With its Cory Ness graphics,...
With its Cory Ness graphics, the Victory Vegas Jackpot is great eye candy. Photography by Jim Brown
It came as a bit of a surprise when the head honcho of the Polaris Victory Motorcycles division, Mark Blackwell, introduced the company's new 2006 model, the Vegas Jackpot, as "a bike for bikers rather than motorcyclists." We like to flog our rides, so that phrase didn't really sweeten the 'Pot for us (as it were), but it certainly brought the bike's focus into sharp relief. The Jackpot was being positioned as a see-me cruiser clearly aimed at the recreational boulevard enthusiast rather than canyon-carving performance monkeys or open-road wanderers. That was over six months ago, and we've since managed to snare a good deal of seat time on this latest twist of the Vegas platform a Ness version, no less. Is the Jackpot less showy and more go-ey than its appearance (and marketing folk) would have you believe? Let's just say it won't win any awards for Commuter of the Year...
The style-soaked cruiser heads the list of new 2006 models from Victory. And while technically the Jackpot is a close cousin to the Vegas, visually it skews more to the, er, maladjusted side of the family tree. In fact, the Jackpot's raison d'etre could be attributed to the rapid rise of what Victory calls the "Extreme Custom segment" a group driven by Discovery Channel-type TV shows that kowtow to custom bikes and their builders. Although Victory believes this piece of the market-share pie currently constitutes about 30,000 units per year, no hard numbers are to be had, since most of the small companies that sell them don't report to the Motorcycle Industry Council.
An 8.5-inch rear tire width...
An 8.5-inch rear tire width makes anyone's butt look slim. The Jackpot is chock-full of eye candy; the Ness treatment makes the staggered exhaust look good without sounding obnoxious. Forget about those Ness mirrors, though.
As for the Jackpot, the family resemblance isn't all that obvious unless you look down the tree a bit, at the other members. Then you notice this bike gets the same Freedom V-twin powerplant and gearbox as the company's power cruiser, the Hammer, and that also like the Hammer the Jackpot sits on a way-fat 250mm rear tire (said to be "custom-designed for maximum handling specifically for Victory by Dunlop"; more on that later). That 8.5-inch-wide rear bun has become all the rage in the custom bike industry and is now trickling down to the OEM segment, thanks to Victory. It's complemented by a narrower, taller, 21-inch front wheel to give the 'Pot that chopper look. The now-familiar long, low bodywork sculpted tight to the contours of the chassis is lifted straight off the Vegas, along with the scalloped and ridged fuel tank and the tailored fenders. The custom look and feel continue with the chunky yet sleek chromed headlight (with HID element), a shiny, stylized swingarm, and fully chromed-out fork legs. The refined, flush-mount aircraft-style fuel cap remains, as does the smoothly integrated, split-tail fuel tank/seat junction. The infrastructure is all there too, with 300mm disc brakes, 43mm fork tubes, staggered slash-cut dual exhausts and a carbon-fiber-reinforced belt drive transmitting power to the back.
But the Vegas' more low-key styling cues are played up on the Jackpot via appropriately aggressive graphics, a super-low seat height (nearly an inch lower than the Vegas) and a color-matched frame under six layers of clear coat that strongly hint at the perceived cachet of a custom. Basically, the Jackpot is a blinged-out Vegas, packing some extra glitz on the already proven platform.
Even so, the thing needs to get between Points A and B, right? Fortunately, that's not a problem with the fuel-injected, counterbalanced 100-cubic-inch (1634cc) Freedom V-Twin engine which, when mated to Victory's six-speed overdrive transmission, was plenty capable of turning the Hammer's honking rear tire into a pile of black steaming rubber during our 2005 test. With nearly 90 ft.-lbs. of rear-wheel torque available, the new Jackpot should do much the same, and rattle a few neighbors in the process. (All of Victory's 2006 models except the TC get the Freedom 100/6 powertrain.)
But if the $17,499 Vegas Jackpot is the bike that Victory describes as "the Ultimate Extreme Custom Cruiser," then the $21,999 Ness Signature Series Vegas Jackpot models loft that concept up another notch. And because we're forever testing the bone-stock versions of new bikes, we thought we'd take the opportunity to upgrade.
Victory offers two limited-edition iterations of the Jackpot, the Arlen Ness and Cory Ness versions; we scored the Cory bike.Both Ness models start with the unique Jackpot bodywork, Freedom V-twin motors and 250-series rear tires and add a generous helping of Arlen Ness billet and chrome accessories such as billet wheels, engine cover inserts and custom-style mirrors.
The more flashy Arlen model fits "Jagged-Ness" wheels and a blue/gold and silver paint job to draw attention from the masses, while our Cory Ness model goes the opposite direction, starting with a set of "Evil 7" wheels and finishing off with a deep black base paint with a Faded Blue Flame job. Parked a cozy 25.7 inches above the pavement, both Ness Signature Series Jackpots also soothe achy buttocks with swank, custom-stitched Danny Gray seats.