Down at the Crossroads, A review of the new Victory Touring bike
Settling into the sculpted and surprisingly comfortable stock seat on the Victory Crossroads, I crack the throttle and the 106-cubic-inch (1731cc) 50 degree V-twin motor responds with immediate power and the bike almost jumps forward. Quick and nimble is not quite what you expect from such a big touring cruiser like the Crossroads but satisfying nonetheless.
I was on out on the 2 lane country roads getting familiar with the feel of one of Victory’s newest touring cruiser. The Cross Roads, along with the fully faired Cross Country were released by the Vee late last year for 2010 and according to initial dealer reports are a big hit with consumers.
After 10 minutes in the saddle, I completely agree. While the bike has a few knocks which I’ll get to later, the overall first impression is a smooth, powerful and quite comfortable machine set up to haul your gear and your significant other and look pretty darn good doing it.
A few days later I’m heading East on Interstate 16, with my bride of 22 years on the pillion; our destination? Savannah Georgia, the city that Sherman found too beautiful to burn.
We’d planned this weekend trip around her birthday, and initially the plan was to take the car and enough clothes and shoes for a 2 week stay. You married men will understand what I mean by that. Most women to have the innate ability to fill up whatever luggage space is available. Give them 12 cubic inches and they’ll want to take 13. If the bag expands, they’ll test the limits of the zipper. My wife’s motto is, “”I can make it fit.” Truth is, she usually does.
When I’d picked up this press bike at my local Victory dealer, Bellamy Motorsports in Swainsboro Georgia, the passenger backrest and luggage rack was not attached. Most press bikes are not two up ready because most moto-journalists don’t ride a passenger on press launches. And, since the Crossroads is so new and dealers are having a hard time keeping them in stock, there wasn’t another one on the showroom floor to steal, er, borrow the needed accessories from.
A quick note to Manny Pandya at Victory got one headed our way but it would not arrive until after our trip to Savannah.
No luggage rack meant we’d have to pack only what would fit into the two hard saddle bags and the little we could stuff into a Saraceni bag that would strap onto the outside of the windshield. But what most concerned me was the absence of a passenger backrest. My wife, to my knowledge, has never ridden any distance without something to support her back and provide a feeling of security.
I was sure she’d be in a foul mood after 90+ miles of worrying about falling off the back. And you know when mamma’s not happy; she makes sure you’re not happy either!
But first, I’d need to tackle the luggage issue. Having taken a Victory Vision on an extended road trip in 2008, I’d had some experience with Victory’s saddlebag setup. The Vision’s saddlebags are deceptively small and I expected the same with the Crossroads. But once I had time to take a good look inside, I was surprised by how much storage these bags provided, as compared to the Vision and other bikes in its class. The specs claim 21 gallons of cargo room. By comparison the Harley-Davidson Road King offers 16.9 gallons cargo space.
Now, unless you’re planning on emptying a beer keg in the bags, I’m not sure why you’d care how many gallons the saddlebag holds, but that’s one of the quirks common to all the manufacturers. You’d think it would be simpler to use cubic inches but because most bags are not perfectly shaped and often contour around the bike frame and components, getting a hard measurement would be difficult.
With luggage a non-issue, there was still the backrest situation to deal with. Short of strapping my bride to me with multiple bungee cords, the only thing to do was promise to be extra careful on the throttle. I assured her I had no desire to sport one of those “The Bitch Fell Off” t-shirts.
Somewhere halfway to Savannah, my wife’s voice comes through the headset in my helmet with, “The way they’ve set this seat up, and with my legs over the saddlebags I feel ok back here. This isn’t nearly as bad as I’d thought it would be.”
Ahhh, the sweet sound of marital bliss! I was mentally checking off the brownie points in my head.
But enough about my marital shenanigans, you’re interested in the Crossroads or you wouldn’t be reading this review.
Having entered their second decade of motorcycle manufacturing, the designs coming out of Medina Minnesota have improved tremendously since their first “cruiser” the V92C in 1999. In fact one reviewer of that early model called it a “self propelled compressor.” Even the diehard Victory faithful couldn’t dispute the brand needed a makeover.
With input from custom bike builders and willingness to start from scratch, today’s models are sleek and visually appealing, built with an eye towards giving the brand its own unique look and the bikes a “customized” look right out of the factory.
The Crossroads styling remains true to the brand and shares some of the styling cues found on the Vision, but the “Jetson” style is toned down quite a bit. Beginning at the front, the HID (high intensity headlight) is housed in a sculpted chrome cover and dominates the 43mm inverted telescoping front
fork. The wide handlebars frame the aerodynamic but slightly less angular and graceful, sweeping curved backbone and rounded top saddlebags which flow the eye toward the built-in long tail/brake light combination on the rear fender and LED turn signals. The sculpted front fender hugs the tire and the drivers seat, as in other Victory models, is scalloped into the tank giving that “customized look” lacking in the competition.
Compared against non-faired touring cruisers, the 106 cubic inch single overhead cam power plant is smaller the Star Stratoliner S, (113 cubic inch) but larger than the Harley-Davidson Road King (TC 96 cubic inch) and serves as a stressed member of the two-piece, sand-cast aluminum frame, much like its cousin, the Vision.
Gearheads will understand that the overhead single camshafts and self-adjusting cam chains in the Freedom V-Twin’s solid-mounted engine are more noticeable than the push-rod technology used by the others in its class, but to the average rider it’s indiscernible.
On paper the Crossroads delivers 92 hp and 109 ft-lbs of torque, which again is ahead of the Harley-Davidson but less than the Yamaha Star Stratoliner. While I didn’t have the opportunity to run the Crossroads on a dyno, there was a slight lag in throttle response at a very specific lower rpm range. At first I attributed it to dirty fuel, but it remained after several fill ups; however most owners and riders probably wouldn’t notice it.
On the scale, the Crossroads weighs in at a curb weight of 780 lbs, lighter than both the Road King (812) and the Stratoliner S (802) lbs. Interestingly enough, because it lacks the fairing of its sibling, the Cross Country, the Cross Roads is rated for 20 more pounds of cargo carrying. (580 vs 560) That’s including both driver and passenger and their gear.
The week after the Savannah birthday ride, the passenger backrest and luggage rack arrived at the office. Manny assured me that installation would be quick and simple.
Having been in this business over a decade, I was skeptical, as
but again I was surprised at the simplicity of the design.
The backrest and luggage rack are engineered to work together but while you have to have a passenger backrest to have a luggage rack, you don’t have to add the luggage rack if you don’t need it or want it. If you do, installation takes 15 minutes, maximum. 8 minutes spent reading the directions, 2 minutes for wondering if it can really be that simple and scanning the instructions again because you’re sure you must have missed something and then 5 minutes of actual installation.
I was impressed at how easily the saddlebags and backrest can be removed for that stripped down bagger look. Less than 2 minutes and you can remove bags and backrest. 5 minutes more and you can remove the windshield. If you’re concerned about theft, lock the bags and they can’t be removed.
One other issue we found during our test is the top loading bags will open at highway speed if they’re not securely snapped. Which means you must be careful how much you stuff in the bags, and be sure the latch engages. A good rule would be to always lock the bags while riding and you won’t lose rain suits or hats.
After installing these accessories, we took the opportunity to test the Crossroads fully loaded on a ride to a family reunion. We loaded the saddlebags with rain gear, leather jackets and added a Kuryakyn cooler bag to the backrest/luggage rack and stuffed it full of drinks.
Stopping this fully loaded two wheel limousine falls to Victory’s proprietary brake system. Dual 300mm floating rotors and 4-piston calipers on the front and a single 300mm floating rotor, 2-caliper arrangement on the back. Unfortunately the brakes are not linked, as is the Vision. But, to be fair, neither do the Stratoliner S or the Road King, which are its direct
competitors. In our tests, the front brake is more than adequate, but as you would expect the back locks up easily.
I’m no engineer, but my advice to Victory would be to link the brakes and add an ABS option. Of course if the National Institute for Highway Safety, funded by the insurance industry, has their way, ABS will be required standard equipment on all new bikes in the future.
It was on this trip where we took most of these photos, which meant plenty of opportunities for low speed turnarounds. The Crossroads has excellent manners in this department with its lower center of gravity and 26.3 inch seat height. The passenger sits a few inches higher, which accounts for reasoning for the higher than average windshield. Otherwise your passenger would be left with a sore neck having fought the wind the entire ride.
While the highway bars are there to protect the paint in the event of a tip over, happily we didn’t have to depend on them during our test.
The Crossroads features an air adjustable rear shock which is probably another reason my wife fell in love with the bike. Fully loaded with gear and passenger will most likely require adding air to the rear suspension to keep the suspension from bottoming out on railroad tracks and in spirited leans.
Our fuel mileage varied depending on the load and how it was ridden, as you would expect. Overall the best mileage we got was 41.8 mpg with the least being 35 mpg.
The addition of a true six speed overdrive is an excellent feature and one that increases the comfort level on long rides. I personally wouldn’t consider buying a touring bike without a sixth gear overdrive.
The instrument setup is clean and uncluttered with a single windshield mounted speedometer / tach combo gauge. A finger switch behind the left handlebar grip rotates the multi-function display to indicate total mileage, rpm, fuel gauge, battery charge, time and resettable hour and trip meters. If the wide handlebars and comfortable driver floorboards seduce you into long extended ride times, there is a light on the easy to read, soothing blue, backlit speedometer gauge to warn you when you reach a gallon of remaining fuel.
Our time on the bike was right at the beginning of spring when South Georgia temperatures can fluctuate as much as 40 degrees in a 12 hour period.
On one test day the temperature started out at 45 degrees when we rolled out of the garage, climbed to 85 during the day and ended back at 52 when we parked it. Fortunately this provided a nice contrast for testing the comfort levels of different real world temperatures.
The large stock windshield and lower deflectors do a better than average job with the cool wind and pesky bugs. When things heat up in the summer, comfort would require a change.
The battery is housed in the front, hidden behind a cowling and combine that with the lower wind deflectors and on a 95 degree mid-summer day, the heat produced by the engine will make for an uncomfortable ride. Removing the lower wind deflectors would probably go a long way towards evacuating the heat buildup under your legs.
My only other complaint is on the clutch lever. As far as I could tell, there isn’t any way to adjust the clutch as there is on the brake lever. And on my test mule the clutch lever was 4 inches from the back of the grip. No problem for the highway as the pull is easy (for a non-hydraulic setup) but it quickly become noticeable in stop and go riding. For me it was about an inch too far.
It’s no secret the Crossroads and the Harley-Davidson Road King are competing head to head for the same rider. If you’re using HD as the gold standard for American touring bikes, the Crossroads surpasses the Road King in luggage and horsepower and fuel economy. If the Star is your gold standard then the Crossroads beats it in luggage capacity, fuel mileage and capacity.
Available in solid black, MSRP $16,000 (CA $16,249) and midnight cherry $16,599 and $16,849 in California.
Posted by Web Staff
on May 14 2010. Filed under New Motorcycle Tests
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