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First Ride: 2004 Victory Kingpin

Victory hopes to attract a younger generation by producing a versatile, powerful cruiser. Can Victory pin down the kings for the full count?




A Cruiser can be customised, adapted, chopped and changed beyond all recognition - even more so than a sportsbike. There are the obvious choices on the market, namely Harley-Davidson, Triumph's Rocket III (when it finally hits the shops), or a retro styled Kawasaki VN2000.

However, one marque that is often neglected is that of little known US brand Victory Motorcycles. This year, parent company Polaris is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Fitting then, that for 2004, Victory has come on strong with the launch of the latest Freedom Engine-powered Kingpin.

This will be available in two guises, the standard Kingpin or the Kingpin Tourer.

Styling is all-important with any Victory motorcycle. The Kingpin again has traits of Arlen Ness; the sculpted scallop teardrop tank that blends with the seat, the neat flowing bodywork and gorgeous spoke or billet wheels depending upon whether you go for the standard or Tourer version.

The extended flared fenders front and rear set the Fifties look off perfectly, and give the impression that the Kingpin is bigger that it actually is. For increased rider comfort over the more radical Vegas, the bars are set lower but equally as wide for good slow speed control. Footboards are vibration absorbing and the bars are rubber mounted to prevent your fillings being forcibly removed at speed!

Personally, I favour the rocker gear change system that Victory has opted for on the Kingpin. Why? Simply out of laziness and ease of use - plus it looks cool!

The Kingpin's box is very decisive and almost disconcertingly slick for such a large Cruiser. It is possible to perform clutchless upchanges, short-shifting through the box to a maximum steam-train-pulling fifth gear and over a ton on the clock.

The front suspension is new, with the addition of upside-down 43mm forks. The idea of an upside-down forks set-up is to make the front end stiffer and more responsive. This works admirably, although turning is somewhat sacrificed as the front tyre is a whopping 130 section, while the rear is a fat-enough-for-a-cruiser 180.

The Dunlops work well, giving plenty of feel and grip on the road and that's very important as the Kingpin is such a long beast. The slower turning will take a while to get used to, but the wide bars offer enough leverage to countersteer the Kingpin through corners, while scraping the generous footboards on the tarmac.

Brembo has supplied the stopping power in the guise of twin pots front and rear. Coupled with huge 300mm discs at both ends, there are none of the fretting moments where you can only hope that you can stop in time as a car comes to a standstill 200 yards ahead!

To ensure that all important hard-tail image is preserved, the rear shock is hidden deep in the bowels of the Kingpin, leaving simple unadulterated clean lines which only help to bring attention to the twin-port exhaust and belt drive one side, and the aluminium swingarm on t'other.

The spread of the power delivery from the lazy 1507cc lump has been altered from last year's more aggressive Vegas, to produce a more user-friendly spread, giving plenty of

low and mid-range torque without having to sacrifice top end.

The acceleration is phenomenal. Just crack the throttle in any gear under 3000rpm and the engine thrup-thrups into life akin to a sleeping dragon, motoring you past all and sundry to leave them trailing in your dust.

The Freedom engine is the same as used in the Vegas and V92c models and features overhead cams with four valves per cylinder. The idea of this is to produce superior power at high rpm in an attempt to get ahead of the pack - especially a certain 'other' US brand - which it must be said it does admirably.

If you want to beef up performance, a Stage 1 tuning kit consisting of cans, air box and filter plus a re-map will set you back around £550, but will be well worth it. But even without that additional outlay, the exhaust note is crisp and pronounced even in stock legal trim. Heads will certainly turn as you blip on by pedestrians in the local high street.

VERDICT

Slice of Pie anyone? The Kingpin is a twist on Mom's Apple Pie - with a cherry on the top! Pin the throttle wide open and feel the wind on your face and your eyes water as 92 cubic inches of US muscle propels you forwards in blurred exuberance. It's an extravagance of iron that will have heads turning wherever you ride. Onlookers will ask if it's a HOG, but you can be smug in the knowledge that it's not so common and possibly more sought after!

KINGPIN TOURER

Fancy living more in the lap of luxury? Does your partner always want to come with you for the ride? The Tourer may be the better option for you. With a large screen, pillion footboards for comfort, a more generous touring seat, saddlebags, and - most importantly - the backrest, your companion will think the world of you if you go for this model! And at only £1000 more than the standard Kingpin, the extras are all easy enough to unbolt.

EVOLUTION:

1998: Parent company Polaris launches the Victory Motorcycle brand with the V92c, the first all-USA built production motorcycle since Indian 50 years earlier

2001: Victory lands in the UK

2003: The Vegas is launched with Arlen Ness styling and a reworked V92c power lump

2004: Polaris celebrates its 50th anniversary

RIVALS:

Harley-Davidson FLSTF: £13,495 Classic Milwaukee muscle has become a style icon since its launch in 1990

Kawasaki VN2000: £10,950 The epitome of modern cruiser muscle and the largest production V-twin on the market takes on the US giants in a Japanese package

SPECS

TYPE - CRUISER

PRODUCTION DATE - 2004

PRICE NEW - £11,895

ENGINE CAPACITY - 1634cc

POWER - 80bhp@5500rpm

TORQUE - 90lb.ft@4000rpm

WEIGHT - 290kg

SEAT HEIGHT - 673mm

FUEL CAPACITY - 17L

TOP SPEED - 115mph

0-60 - n/a

TANK RANGE - N/A

A Cruiser can be customised, adapted, chopped and changed beyond all recognition - even more so than a sportsbike. There are the obvious choices on the market, namely Harley-Davidson, Triumph's Rocket III (when it finally hits the shops), or a retro styled Kawasaki VN2000.

However, one marque that is often neglected is that of little known US brand Victory Motorcycles. This year, parent company Polaris is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Fitting then, that for 2004, Victory has come on strong with the launch of the latest Freedom Engine-powered Kingpin.

This will be available in two guises, the standard Kingpin or the Kingpin Tourer.

Styling is all-important with any Victory motorcycle. The Kingpin again has traits of Arlen Ness; the sculpted scallop teardrop tank that blends with the seat, the neat flowing bodywork and gorgeous spoke or billet wheels depending upon whether you go for the standard or Tourer version.

The extended flared fenders front and rear set the Fifties look off perfectly, and give the impression that the Kingpin is bigger that it actually is. For increased rider comfort over the more radical Vegas, the bars are set lower but equally as wide for good slow speed control. Footboards are vibration absorbing and the bars are rubber mounted to prevent your fillings being forcibly removed at speed!

Personally, I favour the rocker gear change system that Victory has opted for on the Kingpin. Why? Simply out of laziness and ease of use - plus it looks cool!

The Kingpin's box is very decisive and almost disconcertingly slick for such a large Cruiser. It is possible to perform clutchless upchanges, short-shifting through the box to a maximum steam-train-pulling fifth gear and over a ton on the clock.

The front suspension is new, with the addition of upside-down 43mm forks. The idea of an upside-down forks set-up is to make the front end stiffer and more responsive. This works admirably, although turning is somewhat sacrificed as the front tyre is a whopping 130 section, while the rear is a fat-enough-for-a-cruiser 180.

The Dunlops work well, giving plenty of feel and grip on the road and that's very important as the Kingpin is such a long beast. The slower turning will take a while to get used to, but the wide bars offer enough leverage to countersteer the Kingpin through corners, while scraping the generous footboards on the tarmac.

Brembo has supplied the stopping power in the guise of twin pots front and rear. Coupled with huge 300mm discs at both ends, there are none of the fretting moments where you can only hope that you can stop in time as a car comes to a standstill 200 yards ahead!

Victory Kingpin review verdict

To ensure that all important hard-tail image is preserved, the rear shock is hidden deep in the bowels of the Kingpin, leaving simple unadulterated clean lines which only help to bring attention to the twin-port exhaust and belt drive one side, and the aluminium swingarm on t'other.

The spread of the power delivery from the lazy 1507cc lump has been altered from last year's more aggressive Vegas, to produce a more user-friendly spread, giving plenty of low and mid-range torque without having to sacrifice top end.

The acceleration is phenomenal. Just crack the throttle in any gear under 3000rpm and the engine thrup-thrups into life akin to a sleeping dragon, motoring you past all and sundry to leave them trailing in your dust.

The Freedom engine is the same as used in the Vegas and V92c models and features overhead cams with four valves per cylinder. The idea of this is to produce superior power at high rpm in an attempt to get ahead of the pack - especially a certain 'other' US brand - which it must be said it does admirably.

If you want to beef up performance, a Stage 1 tuning kit consisting of cans, air box and filter plus a re-map will set you back around £550, but will be well worth it. But even without that additional outlay, the exhaust note is crisp and pronounced even in stock legal trim. Heads will certainly turn as you blip on by pedestrians in the local high street.

VERDICT

Slice of Pie anyone? The Kingpin is a twist on Mom's Apple Pie - with a cherry on the top! Pin the throttle wide open and feel the wind on your face and your eyes water as 92 cubic inches of US muscle propels you forwards in blurred exuberance. It's an extravagance of iron that will have heads turning wherever you ride. Onlookers will ask if it's a HOG, but you can be smug in the knowledge that it's not so common and possibly more sought after!

KINGPIN TOURER

Fancy living more in the lap of luxury? Does your partner always want to come with you for the ride? The Tourer may be the better option for you. With a large screen, pillion footboards for comfort, a more generous touring seat, saddlebags, and - most importantly - the backrest, your companion will think the world of you if you go for this model! And at only £1000 more than the standard Kingpin, the extras are all easy enough to unbolt.

EVOLUTION:

1998: Parent company Polaris launches the Victory Motorcycle brand with the V92c, the first all-USA built production motorcycle since Indian 50 years earlier
2001: Victory lands in the UK
2003: The Vegas is launched with Arlen Ness styling and a reworked V92c power lump
2004: Polaris celebrates its 50th anniversary

RIVALS:

Harley-Davidson FLSTF: £13,495 Classic Milwaukee muscle has become a style icon since its launch in 1990
Kawasaki VN2000: £10,950 The epitome of modern cruiser muscle and the largest production V-twin on the market takes on the US giants in a Japanese package.

2004 Victory Kingpin Specifications

SPECS
TYPE - CRUISER
PRODUCTION DATE - 2004
PRICE NEW - £11,895
ENGINE CAPACITY - 1634cc
POWER - 80bhp@5500rpm
TORQUE - 90lb.ft@4000rpm   
WEIGHT - 290kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 673mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 17L
TOP SPEED - 115mph
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A