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2011 Victory Motorcycles First Ride Review

Monday, August 23, 2010

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,
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2011 Victory Motorcycles First Rides Video
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The Victory 2011 lineup is 15 motorcycles strong as its entire line has been bolstered by the use of its Freedom 106/6 V-Twin in all models as well as sweeping revisions to the tranny. See them in action in our 2011 Victory First Ride Video.
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
The 2011 Victory Cross Country can be ridden as aggressive as its styling.
The 2011 Victory Cross Country can be ridden as aggressive as it is styled.
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
The Freedom 106 6 comes in a Stage I and Stage II version depending on cams and engine mapping.
The Freedom 106/6 comes in a Stage I and Stage II version depending on cams and engine mapping.
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.

Victorys Cross Roads can be customized with 48 different color  saddlebag  highway bar and windshield options.
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.

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Mike in WV -Lesson for Skeeter  November 29, 2010 06:40 AM
Hey Skeeter...go ahead and Google Sonny and see what he's riding now. Here's one article and photo for ya since you may lack the faculties. lol
Mike in WV -Skeeter  November 29, 2010 06:32 AM
Well Skeeter, you're not very well informed and you don't comprehend well. If you look at my previous comment, you'll see that I was commenting on a quote from Rick Fairless...he was the one saying he was a dealer, not me. I did get my Corss Country last November and love it. Do you know Arlen personally to be able to back up your statement? As far as Barger goes...I've seen several articles, photos and other media about his love of the Vision. He's rode it to Sturgis where thousands of people saw him. Maybe you're just one of those conspiracy theorists. lol Either way, you're misinformed.
skeeter -Mike in WV  November 23, 2010 05:11 PM
If Arlen Ness is riding a Victory, it's only because he is being paid to. As far as Sonny Barger, there is no way that he rides a Victory. As far as you being a dealer, that's a bunch crap too. Several months ago, you posted that you were waiting on the delivery of your new Victory Cross Country. Do you think that you are the only one that reads these posts?
Mike in WV -Interesting Quote from Rick Fairless...and I concur  November 19, 2010 05:32 AM
Fairless: Nope, not really. To me, the coolest production bikes on the planet are Victory. And I am so glad I am a Victory dealer. We went to Galveston for the Lone Star Rally and I rode a Victory that I customized for Herschel Walker. Coming back, my best friend was on his Victory Vision, we’re doing about 95 going down Interstate 45 from Houston, I’ve got one hand on the throttle and one hand resting on my leg and I’m listening to my iPod, the mirrors are clear, no vibrations, you would have thought I was going 45 mph. When you’ve got guys like Arlen Ness and that’s what he rides every day and guys like Sonny Barger, who rides a Victory Vision and he says “Piss on Harley-Davidson ‘cuz Victory’s the best motorcycle I’ve ever owned. That guy rides hard, too. He knows. When big boys like that tell you that’s the way something is, you kind of start to believe it.”

Jersey Mike is open minded enough to test other bikes...and Victories are not for everyone just like HD's are not for everyone. Just a thought for Jersey Mike though in regards to the Victories when he said his RG "felt" faster than either of the Victories...the same can be said when going from a Ford or Chevy to a Mercedes...90mph can feel like 50. Just food for thought.
JerseyMike -Victory vs. Harley?  November 10, 2010 08:24 PM
I have been a licensed motorcycle rider for 23 years and have owned bikes from Suzuki, Harley, Triumph, BSA, Indian and Yamaha. Most have been cruisers or standards, and some were sportbikes. In fact, I only recently sold my 2006 SV1000S. It was a great bike, but due to financial reasons I was forced to thin out the herd. I currently own a 1951 Harley FL Panhead, a 2000 Harley Road Glide, and a 2007 Springer Classic. My Road Glide has a little over 130,000 miles, and have never had any major problems with it. I just received a nice raise at work, so I've been looking for a new bike. My thought was that I want something that's just a little different from a Harley. I contacted Victory back in June to schedule a test ride on a Cross Country and a Vision. As it turns out, no Victory dealer in New Jersey participates in the test ride program. I was really upset, because I was hearing all these great things about their bikes. in September, I was finally able to take a demo ride at Delmarva Bike week in Maryland. I rode the Vision Tour and the Cross Country. Both were 2011 models. Despite the HP and Torque deficit my 11 year old 130,000+ mile Road Glide felt way faster than either of the Victorys that I rode, and when I left there on my Harley it was pure relief. Overall, the Vision and the CC were nice looking bikes. The switches and hand controls look like they were just aftermarket add-ons, not intergrated like the ones on the Harleys. The tour pack and saddlebags are way smaller on the Vision than on the Harely touring bikes. The saddlebags on the CC were nice and large. Besides the sluggish feel of both bikes, the mechanical noise from the engine was really agrivating. My biggest complaint with them was extreme amount of engine heat radiating on my legs. It was to the point where I was actually very uncomfortable. Also, the stereo systems are not even in the same ballpark as the Harley sound systems. On a positive note, the handling was great and the seats were incredible. I'm going to pass on buying a Victory for now, so I've decided to go with the Triumph Rocket 3 Touring or the Kawasaki Vequero. My Harley Road Glide will always be my favorite.
Cyrax -Thanks Matt  August 27, 2010 07:23 PM
Say Matt, Thanks for clearing that up..Look fellas Read up on the Victory technology or even better go into a dealer and test ride one of these machines. Remember H-D just started letting riders test ride their bikes. Victory is the one making H-D step up to the plate. Read the latest specs on the 2011 H-D Road Glide Ultra, then read the specs on the Cross Country. They (HD) miss the boat once again.
ANDY. -Well...  August 25, 2010 05:15 PM
..now its official: HD was yes-ter-day...no days it is Victory. no doubt!! Concrats for an awesome lineup!!
Matt -Clarification on who designs Victory Motorcycles.  August 24, 2010 08:39 PM
Most Victory motorcycle models are designed by David Song. The Ness family actually has little to do with the industrial design or engineering of the bikes. To Rich, I think Victory is trying to steer clear of falling too far into the much saturated "Classic/retro" cruiser market. Although the Core concept model might look close to what you asking about. To Murf, The Vision took me awhile to get my head around visually at first but as a designer I can appreciate the risks they took and except for the limited hard bag storage all of it seems to be pretty well thought out. As for "thrown together" I think that can be said for just about any "new style" of motorcycle. If you think about it even the Harleys we are so used to seeing look oddly pieced together if you hadn't already been exposed to classic cruisers all these years. I agree the Vision may be a little far outside the comfort zone of many traditional riders but the fact that it is becoming one of Victory's best selling models makes me believe that more people are warming up to the idea of a non traditional American V-twin dresser.
Rich Budelier -Adams and Main  August 24, 2010 02:16 PM
The Victory deserves to be freed from the Ness influence. Are wheels with spokes available? Can the hideous rear fenders be changed? Can Victory build a board track replica styled model?
Murf -Technician  August 24, 2010 12:56 PM
I think vicory is on the right track.They offer better handling,suspension,carrying capacity and power than a stock Harley. The twin cam 103 ony makes 68 horsepower and 85 foot pounds of torgue when it was dynoed in Rider..Sad.I do think Victory needs to get cleaner and smoother lines in the styling department, with less out of this world looks like the Vision. Many parts look like they were not well thought out and look " thrown-on" the bike. They should look elsewere besides the Ness's. Not everyone likes the Ness styling.