackpot. To compensate for the loss in travel, Jackpot’s spring rate is approximately 20 percent stiffer than the Hammer’s and it has stiffer damping. According to Victory engineers, Jackpot’s rear suspension is approximately 25 percent progressive over its travel. The differences in suspension give the Jackpot a super-low 25.7-inch seat height; that is 0.7-inch lower than the Hammer’s already low perch.
Not enough bling in this thing? Then try on the Arlen and Cory Ness Signature Series.
Ness Limited Editions
For oh-six the Ness clan has whipped up two Jackpot models with a slew of custom touches to set your steed apart from the herd. Arlen’s model features blue bodywork with gold and silver graphics, silver engine and a blue frame. Cory’s version is black with blue flames, a black engine and black frame. Papa Arlen uses Jagged Ness custom wheels, while son Cory chose Evil 7 custom rims. Billet and chrome Ness accessories are used extensively on both models and a new HID/halogen headlamp adds style with functionality. Mechanical specifications on these two flagship models are the same as the non-Ness versions, and base price on both is $21,999.
Victory’s Hammer was introduced last year as an early 2005 model and was the first of the company’s models to be equipped with a 250-profile rear tire, along with the more-powerful Freedom 100/6 engine, six-speed transmission combination and a male-slider cartridge fork. It also bests the other Vegas models in the braking department with its powerful dual front rotors and four-piston calipers-good stuff to have with a strong engine. For 2006 the Hammer is available in new color combinations, including flame yellow or nuclear sunset, either with tattoo graphics, or solid black, blue or red. There’s also an expanded line of accessories for it. MSRP is $16,899.
The big news for the 2006 Vegas model is the switch to the Freedom 100/6 engine and six-cog gearbox. Along with the bigger engine there’s a larger-volume exhaust system with integrated catalysts. In addition you’ll find a variety of new paint jobs, including solids, two-tones, flames and pinstripes. The less-costly 8-Ball version also gets the bigger-displacement Freedom 100 engine, but continues with the five-speed tranny and is only offered in black.
Both the Kingpin and Kingpin Deluxe also received the Freedom 100/6 drivetrain this year. Two new paint schemes with flames, a duo of two-tones and three solid colors are also available for 2006. Bigger fenders and an 18-inch front wheel set it apart from the Vegas’ 21-incher, but both share the 180-profile rear gummy.
This stalwart bagger remains unchanged mechanically for 2006, and it’s now the only Victory that still carries the Freedom 92/5 powerplant. Three new colors are offered; black and a duo of two-tones. We’re expecting to see an updated model within a year or so. Suggested retail base price is $15,349.
We had an opportunity to ride the Jackpot along with several other Victory models during the 2006 launch. On all models, engine vibration is light due to the effective counterbalancer system. The 100-incher runs well from idle through its 5,500-rpm redline and it pulls harder than most big V-twins, thanks to its four-valve combustion chambers and overhead-cam design. There’s a hearty midrange with plenty of oats for passing and hill climbs, yet the engine doesn’t mind lugging down a bit in higher gears. Although the Jackpot has no tach, riding the similar Hammer showed a leisurely 2,100 rpm at 60 mph in sixth. Problems with slow cranking (noticed on the very first Hammers) seem to have been solved.
Clutch pull is moderate and shifting is among the best in Cruiserland. Braking is strong and effective, particularly on the dual-rotor Hammer. The narrow rear-tire models turn in readily and hold a line through corners, while the 250-width tires resist turning and require strong deliberate steering input all the way through the turn.
We like the overall looks and styling on the Ness versions of the Jackpot, but the handlebar assembly feels awkward and blocks the rider’s view of the indicator lamps. Otherwise they feel about the same to ride as the civilian versions. Victorys tend to have firmer suspensions and saddles than some other cruisers, and this is particularly noticeable with the stiff, short travel on the rear axle of the Hammer, and even more on the shorter-travel Jackpot. While the Touring Cruiser seating is designed for longer rides, the other models put styling ahead of comfort in that area. These factors, combined with the fat rear tire’s resistance to turning, are significant areas of compromise. Potential buyers should consider the tradeoffs before choosing a fat-tire model, whatever the brand.
Overall fit, finish, quality and reliability of all the bikes appear to be very good. Likewise, the value of the Jackpot (and other models) relative to other brands seems to be excellent. With an even wider selection than before, Victory now offers a competitive model for most cruiser enthusiasts, with more on the way.