A few weeks back the local Victory Motorcycle dealer in New Carlisle was holding another demo event. Fortunately it was a “slower” Friday, so I stopped in to take another American motorcycle for a spin. At the last demo truck event I focused on the new Victory Gunner, while at the same time riding a few of their touring models; this time I was hoping to try something new. Arriving at the dealership, I noticed a shiny red bike parked off to the side near the registration tent. For 2015, Victory has lathered glittery candied red paint on the newest edition of the “Vegas” cruiser. Based purely on looks, I expected that the Vegas would be very similar to the Gunner, but perhaps with slightly less lean angle with the more “slammed” cruiser stance, and somewhat fickle handling with the skinny front tire.
I arrived at the dealership just as the next demo ride was leaving, so I took a few moments to comb over the bike and take some closer photos. I’ve never seen a Victory with a matched-color frame before; they’ve all been the typical matte black up until now. Checking out the front end of the bike, and the forward controls, I was impressed to see that the foot levers seems a bit “tighter” than usual; I find that the levers on the touring models wobble quite a bit. Because of the contrasting frame color, I noticed the oil cooler tucked in low on the frame, for whatever reason, that didn’t stand out to me on the other Victory bikes I’ve ridden. My Speedmaster also has an oil cooler, which is no gripe from my perspective, but the contrasting color does draw attention to it, something buyers should consider if they’re overly “traditional”. While Henry Ford and I typically agree, “you can have it in any color, as long as it’s black”, I admit the candied “sunset” red looked really hot sparkling in the afternoon sun.
The Vegas demo model came fitted with a tall windshield. While I gladly snapped photos of the bike with the shield mounted, I felt it better to remove it for the demo ride. I figured the shield would probably spoil any decent photos I could snag, combined with the fact I like to “feel” the wind on my face shield. Removing the shield wasn’t much hassle, there are keyed locks on either side of the fork mounts that “pop” once in the unlocked position. The tricky part is lifting up while simultaneously stretching the mounts out over the fork locks to pull the shield off. Most of the “easy-off” shields I’ve dealt with before now are simple “unclick” and lift up assemblies. The Victory shield is still lockable, and functional, I’m just concerned about scratching the chrome mountings when pulling it off.
Taking a closer look at the bike I realized this Vegas was mounted with Dunlop shoes. Perhaps they have all been fitted with Dunlop, but I hadn’t noticed before now. Truth be told, I have no beef with Dunlop, but as far as cruisers are concerned, most of my buddies have very few nice things to say about Dunlop tires. I had previously noticed the “big-wheel” front rim on the Vegas, but upon closer inspection, I realized it was a 21 inch wheel. My Speedmaster has a 15 inch rear, and a 19 inch front, a 21 inch front seems enormous to me, but that’s kind of the “thing” with baggers these days (I’ll pass thanks…). The rims on the Vegas are also two-tone black machined aluminum. The rims look great, but again, similar to my Speedmaster, they’re a hassle to keep clean.
Out on the road, the Vegas was extremely similar to its Gunner stable mate. Also fitted with Stage 1 exhaust, the 106 Cubic Inch Freedom V-twin sounds fantastic.
As previously mentioned, the cam noise is a bit obvious, a possible turn off for seasoned Harley riders. After riding the stock touring models, I am convinced that a Stage 1 exhaust is a must-have accessory if you’re looking for the full experience of the 106 engine; I’m not a proponent of “loud pipes save lives”, in this case it’s more about feeling the power difference, and the Victory Stage 1 kit is not obnoxious. As with the Gunner, the engine does not like winding out past 4400 RPMs, despite what the stat sheets may claim (peak HP around 5000+ I believe), the frustrated vibration from the engine is unmistakable.
Considering I was only in the saddle for a short twenty minute ride, it’s probably not fair to judge the factory seat, but it was at least adequate for what little time it was occupied. The same goes for the suspension, it certainly appeared plush on the northern Dayton backroads, and was also more comfortable than the harsh rear suspension on my stock Triumph. At 5’10”, 185, I would say I’m probably the cookie-cutter male motorcycle occupant from a manufacturers standpoint; that being said, most of the Victory motorcycles I’ve ridden offer extremely relaxed ergos (I can’t even reach the touring highway bars). As such, I’ve yet to decide on which rider triangle I prefer, the sportier Speedmaster (drag bars), or the swept back, relaxed position of the Vegas. With better suspension, the reclined cruiser position isn’t disagreeable, but it really depends on how “sporty” you want to get in the twisties.
All in all, the Vegas is essentially another flavor of the Victory “cruiser” line. I’m not going to claim to be an expert, but Victory is undoubtedly sharing as many parts as possible on all three classes of their bikes, with only minor changes in trim and accessories from what I can tell. Still, I have to give Victory props for diametrically opposing the staple American motorcycle brand in engine architecture and overall fit and finish. I also appreciate the 6 gear transmission, gear indicator on the speedometer, belt drive, and unequivocally the unlimited demo rides I’ve had each summer. Similar to the Gunner, if you’re in the market for a big bore cruiser, are looking for bobber/chopper like styling, and want to go against the “norm” the new 2015 Vegas is a viable option.
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