Bikes we love

What I want: Victory Judge

Would you like some awesome with your awesome?
Yeah, I’m not really sure who they’re trying to sell to, either. I imagine at least one member of the marketing team for Victory Motorcycles has a mullet, and that all of them can sing Bob Seger or Bachman Turner Overdrive tunes from memory. Victory’s headquarters is in Iowa, after all. And its parent company is on the frontier of outstate Minnesota (1).
Victory’s advertising strategy is frequently outdated and sexist. And it’s difficult to guess who, exactly, is being targeted with crap like this. Stereotypical Harley riders? Guys who live on 1980s action-adventure movie sets? Even Harley realises there’s not much to that market and has (wisely) broadened its focus. Is Victory trying to garner those last few big-bellied weekend road pirates who have yet to have hip operations?
Rather than trying to garner Harley’s sloppy seconds, Victory should be focusing on the fact that it has a superior product: a legitimately American motorcycle that is made of awesome. The Victory Judge is my money-is-no-object bike, the machine that I see myself riding when I daydream of being like the Road Pickle kids. 
I mean, just look at it. Take away the idiot image that Victory is trying (and failing) to sell, and look at the motorcycle itself. It looks good, it sounds good, and by every account I’ve seen or read it is great to ride. I think one of the best testaments to the Victory experience is this video of an Australian fella test riding a Vegas 8 Ball and loving it, despite being a sport bike rider (he even earns himself a speeding ticket).
And to speak to the bike’s reliability, this dude rode a Vegas 8 Ball from London to the Iraq border and back –- 13,000 miles in total. With at least 1,000 of those miles being on dirt roads.
There is so much wrong with that name, by the way: Vegas 8 Ball. Why, Victory? You’re a company from Minnesota/Iowa. Why not show a bit of pride in who and what you are? The Victory Judge is a good enough name, I suppose, but why not something truly local like the Victory Hiawatha? The Victory Hawkeye? Seriously, yo. The Victory Hawkeye. That is a bad-ass name. One that fits a bad-ass bike.
As I say, I like to daydream of owning a Victory Judge, strapping a bit of gear to the back and setting out to navigate the great American rivers of concrete. True, I’ve never seen one in the flesh, so it’s possible I’d change my mind, but my gosh is it a beautiful thing.
I’m not entirely sure what it is about the Judge that appeals to me more than other Victory models. All are effectively the same bike, with a 1737cc engine (106 cubic inches) and similar frame. I can’t really see why you would pay you would pay £5,000 more for a Vegas Jackpot (idiot name!) than for the Vegas 8 Ball. Apart from the fact that the dude in the Vegas Jackpot promotional photos is clearly riding through downtown Minneapolis.
And perhaps therein you can see one of the biggest appeals of the bike to me: it’s made in the region in which I am forever pining to return. When I imagine myself on a Victory Judge, I imagine myself first and foremost riding up to my best friend’s cabin in Forest Lake, Minnesota. It is an American motorcycle that comes from the part of America I know and love. And, yes, that is a bit overly sentimental and patriotic, but I don’t care. I love these bikes and I want one. It is a bike that definitely passes the Chris Jericho test.
It will be a while, though. At the moment I am some £11,000 short of its asking price.
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(1) Minnesota, of course, is my adopted home state. I was part-raised in the Twin Cities, the region’s cosmopolitan centre. For us Cities kids, the great spaces of Minnesota that are not within 45 minutes drive of either downtown Minneapolis or downtown St. Paul are known as “outstate.” As with Ireland’s concept of things beyond The Pale, anything outstate is a hinterland: a lonely agrarian wasteland of classic rock and the previous decade’s fashions.