If you're going to visit Texas, make it Hill Country. There are some legendary motorcycle roads out that way, and every time you throttle down you're likely to find some fine bluegrass music playing plus. And if you're lucky, pungent smoke pouring from a big, black pig-cooker. Texas: It's a big place to be. And a great place for Victory to introduce its big new baggers.
I'm a long-time champion of the Victory campaign. Back in 1997, I was the first person to ride the virginal V92C cruiser coast-to-coast. I crusaded to save the V92SC sport-cruiser. And when Victory introduced the Vision tourer in 2007, I snuck away from the pony-ride press intro to do an impromptu Iron Butt butt-burner.
When trading from the Cross Roads to the long-haul-intended Cross Country, the first thing I noticed was a difference in the bike's steering feel, especially at low speeds. Because the Roads is unencumbered by the Country's feature-laden, fork-mounted fairing, it handles low-speed maneuvers with more precision, while the Country has a slight wandering effect. Plus, your view of the front wheel is entirely blocked by the Country's fairing, which enhances the sensation of ambiguous feedback.
As I arrive at the Austin airport, I'm more than ready to try out Victory's new Cross Country and Cross Roads baggers, and I'm extra-stoked to find the bikes parked outside baggage claim, ready to roll. The first likable feature I notice is the massive storage space-the most in their class at 21 gallons. With that kind of capacity, who needs a trunk? The sleek, color-matched, lockable hard saddlebags open sweetly from the top to make loading a cinch, and the pushbutton latch is easily manipulated with one hand. Inside each saddlebag is a simple quick-release mechanism so you can pop the bag off its frame and walk away.
After a few days in the saddle of these two new tourers, I was left wanting more. Ergonomics were decent for my 5-foot-10 frame, and the seat was tolerable. My favorite feature might be the vast floorboards, which measure 18 inches long so you can really stretch out. If that's not enough, highway pegs can be mounted to receiving brackets built into the bikes' stylish crash bars.
The Cross Country's fairing houses an expansive dash and a premium audio system with an MP
The Cross Country's wing-like crash bars are a Victory first. The matte-gray line running
The scooped, stepped seat looks more comfortable than it is. A back rest is an option for
Both bikes share the same bones and vital organs, but the Cross Country comes with a fork-mounted fairing, stereo and cruise control. The Country's fairing, which comes standard with a chin screen, looks slightly Vision-esque, sans the encased mirrors, space-age headlight and motor-driven windshield. The old-school 'Roads just comes with a slab of clear plastic, allowing for a classic bagger silhouette.
Victory promises oodles of accessories to customize fit, including different seat and handlebar options. The minimalistic Cross Roads, which starts about $1700 less than the faired Cross Country, is available in black and cherry while the latter comes in both those shades as well as black with an artfully applied skull motif. The $1500 add-on price is more frightening than the skulls.
The large, 5.8-gallon tank on both bikes is all-new, and comes with a trick flush-mounted filler cap. On the Roads the stark tank, along with the teeny single instrument pod, keep the cockpit pristine, but still offers its pilot a bucketload of information, including engine rpm in the bank of digital readouts.
With a stable parent company in Polaris and a house full of passionate designers and engineers, Victory appears set for the long haul. Still hot and heavy in the chopper scene and running headlong into the touring segment, it's the only American manufacturer that seems to be building steam, instead of shedding it.
Victory's fuel-injected 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-twin churns out plenty of power for fully
Ergonomics are appropriately neutral for a touring rig. If something's not to your liking,
The 2010 bikes feature bigger, better hard saddlebags. Take your meal to go; with a combin
I'm not a fan of tall windshields, and the Cross Roads' stock screen is a look-through for most. I did appreciate that the Lexan drops low on either side of the headlamp to keep the windblast off your knees. The Cross Country comes stock with a short screen, which everyone I was riding with preferred, but there are options for medium and tall windshields. I found the bubble-style medium screen had particularly intrusive distortion.
In keeping with Victory's reputation for quality, the details on these bikes are tight. I especially love the dagger-style taillight and switchblade LED turn signals. Huge cool factor, but they are also intensely bright. The only visual details that disappointed me were the chunky, buzzy rearview mirrors. Someone must have dusted off a crate of cast-off parts, because they certainly don't match the bikes' other fancy bits.
I jump on a Cross Roads first, the dressed-down version of the two. Right off, you notice the bike's low CG and forget about its near 800-pound mass. It's as easy to putt from pig-cooker to pig-cooker as it is to blast across Hill Country's famously twisting, topsy-turvy backroads. Cornering clearance is stellar for a big cruiser, and ride quality is air-adjustable for load or comfort via an easily accessible teat in the saddlebag. The bike's 4.7 inches of suspension travel did a fine job of smoothing out the countless Texas cattle guards, yet was stiff enough to let us safely dart around the cows, sheep and crap.
Victory's 106-cubic-inch Freedom mill still delivers adequate power and a barrelful of torque-certainly enough to pass just about anything that slows you down.
Brakes on the Roads and Country are the same split system found on Victory's hardcore Hammer, though with revised front pads to dole out more controllable stopping power.