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Victory 2012 Press Introduction

Victory's excellent cornering clearance and quality suspension make a ride through the twisties more fun than you should have on a touring bike.

There’s plenty of gloom and doom to go around when you look at financial and business news these days, but that seemed pretty remote to me last week, feted in a swanky hotel suite in Park City, Utah by Victory Motorcycles. That’s where the fledgling American brand (a mere 13 years old) held its annual new-product launch, and from where I sat, bombarded with the company’s rosy PowerPoint demonstration and marketing collateral, things looked good for the company.

And it wasn’t just marketing puffery. Parent company Polaris is doing as well as it was doing last year, Indian has been tucked into the corporate portfolio, and according to an “unnamed third party,” Victory is ranked first in owner satisfaction, and Pied Piper Management company (which sends “secret shoppers into dealerships) found that Victory dealers are ranked number one for customer satisfaction. That may be why Victory has climbed from number four to the number-two seller of heavyweight (over 1400cc) cruisers, if Victory’s numbers are to be believed.  Overseas sales are up 59 percent, and there is  a new marketing push composed of both increasing the number of test rides as well as a program designed to team prospective buyers to current Victory owners—or, as Victory’s people call them, “mavericks.”

Cross Country Tour

Cross Roads Classic LE

Pretty strong showing for a young brand going toe-to-toe with the world’s best-known motorcycling icon. How does it do it? In a very quaint way that seems to have been forgotten by most consumer-products manufacturers: building good products at a reasonable price. Victory seems to be proud of the way it undercuts similar Harley-Davidson products, and this year some of its models got price cuts—the Vision has been slashed to $20,999. To add a bit of icing to the cake o’ value, now all Victory touring models come with ABS—standard.

We told you about the updates to the model line last month. How are they to ride? Well, the Cross Roads Classic LE sure does look pretty, but there was only one at the press launch, and it was spoken (pardon the pun) for, so I can’t tell you how the new wheels and other modifications changed the experience of riding the bike. However, there were plenty of Cross Country Tours, so I can speak about that.

The new Tour, as we’ve mentioned, is the basic Cross Country laden with touring-oriented accessories. There’s ABS, a higher windscreen, heated grips and seat, cruise control, adjustable (for both height and angle) passenger floorboards, crashbars, the gigantic Lock n’ Ride trunk, an iPod connector and HID lighting. But the main addition is the Victory Comfort Control system. It’s four panels that can be easily adjusted by the rider to channel or block off airflow to his upper and/or lower body.

How does all this stuff work on the Victory? I was intrigued by the “Comfort Control System,” as I found it very clever and well-designed. It’s easy and (sort of) safe to use while the bike is moving, and the mid panels—small, clear plastic wings just under the big bat-wing fairing—are easy to reach with your hands and do a great job directing airflow at a rider’s chest. There are also two lower panels that can be swung open with your foot (I’m sure Victory’s lawyers don’t want you to do this while the bike is moving) that can make the bike feel half-faired or fully faired in seconds, which can make a big difference if you’re wearing vented or mesh riding gear. They can also vent the rear-cylinder heat away from the rider’s legs, a welcome sensation, as my thighs heated up so much I thought the three-position seat-heater switch had been clicked to the “hibachi” setting.

Cross Country Tour lower vents provide air-flow management for 2012; Upper vents send cool air to the rider's upper body.

Those new fairing lowers don’t just add Comfort Control. They also contain a gallon of non-locking storage each, boosting the bike’s total capacity to a class-leading 41 gallons. The iPod connector resides within the left pod.

So how does the higher windscreen work? Great. The buffeting Dirck and I noted in our bagger test last year is gone. It’s now quiet enough behind that big screen to almost be comfortable without earplugs, at least comfy enough to not have to resort to borrowing grubby earplugs from a large and hairy V-Twin journalist.

Victory’s press intros are notable for offering a lot more riding than other events, and this one was no exception. I was on the shorter wave, which meant about 300 miles of total riding—the other wave was heading to Sturgis, over 600 miles away, in addition to our 300 miles of riding. The company likes riders to discover how good the handling, braking, performance and suspension is. I found it to be just as good as last year—the suspension is smooth and sporty, yet plush. The steering is linear and stable leaned over, even over bumps. Cornering clearance can’t be beat in its class, but there’s still plenty of legroom, even with the low seat. What I found really remarkable was the low-speed agility—the low center of gravity and vast steering lock makes feet-up U-turns very easy, even on narrow two-lane roads.

New vents and a few new customized models may not be big news, but the peek I got into a burgeoning motorcycle brand was interesting. Victory isn’t going to outsell you-know-who anytime soon, but it does seem to be calmly building its reputation and success by slowly building market share and a customer base by refining existing product and steadfastly getting the word out to potential buyers.

Editor’s Note – Stay tuned for a short article on the new 2012 Ness custom models.

Victory has had success with the new apehanger-equipped Highball. It's $13,499 and is only available in matte black with white accents and whitewall tires.

35 Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Wow, all the negativity! As someone who is a relative riding newb…it seems that every bike I see looks so cool to me and I want to try them all.

    Isn’t it great to have all these choices of bikes? Some of the guys on the internet are like middle-aged versions of the video game fans constantly arguing about which is better Xbox or playstation!

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  2. John says:

    1918 is calling. It wants its motorcycles back.

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  3. Matt says:

    More standard performance, MPG, & comfort features then a Electra Glide Ultra Limited for under 22k. Even if you hate Victory’s styling you gotta love those number’s. ;)

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  4. mechanicuss says:

    Ness sucks

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  5. Foogunheimer says:

    From Urbandictionary.com: “1.one who pretends to be someone whose not. 2. who tries to fit in but with exaggeration.” Ex: Buying a Highball to make people think you are a big, bad biker when all you really are is a law abiding citizen.

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  6. Kjazz says:

    I think I would like the Highball, if the bars were longhorn style low bars. Love the white walls etc.

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  7. MikeD says:

    I would so hit that Cross Country Tour…just not yet, too young and POOR for that.

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  8. Fat Old Man says:

    I remember thirteen years ago when Polaris decided to make two wheelers the company execs stating that it was their intention to manufacture a full line of motorcycles including smaller displacement bikes. They sure are taking their time. I just wish there was an American alternative to the sportster.

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  9. kpaul says:

    Even with the ape hangers I like the looks of the Highball. Wow Victory out Harley’s Harley. Good stuff. :)

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    • Dannytheman says:

      You are such a Harley hater!!! :)

      But the competition will keep Harley on their toes. I like that!

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      • kpaul says:

        It’s a tough love with me and Harley. It’s like you have an employee (HD) who is not using their full potential. If they are content to stay the same I have move on to the next employee (Victory) who has high potential as well, in addition the new employee has initiative and drive.

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  10. ChiefSubset says:

    Your article compares the Victory CCT to you-know-whom, but not to the arguably pre-eminent touring motorcycle since 1975 — the Honda GoldWing. Why not? A strictly Vtwin made-in-USA class? Then what about Indian? What about riders that want simply the best-in-class touring motorcycle? BMW? Are you just “large and hairy V-Twin journalists”?

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  11. Mike Perez says:

    Have to agree with bent grill. Why can’t they just build us an american made KTM 990SMT with ABS right out of the box.
    It is effortless to do 600 miles on that bike and FUN.

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  12. bentgrill says:

    I just went to the victory website hoping this “good products at a reasonable price.” business had something for me… nope. For the love of god why cant america build a 400 lb standard motorcycle. I know that Harley sells a faux tracker but I cant bring myself to spend ten or twelve grand (harley taxes) on 500+ pounds of 72 ftlb. “Best handling Harley ever!” way to set the bar… lowish.
    Really, i am a skilled tradesmen building things in america. I want to buy an american motorcycle. But all we make (ebr not withstanding) are expensive, heavy bikes.
    rant over, back to the econo commuter motard xt350 :)

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    • kpaul says:

      Don’t give up on the USA yet. With the lower and lower dollar that is sure to happen. The Foreign bikes are going to be very expensive. Victory or some one else. may just build it. HD will never will they are all about maximize profit off their old bikes. Right now are currency is still to high but give it a year or so. :) Companies that export are going to do well in the coming years.

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    • Tom says:

      As a Buell XB12R owner I think I have the best handling Harley ever. :-)
      Yes its slow but on the street its so much fun. Just under 20K miles on her. I will most likely go toward a Ducati air cooled when the XB blows up.

      As an aside – I think the bike Harley should produce with the XR1200 is a Cal Rayborn replica.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/rbglasson/846147999/

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    • blackcayman says:

      what ever happened to the “Standard” they were thinking about with the V-Rod motor? They’ve no doubt paid Porsche off for the design, they could build a new bike with parts off the shelf…I assume they could make a frame…

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  13. Foogunheimer says:

    Victory Highball: Poser approved.

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    • Tom R says:

      What exactly is a “poser”? Can you please define it, and is it a good thing or a bad thing (in this context)?

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      • Foogunheimer says:

        Def. from Urbandictionary.com: “1. one who pretends to be someone whose not. 2. who tries to fit in but with exaggeration.” Ex: Buying a Highball to make people think you are a big, bad biker when all you really are is a law abiding citizen.

        Report this comment

    • Tom R says:

      What exactly is a “poser”? Is it good or bad?

      Report this comment

      • OK, I’ll bite. A poser is someone who generally has no idea what they are doing on a motorcycle (as in “how to safely ride it”) and generally buys a cruiser (usually a Harley) to ride (barely) to the coffee shop so they can park and look cool while sipping their latte in their $800 leather jacket (that’s the “posing” part).

        They usually end up selling their bike two years later after a close encounter with a distracted driver puts the fear of death into them. Said bike will usually have under 1200 miles on it.

        Posers also drive Ferraris (never driven over 90mph), carbon-fiber mountain bikes (which never see dirt) and expensive women (who love them for their money and that’s it).

        After a while, they become easy to spot. So yeah, being a poser (also spelled “poseur”) is “bad.”

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        • Ratlanta says:

          However, poseurs by your definition are fantastic for the used bike market. Besides, who are you to define how motorcycles are enjoyed.

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        • Dannytheman says:

          I’d say that is SPOT on!! Good job!!!

          I know 3. 2005 Harley Deuce, 3400 miles, bought new. He wears his Fox Creek jacket, 500 dollars, to work all winter. :)

          2006 HD FLHTCI Classic 1900 miles, he’s gonna go cross country when “his wife lets him!”

          2009 Screaming Eagle Road King, a true beauty. 650 miles. Rides every sunny weekend to the dealer to park and look around. Dealer is .5 miles away from his home.

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        • xootrx says:

          I think if you check out the weekend twisties scene, as I do, you’ll see just as many “poseurs” on sport bikes as you will on cruisers. They can quote all the magazines ver batim, and perpetuate the hatred of cruisers in their number. They wear the fanciest leathers, and they know just enough about motorcycling to justify their elitist view that anyone who doesn’t ride sport bikes is a second class citizen. The true sport bike enthusiasts usually develop a more individualistic viewpoint of “to each his own, so leave ‘em alone.”

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        • DiavelRider says:

          Sorry, but your comment reminds me of today’s political climate. “Us vs. them” or “they are wrong and we are the only ones right.”

          If a person likes a bike, and buys said bike with their own money, why must some “categorize” the person? Who gives a sh*t why they bought the bike? They should be able to enjoy it any way they want to. If that means 1500 miles in two years, and then to be sold, so be it. From my perspective, at least they were on two wheels for some period of time, and this does not affect my mindset in any way.

          I have been riding since I was 15 (I am now 40). I have had countless bikes, and consider them all unique in some way. Some I kept for 2 years, some I kept till they were used up.

          If I see you on a HD all leathered up and with the latest t-shirt from a dealership 1000 miles a way, I consider you to be a rider. And, if I see you on a GSXR1000 in the latest replica helmet from your favorite racer, I see you the same way….a rider. That is all…..no other category need be assigned.

  14. Dannytheman says:

    “You know who” will have to up their offerings. Some good solid competition is showing its pretty little head!! That Highball remind anyone else of a Crossbones?

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