There’s nothing that could shake the cobwebs of jet lag after a cross-country flight better than stepping off a plane and onto a motorcycle. So when I jump off my flight in Grand Junction, Colorado to an awaiting 2011 Victory Cross Country,
I’m eager to twist the throttle and unleash some of the 109 lb-ft the bike’s mill is claimed to possess. This Cross Country looks much different than I remember. Its new two-tone Pearl White and Vogue Silver color scheme brings out every line in the angular front fairing. It makes the seam running down the front fender more noticeable while the silver gives depth to the slight recessions of the tank. The model I’m about to ride is also equipped with the new Lock & Ride Trunk option, a large color-matching topcase/passenger backrest combo that also adds a couple of speakers to the audio system. Victory has done a bang-up job on matching the trunk’s style to the bike with the visible mounting brackets the only detraction in an otherwise cleanly integrated addition.
Thumbing the electric start, the exhaust note is slightly deeper and richer than I remember, too. Kicking it into first then quickly running through the gears, it’s not long before Grand Junction is a dusty brown speck in my sideview mirror as we hop onto Hwy 141 on our way to Gateway, Colorado. The road quickly starts to wind through a canyon alongside a creek and the Cross Country is powering through the 30 mph turns. The trunk adds a little topside weight to the center of gravity, but the bike is rock-steady when leaned over and allows for generous lean angles. Available torque comes on as low as 1500 rpm and has the pull to get the
bike back up to speed without having to downshift in every turn. The road would soon open up in a valley lined with green-pastured ranches and well-fed horses, allowing me to get into some midrange and top-end power. The spread is broad and even without being overly punchy down low. But does it ever track smooth for a bagger with a claimed dry weight of 765 lbs. Forty-five enjoyable miles later I’m at Gateway Canyons Resort, site of the 2011 Victory Motorcycles press launch, and after the favorable impressions the 2011 Cross Country left on me, I’m excited to see what else the manufacturer has in store.
For 2011, Victory Motorcycles introduces 15 motorcycles in its model line consisting of three tourers, four blacked-out bikes, five custom or muscle cruisers, and three factory-customs designed by the Ness trio of Arlen, Cory and Zach. Heading into its 12th year of production, the motorcycle-making branch of parent company Polaris Industries has an estimated 60-70,000 bikes on the road. Though this number isn’t astronomical, I saw more Victorys rolling around Sturgis this year than ever before. All of the company’s 2011 models are carry-overs except for the Zach Ness Vegas, but that doesn’t mean that Victory hasn’t been busy beefing up engines, tweeking transmissions, changing up exhaust notes, and adding ABS as standard fare on some of its models.
For 2011, Victory decided to equip all of its motorcycles with its Freedom 106/6 V-Twin. This will really benefit Victory’s lightest bike, the Vegas 8-Ball, which now runs with the same four-stroke, 50-degree V-Twin as Victory’s other cruisers. That equates to 1731cc of power churning out of a 101mm bore
with pistons thumping along at a 108mm stroke. It’s the same single overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder arrangement as before but the powerplant comes in two states of tune based on cams and engine programs. The first, called the Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 V-Twin, has a special cam package that boosts its power numbers to a claimed 97 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque. All of Victory’s cruiser models will come with the Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 V-Twin. The Freedom 106/6 Stage 1 V-Twin puts out a claimed 92 hp and 109 lb-ft of torque and will power Victory’s 2011 touring motorcycles.
The other big news is the sweeping revisions Victory made to its transmission to make it quieter and to reduce driveline lash. It now features helical gears in all but fifth and the gear tooth counts and geometry have been switched up. The gear tooth count increased by nine at the crank and balancer, three at the compensator and four in the clutch, which changed the total ratio from 1.50 to 1.48. The shaft center distance has been increased from 72mm to 78mm and the gear width has been increased in fourth and sixth. And there’s more. Victory has gone with a mass-reduced drive sprocket and the shift forks have been redesigned to increase bending stiffness and strength. A centrifugal Neutral Selection Assist has also been installed. After riding several models and logging over 1,000 miles on the new transmission we can attest that it is both quieter and smoother, but we did experience a handful of false neutrals between first and second on a couple of the touring bikes.
Victory’s Cross Roads can be customized with 48 different color, saddlebag, highway bar and windshield options.
Other news out of the Victory camp is its customization program for its Cross Roads model. The CORE Custom Program for the Cross Roads allows riders to choose the features they want most and to see them on the bike before making their final decision. There are 48 options in all as riders select the bike’s color, saddlebag and highway bar style and windshield. Victory dealers will stock these components so riders can pick out the ones they like best and see them installed before taking it home. Additionally, they can opt for the new color-matched Lock & Ride Trunk for even more storage space and comfier passenger accommodations.
The Lock & Ride Trunk fits both the Victory Cross Country and Cross Roads and is retro-fittable to the 2010 Cross bikes. It passed the “room for two full-face helmets” test and the front of the unit doubles as a padded passenger backrest. Victory has made installation snap-on easy as it mounts without tools by lining up the trunk mounting legs with the mounting points at the rear of the bike and snapping down the locking arm. A locking pin keeps your investment safe. There’s an outlet inside the topcase to power your peripherals and a power cord to plug-in to the bike’s electrical system to provide juice for the taillight on the outside of the trunk and the extra speakers. It’s color-matched and has lines that complement the Cross Country.