Last December, Victory unveiled the 2012 Hard-Ball
, a gorgeous retro-looking motorcycle that offers more convenience than the High-Ball
(introduced a year earlier) thanks to a pair of rigid saddlebags. This new model also boasts 18-inch laced wheels and all the sex appeal of the High-Ball, including matte black paint with red pinstriping, ape-hanger handlebars, and the air-cooled Freedom engine.
Smoother than ever
Victory's signature 1,731cc twin-cylinder and 6-speed transmission continue to deliver impressive performance. With the help of an excellent ignition system and electronic fuel injection, the Hard-Ball unleashes 97 horsepower at 4,950 rpm and 113 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm - enough to propel you safely and even provide some genuine excitement. The balance shafts and touring-tuned engine maps ensure a smooth yet healthy dose of torque from as low as 2,000 rpm.
Not to be denied, the transmission offers crisp, sharp gear shifts which, thanks to last year's upgrades (Neutral Selection Assist, helical-cut gears, etc.), also feel smooth and quiet. On the other hand, the clutch still requires an above-average effort from the rider.
Nimble and sure-footed
|The Hard-Ball unleashes 97 horsepower at 4,950 rpm and 113 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm - enough to propel you safely and even provide some genuine excitement. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour/Auto123.TV)
As a member of the Victory touring family, the 2012 Hard-Ball relies on a different chassis than the brand's cruiser models. The rake angle is tighter, which improves agility.
As for the brakes, this machine gets dual discs up front and a single disc in the back, all 300 mm in diameter and backed by ABS. The whole braking system is powerful and fade-free, allowing you to stop the 345-kg Hard-Ball with only a slight pressure from the index finger and right foot.
Style and comfort, is that possible?
The Hard-Ball is a great compromise between a bad-boy cruiser whose ergonomics are dictated by styling and a more relaxed touring motorcycle designed for long-distance travel. It really stands alone in its class.
The rider sits low (668mm seat height), with the arms extended upwards, chest upright, feet forward, and knees slightly bent. Despite the radical design, the Hard-Ball handles quite easily, requires minimal effort, and offers surprising comfort. The compliant suspension system is certainly no stranger to that, making the ride as pleasant as other Victory tourers. Moreover, the decently sized saddlebags and nicely sculpted passenger seat almost beg you to go on a trip with your significant other.
You can ride on the highway provided that you don't spend a lot of time above 110 km/h, where the high handlebars and lack of wind protection start to become taxing.
|The rider sits low (668mm seat height), with the arms extended upwards, chest upright, feet forward, and knees slightly bent. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour/Auto123.TV)
Is the new 2012 Hard-Ball a hardcore touring machine or a versatile, stylish cruiser? Short answer: both. The one Victory calls a ''dark custom Bagger'' can be yours for $20,699.
Modern engine with pretty decent power
Excellent brakes with ABS
Impeccable fit and finish
Clutch lever is hard to manipulate