Victory Motorcycles may have concentrated much of its recent efforts on their touring motorcycles but the American manufacturer recently ramped it up a notch with the introduction of its sleek new cruiser, the 2013 Judge. Though it, too, has drag bars like the Fat Bob, mid-mount controls place riders in a completely different riding position that is compact and at-the-ready. With a 16-inch tall and 130mm wide chunk of Dunlop rubber leading the way, the two cruisers have almost identical profiles, be it the Fat Bob’s risers place the bars up a bit more. A chiseled tank and faux racing plate add to the Judge’s sporting disposition, while the lean profile of the 140mm rear helps keep it light on its feet.
The pulse of the Victory Judge is provided by its Freedom 106 engine, a 50-degree 1731cc V-Twin with single overhead camshafts and self-adjusting cam chains. Though it dominated on the dyno, at the throttle, the Judge’s power is deceptive. It doesn’t feel like it has the same arm-stretching hit as the Fat Boy, but rev it up and it’s smooth and quick off the line. And that’s the key to riding the Judge. Its big 50-degree V-Twin likes to be revved to get the most out of it. It’s deceptive because it just hooks up and goes without much fuss but the rear tire’s barking in the first couple of gears. The solid-mounted engine is also smoother at idle, which benefits riders, but this is tempered by a clutch pull that is stiffer in comparison to the Fat Bob. On the efficiency side, it’s electronic fuel injection meters out fuel almost as efficiently, too, as it lost out on miles-per-gallon by a scant 0.12 gallons.
On the twisty sections of SoCal’s Ortega Highway, the Judge turns in and transitions easier than its Harley counterpart. With a 25.9-inch seat height and 64-inch wheelbase, the Judge is long and squat, with a lower center of gravity. Its 40mm-smaller rear tire also contributes to the Victory’s edge in turn in. Overall the Judge feels lighter than the Fat Bob
The 2013 Victory Judge won ‘King of the Dyno’ honors in this comparison with peak output of 93.68 lb-ft of torque coming on at @ 3700 rpm.
despite tipping the scales a mere 10 pounds lighter. One area where the small rear tire does concede to the Harley is on rough freeways at speed, where it has a tendency to transfer more of the road’s imperfections to the rider and its back end feels looser.
Luckily the Judge’s 43mm fork and single rear gas shock do a solid job of absorbing most everything the road throws at it. In comparison to the Fat Bob, the Judge’s suspension at stock settings is a tad stiffer. Contrary to the Fat Bob’s exposed twin shocks, the single rear unit on the Judge is tucked away neatly out of sight but likewise is preload adjustable, albeit less accessible. When it comes time to stop, there is a great disparity. Where it took hard pulls to get the Fat Bob’s pinchers to do their task, the brakes on the Judge engage with very little pressure and bite down hard on the 300mm floating rotors. The brakes are strong, almost too touchy, as the rear wheel locks up easily. Still, we prefer their power and feel over the squishy rear unit on the Fat Bob any day.
The Judge has its own sporty disposition. The front end looks ready to drag, from the bars that team well with its beefy front five-spoke mag wheel shod in thick Dunlop 491 tires. A fairly small front fender and single disc open the look of the front end from the left side. The tall jugs of its machined cyclinder heads are nestled tightly between the frame rails and below the sculpted tank. Its frame, dual exhausts, engine cases, fender stays and chain guard are all done in black, a big contrast to the assorted bits that shine up the Fat Bob. The view between the bars is sparse, a small round digital speedo and small mirrors. Black housing controls, bars, wiring wrapped in black and a black triple tree are non-descript. The brake lever is five-way adjustable, a feature not offered on the Harley.
On the negative side, this six speed transmission of the Judge engages with a disconcerting clunk and was easily audible over the rumble of the Fat Bob when riding in tandem. Both transmissions click into gear reliably, but the Victory didn’t shift as smoothly. Another grievance with the Judge is the lack of a fuel gauge. The primary function of the solo round gauge is to serve as an analog speedo and while toggling through the functions of the small digital display, we found a trip meter, rpm indicator, odometer and clock, but the only fuel readout was a the tiny green low fuel light. We also dig the racy look of the oval number plate but the plastic it’s made of doesn’t add much to the quality of the fit-and-finish.
Still, the 2013 Victory Judge handily wins the horsepower battle, will chirp the tires in the first couple of gears, handles sharper than the Fat Bob, and has stronger brakes. Its suspension is dialed in well, too, and it has an edge in the most important categories. Throw in the fact that it has a base sticker price over $1300 less than its Harley counterpart and the Judge edges out the Fat Bob by a slim margin in this cruiser comparison.
(L) The mirrors on the Judge are a bit smaller than the Fat Bob’s and the view from between the bars is sparse. (M) The Freedom 106 V-Twin of the Judge with its 1731cc of power will chirp the tires in the first couple of gears. (R) The 4.5-gallon tank of the Victory Judge has modest badging and a chiseled look.