2008 Victory Vision
When Victory unveiled the Vision two years ago, a lot of people were impressed. Not Mike Saenz, though. "It looked like an old man's bike," he told us. If ever there were a ringing endorsement for a motorcycle, that's not it. Deep down there must have been something he liked about it, though. Why else would he go to such great lengths to customize one?
It all came down to Sturgis, when Mike saw Arlen Ness running around on his custom take on Victory's latest tourer. The streamlined design was more to Mike's taste and this here bike is the realization of his vision of a Vision.
Rewind to December 2007. Mike packs up shop in the wake of his divorce and treks from Maui to Tucson in order to restart his life. His latest gig: working at Arizona Victory. He's a long-time truck customizer who's also into sport bikes, and not too interested in most baggers. However, as we stated above, Arlen's personal Vision caused Mike to reassess that position.
Nip/Tuck: Mike Saenz couldn't even find an aftermarket seat he liked for his Vision. His
He placed a call to Mr. Ness, who hipped him to some pointers about changing up a Vision into what Mike wanted: something slammed and kinda drag bike-esque, yet still a bagger. Ideas flew between their phones. When the crated bike showed up, Mike was ready to get started.
Freed from its wooden confinement, the bike went straight up onto a bike lift where Mike and some of his Victory mechanic cohorts tore it all the way down. They disassembled the motor so Mike could send out the heads for diamond cutting by Diamond Heads. "That motor's the centerpiece for this machine," he told us. "It's the only shiny part surrounded by black. " That said, kicking up the motor's style points made sense. It also received new cams and, later on, a set of Ness pipes.
Once the heads came back, the motor went straight into its original home. The next phase? Suspension. Saenz slammed this bad boy to the weeds. If you're customizing a Vision, you'll find the aftermarket parts cupboard pretty bare, as did Mike. A lot of it was made or modded by his newly opened Tucson shop, Heavy Metal Designz. Lowering the motorcycle was a pretty major undertaking. According to Mike, "The front was lowered 3 inches, consisting of a spacer we made for the risers, along with cutting the fork springs. The rear was lowered 3 inches and we installed an air ride suspension. The windshield was cut down 2 inches and shortened in width 1-inch on each side. The bike has a Ness skidplate that sits 2 inches above the ground. Believe me, it's been used more than once." And you thought shaving your face every day was an ordeal.
Mike didn't put the tools away after the windshield was done, though. He found the existing front tire skin too bulky for his taste, and wanted a wrap- around version instead. Again, there was no readily available aftermarket replacement, so he cut it down himself. Out back, he grafted two fenders together to lengthen the rear, thus adding to the long, low, aggressive stance he demanded for the project. The bags were sectioned 2 inches and lifted 2 inches so they'd clear the rear pulley and brake system.
If the plastic surgery that went into this creation sounds extensive, wait until you hear about the paint. Mike's shop took care of the Gloss Black, but Atomik Paint laid down the flames and skulls that lighten up the darkness. Twenty-eight body parts and over 25 smaller ones received the sprayer's touch. Now add in the more than 35 that were powdercoated. When it all came back to the shop, all Mike and company could do was stare at the mountain of boxes, eating pizza and drinking beer as they figured out where to start. Twelve nights later, though, it was a done deal.
The final exam on any custom project is the ride. Mike's bagger aced it. "It actually gives you the feeling of riding a bagger that feels like you are sitting on a dropped-seat chopper. The bike handles extremely well and has a great feel of balance when you ride one or two up. It's as stable at 55 mph as it is at 120 mph," he tells us. With as much work put into this baby, it not only rides well, but, as the clich goes, looks good doing it.