One thing that became clear to me during trip in June to the Smoke Out Thirteen, was just how unsuitable my 2003 Victory V92C was for extended trips. Until then, I had only used it for local riding in the North Georgia Mountains. There were many Sunday trips were I racked up over 300 miles, but nothing overnight. For that type of duty it was adequate, the saddlebags could hold what I needed for a day, but nothing more. The suspension was fine, good for the curves, but a bit stiff for more than a day in the saddle. For the past nine years and over 58,000 miles it had been a very reliable mount, with only some minor, but interesting problems. I guess I could have kept it, since reliability was not an issue, but, no matter how much I wanted to, it was time for a new bike.
Since my first Victory had been very reliable, and easy to maintain, I decided to stick with the brand. So which Victory to choose? My requirements pretty much dictated my choices.
- Comfort: The first requirement was comfort, being exhausted from a 300 mile ride won’t do, there is no use in going to an event if I was too tired enjoy myself, or work.
- Storage: Second, storage, I need room for my camera gear, other equipment, and clothing. When I made my trip to the Smoke Out I could only take one camera body, two flashes, and two lenses. I normally pack more, and it all fits into one neat sling-type camera bag. I had tried putting it in my left saddlebag, and it wouldn’t fit. I ended up using an older bag, it fully filled the left saddlebag, and, it was a PITA to get in and out. That left only the right, and it was filled by rain pants, jacket liner, and other gear. All of my clothing and personal items ended up in a tank bag strapped to my pillion seat. For sure I needed storage.
- ABS: Third, anti lock brakes, I have had two close calls this year, both involving drivers pulling out in front of me. In both cases, I had to brake hard, causing the rear wheel to skid, it’s a scary feeling to have your bike fishtail, or slide sideways to a stop! So, for me, the added safety of ABS is a “must have” item.
- Cool: Fourth, it had to be cool, if I am going to show up at an event and represent a magazine about motorcycle customizing, my ride should look the part.
Three of those four requirements eliminated Victory’s cruiser line of motorcycles, the Vegas, Kingpin, Hammer, and other variants of the Vegas platform. While they are great, and can be made to work for short trips, in all honesty, they would be no better suited than my V92C. That left me with Victory’s touring line to select from, the Vision, Cross Roads and Cross Country. All three share essentially the same platform that features a 106 cubic inch Freedom six speed engine, aluminum alloy frame, cruise control, and ABS brakes, each has variant models that address needs, tastes, and price points. I’m a shopper, so I was looking at 2012 models, and hoping for a bargain. Here is what I looked at, and why it did, or didn’t make the cut.
- The Victory Vision: Victory made two versions of this for 2012, the Vision “Tour,” and a Arlen Ness limited edition. They retail at $20,999, and $27,999 for the Ness. These are beautiful bikes, but both too rich for my blood.
- The Victory Cross Country: There are three versions of this model for 2012, the standard Cross Country, a “Touring” model with tour trunk, and hard lowers, the third is a limited edition version of the Cross Country Tour by Cory Ness. Pricing is $18,999 for the standard, $21,999 for the Tour, and $25,999 for the Cory Ness. All have a fork mounted faring, radio, and locking hard bags as standard equipment. The last two were out of the range of what I wanted to spend, that left the standard for consideration. I have ridden the Cross Country many times at Victory demo events, and every time, no matter how tall or short the windshield was, I had helmet buffeting. My research showed I could spend about $700 in the aftermarket, and possibly, but not for certain, cure the problem. The extra expense to fix the buffeting would cut into the funds for performance modifications, or run me over budget, so the Cross Country was out.
- The Victory Cross Roads: This is Victory’s step-child, a half sibling to the Cross Country, in its’ base form it has everything the Cross Country does but the batwing faring and radio. It has not seen the success of the Cross Country in sales, and for the 2013 model year they are only continuing two models, the LE, and Hard Ball, 2012 being the first year for both. The LE is what you might call a “Classic,” police style windshield, spoke wheels, “soft” saddlebags, and chrome fender trim. The LE retails for $17,999, it’s not my style, and for me, the soft bags were too small, so it’s out. The Hard Ball is Victory’s second attempt at doing “Badass,” similar to the successful Vegas derivative, the “High Ball,” it has ape hangers, flat black paint, pinstripes and spoked wheels. I loved this bike, it had the look I like, and, even better, the hard bags from the Cross Country. Badass looks and huge saddlebags, so what’s not to love? The price, MSRP is $18,999, it’s the same price as the Cross Country! Victory also produced (this is the last model year) what they called the “Core Custom,” basically, it’s a stripped down bike with soft bags. The idea was that you bought the basic, then added items from the Victory catalog, essentially customizing the bike before you left the dealership. This must have not worked well, Victory has discontinued the program. The base Cross Roads has as standard, cruise control, and ABS, for an additional $250, the soft bags can be swapped for hard bags. The MSRP for the Cross Roads is $15,999 that’s $3,000 less than the Hard Ball, which is essentially the same except for ape hangers, laced wheels, and flat black paint. Really? Those three things cost THAT much? In my book, the base Cross Roads is a winner, with the hard bags option, cruise control, and ABS, it covers the first three of my “requirements.” And the fourth? Cool? Well, it will be a blank canvas for me to customize, and, it will for sure cost less than the extra I would have paid to get the High Ball!
After deciding on the Cross Roads, my first step was to make a Google search for “Victory Cross Roads for sale.” Since these were not too popular, there were not many for sale, but there was a bonus, they were all selling at a substantial discount! I found one at $12,999 in black, with soft bags, if I added the hard bag option, it would be $13,249, or, $3,000 under list. I found two more at another dealership, one in Sunset Red, a $500 option, and a 2011, in black. The black 2011 had no ABS, so, deal breaker, it was out. That left me with two dealerships, two bikes, and a deal to make. Both were in crates, the dealership with the black Cross Roads wanted a deposit before they would uncrate it, idiots! The other Victory dealer had the red Cross Roads out and ready in a day, they wanted to sell a bike! My target price for the Cross Roads was calculated on the base black, plus the hard bags, $13,249, plus the $500 for the Sunset Red paint, making the total $13,749, not including the “destination” charge. With some negotiation, I managed to make a deal for $13,548, $201 less than my target, not bad.
I took delivery that day, and rode it home, the hard bags were not in stock, so the soft bags came with me temporarily. I photographed its’ base condition the next morning, here it is. The hard bags came in and were mounted the following week, they look great!
The Plan: I always plan in general, then fill in the details later with research on performance, price, etc., here is the list of proposed modifications.
- Clean off all of the government required decals, reflectors, factory decals and badging.
- Add tip over protection (crash bars) to the front, in my opinion, the area looks empty without them.
- Add some “bling.” This would be better covers on the primary and “cone” sides. I might change the mirrors and grips.
- Performance exhaust, the EPA has it so choked down the engines’ mechanical sounds are louder than the exhaust. Also, I feel kinda invisible in traffic, the cage drivers can’t hear me next to them.
- Performance air filter, I might use a K&N, but there is a new one on the market made by Loydz Performance to look at.
- Fuel controller, EPA again, in the stock form, the engine is too lean, a fuel controller will fix that. I will be most likely going with Dynojet. Also, when combined with the above two mods, I will get a 10 to 15 percent boost in power.
- Handlebars, not quite sure about changing them, they are comfortable, a little narrow, but not bad. I might go “Ape,” I am still looking at options.
- Custom paint, to be honest, the Sunset Red is very beautiful, great flakes, deep looking, finished well, already looks custom. I think having pinstripes laid on it the same as the Hard Ball would look good. If I can find a good painter, I might also have the “chin” area in front of the engine painted to match the body color.
Next in the series: Removing all the stickers and government mandated junk from my motorcycle.
Words By: Terry Cavender