2008 Victory Vegas Low - First Ride

Mankind has grown almost 4 inches in height in the last couple of centuries, but that hasn't stopped dealerships from finding ways to lower popular motorcycles. Case in point is Victory's Vegas, a prime candidate for a lowering kit-although if the wiring harness isn't rerouted, the rear tire might bottom and do the harness grievous harm.

Which is a slightly circuitous way to suggest it might be best to let the factory do some jobs for you, just as Victory has done in creating its 2008 Vegas Low. Why? Well, to begin with, the factory has the engineering horsepower to lower seat height-to 25.2 inches, 1.3 inches lower than the standard Vegas, and lower than Victory's designated competition, Harley-Davidson's Sportster 1200 Low and Dyna Low Rider-yet still retain the original's steering geometry, and consequently its dynamics. With a 66.3-inch wheelbase, 32.9-degree rake and almost 5 inches of trail, "nimble" is never going to be part of a Vegas' lexicon, but Low or not, it's perfectly manageable for a big-inch cruiser, and actually has more cornering clearance than most of its classmates.

One surefire route to a lower saddle height is to shorten rear suspension travel, a path Victory predictably followed: 3 inches compared with the standard Vegas' 3.9 inches. Yet despite an almost 25 percent reduction in travel, the Vegas Low still serves up reasonable ride quality, a trait that's eluded even some factory-lowered bikes, namely Harley's Hugger (now L-model) Sportsters.

What's more, in recognition that riders of less than so-called standard heights might also have correspondingly abbreviated sleeve and inseam lengths, Victory scalloped the side covers to reduce the bike's width by more than 1.5 inches, the better for allowing a flat-footed stance (if not necessarily a wide one...) at a stop. Victory also moved the footpegs back 2.25 inches and pulled the handlebar grips back by 2 inches. Again, these are things most any well-equipped dealership could do. But Victory's done it with a care that means even 6-foot-plus pilots don't feel hemmed in. As with all Victorys for 2008, the Low features redesigned master cylinders and handlebar switches for a more integrated look.

The Vegas Low also incorporates a number of upgrades common to all 2008 models from the Minnesota-based company. The brake calipers are now sourced from Japan's Nissin instead of Italy's Brembo-although the front brake still requires far too much lever effort and provides far too little feel. Plus, the Vegas Low's 1634cc Freedom V-twin can almost be considered all-new for all the changes Victory has incorporated: revised cams, pistons, rods, crankshaft, primary drive, crankcases all contribute to lower noise levels, vibration and harshness (NVH), as does a taller sixth gear, while extensive tuning tricks for more midrange, plus 45mm throttle bodies (1mm larger) and a shorter first gear add up to provide the kind of instantaneous punch cruiser riders expect. The taller sixth gear, though, makes downshifting even more necessary than before for Right Now passing maneuvers. An all-new ECU, and the same sort of closed-loop fuel-injection system almost all motorized vehicles are heading toward, yields further improvements in throttle response, ridability and emissions reduction. Victory claims 85 horsepower and 106 lbs.-ft. of torque, and our seat-of-the-pants dyno says those are thoroughly believable figures.

There's one other figure for the 2008 Victory Vegas Low that seems a bit more difficult to swallow, however-at first, anyway. And that's the price: At $15,999, it's priced the same as the standard Vegas, and only $200 more than the 2007 Vegas. And while the '08 price might not be as accessible as some might like, it's still pretty remarkable considering the sophistication that's gone into the Vegas as a whole, and in the Vegas Low in particular.

Consequently, whether you're short, tall or somewhere in between, one thing you can count on if you decide to make the Vegas Low your ride for next year is that you won't, in any way, get ... shortchanged.

2008 Victory Vegas Low
MSRP: $15,999
Wheelbase: 66.3 in.
Seat Height: 25.2 in.
Engine Type: 1634cc air/oil-cooled, SOHC, 50-degree V-twin
Bore X Stroke: 101mm x 102mm
Compression: 8.7:1
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal.
Fuel System: EFI, 45mm throttle bodies
Transmission/Final Drive: 6-speed/belt
Rake/Trail: 32.9 degrees/4.9 in.
Front Tire: 90/90-21
Rear Tire: 180/55-18
Front Brake: 300mm rotor with four-piston caliper
Rear Brake: 300mm rotor with two-piston caliper
Front suspension: 43mm fork, 5.1 in. Travel
Rear suspension: single damper, preload adjustable, 3.0 in. travel
Weight: 651 lb. dry (claimed)
Colors: Black, Red, Blue