Between the Lines | 2012 Victory Hard-Ball

First Look! Toasting a High-Ball with Bags

By the time you read this, Progressive’s International Motorcycle Show series will be in full swing.

December 9 rang in the start of 2011’s IMS Show—Long Beach edition. The Long Beach show is notable for its ties to the industry, and there’s even the occasional new model reveal.

The New American Motorcycle Company had waged a teaser ad campaign for several weeks prior, featuring a cryptic video whose focus was a paintbrush and a can of red paint. Naturally, we figured the new bike would be awash in an eye-popping explosion of color.

It was not to be. When the wraps came off, the new 2012 Victory Hard-Ball stood in the spotlight before us, completely coated in... black. All black. In fact, matte black—the kind of flat, primer-y finish you normally get out of a Rustoleum can. The red hue was there if you looked hard enough, on the tank and fenders. The thing virtually disappeared into the shadows.

Other than the paint, the 2012 Hard-Ball is an obvious riff on the High-Ball, but with bags—the new bike sports the same two-way adjustable factory ape hanger bars and spoke wheels wrapped in beefy tires, though the wheels themselves are beefier. The front increases diameter to 18 inches (versus 16 inches on the High-Ball) and carries a 130/70 R18 Dunlop tire, while the rear wheel on the Hard-Ball is now a 5-incher wearing a 180/60 R16 Dunlop. Wheelbase gets extended to 65.7 inches, and the front fender’s a touch larger, but gauges are still bare bones, consisting of a small analog speedo with basic diagnostic symbols.

Victory decided on the quick-revving 1731cc Freedom 106 for the power plant, so the ride should be as spirited as that of the High-Ball. Arresting forward progress is a second brake disc on the Hard-Ball, along with ABS .

But the major distinction is the addition of a pair of hard locking saddlebags, with a listed capacity of 21 gallons. Since the Hard-Ball also now rocks a pillion and passenger pegs, that’s probably a wise move—Mama’s gonna need some room to stash her stuff for a long two-up weekend.

The tank also has a different shape than the High-Ball’s; it’s more like the wider Cross Country unit, with 5.8 gallons of capacity. You also get touring-biased touches like floorboards and highway bars, as well as a small chin faring.

The spec sheet reveals numerous other little variations: the Hard-Ball has a taller seat (26.25 inches), and weighs almost 100 pounds more. Rake and trail changes to 29-degrees / 5.6 inches and the rear end features a split dual exhaust, and a longer rear fender.

If you guessed all that extra stuff would mean a higher price tag than the High-Ball’s, you’d be right: MSRP is set at $18,999.

### 2012 Victory Hard-Ball
MSRP: $18,999
### Engine
Type: 1731cc air/oil-cooled 50° V-twin
Bore and Stroke: 101mm x 108mm
Valve Train: SOHC; 4 valves per cylinder
Fueling: Electronic fuel Injection
Transmission: 6-speed constant mesh
Final Drive: Carbon reinforced belt
### Dimensions
**Length: ** 104.4 in.
Wheelbase: 65.7 in.
Rake/Trail: 29.0° /5.6 in.
Seat Height: 26.25 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.8 gal.
Dry Weight: 751 lbs.
### Chassis
Front suspension: Inverted fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear suspension: Mono-tube gas, air-adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
Front brake: Dual 300mm floating rotors; 4-piston calipers (ABS)
Rear brake: 300mm floating rotor; two-piston caliper (ABS)
Front tire: 130/70 B18 Dunlop 491 Elite II
Rear tire: 180/60 R16 Dunlop Elite 3