Ness Victory Vegas 8-Ball Test Ride

“Zach Ness takes on the 2011 Victory Vegas 8-Ball”

The second Ness Signature Series custom ride


All Victory motorcycles, regardless of the genre or category that they might be pigeonholed into, tend to personify highly customized, turnkey units right off the showroom floor. Last year saw the addition of two new touring models – the Victory Cross Roads and Victory Cross Country along with the enhancements made to the rest of the Victory stable. For the past several years, Victory has called upon Arlen Ness, the Northern California-based “Godfather” of custom motorcycles, who also happens to be a Victory dealer, to design limited signature series editions of select bikes for production. Arlen’s son Cory and grandson (Cory’s son) Zach, are also an integral part of both the family business and the design of custom designed special edition bikes. Each of the Ness clan picks a bike to be featured with their personal taste and touch, and each of the family members are recognized in the custom motorcycle world. Herewith is a review of the 2011 Zach Ness Victory Vegas 8-Ball.

For the 2011 model year, we’ve already featured Arlen’s Vision Tour for his custom creation as part of the specialized Signature Series. Cory Ness chose the Cross Country for a limited edition, custom make over, and Zach Ness picked the Vegas 8-Ball model to customize. Each of the Ness signature series models is numbered and signed by its creator, and features unique physical touches, custom paint and graphics and specially stylized wheels. My objective here is to review each of the three custom bikes from “A” to “Z”, but not necessarily in order.


Both Arlen and Corey’s custom bikes are touring cruisers, but Zach’s bike is a custom street bike. It is 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 new 1,731cc (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 Victory Vegas 8-Ball is suspended on 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 marauder 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 Victory Vegas 8-Ball Signature Series 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.

Pure Victory accessories are available for further personalizing the Z-Ness Victory Vegas 8-Ball, such as: new X-Bow and Tri-Pro Stage 1 Performance exhausts; a wide range of custom grips, lower controls, covers and trim in chrome, billet or black finish. Touring gear is also optionally available – windshields, backrests, saddlebags, etc.


New gauges include a speedometer that can indicate both MPH or KPH with blue backlighting, indicator lights on the gauge face and large LCD readouts for a clock that is viewable at all times, gear indicator, tachometer, odometer, tripmeter and diagnostic information.

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 Zach 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. It delivers 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 Zach Ness Victory Vegas 8-Ball  special 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. On the other hand, your neighbors will probably appreciate it just the way it is. It kind of depends on how much you like or dislike your neighbors.

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 , in addition to being the the sportiest of the three, comes 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 reviewing the early Ness Signature Series offerings, it really all comes down to different strokes for different folks. Arlen’s Vision Tour was designed to appeal more to long-range cruisers for its “long-haul” amenities and storage. Cory’s Cross Country, which we have yet to review here, is the flashiest and most custom looking, while Zach’s Vegas 8-Ball is expressive in a rebellious sort of way, and may be the most fun to ride – weight and structure definitely has a lot to do with it. In any case, all of the Ness custom designs are a cut above the basic Victory lineup.

On The Fast Lane Car’s rating scale of:

• Buy It.

• Rent It

• Lease It.

• Forget It.

Buy It used if you can find somebody who will part with one, for a bike with  a “Rat Ride” persona, but executed in a clean presentation.

Base Price New $18,999. Price as Tested: $19,299 * est – dealer prep and handling costs vary.

SPECIFICATIONS: Victory Vegas 8-Ball Zach Ness Signature Series -‘11

Base Price:                              $18,999.

Price as Tested:                      $19,299.

Engine Type and Size:         1,731cc (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.

Horsepower (bhp):                 97            @ 5,500  rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):                   113            @ 2,900  rpm

Transmission:                       Six-speed constant mesh overdrive.

Drive Train:                             Primary Drive with torque compensator / Final drive  –  Carbon fiber reinforced belt.

Suspension:                            Front – Conventional 43mm telescopic forks with 5.1-inches of travel.

                                                   Rear  – Cast aluminum swingarm with rising-rate  linkage, single monotube                                                            gas shock and swingarm  with 3.0-inches of travel and preload adjustable spring.

Brakes:                                    Conventional hydraulic braking system with  300mm floating rotor and 4-piston calipers up front and 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston calipers in the rear.

Tires:                                       Dunlop Elite 3 – 90/90/21 front / Dunlop D417 180/55  – B18R16 rear                                                            mounted on 21×2.15”-inch front / 18×5.5”-inch rear 5-double iron blade-spoke alloy wheels.

Wheelbase:                            66.3    inches

Length Overall:                    96.0    inches

Curb Weight dry:                  645      lbs. (dry)

Fuel Capacity:                        4.5      gallons

Seat height:                          25.2      inches

0 – 60 mph:                          Not tested.

Review by Arv Voss, Auto Impressions