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.
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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

D&D “Boss” Slip-ons for Victory Cross Country / Roads : Full Review

D&D recently introduced their new “Boss” slip-on exhaust for Victory Cross Country and Cross Road bikes.  D&D claims to build these pipes on a dyno so we thought that performing a full installation review and then taking the pipes to the dyno would be a good test.  I am fortunate enough to live next to Kevin Cross, arguably one of the best Victory tuners in the country.  Kevin works  at Polaris of Gainesville and after receiving the pipes from D&D, I headed to see Kevin, ready to document the installation, fit and finish and of course the performance of these new pipes.

Fit & Finish
When the box arrived, I noticed first and foremost, the weight. This set of slip-ons is rather heavy. Close to twice the weight of existing stock mufflers. Now keep in mind that these slip-ons have integrated heat shields. You use the front stock heat shields but the back two are not used as the pipe and the heat shield is one unit.

The second thing I noticed after unpacking the pipes is that the welds are very smooth and it seems as though D&D spent a lot of time putting these together. The chrome was blemishes free (none that can be seen after mounting on the bike.)  All of the included hardware is stainless steel with hex fasteners. Each bag support rail is a machined steel plate and held in place by two stainless steel bolts that fasten to integrated threaded holes in the top of the pipe. The engineering of the bag support system is very sturdy and should have no problem supporting the bags.

The slips-ons are available with straight or slash cut tips. I received the 45 degree slash cut version. This tip follows the contour of the saddlebags perfectly. I also noticed that the exhaust fits much closer to the bottom of the saddle bag compared with the stock pipe. I thought that maybe heat would be an issue. However, after riding for an hour, I checked the heat on the bag and really didn’t feel any difference.

Installation
Not much here as the process is very straightforward. Basically remove the stock pipes and heat shields. Mount the bag support rails to the top of the D&Ds and insert the rubber pads from the stock pipes onto this rail. Slide the D&Ds onto the header pipe and secure with stainless pipe clamps that are included. Bolt the end of the pipe to the rear support brackets using the existing bolts from the stock pipe. That’s it. Once the stock slip-ons are off, the whole installation process took less than 45 minutes.

I’ve got to deduct points from the instructions, or rather lack of instructions.  While D&D did a good job outlining the process, there were no pictures or diagrams.  However, as most DYI’er know, once you get the process started detailed instructions with pics are really not essential, but they are a confidence booster.  I’d suggest D&D setup some YouTube installation videos to help make the job easier.

Performance
It’s always exciting to hear a new set of pipes and this set was no different.  I waited like a kid at Christmas once installation was complete. I was expecting loud and deep and, while the pipes do have a rather deep rumble, if you are looking for really loud, then look elsewhere. I can report that the D&Ds tend to blend into the wind noise at 80 MPH and I can now hear my tunes much better. When you dump the throttle, they do wake up and give you a nice deep note that really sounds good.

After a rather quick installation, we were off to Alachua Florida to Polaris of Gainesville for a dyno test.  The Cross Country that we were testing with has the following specifications:

2010 Victory Cross Country
Lloydz VFC III
Victory High Performace Air Filter

… and now the results!

MAX TQ – 108.4 @ 3652 RPM
MAX HP – 89.31 @ 4650 RPM

100 FT LBs TQ @ 2373 RPM
104 FT LBs TQ @ 3000 RPM

The torque curve carries well from 2500 – 4500 RPMs. D&D claims to have designed this pipe for max torque at the lower RPM range as they feel most riders spend the most time at this range. I can attest to feeling an increase in torque at a lower RPM range than any other pipe I have tested. In comparison, the stock pipes carry their max torque in the 4000 – 5000 range.  Also, keep in mind that these numbers are at the rear wheel and not crank numbers.  Most bike manufacturers market their crank numbers.  Rear wheel numbers in my opinion are much more accurate.


Keep in mind that weather can affect the results of any dyno test. Also, we suspect that the aluminum frames of the Cross Country and Cross Roads can retain a good bit of heat. We spent quite a bit of time between runs allowing the bike to cool down to get accurate numbers.  However, D&D claims a 10% increase in power over stock.  We were able to confirm close to those numbers with a fuel controller and the high flow filter from Victory.

Summary
Overall the D&D pipe is a good choice for riders that want a deeper pipe that is a bit louder than what a Victory stage one exhaust offers. The power on the exhaust is good and the fit and finish is excellent. I would have liked these pipes to be lighter but overall I think they are a great slip-on. You always hear that “you get what you pay for ..” Even though the D&Ds are a bit more expensive, you are getting integrated heat shield and tips. If you add up the Victory “Big Mouth tips” and any of the other aftermarket slip-ons currently offered, then the price is in line.

The D&D “Boss” slip-ons are available in both black and chrome finishes. Each is also available with either a straight cut or 45 degree cut tip. Chrome slash cut MSRP – $674
More information about this exhaust can be found at http://www.danddexhaust.com

Thanks again to Kevin Cross and the crew at Polaris of Gainesville – http://www.polarisofgainesville.com

Check out this video of the pipes on a dyno at D&D:

D&D Boss Exhaust Video

Victory Motorcycles Donates $27k to Fort Hood

This past Memorial Day, Victory Motorcycles auctioned off two custom Victory bikes to raise money for families affected by the Ft. Hood tragedy.  Victory donated $27, 900 to the Chapel Tithes and Offering Fund at Ft. Hood this past Friday morning.

“Victory felt compelled to do something to show support for Fort Hood following the horrible incident last year,” said Steve Menneto, general manger, Victory Motorcycles. “With everything our soldiers sacrifice to protect the freedoms we enjoy, organizing an effort to help those affected in the wake of that terrible event was something we saw as necessary. We want to be sure those soldiers and their families know how much we appreciate what they do for all of us.”

The Victory Industrial Design Team took a Victory Kingpin 8-Ball and a Victory Hammer S and painted

Custom Army Vics

them in Army themes.  The Hammer S was painted in a glossy black, gold and white with a current Army style.

The Kingpin was painted an olive white matte finish to represent Army’s past.  100% of the proceeds raised from these custom motorcycles were donated to the Chapel Tithes and Offering Fund, a non-denominational fund established for all soldiers stationed at Ft. Hood.

Victory Releases 2011 Models

Victory Motorcycles, a Minnesota-based company, continues to push forward with new products and innovations.  Each July, Victory debuts its line-up to the world and this year was no exception.  Victory is enticing buyers with big motors, updated transmissions, black-out components and new exhaust notes.  Other refinements include providing ABS standard on some of its models.  So, let’s take a look at some of the changes for 2011.

One of the biggest changes this year is the decision to include Victory’s 106 inch V-Twin in every model.  Based on the model of bike, Victory is including the 106 in two versions.  The first is a stage 1 106 V-Twin pumping out a claimed 92 hp and 109 lb-ft

Victory 106 V-Twin

of torque.  This motor is included in the Cross Country, Cross Roads, Victory Vision and Arlen and Cory Ness Signature bikes.  For more stump pulling power, Victory includes their 106 Stage 2 V-Twin that churns out 97 hp and 113 lb-ft of torque.  This motor is included in the Vegas, Jackpot, Hammer and Kingpin including the 8-ball versions.

Both V-twin motors are coupled to a 6 speed transmission which provides a true overdrive gear for smooth cruising at highway speeds.  Victory has re-designed its transmissions to reduce gear whine as well as lower driveline lash by a claimed 66%.  In addition, Victory has included a “neutral assist” feature that makes it easier for a rider to find neutral at a stop.

Victory rocked the motorcycle world in 2008 with the release of the Vision.  The

Victory Vision Tour

Vision is the company’s long distance touring bike.  The 2011 Victory Vision Tour

now includes the added advantage of ABS.  ABS provides the rider with an advanced braking system that minimizes lockup on heavy braking.  Additional enhancements

to the Vision line include round handlebars which allow for easier mounting of devices, easier opening saddlebag compartments and newly designed exhaust tips.

The Cross Country and Cross Roads continue to be an extremely popular bike for Victory.  Current owners have been hoping for a trunk for their long distance

machines.  Victory answered this year by providing a Lock & Ride trunk package for the Cross Country and Cross Roads.  This trunk has built-in speakers, LED tail lights and can be mounted or removed in seconds.  The trunk can hold two full faced helmets and provides a padded passenger

Victory Cross Country

backrest for the long hauls.  With cavernous saddlebags and a trunk that provides a combined 39 gallons of storage, just about everything can be brought along on that road trip.

Victory introduced a new program this year for its Cross Roads bike called the CORE Custom Program.  This program allows potential buyers to design a Cross Roads exactly to their liking before even leaving the dealership.  Buyers can add different types of accessories such as saddlebags, windshields and highway bars before they make their final purchase decision.   This flexibility allows the buyer to customize a bike without investing in stock parts that will be replaced later.

Victory continues to offer a no frills blacked out 8-ball version of its Vegas, Hammer, Kingpin and Vision.   8-Ball versions feature very little chrome but a lot of attitude.  With the same power plant and transmission as the other bikes in the lineup, the 8-ball versions provide a lot of performance at a reduced price.

The Ness family continues to provide signature series bikes for Victory.  Arlen and Cory have provided these masterpieces for several years, however, Zach Ness, Cory’s son, is now following the family trend. Arlen Ness continues to add his creative designs to the Victory Vision this year with a really impressive scroll design.  A true work of art that features a unique paint process that looks like engraved metal highlights the Vision.  Another addition to the Ness Signature Series is the Cory Ness

Victory Cory Ness Cross Country

Cross Country.  A beautiful Sunset Red paint job created by Cory Ness as well as an abundance of Ness chrome accessories adores this model.   The Cory Ness Cross Country even sports a custom suede leather seat.  Zach Ness has learned from his family and designed a really distinctive Vegas.  Diamond cut cylinder heads and precision cut wheels makes this Vegas stand out in the crowd.  Other enhancements include a custom seat, Ness chrome and stunning suede black paint with custom graphics.

The Victory Hammer, an aggressive fat tire muscle bike, continues in 2011.  The Hammer sports an inverted front fork, a 250 mm rear tire and dual disc front brakes.  With the addition of the 106 inch Stage 2 V-twin, this muscle bike is sure to please the high performance cruiser crowd.  The Hammer S continues show attitude with the addition

Victory Hammer S

of blacked out custom details and an aggressive paint scheme. Other models such as the Jackpot, Vegas and Kingpin continue to provide impressive components such as new paint and a new power train.

For more information about the 2011 models, including building your own custom Victory, check out www.victorymotorcycles.com

Polaris Plant Closure Won't Affect Victory

Polaris, the parent company of Victory Motorcycles said today that it’s eventual closure of its Osceola, Wis. manufacturing operations in the US won’t affect Victory Motorcycles even though it produces the Freedom V-Twin motors at that location.

The Company is, however, evaluating several possible locations in the Monterrey/Saltillo area of Mexico for a new facility which will lead to the eventual sale or closure of Polaris’ Osceola, Wis. manufacturing operations over time. The realignment allows the Company to dedicate capital for strategic investments in painting, welding and assembly operations by outsourcing certain non-strategic component manufacturing processes. The Mexico facility is expected to maintain Polaris’ industry leading quality while improving the Company’s on-time delivery to customers and provide significant savings in logistical and production costs.

Polaris said it will create manufacturing centers of excellence for Polaris products with capital improvements to the existing Roseau, Minn. and Spirit Lake, Iowa, production facilities.

The realignment of Polaris’ manufacturing footprint will strengthen the Company’s position in the powersports industry, as it will enable Polaris to have production facilities closer to customers in the southern United States and global markets the Company currently serves or expects to serve in the future. When the manufacturing realignment is completed the Company will have capabilities to manufacture ORVs (both ATVs and side-by-side vehicles), which represents more than two-thirds of the Company’s sales, in multiple locations depending on customer demand.