Victory to Unveil New Bike in New York at IMS

Gunny grills Zack Ness. Uh..Zack, I hope it’s good, or Gunny will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-frig you!”

Victory’s New Hard-Ball

The custom bagger movement has gained enough traction over the past few years that manufacturers are sitting up and taking notice.  While Harley-Davidson has yet to fully embrace the trend, Victory showed it’s nimble enough to come out with a mid-season offering that has is sure to create a buzz on the street when the bike hits the dealerships in early 2012.

The Hard-Ball takes the Victory High Ball concept a step further by blacking out almost every part on the bike, with the exception of the primary cover,  clutch and brake levers and a sliver of chrome on the engine fins and lower fork legs.  Both “Balls” share the same 65.7 wheelbase, low platform frame.  (26.5″)  Both cradle the same 4-stroke 106″(1731 cc) / 6-speed 50˚ EFI V-Twin with dual 45 mm throttle bodies.  Both have the same height-adjustable ape hangers.  What makes the Hardball a  bad ass custom bagger are the flat black paint, red pinstripes and two large hard bags which appear to be the same ones used in on the Cross Country line.  Specs are posted below the video.

Victory Cross Country Tour

A mischievous grin split my face as I approached the empty intersection a mile from my house.  Poor planning years ago had turned what should’ve been a mundane 3 way city intersection, into a quarter mile twisty motorcycle launch pad.

I slowed slightly, shifting my weight to the left, and pushed the bike over into the left hand turn into a tight arch. Grinning wide, my right hand twisted the grip as I snatched the Cross Country Tour upright and I shifted my weight over to opposite side.   In one fluid motion (and with the mental fantasy of blasting around the track at Barber Motorsports)  I threw the big Vic with it’s all aluminum frame over to the right and tried hard to scrape the boards as I challenged its rated 32 degree lean angle before reversing my weight again to the left side.

Accelerating, the big Vic responded with the agility of a much smaller machine as I rode her into a left hander for another short turn before the pavement straightened, and the crest of the approaching hill and common sense demanded I ease off the throttle.  As the speedo slid below 70, I returned to my senses.  I was just a mortal magazine editor, instead of the super human professional racer I was pretending to be.

I had lost count how many times I’d pushed this Victory Cross Country Tour in this manner.   And, every time I marveled at how far it would lean before hard parts touch.  Approaching 2500 miles on this long term test, I had reached a comfort level with this bike that usually only comes with ownership.  I knew our relationship would end soon, but that was in the future, pushed to the dim recesses of my mind.

What was turning into a love fest with the CCT, began much differently.

As cliche as it sounds, this review almost ended before it started.

I should start at the beginning, in White Plains Maryland at Victory of Southern Maryland where I picked up the bike.  My arrival coincided with appearance of the remnants of Hurricane Earl.   A system that ultimately dumped record setting amounts of rain on the Mid-Atlantic States in a short 8 hour window.

I’d been watching the Weather Channel and knew I’d get wet.  I wasn’t too concerned.  I had the best gear that Victory, Aerostich, and Nolan manufactured.    My only real concern was fatigue.

Leaving home at 3:30 am, I boarded my flight out of Augusta at 5:30.  A short hop to Charlotte NC and a connecting flight to DC, put me on the ground at 9:30am.  I arrived just about the time Earl and his outer rain bands came knocking on the Capitol doorsteps.  After an hour’s cab ride to the dealership,(and a very interesting cold war history discussion with the Ukraine cabbie) I was more or less on the self-imposed schedule I had set for myself on this trip.

I planned to fly up, get the bike and make the 614 mile trip back home in less than 24 hours.  Along the way I’d stop in Fayetteville North Carolina to see an old girlfriend.   That sounds more salacious than it is.  Kelly is a female friend of both my wife and I, and while technically she’s a “girlfriend” I doubt she’s ever referred to me as a “boyfriend.”

Wave after wave, tropical storm Earl was pounding the DC area

Woody Allen said, “if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” and I think God was chuckling that day because as soon as I walked in the dealership, the proverbial bottom fell out of the clouds  and what had been a moderately steady rain, suddenly became a good old fashioned frog strangler of biblical proportion, threatening to completely wash out my plans..

The pounding on the roof was so loud there was no use yelling at the employees on the other side of the parts counter, so I stood there a few minutes, smiling at Melinda Torreyson as we waited for a break in the storms fury.   When it eased, I identified myself and told her my mission.  I could feel her sizing me up as she eyed my blue jeans, tennis shoes and short sleeve shirt.  I guess she hadn’t noticed my bag that I’d dropped by the door.  Oddly I felt compelled to explain myself.  “I’ve got all my gear in that bag” I said, pointing to the entrance.  She laughed and said, “That’s good, because it looks like you’re going to need it.”

That was her first understatement of the day.

As if on cue, the storm intensified into a deluge that would’ve made Noah proud.  The television in the customer lounge was tuned to the Weather Channel.  Fast moving green bands with pockets of yellow and orange storm cells were streaming off the Atlantic heading north, one wave coming right after the other, forming a seemingly impenetrable barrier between me and the clear skies of Richmond Virginia, only 90 miles away.

As I cooled my heels and waited for a break that never came, Melinda gave me a tour of the facilities and checked me out on the new features of the Cross Country Tour.

Melinda was well into her spiel before I realized I was daydreaming about taking my bride on one last extended road trip before winter’s arrival.  I hadn’t been giving her my full attention.  That’s what forgetting to take your ADD medicine will do for you.

I’d tested a Cross Roads last year, and knew a little about this line of bikes.  Introduced in 2009, the Cross Country immediately became Victory’s top selling touring bike, and helped move the Minnesota company from 5th to 2nd in the battle for supremacy in the heavyweight cruiser market.

The (previously optional) tour pack was now standard, and included rear speakers and integrated passenger backrest.  Additionally highway bar mounted lowers with a glove box on each side and IPod / IPhone connectivity.  Integrated in the lowers is what Victory calls its “Comfort Control System” of vents and air scoops, designed to channel air flow into the lower cockpit area, or block it out entirely; more on this later.

The windshield is 8 inches taller this year, and is non-adjustable.  Victory engineers designed it that way and included a set of clear rounded hinged louvers below the fairing to reduce cockpit turbulence. For that, the system is flawless. Overall I liked the taller setup, but I’d have to cut the windscreen down if the CCT moved into my garage permanently.  The reason?   At 6 foot, I’m l looking through the windshield, instead of over it.  There is some room on the fairing for manual adjustment, but the mounting system would need to be modified.

Melinda showed me how and where to adjust the rear air shock to set the bike up for transporting a passenger or bags full of gear. With 4.7 inches of available travel, this bike can comfortably transport a companion and all the gear necessary for a week on the road.  With 41.1 gallons of storage,(most in it’s class with hard side bags, tour pack and glove boxes) the space is there, how you fill it is up to you.

Throw a leg over the saddle and you sink down onto the plush padded seat 26.25 inches from the ground.  On touring bikes, lower is better, and the CCT setup instills the confidence and stability you get from having both feet firmly on the ground.

When not on Terra Firma,, the driver rests his or her feet on generous floorboards. Victory wisely decided against putting a rear shifter on this model, leaving ample room to shift feet positions slightly on long distance hauls. The passenger floorboards are adjustable for different height riders.

Approaching noon,  it was time for me  to poop, or get off the pot, as my daddy liked to say.  With no break in sight on the radar, I decided my best course would be to trust the big front end of the CCT to keep the worst of Earl’s fury at bay.  I figure I’d ride gingerly south until I escaped the squalls coming in from the coast.  I gauged I’d be out of it in 50 miles, or just over an hour assuming I could average 40-45 mph.

You know what they say about assuming anything.  (Cue the jackass sound effect.)

At that moment, as if to highlight the folly of my decision, (or maybe it was a cosmic punch line) a bolt of lightening stuck close enough for the simultaneous thunder to dislodge a glass framed picture sending it crashing literally at my feet.   Staring at the shards of glass on the floor, I was reminded of a quote from Voltaire, “God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.”  I wasn’t laughing either.

But, it was either spend the night, or suck it up and ride. Underestimating nature’s fury, (or overestimating my abilities) I said my good byes and struck out south towards I-95 into the most nerve wracking hour of my professional motorcycle testing career.

Melinda had warned the first big sphincter tightening moment would come 15 miles from the dealership as US Hwy 301 crossed the Gov. Harry Nice Memorial bridge spanning the Potomac River.

That was her second understatement of the day.

I’ve made a few bad decisions in my time, but crossing a metal decked bridge on a touring bike with a fork mounted fairing and big rear tour pack in the midst of a tropical storm tops my list. Or at least my “I did this completely sober” list.

Cresting the top of the span and creeping along at 25 mph it happened.   A sudden gust from the west  whipped the handle bars so violently, my left hand came complexly off, and with the input from my right hand still on the bars, the bike leaned right, heading straight to the concrete guard rail.  Amazingly I had time to wonder if the impact would flip me over the barrier, plunging me and 860 pounds of aluminum, steel and fiberglass into the dark churning water, four stories below.  Thinking back, I’m still amazed at how calm I was when the grim reaper appeared.

But, just as quickly, the wind settled, the reaper vanished and I regained control of the bike well before impact.  Had the gust come from the opposite side, I could’ve been pushed into oncoming traffic.  Thankfully my mind was too occupied with the immediate task of survival to dwell on the painful outcome of that scenario.

Reaching the opposite shore, the recklessness of my decision was highlighted by the dozen or so cars pulled over on the shoulder on the opposite shore to wait for a break in the storm.  I can only imagine what idiotic labels they mentally pinned on me as I inched along, straining my neck to get my eyes above the top of the windshield for a better view of the road ahead.

Approaching the northern suburbs of Richmond Virginia, the rain slacked off and the wind evaporated.   With surprisingly light traffic, the worst was behind me, and I removed my gloves to test the stereo system on the CCT.

I’d brought an IPod and before leaving had plugged it into the Apple jack located in the left side glove box.  Once auxiliary input is selected, the Victory logo displays on the player and functionality is transferred to the convenient left side handlebar controls.  I never quite mastered the ability to change the play list, although I fiddled with it quite a bit.  The dock is fully powered and will keep your IPod or IPhone charged during use.  There’s also a separate accessory plug to charge other phones, although there isn’t a corresponding jack for stereo input. Bummer for anyone with their music on non-Apple devices.

With the tunes fired up, I entered Richmond Virginia just as Gregg Allman’s voice came through the speakers “Virgil Cain is my name and I served on the Danville train…til Stoneman’s calvary came and pulled up the tracks again…In the winter of ‘65, we were hungry, just barely alive….”  “how appropriate” I thought) a song about life in the last days of the Confederacy just as I’m entering its capitol.”

Settling back, I turned that Southern classic up louder than necessary and set the cruise on 80 mph, shifted deeper into the plush seat,  and spent the next few hours falling in love with this Cross Country Tour.

Soon after the September sun faded I stopped for supper. Pulling into the parking lot of a chain restaurant, the big round gauges illuminated the cockpit in a soft blue glow.  In the stressful beginning of the ride, I hadn’t been able to get acquainted with anything on the bike.  Before dismounting, I ran through the various functions of the controls.

A slight stretch of the LEFT index finger reaches a pull switch to cycle through the on board computer.  Overall odometer miles, miles per gallon on average, fuel remaining, average speed and current speed are displayed digitally, in addition to the large analog style circular gauges with RPM, speed and fuel.  An sensor relays the ambient temperature to the display, although over the course of the test I discovered it was consistently 2-5 degrees higher than those big display thermometers on the bank signs.

There’s a gear indicator in the middle of the digital readout, and while that’s handy, I noticed it disappeared when I pulled the clutch, which I almost always do when I approach intersections to stop, and while sitting at red lights. If that wasn’t a glitch limited to the test bike, I’d recommend Victory’s engineers redesign this so a quick glance will let you know if you’re in the gear you want to be in.

A toggle switch just below the instrument cluster activates the heating elements in the grips.   I came to appreciate this feature the deeper in fall and the first few weeks of winter.  There’s also heated seats, with those switches located on the left side under the passenger seat.  I’m not a fan of heated seats on any brand.  For me, if it’s cold enough to turn them on, I’ll be wearing something insulated, so all they do is make my rear end sweat, and a sweaty butt on long rides isn’t something I’m fond of.

Out front in the fairing sits a big slightly oval shaped High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamp Victory claims it’s four times brighter than halogen and lasts 10 times longer.  I agree that on “bright” it punches a sizable hole in the darkness, but I didn’t like the short range on dim. There’s probably an adjustment to raise it up so it throws the light a little farther down field.

On the left, dangling below the standard set of switches reside the stereo controls.  On the right, in the same position reside the controls for the cruise control.  Nothing out of the ordinary to report here, so let’s move along.

While ABS isn’t standard on most cruisers, it’s on the CCT from the factory.  The rest is common fare for cruisers, such as dual 300mm floating rotors and 4 piston calipers on the front over the 130/70R18 Dunlop Elite 3 tire.  The front brake lever has a 5 position adjustment. Whether you like your front brake pull hair trigger strong, soft as marshmallow, or like me, somewhere in the middle, there’s a notch that suits you.   Out back, a single 300mm rotor with 2 piston caliper rules over a 180/60 16 inch radial from Dunlop.  Front to back the wheel base measures 65.7 inches with 108.1 inches overall parking space needed.

The remaining 7 hour ride was blissfully uneventful, and thanks to the superb acoustics of the CCT stereo system, the highway tunes banished the boredom normally associated with such a long slog.  I pulled into my garage 23 hours after leaving, tired but thankful for having come in under my self-imposed deadline.

Two Up on a Week Long Cruise:

A few weeks later I had the opportunity to load up the CCT with gear and my bride and take an extended weekend trip to Panama City Beach Florida for the autumn Thunder Beach motorcycle rally.  She doesn’t normally have the opportunity to ride the test bikes.  Since the CCT was designed for just this type of trip, It would be a real world test and one that should highlight any flaws that I might miss riding solo.  .

Packing the CCT, in many ways, reminded me of a 7000 mile trip I took in 2008 on another big Victory Cruiser, the Vision.  With the voluminous hard saddle bags and the (easily removable) rear tour pack, my wife and I fit everything needed for the 5 day mini-vacation.  That included my IPad, camera gear, and laptop.  With a washer/dryer at the condo, I only carried 3 days’ worth of clothes.

The weather was unseasonably warm at the start of the trip and I removed my jacket a couple hours into he ride.  By rearranging the contents of the tour pack, I was able to stuff the bulky jacket in with space to spare.  Not much space, mind you, but the trunk closed and that’s what’s important.

And speaking of closing, the lids on the hard saddlebags are designed in such a way that they’ll close without the latch being fully engaged.  I had been warned that the bags, if not properly latched, had a tendency to fly open at highway speed.  If this happens, expect to see your dirty underwear or whatever else you carry, spew out on the highway behind you.  With the temperature reaching into the 90’s, I remembered why I didn’t like bikes with a lot of plastic up front.  The engine heat, combined with the ambient air temperature really started doing a number on my legs.

In fact I got so hot under my arse that I wondered if I’d accidentally flipped the seat warmers on.  Then  I remembered Robert Pandya from Victory telling me that I’d need to “adjust” the lower and upper vents for the best airflow.  Robert cautioned that wide open was not always the best setting to evacuate the heat.  After a bit of trial and error, I found that by cracking  the left side lower vent  about halfway and keeping the right side alt 25% open and doing the opposite with the uppers, the cockpit was more comfortable.

But, in the middle of summer, when the temperatures approach triple digits, there isn’t much you can do on any motorcycle to escape the heat.   With its multiple power outlets, the CCT is the perfect bike to test the efficiency of those electric cooling vests.

The weather for the rest of the weekend turned out gorgeous.  After spending a couple of days in PCB for the rally, we headed west to Pensacola to visit a friend and eat at the Grand Marlin Restaurant we’d heard so much about.

Waiting on our friend to arrive, my bride and I compared notes and agreed we were sold on the Cross Country Tour.  For comfort, handling, and styling, no other bike, including the Vison, was as appealing to us as the Cross Country Tour.  And just like the saying goes, “When mama’s happy, every one’s happy.”  On this bike, mama stayed happy the whole weekend and that made the journey better than the destination.  There’s no doubt this would be our next purchase.

Our little mini vacation was ending the next day and it had turned out to be one our favorite trips.  So many highlights come to mind that it’s hard to know where to start first, or how much to include.

Watching the sun set on the horizon, hundreds of miles from home, while nibbling on lobster fingers and BBQ oysters is a treat in itself.  Add in a two piece band, a cold bottle of Michelob, and the warm ocean breeze and you have a magical evening spent with people you love the most.

Sometimes the end is the best place to begin.


Victory Storm Sturgis

Victory Motorcycles is making its presence
felt at the 71st Annual Sturgis Rally in
2011. In addition to their unique, downtown Sturgis
location, Victory will have its largest ever test fleet
available for demo rides. As an official Sponsor of
the Sturgis Legendary Buffalo Chip, Victory will be
participating in Chip activities all week and donating
a bike to be given away at the end of the rally. Here’s what
Victory owners and other rally goers can look forward to:
• Demo Rides on all Victory models, August 6-12 9:00 -5:00, I-90,
Exit 30
• A Victory Owners Ride and Reception at the Buffalo Chip August 11
- 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. self-guided ride
- 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. reception
• A Chance to win a Free Klock Werks customized Victory Kingpin
(register @ buffalochip.com)
• A Unique Display of Victory Products at 1100 Main Street,
August 6-12 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
• VIP visits from Victory partners Arlen, Cory and Zack Ness, Roland
Sands, The Klock Werks team and Survivor TV Series star Rupert
Boneham
The historic bank building that Victory occupies at First and Main in
downtown Sturgis will showcase their latest models including the
early release 2012 High-Ball that was introduced in January. Rally
apparel and complete information on the entire line of Victory
Motorcycles will also be available.
Three 18-wheelers from Victory’s six-truck national demo fleet will
provide more than 30 bikes for free demo rides. The demo site is
located less than a mile from downtown Sturgis at Exit 30 on I-90.
Victory manufacturers more than 16 models – all powered by the
Freedom 106 engine with 6-speed transmission. Most models from the
value priced, blacked-out 8-Ball series to the Victory Vision Tour
will be available to ride from Saturday August 6th to Friday August
12th from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. Downtown hours for the Victory Store will
be Saturday, August 6th until Saturday, August 13th from 9 a.m. until
9 p.m.
A Victory Kingpin, customized by the pros at Klock Werks Kustom Cycle,
is being provided this year for the Buffalo Chip Bike Give-Away. The
lucky winner will be chosen from a group of finalists and awarded the
tricked out custom live on-stage Friday of Rally Week. As always,
Victory will host a ride-in during the Rally for Victory owners. “The number of Victory’s
grows every year and with our corporate headquarters so close to Sturgis, we view the Rally as
an annual event for our employees and customers,” states Steve Menneto, Victory GM. Victory’s
offices are located in neighboring Minnesota and manufacturing is in Iowa.
The 2011 Victory Owners Ride and Reception for will take place Thursday August 11 from
3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. starting in Deadwood, and ending at the Buffalo Chip and will include
food and soft drinks. As an official sponsor of the legendary Buffalo Chip, Victory will provide
free Special Guest parking. Victory owners will also have access to the Buffalo Chip Events
Center with the 2011 Motorcycles as Art display and Chip Gardens on the evening of the Ride-
In. Victory is also a sponsor of the Buffalo Chip Legends Ride which will take place on August
8th. Celebrity’s may include Arlen, Cory and Zack Ness, Roland Sands and Rupert Boneham,
Survivor TV Series star as wel as many other motorcycling celebrities.
For more information, on Victory at Sturgis, including updated times and dates, go to
www.victoryatsturgis.com.
About Polaris
With annual 2010 sales of $1.99 billion, Polaris designs, engineers,
manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including
allterrain vehicles (ATVs), the Polaris RANGER(r) Side x Sides,
snowmobiles and Victory motorcycles for recreational and
utility use and has recently introduced a new on-road electric
powered neighborhood vehicle. Polaris is a recognized leader
in the snowmobile industry; and one of the largest manufacturers
of ORVs in the world. Victory motorcycles established in 1998 and
representing the first all-new American made motorcycle from a major
company in nearly 60 years, are rapidly making impressive in-roads
into the cruiser and touring motorcycle marketplace. Polaris also enhances
the riding experience with a complete line of Pure Polaris apparel, accessories and parts, available at
Polaris dealerships. Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII,” and
the Company is included in the S&P MidCap 400 stock price index. Information about the complete line of Polaris
products, apparel and vehicle accessories are available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime from the Polaris
homepage at www.polarisindustries.com.

Take Your Victory Ride To The Next Level With This Mobile App

Victory Rides Mobile App

 

Everyone dreams of long road trips to interesting destinations. This summer, thousands of motorcyclists head out on the highway to do that exact thing.  Most of them won’t know where they are going until they are sitting in that restaurant tucked into a corner of the mountains. Most of them won’t know anything about area attractions or where the best “biker friendly” restaurants are located.  Now, there’s a app for that.   Victory motorcycles just announced their new mobile application that can be downloaded on Android and Apple devices. The app features:

The app provides you almost everything you  need on your ride and will make sure you enjoy every single moment without any stress.
  • VIEW YOUR LOCATION, ROAD MAPS AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
  • SEARCH FOR FOOD, GAS, VICTORY DEALERS AND MORE
  • TRACK YOUR RIDES AND SHARE ON FACEBOOK
If you want to share the experience with those stuck back home, this app tracks you and your friends every mile of the way.  At the end of the day, you can share pictures and video with fellow motorcyclist, and show everyone on Facebook just how much fun the motorcycle lifestyle really is.

 

Polaris to Acquire Global Electric Motorcars LLC

MINNEAPOLIS (April 25, 2011) — Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:  PII) today announced an agreement to acquire Global Electric Motorcars LLC (GEM), a wholly owned Fargo, N.D. based subsidiary of Chrysler Group LLC and manufacturer of premium electric-powered vehicles.  GEM is the recognized leader within the low-speed vehicle market, with a well-respected brand and approximately $30 million in sales during the 2010 calendar year.  Since the company was established in 1998, they have placed over 45,000 electric-powered vehicles on the road worldwide.  GEM has developed business-to-business sales expertise within the fleet and government vehicle markets, and has created a competitive advantage with core competencies in make-to-order vehicle fulfillment and mobile service support.

 

“GEM provides Polaris with an established position in the low-emission small vehicle market and supports Polaris’ strategy of penetrating on-roadmarket segments poised for growth,” said Scott Wine, Polaris chief executive officer. “We are excited about the outlook for growth within this market space, and are looking forward to developing even stronger growth prospects for the GEM business.”

 

“Our vision is to accelerate profitable sales growth for GEM, by combining Polaris’ strength in new product innovation with the most-recognized brand in the low speed vehicle market space,” said Mike Jonikas, Vice President of the On-Road Vehicle Division.  “These new product efforts for GEM will be supported by an expanded distribution presence within select domestic and international markets.”

 

The agreement to acquire GEM will officially close within the next 60 days once Polaris secures the required state sales certifications to sell GEM products.  During this interim period, since Polaris will not yet have officially acquired GEM, operations will proceed as usual and Polaris will continue to learn and understand the GEM business through information exchange.  Following this interim period, Polaris will be in a position to outline specific plans for the GEM business.

 

Victory Releases a New Bobber – The High-Ball

Victory Motorcycles released a new bobber style bike tonight called the High-Ball.  Based on Vegas platform, Victory added spoked wheels, white walls, a short front fender and ape hangers to complete the cool retro look.  Although the bike looks like a vintage cruiser, the High-Ball still takes advantage of the Freedom 106 cu in engine.

Victory states that this bike is for the purist.  The rider who has a passion for old-school styling while also enjoying the reliability Victory has built into all of its models.  The Victory High-Ball will be available in April with an MSRP of $13,499.

Victory High-Ball

Victory Throttles into 2011

Riding through the slot canyons around Gateway, Colorado, with the headlight of a good friend occasionally blinking in my mirrors, I’m once again reminded that I belong to a small tribe, at least when compared the number of people there are in the world who don’t ride. Realizing how incredibly fortunate we are to experience the thrill of a new landscape from the saddle of a motorcycle, I down shift the big V-twin beneath me and dive into the next series of bends. Reacting to the change of pace, my buddy adjusts his speed, as I also realize that the Victory motorcycles we are riding belong to a relatively part of this tribe in the big picture of the motorcycle industry. This makes the large presence and awareness they have already established for themselves since their introduction in 1998 all the more remarkable.
[singlepic id=27 w=320 h=240 float=left]
Having arrived on the scene with their bikes being touted as “the new American motorcycle,” Victoryquickly began winning awards. Their 1999 V 92C took Cycle World’s “Cruiser of the Year,” with numerous awards to follow. Building on this success, “Fuel your passion” is now a new tag line at Victory to accompany the fifteen new models they have on offer in 2011. As we thunder alongside a breathtaking vista of deep river canyons and towering mountains, I’m having no trouble figuring out what it means.

Also, riding through some strange times in the motorcycle world with our current economy, it’s interesting to note the success Victory has been achieving in growing the brand. This is not so surprising, when you realize the Victory Motorcycle Company is headed by Mark Blackwell, the motorcyclist’s motorcyclist. There are few more qualified in our industry, and this is easily recognizable in the quality and versatility of the machinery and choice of machines he oversees. With the fat 250 tire models excluded, the have ridden put a premium on the ride experience, with great handling, braking and strong, useable power allied to superb fuel delivery. Realizing that while I’m not a fan of big tire bikes, many people are, and the Victory models certainly do a much better job than others I’ve ridden with this configuration. American Iron Horse has to be the worst offender, with Suzuki’s M109R coming a close second for honors in the most difficult to ride category.

With fifteen new models to potentially ride in one day, it seemed like a daunting prospect at first to give them a decent evaluation. But with all of the line up sharing the same basic 106 cubic inch, air-cooled V-twin engine, it actually wasn’t such a tough job. Starting with the one bike I know from the Victory line up, the Vision Tour, I learned this, the Cross Roads and the Cross Country actually have what is called the Stage 1 engine package. This gives the touring range engines milder camshafts and a lower maximum peak of 92 horsepower. With 109 lb-ft of torque, it’s man enough for the job, and I’ve made many a happy mile in the seat of a Vision in the past.

For 2011, Victory has made changes to the gearbox to quiet things down. Fourth and sixth gears have been worked over to reduce whine, and drive train lash has also been drastically reduced. After our day of testing, there was too much daylight and incredible scenery left for me to pack it in, so I jumped on a cruiser and headed out to shoot some photos. Paying particular attention to the gear whine, I was surprised how much noise there was and wondered why it wasn’t noticeable during the day. Well, I’ve never been the sharpest tool in the shed, so it took a while for the small, shriveled pea floating around inside the cerebral nut basket to register I was riding last year’s model. Enough said.

Visually there are few noticeable changes to the Vision Tour, which I personally think is one of the coolest looking motorcycles ever made, except new blacked out passenger handholds, redesigned muffler tips and new tubular handlebars. It does come standard with anti lock brakes this year though and will set you back $23,699. If you want something extra special, there is an Arlen Ness version, which is simply stunning to look at and retails for $27,999. As a top of the line luxury cruising motorcycle, the Vision Tour comes with all the bells and whistles, from capacious lockable storage to a fully integrated sound system and more. While I didn’t put any transcontinental type mileage on the new ’11, I did put enough miles on to remind myself why I enjoy this, comfortable, mile-eating motorcycle so much.

The Cross Country is a stylish bagger, with a large full handlebar mounted fairing that comes with a fully integrated audio system like the Vision, an MP3/iPod hook up and optional Satellite radio. It feels instantly lighter and more maneuverable than the Vision, but with a choice of hard bags or soft saddlebags, or the new accessory color-matched trunk you can make it perfect for long haul journeys. Comfortable and smooth, with a 4.8-gallon gas tank and cruise control, the Cross Country is going to easily live up to its name.

Braking is the same as the Vision, with a pair of 300mm dual discs up front using four piston calipers. A single 300mm disc is used in the rear, and unlike the Vision the system is not linked. Settling the bike well into corners, solid and predictable handling is certainly one of the Cross Country’s strong points. While it uses the same frame, forks differ from the Vision’s 46mm conventional units by using the same inverted 43mm units found on the Cross Roads. A single air assisted shock in the rear makes changes for passengers and luggage not only easy, but also as precise as you want to make it. Coming in a choice of three colors: Solid Black, Solid Imperial Blue Metallic and Two-Tone Pearl White and Vogue Silver. The base model is on showroom floors for $17,999. You can, of course, get a highly individualized Cory Ness version for $24,999, which comes with a host of Ness chrome and billet accessories, the cylinders diamond cut, a pair of beautiful sculptured billet wheels, custom suede seat and a Sun Set red custom paint job.

The Cross Roads itself comes standard with cruiser control and no fairing, although you can have the same lockable hard bags or soft saddlebag option as the Cross Country. Part of Victory’s Core Custom Program yhat allows the customer to choose their own color from a choice of Solid Crimson and Solid Black. They can also specify whether they would like the accessory windshield, different handlebars and either the soft or the hard saddlebags. There is the optional color matched lockable trunk from the Vision and Cross Country. This comes on and off the bike in seconds and requires no tools for this operation. Able to hold two full-face helmets with room to spare, it has two speakers for the passenger as well as a comfortable backrest. Added benefits are the high mount tail light, and if you want to accessorize it further, you can add a passenger arm rest kit and pick up a liner and a cargo rack for more luggage carrying capacity. It’s this attention to every detail that is so precise that really impresses me with the whole Victory experience. You can simply set the bike up exactly the way you want it before you ride it away from the dealership. Retail on this baby starts at $14,999 and there is a highly customized Cory Ness version for $24,999.

In the cruiser department, you have a mix of bikes centered on three models: The Vegas, the Kingpin and the Hammer. The Vegas Jackpot is one of the bikes that has a 250 series rear tire and a very skinny 90 profile, 21 inch front tire. Retailing for $18,999, it comes with a cool black and white paint job, with a glamour girl on the side panel. The bike is a real looker, but loses points from me for the rear tire and the very busy digital tachometer. Never settling at any one place, even when I tried to keep the throttle steady, it would need to go if I owned the bike. The engine is a peach though and with the same faultless fueling it has a little extra power thanks to the Freedom 106/6 Stage 2 engine, which gives a total of 97 hp and 113 ft-lb of torque. It also uses the newly revised six-speed transmission and a host of customizing options at time of purchase.

The Hammer and the Hammer S also feature this level of engine tune and the 250 series rear tire. Victory says they are “at the intersection of sporty styling and cruiser muscle” and with twin discs up front, an inverted fork and removable seat cowl, they certainly have some sporting attributes. A performance exhaust is available, as are lower controls, grips and covers. The standard Hammer retails for $17,999 with the S model coming in a little higher at $18,499. There is also the Hammer 8-Ball which is a more base line, blacked out version with less frills for $14,499.

The rest of the Vegas family of cruisers restored Mr. Happy to the saddle as they come with a 180 series rear tire and a cool custom looking skinny 90 series 21-inch tire up front. The best selling motorcycle of the Victory line up, and probably the best known, it’s a distinctive looking bike that works really well over a wide variety of road conditions. Wide pull back handlebars, low seat and custom quality paint give it the right look, and with the basic 8-Ball starting at $12,999, it’s the lowest priced Victory of the bunch. You can spend up to $18,999 for the Zach Ness version, and there are a number of accessories available like performance exhaust, windshields etc, at the time of purchase for all the Vegas line up if needed.

Last but not least, and one of the bikes I put the most miles on during our test, the Victory Kingpin. With the larger fenders, inverted fork and eighteen-inch wheels, it has a distinctly different look to the others in the range. With the best handling package and the same silky smooth engine response, it was my favorite to ride. The seating position is pure cruiser, but not at the expense of any comfort, as the floorboards were nicely placed and the wide bars sat me upright without feeling strained in either direction. Base model 8-Ball starts at $12,999 and the straight Kingpin, with a choice of Solid Crimson and Two Tone Imperial Blue and White, hits $14,999. Clean, quiet and efficient belt drive is used as with all the models here, and like all Victory motorcycles it’s an extremely tight, well thought out package in every respect.

Heading home from Colorado, it’s clear Victory is extremely serious about their motorcycles and how to keep building on their success. The amount of options available for someone purchasing a new machine are bordering on the overwhelming, although I’m sure very exciting as you set about making your new bike just the way you want it. What started out as a confusing prospect, turned into a simple distilled realization that it doesn’t matter which of the new Victory models you choose, you are clearly not going to be disappointed.

Motorcycle Manufacturers Celebrate Veterans Day

When you think of the military you think of motorcycles.

The first American to enter Germany after the armistice of WWI was Corporal Roy Holtz of Chippewa Falls, WI, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Returning veterans from WWII looking for an adrenaline rush similar to what they experienced in the war turned to two wheels and formed the first motorcycle “clubs.”

But, even before the first World War, motorcycles were serving our nation.  In a press release Harley-Davidson says,  “Ever since the first American troops rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles during the Mexican Expedition in 1916, the Motor Company has enjoyed a long-standing bond with the men and women who have served our nation.”

It’s a bond that American motorcycle manufacturers recognize and continue to embrace.

This month Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles both have programs designed to show appreciation to those who defend the freedoms of our Constitution.

Harley-Davidson  is providing an opportunity for Americans to create personal messages of gratitude for active and retired personnel at www.harley-davidson.com/thankyou.  These messages will be sent on an electronic postcard featuring supermodel and motorcycle rider Marisa Miller and military themed Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  Americans are also encouraged to visit their area Harley-Davidson dealership to learn more about opportunities to honor local military heroes.

“At Harley-Davidson, we’re all about freedom, but we can’t forget that freedom comes at a price,” said Dino Bernacchi, Harley-Davidson’s director of Marketing and Communications.  “It’s humbling to think of the countless sacrifices these brave men and women – and their families – have made to keep our country free, so the Motor Company is honored to help salute military personnel this November.”

HD is also giving away one lucky active or retired service man a “Freedom Pass.”  The winner receives a brand new Harley-Davidson motorcycle of their choice, and a trip to Milwaukee, Wis., along with five of their fellow service members, where they will receive VIP treatment at the H-D Museum and other select gifts.

Victory Motorcycles is also offering a limited edition military wedge badge set on every motorcycle sold today, November 11th.   It features the Military Salute Pin design, and is a small token of appreciation to thank the men and women of the military who sacrifice for our freedom.

In addition to the wedge set, during the month of November, Victory is giving a $1,000 discount for all active military members.


Victory Commander I Police Bike Debuts

Victory Police Motorcycles, a Tucson AZ based company, debuts its new police cruiser built on the Victory Cross Country / Roads platform.  Victory Police Motorcycles has been building police cruisers since 2007. The company was co-founded by a motorcycle officer that wanted to extend the Victory handling and reliability into a police cruiser that could surpass other manufacturers.

Fast forward three years and it seems that Victory Police Motorcycles found the perfect platform with the cross bikes.  On November 1st 2010, the new Victory Commander I went into duty escorting Senator John McCain and Senator John Kyl.  Senator McCain reportedly was delighted that the new Commander I was being built in Arizona.

Read more about these police cruisers here: Victory Police Motorcycles