By Marissa Baecker
Getting a cruiser exactly the way you like it isn’t always possible unless you start with the engine alone and begin building. With stock motorcycles, you don’t even know what you want to change about a bike until you ride it.
With the stylish Harley-Davidson Cross Bones being pulled out of the 2012 production line, Victory was quick to replace the Bobber style with one of their own. The 2012 Victory Highball – the perfect combination of custom cruiser with a stock bike price tag.
This may be the first cruiser I have been on that I wouldn’t want to change anything. I am seated in the perfect position on the bike, with enough leg room and the handlebars are perfect for my body. It reminds me of a Cross Bones but the Cross Bones for me is too short from the seat to the leg positioning.
Keeping in mind that I am tall, the highball may not be the ideal bike for a smaller rider but for a taller rider, there is plenty of leg room with the forward controls and with the added positioning of the ape hangers, the body is not confined during a ride.
In terms of length the Highball’s wheelbase is 64.8 inches (1647mm) compared to the Cross Bones at 64.1 inches (1630 mm). Overall length difference is ¾ of an inch between the two. You will be sitting higher on the Cross Bones springer style seat at 29.2 inches compared to the Highball 25 inches and the Cross Bones will offer your feet a place to park with floor boards compared to the pegs of Highball.
Traditional customs have followed the chrome trend but a new fashion sense is creeping its way into the motorcycle market. Polish, chrome and hi gloss colours make way for powder coating, matte colour and a whole lot of black and the 2012 Victory Highball is loaded with all three.
Going for the custom cruiser, old style look, the 2012 Highball is classic two-tone styling with the perfect combination of black and white for an antique look in today’s modern world.
From the painted on new, yet classic, Victory tank logo nestled below a set of powder coated, matte black, ape-hangers that “make a statement with two fists in the air” down to the 16” powder coated, shoelace rims and beefy white wall tires decorated with matte black fenders, shorter in the front and accented in the rear by double barrel matte black exhaust pipes, the Highball, designed to appeal to the low-key rider, makes as much a statement as a flashy, high chrome, custom blinding all those who dare to stare as it passes down the highway in the midday sun but when looking at the Highball you are going to want to remove those shades so you don’t miss any detail.
The midday sun was when I took a tour behind those bars. Any time you get on a new bike, it takes a bit of time adjusting to its intended design. Low speed handling is some of the most difficult riding and upon leaving the parking lot for an initial stretch through the city, the handlebar style and turning was expected to the be biggest adjustment.
I expected to be reaching my way around corners but was pleasantly surprised not to have to alter my position that much when turning but then again this ride was relatively easy not offering any switchback, hairpins or S turning.
At the mention of ape-hanger handlebars, visuals of the choppers in Easy Rider may pass through your mind. Ape hanger handlebars come in varying lengths up to about 20 inches but depending on where you live the law may have restrictions on this type of customization. The higher the bar, the farther away from the steering column, the more difficult it is to maneuver the bike.
Wet, multi-plate clutch operation was typical cruiser style. Getting used to the straight arm/shoulder position of the ape-hangers was surprisingly swift. Riding that style certainly gives the bike a masculine feel and exudes attitude from the rider’s position but as far as comfort goes, there were no obvious issues.
Nestled at the nape of the bars is a single speedometer/tachometer with digital trip/odometer. Switching from city to highway speeds, the 106 cubic inch, fuel injected, V-Twin engine (1731cc – the Cross Bones is 1584 cc) delivers plenty of power – 97 horsepower and 113 foot pounds of torque. The engine itself matches the styling of the bike with a black-out look accented with a hint of chrome.
Telescopic 43mm diameter forks with 5 inches of travel make up the front suspension while single, mon-tube gas, preload adjustable spring with 3 inches of travel complete the rear suspension.
As for brakes, the 3.5/16 inch Dunlop Cruisemax tires are stopped with 300mm floating rotors with four piston caliper in the front and two in the rear.
While the HD Cross Bones and Victory Highball look similar, the price tags are quite different. The 2012 Victory Highball MSRP CA is $14,699 compared to the 2011 HD Cross Bones MSRP of $18,799 both in black.