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What You Need to Know Before You Buy Buy a Polaris Brand Victory Motorcycle

Article Updated December 18, 2011

  I have had 18 motorcycles and my 19th is a 2011 Victory Kingpin 8-ball with a 106ci V-Twin engine.  I took a chance and believed the Polaris Victory positive advertising and videos on television and on their Web site.  I bought the bike sight unseen and without test driving.  And what happened?  I had some problems with the bike, but Victory corporate bought the bike back from me.

 The stock exhaust pipes are just fine.  They have a nice deep rumbling without any annoying rasping or ear-shattering sounds.  I tried the Victory accessory swept style pipes, but I did not like them as they were a bit too loud running at about 120 decibels with resonance and sound reflection problems that even ear plugs would not filter out so I went back to the stock pipes.

  The best thing about buying a Victory motorcycle is that you will never have all of the problems  a Twin-Cam Harley-Davidson motorcycle will give you.  Read this article: What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  But there are some problems with Victory motorcycles you need to know about so keep reading!  

Here's Some Benefits Victory Motorcycles Have

1.  They have a great 5-year warrantee for only around $300.  A set of new tires cost more than that, so buy the warrantee for peace of mind. 

2.  You can easily change the belt drive without having to dissemble the swing arm and primary chains system.  You can't do this with a Harley-Davidson and Harley dealers will charge you $1,000 just to replace a belt and that is not counting new pulleys that also need to be replaced.   A big positive is Victory engines have no sloppy power-robbing primary chains, they are gear driven.  They also have no defects inside the engine like Harley-Davidson has with cam chains coming loose wrecking the engine.  Even the new Harley's with hydraulic cam chain tensioners must be watched and inspected as those cam chain followers can still fail and destroy the engine.  I repeat, yes, even the new hydraulic tensioners.  They are not normally covered by warranty, so beware.  This is a very powerful reason why you should buy a Victory motorcycle.  You will not have these disasters to befall you.  It stopped me cold from buying any more Twin-Cam Harley-Davidson's.  The H-D Sportster engine on the other hand is a flawless engine so consider buying one. 

"Victory tells us in the owner manual you need to change the drive belt and pulleys each 30,000 miles.  That is excessive and expensive.  They should get more than twice that amount of service before being replaced."

3.  There are no valve adjustments.   The Victory lifters are hydraulic.  However, there is a major problem.  If the rear lifter fails on that cylinder you can't just fix it in place.  The engine must be dropped out of the frame so the valve cover will clear the upper frame.  This is not good.  It means major work and a huge bill to fix a simple item.  Keep in mind the Sportster and Big-Twin Harley's (except the V-rod) the entire engine can be overhauled with the engine sitting in the frame.  You can't do this with a Victory and you will pay dearly with the extensive work to do a simple job.

4.  To change the oil is a breeze.  Just one oil drain plug, not three like on a Harley-Davidson, and you do not need to use three different types of oil.  To change the engine oil and oil filter on a Victory will take you ten to fifteen minutes.  Did you know that Harley-Davidson dealers charge $350 to change the oil?  Many dealers do charge this much.  Read about our Harley-Davidson oil change book if you want to save a lot of money. The cost to change the oil on a Victory is just the cost of the Victory oil and filter if you do it yourself.  It is easy to do.  Very easy. 

5.  To install a new rear tire the bike need not be jacked sky high.  There is a suspension link that can be disassembled and this allows the rear wheel to not rise when the bike is lifted.  Also, the brake pads are easy to replace as the calipers are easy to access.  Many Japanese bikes hide their calipers and this makes replacing brake pads a terrible and awkward chore.

6.  You like power?  Of course you do.  I had two Vulcan 2000 motorcycles each with 125 cubic inch V-twin engine and this 106 cubic inch Victory feels way more powerful and gets a good fuel mileage to boot.  My bike is not broken in at this time and I am getting more than 40 miles per gallon and this is mostly stop & go city driving with very little freeway.  Mileage will be even better when the engine loosens up.  You can wave to the Harley-Davison riders "goodbye" as you throttle past them.

"I did have trouble with my turn signals shutting off prematurely and two dealers could not fix the problem.  For this reason Victory repurchased the bike instead of letting me suffer with the problem." 

7.  The overdrive 6 speed transmission truly does drop the engine revolutions way, way, down.  I find I only need to use it after going 60 miles per hour and the engine just lopes at low speed above 70 miles per hour once in overdrive.  This is a true overdrive, not just some extra gear that hardly makes a difference. 

"I had some strange noises from the transmission when coasting at low speed in parking lots with clutch held in, but it did not cause any failures."

8.  Handling?  You have to go sit on one at a dealer right away to appreciate what Victory has done to the center of gravity.  This is no gimmick I promise you.  The bike feels like a lightweight dirt bike.  That's my first impression regarding the unloaded weight you feel balancing the bike.  And when you let the clutch out that balance only gets better and better.  This bike is really a blast to ride!  Cornering the bike, well, it just corners itself like a crotch rocket sport bike.  Amazing!  I know how sloppy other cruiser bikes are in the turns and this Victory is just unbeatable in speed, power, handling and fun.  It truly is a superior motorcycle way better than other cruisers on the market.

8.  Price?  I paid over $20,000 for my two Harley-Davidson's and I paid less than $15,000 out the door with taxes and license included and I got a bike that is far more powerful and refined and ultra modern.  I even tried the Victory wind screen.  You know that tiny black one you see in the catalog?  Well, at least on the new 2011 model Kingpin -8 Ball you sit so low in the seat the small fly screen actually works quite well.  Of course, if you are tall it may not work for you.  But for about $100 I was surprised I did not need to buy a large windshield to keep the wind out of my face and off my chest.  And it looks good too.

"I did find buying accessories for Victory is much more limited than other bikes, but in time this should improve."

9.  The engine design is awesome.  If you ever get a chance to see Victory's motor demonstrator split apart revealing its internal design (usually at motorcycle rallies or when the demonstrator bikes arrive at your Victory dealership) you will see a work of art with proven racing components.  No sloppy push rods in this motor.  To make the description short, it is a high-performance sport bike engine with overhead cams, multi-valve high flowing heads with oil cooled jackets.  No wonder the engine is so strong.  I believe this engine, from my own experience, has way more thrill power than a 125 cubic inch monster V-twin.  I ought to know for I had two of those big inch motors and I rode a total of 80,000 miles on them combined in just three years.  Not many riders have even ridden a 125 cubic inch V-twin and lived to tell about it. 

Note:  The Harley Davidson V-rod is a capable bike in regards to drag racing power, but it sounds lousy no matter which pipes you put on it and one cylinder is visibly shorter than the other and valve adjustments must be performed.  And to do so the engine must be removed from the frame.  How much is that going to cost you in time and money?  A lot.  And the bike is skinny, skinny, skinny like riding a tiny old model Sportster.  Most Harley riders don't like the V-rod.  If they did they would have bought one.

"However, the same is true with Victory motorcycles.  The valve timing and other factors relating to acoustics and combustion will not make your bike sound like a Harley no matter what pipes you put on the bike.  If you want the Harley sound, go buy a Harley."

10.  I really appreciate the new headlight system Victory has employed.  I have had bad experiences on the streets with motorcycles with the headlight suddenly going out due to a broken or burned filament and there is no warning.  You are riding in daylight and wonder why traffic is cutting you a bit closer than normal.  Then you find your high beam has burned out and you have no light at all.  This can get you killed.  Well, on the Victory they have two bulbs lit up on high beam so if one burns out you still have a light burning brightly.  Thank you Victory!  That is safe!  This can save your life!  More motorcycles should  have this or at least an indicator monitoring system observing the light bulb to let us know when a headlight bulb has failed, like a fiber optic or heat sensor.

"It will cost you $75 in special tools just to change the fork oil in a Victory!"

11.  Another nice safety feature is there's a four way flasher you can activate all four turn signals to make them flash pulsate.  Nice to use to make sure oncoming cars see you.  Just put on your flashers for a few seconds.  Very nice feature.  This bike brakes in a straight line.  If you have ridden the big Honda's and Harley V-twins you put on the brakes and the rear wheel locks the bike will skid, swerve and low-side down to the pavement.  I have seen a lot of riders slammed down on the pavement.  The Victory wants to stay upright not fall over.  That is safety I like in a motorcycle, but I rather still have "reliability" and that is what Victory does not have when dealers can't or won't fix your bike!

"If you test drive a Victory you will experience an awesome machine."

12.  The brakes on the Victory are superior than Harley-Davidson or the Japanese cruisers even with single disk in front and rear the brakes come on strong and controllable.  I was really surprised to discover the rear brake actually has a lot of stopping power where most bikes don't.  And the transmission is unlike the Harley-Davidson primary and transmission system as there are less oil seals that can cause you trouble with the Victory so there will be less oil leaking troubles down the road as the bike ages.  However, I find the brake pads wear down faster than other big bikes, but this is still acceptable as you can get 20,000 miles before a pad change.

"Victory does not make touch-up paint for the black exhaust pipes.  Mine got scratched during a repair and I could not find a heat tolerant paint match."

13.  Insurance to insure a Victory will likely be cheaper than insuring a Harley due to the high theft demand rate for Harley-Davidson's.

14.  Head-turning factor is higher with the Victory due to the modern styling.  All Harley's tend to look alike these days and there is a "nothing new" factor to gather attention, especially true with the baggers.  The Victory attracts attention like a magnet. 

15.  Victory does not have engine component failures like Harley-Davidson has.  You already know about the cam chain follower failures taking place blowing up Harley engines.  You can also expect the valve hydraulic lifters on the Harley to also fail at 20,000 miles.  Of course, if you are fortunate your lifters or cam chain will not fail, but far too many Harley riders find out about this rude surprise nobody wants to talk about.  The Victory engine is sound and engineered properly so the engine has no such inherent design flaws.  This is very important.  You must take into consideration the Harley-Davidson motor is flawed and always has been problematic from oil leaks and engine parts failure and this happens with new motorcycles with less than 20,000 miles.  It is because the design is ancient and flawed.  I had a new Twin-Cam Harley and the crankshaft went out of balance at 6,000 miles.  My second Twin-Cam Harley worked fine, but the cam chain and lifters could have failed at any moment exploding the engine case.  Harley recommends that you pay a dealer to inspect the cam chain around 15,000 miles.  That will cost you at least $350 each 15,000 miles just to prevent engine destruction.  Would you buy a new truck or car that required such pain and misery?  Of course not.  That's why you should buy a Victory motorcycle. 

16.  Victory engines have overhead cam roller rockers actuating the valves.  These roller rockers increase horsepower, are lighter than push rods that permits the engine to accelerate faster with increased throttle response, engine breathes better, reduces wear and tear to the valve stems and guides, creates a better ratio, improves lubrication along with much less friction.  These components is what you see in racing engines.  However, if the rear cylinder hydraulic valve lifter were to fail the engine must be lowered out of the frame to remove the top valve cover.  Odds are, it won't fail.

"I did have a bad experience with a Victory dealer in Reno, NV.  I would not recommend this dealership to anyone."

17.  Don't be fooled by the "resale value myth" Harley-Davidson wants you to believe.  It was true ten or more years ago you could get more for a Harley at trade-in time, but just you dare try to get a fair and square deal today, it won't happen!  I was only given a measly $10,000 for my Harley at trade in and that bike cost me $20,000.  That's why I chose a Victory this time around!  Victory has better bikes at better prices and you get real value for your money with lots of modern technology to make you smile.  And I save money and gain peace of mind knowing my engine is not going to explode. 

18.  If your Harley Twin-Cam engine explodes due to mechanical failure of the cam chain or valve lifter assemblies oil can rush out of the engine case soaking your rear wheel and you will crash.  I felt scared riding my Harley-Davidson and I became infuriated that Harley-Davidson "conceals" these engine defects from buyers.  I was never told or made aware my two brand new Harley's had these serious defects.

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19.  I had trouble with the chrome on my new Harley-Davidson.  It looked nice until I noticed the chrome was so thin it was wearing right off from the weather in just one year.  I'm talking dry and warm Nevada, Arizona, California weather.  I was upset the quality of the chrome was inferior to any other motorcycle I have ever owned.  The headlight, fork tubes all were rusting out.  Of course, it is not covered under warrantee I was told by dealers.  I had my fill of Harley-Davidson's Twin-Cam engine.  This time I bought a Victory.  I got a better bike, a bigger motor, more power, more torque, nice sound, better handling motorcycle and more fun to ride, but I ran into a problem with warranty repairs regarding the turn signals.  It is not a simple repair because the main engine computer manages the turn signals.

20.  Like they say in the Ford commercials, "drive one".   Once you get out of that old Harley mentality and ride a "real" modern motorcycle you'll be far better off in performance and financially too.  The low center of gravity and superb suspension and handling will make you glad you bought one.  One more thing, you get way better fuel mileage than a Harley-Davidson with way more V-twin horsepower and that means Victory will be more fun to ride.

21.  The design of the bike looks nice, but there are some problems regarding design practicalities.  The  handlebars give cramps in the hands due to an awkward bend in the grips that cause pain (your model may not do this).  The clutch lever is so thick and wide it wears a groove into your fingers hitting bone so that too is painful and not even a clutch lever cover will solve the problem.  Victory makes no cable/wire extension kits so you can't change your handlebars without possibly voiding the warranty.  Harley sells kits for their bikes. 

21.  No motorcycle is perfect, but the Victory is close to perfection in the cruiser street bike arena.  It is a gladiator ready for battle and will be the Victor(y). -© by James Russell.  All Rights Reserved.  Posted on:  JamesRussellPublishing.com Reprint Rights:  Enthusiasts and Motorcycle Dealers may post and reprint this article and use it to help them sell motorcycles as long as they do not make any changes to the document.

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