Wrist: Aaron Frank
Msrp (2010): $17,999
This long-term cruiser test was an experiment of sorts, to see if a chubby chaser lurked somewhere deep in my sportbike heart. I genuinely enjoyed Victory’s Cross Country during our bagger comparison last year. Could I be a closet cruiser guy after all? A year spent in the saddle would reveal all...
At first I got off on the novelty. A stiff aluminum frame, cartridge fork, air-adjustable monoshock and class-leading cornering clearance let the Cross Country handle more like a super-sized sport-tourer than most touring cruisers. It proved surprisingly adept at poaching unsuspecting squids on Racer Road. With its sophisticated chassis, excellent ergonomics, great air management and modern electronics, the Cross Country hardly felt like an anachronistic cruiser—until I rolled on the throttle.
The 106-cubic-inch (1731cc) Freedom engine makes a useful 92.2 lb.-ft. of torque. It also makes a fair bit of vibration and noise, and since the SOHC, four-valve V-twin revs faster and higher than competitive pushrod powerplants, you feel and hear those power pulses more. Most Victory riders praise this feedback as evidence of an authentic American V-Twin. Over time I just wished for a more refined, transparent powerplant that was more harmonious with what is otherwise an unexpectedly refined, transparent bike.
The Victory’s retro-modern looks won me over. Traditional cues suggest American cruiser, but the creased fairing, elongated tank and stylized saddlebags leave no doubt this bike was designed in this century. Everything is proportional but the Cross Country still seems out-of-scale, leading to my only irreconcilable difference: size. Though it weighs just 4 lbs. more than Harley-Davidson’s similar Street Glide, the CC looks and feels 20 percent bigger than it needs to be.
Scant aftermarket support meant modifications were mostly limited to Pure Victory accessories. The best pieces improved long-haul ability, like a taller touring windscreen, turbulence-reducing fork-mounted wind deflectors and—my personal favorite—the iPod uplink. Other worthwhile upgrades included a Powerlet accessory outlet to run electric gear when the riding got cold, and to charge the bike when it got too cold to ride.
The Cross Country suffered exactly zero mechanical failures during our one-year, 8000-plus-mile test. The only problems were minor: The stop snapped off the left passenger floorboard casting, covered under warranty, and the right sidecover kept popping off until we replaced a rubber grommet. The only maintenance item we replaced (beyond oil and filters) was brake pads. Upgrading to EBC Double-H sintered pads eliminated the weakest link in an otherwise excellent stopping system. Unbelievably, the OEM Dunlop Elite 3 tires still aren’t squared, cupped or at the wear bars in over 8K miles, thanks to careful pressure monitoring and a steady diet of twisty backroads. That’s remarkable.
About that experiment, then...The Cross Country played its part perfectly. I rode this bike more—and for longer distances—than anything I’ve had in my garage recently. There’s something to be said about a reliable, all-day-comfortable machine with 21 gallons of grocery-carrying capacity and royal passenger accommodations, too. The Cross Country shattered a lot of my misconceptions about cruiser ownership, and especially the overall capabilities of a touring cruiser bike. But every time I looked at my tragically fashion-conscious reflection in a passing window, I never felt like I belonged on the bike. I guess I’m not ready to join the bagger brigade quite yet.