The Jackpot is Victory's latest gambit - a bold move into premium custom territory. So is it likely to fold, or will it be straight flush with success?
The Jackpot is an important bike for Victory. In the US, the extreme or 'premium custom' market represents 30,000 sales per year. The Jackpot is aimed at taking sales away from competitors such as Big Dog, most of whose rides will set you back in the region of $30,000. Victory hopes that the more competitively priced Jackpot will grab a portion of that market.
Push any motorcyclist hard enough and what really counts is bragging power: looking cool. Premium customs target this section of the market, providing bar-hops for the egotistical two-wheeled gentry. Handling and power-to-weight ratios are irrelevant. Making heads turn as you blip the throttle and the slash-cuts echo down the street is what really counts. Power is also a major plus. As with the sportsbike fraternity, bigger is definitely better. Victory took this notion on board and mounted a stonking 100 cubic inch, 1634cc lump in the heart of the Jackpot, making a claimed 84bhp and 103lb.ft instantly available with a flick of the wrist.
The Jackpot's lines flow like those of a voluptuous woman. From the scalloped tank, it narrows and disappears into the waist of the plush two-part stepped seat before fanning out to the curvaceous J-Lo booty at the rear. The front is laced with deep, mirrored chrome, from the angular headlight to the headstock and beefy forks.
Ergonomics play an important role in the design of any motorcycle. First impressions as I slid my skinny butt into the Jackpot's saddle were encouraging. Its bars spread nicely and allow a relaxed riding stance with plenty of leverage to muscle the Jackpot through tighter corners. The pegs are far enough away from the rider that anyone under six feet will be able to have their legs almost straight.
Our ride from Victory's R&D centre through Washington County and back promised magnificent scenery, good twisties and a series of fast sweepers as we cruised the banks of the St. Croix River. It was ideal for testing the Jackpot's cruising abilities and to see how its odd tyre combo would cope with some pace.
The Jackpot uses the same chassis geometry as the Vegas, although the rear swingarm is new. A 250-section Dunlop, the largest tyre on a production bike, is encased inside a wide, sculpted fender.
Up front the skinny 80-section, 21-inch rubber comes from the Victory Vegas. Just the thought of the disparity in sizes made me wince. Within minutes though, I'd forgotten my fears. Where the Vegas initially felt vague and the Hammer steered slowly, the fat/thin combo on the Jackpot works. Okay, so there's an initial tendency to want to stand up mid-corner, but countersteer and she will power through.
There's only a single four-pot Brembo caliper up front, but it bites well on the large 300mm disc. I'd thought that twin discs would be a better bet but, since the front end is so skinny, any more braking power might have made the front tuck under if you were to overcook it into a bend.
Victory has improved the transmission to give a tall sixth gear that doesn't waste acceleration. Indeed, cracking the throttle in sixth at 70mph (a lowly 2400rpm) will propel the Jackpot forward with plenty of gusto. The 5500rpm redline is achievable, but mainly in first and second gears. Even at 100mph it only just brushes 3200rpm.
The love affair between Victory and custom gurus Arlen and Cory Ness has also given us the Ness Signature Jackpot models. There are subtle differences between the two Ness bikes but both have diamond-band grips, billet-style mirrors, custom stitched seats, billet wheels and narrow pull-back bars, plus the signature of each Ness adorning the side cover.
Victory now has models to suit most of the cruiser market. Bar-hops, soft touring, stripped custom and now the premium cruiser areas are all catered for. All that's missing is a full dresser along the lines of the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. The way Victory is going, we can probably expect to see one by the beginning of 2007.
Big bucks but with big style. Performance cruisers employ the adage 'bigger is better' and Victory has hit the Jackpot.
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