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MD Comparo: 2011 H-D Road Glide Ultra vs. 2011 Victory Cross Country

What is it about Harleys, anyway?

If you ride a Harley, you don’t need to answer this question any more than you need to ask it. You get it. A competing brand could poop cinnamon-apple crumbcake and leak single-malt scotch on your driveway and you still wouldn’t want it. There are a startling number of American buyers—around half the total streetbike market—for whom the shopping process begins and ends in Harley-Davidson dealerships and only Harley-Davidson dealerships. And while I want these fine folk to read my little test, I wrote it for the rest of us. Does building a motorcycle in Milwaukee (or Kansas City or Pennsylvania) imbue it with some kind of magic a bike from, say, Minnesota (not too far from Wee-scon-sin, for Pete’s sake!) can never possess?

I got thinking about this while riding Victory’s 2011model lineup in Colorado a few months ago. With time just on the Victory products, it was easy to become convinced they were the best game in town, with good handling and ground clearance, smooth, tourquey powerplants, and seamless engineering. And you can’t beat the pricing. But that’s no way to compare a bike, so I requested a 2011 Victory Cross Country (which I didn’t get to ride much at the intro event) and a new-for-2011 Harley-Davidson Road Glide Ultra Classic for the MD crew—boss-man Dirck, new intern Jonathan Bole and me—to test.

Cruiser-spotters in the audience may have noticed that technically, the Ultra is a dresser, not a bagger like the Victory. With its frame-mounted fairing, big windscreen and standard Tour-Pack trunk, it’s more fully equipped than the Vic—and at $22,499, spendier than the $17,999 Cross Country. That’s not exactly comparing appletinis to appletinis, is it? Well, tough. We wanted to take two high-profile models and not do a straight-ahead nuts-and-bolts comparo, but rather try to see if we could get to the essence of each brand, its ka, as the ancient Egyptians might say. Or maybe we just wanted some seat time on a $23,000 motorcycle. Because we can.

Whatever our motivation, the Ultra is a cool bike to look at and ride. That Road Glide fairing dates back to the 1980 model year, and while some may find it oddball with those twin headlamps and blocky presence, it’s a favorite starting point for customizers and even H-D’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) unit. A frame-mounted fairing says “touring,” yet it’s been a long time since the Road Glide model came from the factory with the Tour-Pak. So for 2011, H-D gave unto us the Road Glide Ultra Classic, complete with not just the bigger trunk, but an integrated 80-watt sound system, wind-cheating fairing lowers, 4-piston Brembo brake calipers (with ABS), an extra-comfy Electra-Glide-style seat, and as icing on the cake, the six-speed, 103 cubic inch (1690cc) Twin-Cam motor the Electra Glide Ultra Limited got for 2010. It offers 10 percent more torque than the 96-cubic inch engine the Road Glide had last year, thanks to 7 more cubic inches and a small bump in compression.

Said motor is mounted in the new-for-2008 touring chassis, a major improvement over the older bikes. With a heavier, stiffer frame and swingarm, carrying capacity is bumped up, and the squashy, wallowing feel many (including myself) noticed in the older bikes diminished.

Victory’s Cross-Countryisn’t quite a full-fledged tour machine—but it’s darn close. We first told you about the bike last year, but I didn’t get a chance to ride one until I rode the 2011 Victory line-up in Colorado a couple of months back. I was impressed by Victory’s Touring bikes, with their sand-cast aluminum monocoque frames, smooth 106-cubic-inch, six-speed motors, impressive cornering clearance and precise, stable handling. Such polished products showed Victory’s (and by extension, parent company Polaris’) commitment to staying in the cruiser market, despite H-D out-selling them by something like 40 or 50 to one. Along with the full-dress Vision (which arguably would have been a better comparison with the Road Glide) and the more simply equipped Cross Roads, the Cross Country—with a batwing-style fork-mounted fairing, 25-gallon capacity locking hard bags and integrated sound system—is an able touring companion, even though it lacks the massive capacity of a King Tour-Pak equipped H-D.

So to even things out, we had our Cross Country test unit equipped with Victory’s new accessory trunk. At $1745, the trunk’s pricetag is startling (and also brings the Vic’s MSRP up to $19,744, much closer to the H-D), but you get a lot. It has a big capacity at 17-plus gallons and is pre-wired with a 12v power socket and speakers for the rear speaker stereo system. It’s also designed to mount easily in a minute or two—no tools required—to either the Cross Roads or Cross Country without requiring a special mounting kit, and dealers can set up the locks so you only need one key for the entire bike.

Our trip would take us on a near-600-mile roundtrip from the deserts north of Camp Pendelton to the chilly Central California coast—plenty of time on fast-moving, bumpy freeways to test these bikes where they’re designed to travel. These are land barges – big, heavy machines that can carry mass quantities of riders and gear (the Cross Country can carry around 530 pounds, the H-D 472—for reference, my Ford Focus is rated at around 750) in comfort all day long. But which does it better? Is the Harley past its prime? Does the Victory lack the soul Harley riders want from their machines?

If a bike has to be styled right, it has to feel right, and that feel is going to mostly come from the engine. Both bikes have lots of character, making it a tough choice. The Harley’s 103 is a great powerplant. It starts easily, runs without a hitch even when it’s cold, and gives the rider enough power to keep things interesting; passing uphill in overdriven sixth gear at freeway speeds, even with a passenger, is no trouble at all. The transmission is as smooth and easy-shifting as this kind of transmission can be, and points go to the Harley for having a heel-toe shifter, a must with the big moving parts inside that shiny case.

The Victory’s motor has the criterion for its intended mission. The revvier, sportier nature of the four-valve, sohc 50-degree V is immediately noticeable as soon as you let out the clutch (interestingly, both bikes exhibited jerky clutch behavior on initial engagement, making smooth starts challenging—probably a simple issue to fix), and it’s a tribute to how good the Victory’s redesigned-for-2011 transmission is that shifting felt as good as the H-D (if a little more notchy) even without the optional heel-toe shift kit installed. The bike’s weight means that even though there is ample torque—around 90 foot-pounds at the back wheel, according to the online dyno charts I’ve seen—it doesn’t exactly leap out of corners, but it does feel a little more peppy and free-revving than the Harley. And of course, like the Harley, shifting is optional, with usable power from idle to the 5500-rpm (ish) rev limit. But the solid-mount engine transmits a buzzier vibe to the rider than the rubber-mounted H-D, making the bike feel oddly less refined and more pedestrian than the Milwaukee unit.

As far as chassis goes, the difference is clear: if you like to drag your floorboards, the Victory gets the nod. The Cross Country is 88 pounds lighter, and that’s not just because of the lack of similar standard luggage. The Victory uses cast aluminum all though the chassis, not steel tubes and castings. The resulting lighter, stiffer frame components as well as more sophisticated suspension parts like the inverted fork and air-adjustable (you’ll need to carry a small bicycle pump with you), linkage-equipped monoshock help the Vic a lot when the roads start to twist and turn. The radial tires grip nicely, and there’s enough cornering clearance for even mildly insane riders to enjoy themselves without scraping the floorboard feelers. And at low speeds, the Victory is noticeably easier to handle, with a lower seat, lower center of gravity and a more compact feel (although oddly, the Victory has a longer wheelbase).

What’s surprising is how well the Harley holds its own. It also has ample corner clearance, though the bike moves around a bit more on its steel chassis and suspension. You can also feel the bar flexing on its rubber mounts, but the bike is stable in high-speed sweepers and can be pushed much farther than you’d think prudent. But you never forget you’re piloting a half-ton of union-labeled iron, not a 600-class sportbike. Riding it fast is reminiscent of Bluto driving that menacing parade float in the final scenes of “Animal House,” except you’re much less likely to get arrested.

Speaking of arresting, the brakes on both of these bikes—both the four-piston setup on the Victory and the swanky Brembo tackle on the H-D—work similarly well. You won’t worry about doing accidental two-finger stoppies, and you do need to plan ahead, as these are 800-pound plus machines, but both systems deliver good feel and surprising power. Just be prepared to use more digits and leave more following distance than usual.

That’s how they do as sportbikes, but what these bikes are really for is gobbling up miles on the superslab, and it’s tough to argue they’re not well-suited for that. In this test, the Ultra has the clear advantage because of the Victory’s stylish shorty windscreen. It looks good, but the result is turbulent windblast that dribbles your head like a basketball over 65 mph. All the testers noted it, and Jonathan even thought it’d be better with no windscreen at all. Every screen makes some turbulence, but this is really bad for a touring bike, and it surprised me, as I rode a Cross Country the month before and hadn’t noticed. Turns out I was riding a bike equipped with accessories from the Victory catalog, including a taller windscreen ($350) at the press event, and the turbulence, for me at least (I’m 5’7”), was far less noticeable. An even taller “flip” windscreen ($190) is also available. I should note that after our road trip we installed the optional taller screen on the Victory (see the photo) and the buffeting issue all but disappeared.

Aside from wind protection, these bikes have the luxury features you’d expect. The H-D is the most loaded, as it’s a flagship model. The 80-watt, four-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio system gets the nod—it’s more audible at high speeds wearing a full-face helmet and earplugs and is a little easier to use. It also has intercom jacks (two headsets are included) and CB capability. Nav and iPod compatibility are optional. The PowerPak—shorthand for a three-way combo of the factory-installed 103 big-bore kit, keyless security system and ABS brakes—is also standard on the Ultra, as is cruise control. The seat is redesigned for 2011, with a narrower front section (helping short-legged riders like me feel more secure at stops) and improved bolstering for more lower-back support. All three of us noted the comfy seat, and it’s a fine place to spend a day, but the Victory’s saddle, with firmer foam, may be better on the long haul. Passenger comfort, especially on the H-D, is very good—the bike is heavy enough so the rider won’t really notice the passenger is there until he complains about having to listen to an endless loop of “This American Life” podcasts.

The under-$20,000-Victory is nicely equipped, too. The sound system works well—with the optional trunk’s speakers working and the tall windscreen it’s close to the H-D system’s volume and clarity—although it loses points because the handlebar buttons are a little harder to use (that goes for the cruise-control buttons as well). But the ergonomics are hard to fault: manageable for shorter riders, roomy for taller folk like Jonathan, who liked the big floorboards. Luggage capacity is outstanding, with a little more room in the wide-opening saddlebags (make sure they’re latched before you take off!) and room for everything else in that big trunk (including two helmets). My only real complaint about that trunk emerged after I realized how practical the H-D tour-Pak’s side-opening feature is; if there’s something (or somebody) on the Victory’s passenger seat, you can’t open the trunk lid.

At the end of the day, what you’ll notice most about whichever bike you’re riding is how far you’ve traveled on it. Fuel range is good, with six-ish gallon tanks and fuel economy that’s in theory at least in the 40s; we turned in 30-ish mpg numbers, but we were in a hurry. Cruise at a 65-mph pace and you can put well over 200 miles between fuel stops. And you’ll be wishing you had a bigger tank, as the smooth motors, comfy seats and decent sound systems make riding on one of these better than riding in a car, even on the Interstate—but you knew that already.

And now, this is the part of the test where we try to figure out which bike is better. But what does “better” mean? It’s clear the Victory is technically better, with its modern styling and engineering. But does that mean your touring experience will be better? That’s not so clear. It’s a nicely planned, engineered, styled and built product that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It need make no excuses for performance, handling, comfort, reliability or value—something an American motorcyclist can proudly say came from his country. Is that enough to beat the Harley at its own game?

No. The Ultra wins this comparo, but not by much.  It’s not a new design styled and engineered to feel like grandpa’s bike—it is grandpa’s bike, except it’s been refined and souped up to do away with all the drawbacks a Harley might have had in the past. It rumbles like an H-D, sounds like an H-D, and looks like an H-D. If you don’t like Harleys, that’s a problem. If you do, the Road Glide Ultra Classic’s comfort, refinement and useful features mean there’s no reason (other than missing out on a whole universe of great motorcycles) to look at anything else.

The manufacturers provided Motorcycle Daily with these motorcycles for purposes of evaluation.


  1. dthorny says:

    Nice to hear Victory is out with a great ride for 2011, The Victory Cross Country regardless what the reviewer claims, is the better ride. Harley is not as plush a ride, less comfort, less MPG, more staid in appearance and yet Harley is considered the winner? More competition equals better products for us, the consumer.
    Take off the rose colored, Milwaukee glasses and be honest on the comparisions please. You owe it to your readers and to the Motor company. If all they hear is “we are the best because we have a bar and shield” then nothing changes.

  2. R'L says:

    Definitely agree with kokaneeslim. Started riding 32 years ago – Honda, Suzuki, Norton, and now I’m on a Victory Ness Kingpin. However, I am a bit tired of reading articles that start out weighing the pros and cons of a Victory vs. a Harley – then seem to ignore the bulk of what they just said and come off some variation of, “…the Harley wins out” – with the only real justification being that ‘it’s a Harley.’
    Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure I’d love to own many of the models Harley makes these days and I’m VERY happy to hear about the advances they’ve made to improve their bikes, it’s just that when I went to spend MY money, ‘it’s a Harley’ wasn’t enough to make me spend more money on less motorcycle. I also like the styling of most Vics… I really appreciate a more cohesive, flowing design.
    Choice is good, and having Victory and Indian around to give us more options – and Harley even more reason to keep improving – is also good. I hope they (and I) are all around long enough for me to experience owning a motorcycle from each of them.

  3. Cranky Bob says:

    Victory motorcycles are the most bland machines in the motorcycling world. I don’t know how Victory is still surviving in the market with such boring bikes. A lot of the posters here confess that the only reason they like Victory is because it’s different, or because it’s not a Harley…a very poor reason to choose a bike IMHO.
    Polaris would do well to drop the entire Victory line and start producing world-class dual sports, sport tourers and sportbikes. It would be great to see an AMERICAN company competing in those categories. We have enough cruisers already!!!

  4. kokaneeslim says:

    I’ve been riding bikes for over 45 years. Started on a Honda trail bike………….loved it. Rode Triumph, Kawis, Hondas and Yamis, own a Harley now….love’em all. Do you get it? Did you buy your bike for pleasure or to impress someone? Grow up, go for a ride and enjoy.

  5. Stratman says:

    Everyone is talking about HD and Victory when they should be talking about the Yamaha Stratoliner the finest bike on the planet. Easily maintained, great handling, a very large bike compared to HD and Victory and it will beats the pants off both of them.

    • Jim says:

      I’ve owned more Yamaha motorcycles than any other brand over the last 37 years. The Strats are surely nice bikes as well, but the Deluxe missed the mark badly on fairing and hard bags compared to either of these bikes.
      Now if Yamaha would give the Venture fuel injection, hydraulic valves, more of the VMax’s horsepower, and an electronics upgrade they’d have a bike I’d really love to own. Unfortunately for Yamaha most folks would still opt for a Harley simply because if the name. That mentality is what let Harley get away with making junk (comparatively speaking) for so many years, and selling the junk for $3500.00 over MSRP.
      Don’t get me wrong, Harley is building some great bikes these days. Shopping for one is much better as well because the dealers have to treat prospective buyers with courtesy now that the waiting lists are gone, and left overs are sitting in their showrooms.
      If I was a little feller, looking for some attention, lacking in “character”, or in need of help “picking up chicks” I might even consider owning a Harley myself…. 🙂

  6. Cyclemotorist says:

    This is a great discussion.

    Where I live nearly every motorcycle I see is a Harley Davidson or Japanese cruiser. When I see a dual sport, or unusual motorcycle of any brand, around here, I just have to check them out. I find ‘different’ compelling. Compelling enough that I would go for the Victory if I was to make a choice of the two. One reason I find HDs uninteresting is they all have that same 45º air cooled powerplant. And I fully understand the motor company has refined it many times over the years. I guess I’m just tired of seeing the same old thing.

    • MGNorge says:

      It’s been the same for me as I mentioned before. Most all Harleys look too much alike simply because the focal point of most bikes is their engine. It’s not that the Harley isn’t a nice looking engine but it’s become too commonplace. Harley should have built some variants, perhaps variants on the V-twin theme so as to not alienate those loyal to the brand but to attract new riders? For that very reason I do not shop Harley. There are just too many other great bikes out there..and for a lot less coin.

  7. Stratplayer says:

    All this todo about nothing. The Yamaha Stratoliner is by far a better ride in all categories than the two bikes tested here besides being able to blow the doors of both. Someone mentioned earlier about “lemmings” which is what most HD riders are. Seen more of it than I want to but the times are a changing.

    • MikeD says:

      “Better Ride” is pretty subjective…is all about your taste.
      I for one CAN’T SWALLOW the RoadLiner and StratoLiner’s Steam Locomotive StreamLining Styling…specially that Cigar Pipe(We could argue thats an easy fix ALBEIT XPENSIVE but thats not the point here).
      Yes, they do have plenty of positives(aluminium frame,belt drives,1900cc air cooled Mill,etc) but IT don’t make up for it’s look on MY eyes. Call it shallow but is the way it works for some folks, like me. See? all is relative. lol.

  8. Casey says:

    I would like to start off by saying “Thank you!” This is the comparison I’ve been looking for. I’ve cross shopped both of these bikes and you picked the same bike as me. I’m hoping that in the future Victory can at least offer ABS on the cross bikes.
    As for all you other folks himming and hawwing. Get over it! We’re all on two wheels you don’t make the payments or service my bikes and I don’t do that for yours. Just be happy that there are plenty of choices out there for us to shop.

    • MikeD says:

      Casey Posted:

      Get over it! We’re all on two wheels you don’t make the payments or service my bikes and I don’t do that for yours. Just be happy that there are plenty of choices out there for us to shop.

      “REALITY CHECK”. Couldn’t say it better myself.

  9. scott says:

    a cinder block vs. a brick. what’s the big deal.

  10. BOBBY B says:

    What we need is the final dollar comparison.

    Cost to service each bike by buying the oils etc from the dealerships and doing it yourself.
    The cost to get to stage one for each bike as that is what almost all of the cruiser people do to their bikes.
    The dollar amount per pony increase.
    The service intervals added up.
    I think your pocket book might think differently.

    I know mine did after 40 years on HD

  11. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    I have had enough time to ponder which bike I would prefer (neither). Please MD, some non-cruiser news..(its amazing how quick this site has become an entitlement for me)

  12. gsbeliever says:

    I’ve owned bikes from every major manufacturer, except H/D and Ducati, though I have rented Harleys on vacation. I’ve found something to like about every one of them. My major beef is with the parochial basis of many H/D owners that would only consider a Milwaukee twin while looking down their noses at everything else. You’re missing out on alot of GREAT motorcycles!
    One last thing, when will a magazine have the nuts to do a story on the multi-national out-sourcing of motorcycle (particularly H/D) parts? I’m tired of the “buy American” disdain when your suspenders were made by Showa and there’s a bunch of other “foreign made” parts you’re not acknowledging?! You did know Showa is owned by Honda, right?

  13. Dave says:

    Why buy a Harley when the first thing that is required is to have loud pipes installed??

    • Old town hick says:

      Because for most H-D buyer even the expensive chrome/bling does not attrack enough attention to suit their montrous LOOK-AT-ME! egos.

      • falcodoug says:


        • Steve says:

          yes… loud pipes…. ego’s…. chrome bling…. you must be talking about the GSXRNinjaBusa with the chromed & extended swingarm & rims with the LED lights & titanium cans, revved to 12000 rpm sitting still in the parking lot so eveyone knows you’re there… Is that one of those “look at me ego’s” you’re talking about??

          Gonna be funny when the law finally cracks down on bikes… yes, no more loud pipes… but I’ll still be riding. Sportbikes, on the other hand, could be outlawed because local, state & fed govt is getting pretty upset with wheelies on public roads as well as 100mph+ cop chases…. they only want to quiet my bike, they want to BAN yours! Insurance companies want to BAN sportbikes & are trying to do just that. All they have to do is give some $$ to the right congressman & no more sportbikes.. at least none that will do much more than 100 mph..
          There was a guy last week on some sportbike blasting up RT 55 here in South Jersey. Passed a state trooper @ 128 weaving in & out of cars, riding the shoulder, etc…. crashed directly into the rear of a Toyota RAV 4 that was doing 55mph.. drove the rear bumper & spare tire into the back seat. The rider was “injected” thru the back window into the car & survived with minor injuries. If the person had a kid in the back, the kid would have been killed. No I don’t have any issue with going 100mph+ but the “public” as well as the law are going to come down on sportbikers way before they come after V-twin riders…. besides. lots of cops ride V-twins… you know.. motorcycle cops..
          jus sayin… in my opinion…

          & what does “montrous” & “attrack” mean??

          jus sayin..

          • Tim says:

            Except, when do “they” ever discriminate and pick out one type of bike? Why stop at banning “sportbikes” – whatever that is – when it’s just as easy to ban ALL motorcycles? It’s okay if they ban bikes as long as they don’t ban MY bike, right?

          • Tim says:

            …and, what does “jus” mean?

  14. madfatjake says:

    I live in the uk and have just had 10 years of Harley ownership, the last 3 years admittadly on Buells. I bought a Road King Classic to get me and the better half out for European holidays and weekends, the love affair lasted 6 weeks and we covered 3000 miles, it had to go, it was just too heavy and uncomfortable. I totally get the Harley thing as the social scene they have manufactored is second to none, and in my opinion this is what keeps people buying them. I got shot of the Road King and bought a Kawasaki GTR1400 and wow all of a sudden,speed and comfort were mine. I have just got ride of my 1125r although a fantasic bike is is worth next to nothing and the promised dealer support for the next 10 years is at best appathetic, the Triumph 675 Daytona i traded it in for is a far superior bike and brings a grin every time I go out on it.

  15. Don M. says:

    Why does ANYONE want a V-Twin? My Concours 14 is smoother, MUCH quicker, lighter, cheaper, and will outlast ANY Vtwin. Why pay more, for OLD boring technology?

    • MikeD says:

      I for one like TWINS better than SCREAMERS. The way power is delivered makes all the differene to me.

      Let me be clear tho, TWINS as in the 90* DOHC 4 Valve Heads architecture ones, nothing less than that (well, maybe the ROTAX 60* on the Aprilia RSV Mille).

      What floats my Boat: The way they feel, the whine of the all gear or part gear-part chain cam drive, the racket they make coming out of a corner when u trash it, the power pulses, the induction roar and the tunderous exhaust at WOT.
      1198, RC51, SV1000N and S, TL1000R and S…pictures already flying on my head. Day dreaming is a BLISS… (^_^ ) AAHHH, SWEET BIKE KOOL-AID.

      I guess that H-D Riders feel the same way too about their hardware, just a diferent kind of hardware (Tractor Technology at Indy Car Prices) that’s their thing.
      W/E rocks ur boat, if ur happy and having a good time thats what really matters here, the rest is vaporware.

    • Kent says:

      My Concours 14 is smoother, quicker lighter yadayadayada……..but totally lacks any “CHARACTER”, sorry Don.
      TLR, RC51, Road King, KTM single (past and current rides)……these bikes stand out, and are a blast to ride. I fail to understand the inline 4 mentality. I know they are the weapon of choice for the racer or wanna-be racers, but I’m talking for the street. I absolutely hate being just the same as the next guy/bike.

      • madfatjake says:

        CHARACTER ?????? At £8000 cheeper that’s a big price for character.

      • MikeD says:

        We should BAN the word CHARACTER from being used next to motorcycles.
        They all have it (more or less of it), it depends wich kind of and how much “character” tickles ur pickle.

  16. MGNorge says:

    I thought I’d add that all through my riding carreer, 46 years, it was the engine in a bike that made a motorcycle. Save for Harley and a few other brands, all the various models had their own engine design. In other words, a Honda 160 was not a 125 punched out. This has largely remained the same over the years. With Harley using the same basic engine, with minor differences, it sort of blurrs things in my mind toward them. It would be like going to a car dealer and selecting from various cars all using a Chevy 350. No need to look under the hood, they’re all the same. Since I focus on the engine in a motorcycle all the Harley models seem so alike. Yes, some have bags, some have high windsheilds, some have low or none. I’m sure it’s in the interest in providing just what the customer wants but the engines are pretty much the same, visually so especially. Myself, I would have welcomed some other engine types from H-D. The sameness just doesn’t work with the way I view bikes I guess?

  17. rosas1300 says:

    I had a honda cruiser and totally get the americanism and culture of cruisers; however, Harley will always be Harley. I’ve since moved on to an ST1300. I started riding in the year 2000 and always thought when Harley designs something like this or that then I’ll get one! Well Harley won’t change and most like its antique look and its obvious others like it too. What I don’t get is why Victory makes Harley clones!

  18. Pete says:

    Okay I just have to jump in here. I’m a Harley rider and I currently have two in my garage along with a Honda 750. I also had a BMW R1200GS for about 5 years. I have traveled extensively all over the USA and Canada including a trip to Alaska and back. The stereotype that Harley riders are a bunch of posers who rarely ride very far is simply a lot of BS! Anyone who hasn’t noticed that the majority of bikes loaded down with camping gear and traveling around the country every summer are Harleys, probably hasn’t done a whole lot of riding themselves. On my Alaska ride I saw all brands and types but still by a large margin the most numerous bike on the Alcan is Harley Davidson. I also saw plenty of Harleys on the “Top of the World” and “Denali” highways. These are long, long, dirt and gravel roads. Riding the old Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica last summer the same story, mostly Harleys, second Goldwings, then a few of everything else. Go to the Iron Butt Association website and see how many Harley riders have done 1000 miles in a day! There are plenty of Harley guys that RIDE!

    Also: (putting on my flame proof suit) This may not be quite as important to the married guys, but chicks dig Harleys! And that gentlemen may be reason enough to own one! 🙂

  19. mark says:

    The thing that bugs me the most about Harley’s, and its not really about the bike, its the large number of Harley riders that don’t wave back to non-Harley riders, not to mention being rude bastards towards other motorists. That type of attitude only hurts motorcycling’s image in the 4 wheeled world. S**t, I give a friendly wave to CARS when I’m out on my bike for a weekend ride. I think its a good idea to foster a friendly image towards someone driving a vehicle that outweighs me and my bike by a minimum of 3 to 4 times.

    • Steve says:

      I ride a Harley & wave to anyone riding anything two-wheeled, scooters, dual sport, etc

      I remember back in 1975 I was riding my Kawasaki 250 F11 Enduro (dual sport) with a Hooker expansion chamber… there was this long haired biker-type that rode a completely chopped & extended Harley I would see around while riding. This guy would not only wave, he would pull the front tire off the ground to show me that he could wheelie too… those were the days…

      I don’t think riders not waving back is limited to Harley riders…. actually, I rarely find a rider that won’t wave back… once in a while… could be a sportbiker, outlaw biker or even Gold Thing rider or Beemer… I don’t let it bother me, especially when so many varied riders do wave…

    • Cranky Bob says:

      I ride both Harley and imported bikes and just about everyone waves back to me. Are you going to judge all Harley riders because you didn’t get acknowleged a few times on the highway? Very sad, indeed.

    • falcodoug says:


      • mark says:

        Bob, re-read my post. I didn’t say I judge all Harley riders. I wave at every bike I pass including Harleys and occasionally the HD guys wave back. I do think there are a fair number of bad ass wanna-be’s on Harley’s that have a shitty attitude towards anyone not on an HD, cars included. A lot of my riding buddies say the same thing. Personally I could care less if they don’t wave back. What does bother me is that type of attitude does nothing to help the general image of motorcycling (just like the guy on a sport bike speeding through traffic cutting off cars).

  20. Kent says:

    Sure are a lot of Harley-phobics out there, get over it.

    • Steve says:

      I agree….

      maybe it’s because motorcycle shops have changed over the years…. you used to be able to go into a shop, any brand shop & hang out… talk to the parts guy about racing, or whatever… talk to the mechanics…. no more. But you can hang out at a Harley dealer… they sort of encourage it too… I think this enviornment brings like minded people together which leads to rides, camaraderie, etc…. which means someone is riding somewhere most of the time so you can easily find people to ride with. I don’t think this is quite as easy if you look for this at your local Honda dealer. The Gold Wingers have a group, & sportbikers develop groups too… because they share the same riding styles, preferences, etc…

      • falcodoug says:

        Your wrong. The only bike riders I have ever recieved the cold shoulder from have been Harley riders. Period. From 1978 until the present time .

  21. paul246 says:

    I’m sick of cruisers, period, no matter what brand or type.

    It was so refreshing whilst touring the UK this summer and seeing actual motorcyclists riding a large variety of bikes, rarely a cruiser. These are the people that ride for the ride itself… didn’t see any of the phoney “bad-ass” types or the myriad of other posers that we are over populated with here.

  22. Dave S. says:

    My wife and I have ridden a GL 1800 Goldwing for the past 9 years. We loved the bike and did a lot of touring (80,000 km). I thought it was time for a new bike so I bought a 2011 Roadglide ultra. The Goldwing is a very efficient motorcycle. Maybe the best bike built.
    But I will say there is an intangible about riding the Harley. There are many things about this bike that I absolutly love. The Wing was great but had no personality. The Roadglide has all the creature comforts of the Wing plus. I have been a Honda fan for years. But Harley has finally made a motorcycle that works for us.

  23. Tom B says:

    I asked a guy once why he bought a Harley. The answer sort of struck me. He said he didn’t have a strong conviction to the brand but his wife really liked the Harley clothing!

    So I guess for some, it’s not just what the rider wants. It also said loads about the success of Harley marketing.

  24. Brian says:

    Neither bike fills me with desire for the product.
    The Harley looks pieced together from aftermarket parts (the Vetter windscreen especially), and the Victory is trying too hard to be artistic.
    Not that I could afford either.

    And the next person that says they like the explosive diarrhea sound that HD’s emit, I’m going to by them a new hearing aid.

  25. Jim says:

    Always thought I’d like to be a motorcycle journalist, but after reading several comparisons in the last few years I’m afraid the job would ruin my sense of judgement, and objectivity.

    Although it wasn’t as painfully obvious in this test (save for the fact the Street Glide is the competition for the Cross Country) most tests go like this…..

    Bike A = better price, better handling, better engine performance


    Harley = nice bike for a Harley, sounds great


    Harley wins.


    • Carl says:

      I totally agree with Jims’ comment. I have ridden a wide variety of motorcycles over the years, including many HD models. As a technology kind of guy, Harley seems to get the win on many comparisons that leave me shaking my head. You almost do not even need to read the article to know the answer. HD needs to redesign their touring machine with the VRod engine on a totally new subframe for those not interested in “Heritage”, but want a competitive USA choice vs the Goldwing, BMW, etc. I too once owned a cruiser, then I actually wanted to go somewhere farther than town.

    • KOTH says:

      I agree, Jim. You see that odd conclusion in many reviews. Gabe’s conclusion here makes no sense.

      There is another online mag that has recently done a similar comparo. That site usually talks to the HD intangibles in its reviews but is objective when calling a winner which is usually not the HD.

      I really want to like HDs as they look great. I rented a 2009 Road King this past summer and thought it handled well and had good brakes. The 96 inch motor was a letdown though and I just can’t get past that. I really had to plan passing trucks on the interstate.

  26. CowboyTutt says:

    I’m probably not adding anything new here. I just bought my first Harley in 09 (a Dyna Street Bob) and hot-rodded the suspension, intake and exhaust right off. What a completely versitile and enjoyable all around bike it is! I let my friend Chase McFarland ride it here (he races Buell’s in AMA) and he said later “that bike works FAR better than it should and the sound is INTOXICATING!” This from a professional racer who never rode a Harley. Later that year, I purchased an 09 Buell 1125 CR (Cafe Racer) and it too with some mods is a remarkable bike.

    The Harley’s fit and finish, build quality and ease of routine maintenance is astonishingly well refined. They have worked all the bugs out of these “tractor motors”.

    And if you want more performance, the HD’s engines have engine builders all over the country who can deliver. Much of the time it only takesa a cam swap, exhaust and intake to make a stock motor run very, very well. Seems to me that has been the case for stock motors for many years from many manufactureres now.

    And a two-valve head with a proper valve job and porting can be pretty competative with a 4 valve head.

    My biggest beef with Harley is how they treated Buell and how they are treating their dealers so it remains to be seen if they get more of my money in the future. Hopefully, Victory does not eat its young.


  27. saddlebag says:

    Gary picks up what I noticed. While there wasn’t a real well done comparson of feature to feature, function to function, what was done all seemed to favor the Victory. Odd then that the Harley was given the nod.

    One thing frequently overlooked by people looking at Touring bikes is dealer network. If you are going to be out away from your normal environment, the knowledge that there may be someone nearby to help if things go awry is worth its weight in gold. Harley has it while the few actual Victory dealers continue to close their doors because of tense relations with the mfg.

    Not that this is the reason it was chosen in this article (in fact I can’t find a reason they picked it), but a genuinely good reason for potential touring riders.

    I am rooting for Victory because I for one am happy that they are building bikes to metric standards that modern countries may actually buy and bring funds back to America. Also, they are appropriating all good things from sport bike R&D and utilizing it on their cruisers i.e. aluminum frames, inverted forks, sufficient ground clearance.

    Furthermore, the bike just exudes the feel of the 50s far more than the Harley. Sure they are both simplistic machines, but the swept look of the Cross Roads really brings vintage styling to mind. The boxy look of the 80s designed Road Glide brings back reminders of AMF, cost cutting, and another year another color HD innovation.

    Victory, treat your dealers and customers right and you will prosper!

  28. Cranky Bob says:

    Victory styling has always left me cold. If they would turn their attention to something other than a cruiser/touring cruiser/hotrod cruiser they might capture a larger audience. Why not, Victory? How about a sportbike or DP machine instead of another stupid cruiser? Please use some imagination a quit giving us the same old junk.

    • Gabe says:

      I asked Victory about this. The answer is that the cost of designing a new motor would be prohibitive, especially considering the pay-off in terms of buyers would be small.

      • LedBoots says:

        This stance by Victory has always left me scratching my head. Polaris makes some of the best performing midrange motors (500cc-800cc) available. I would think the design cost would be minimal to come up with a respectable (ie: Streetable) tranny and chassis. Add to that, polaris’s unmatched capability in ORV design, and you could have one of the most formidable DP bikes ever built.

        In doing so, they would create a market in which they would be the sole Ammerican manufacturer. I would think there would be more than 1 or 2 Americans that would like to own a real American Made, 800cc DP bike.

  29. john r says:

    Reading some of these comments reminds me of one of lifes truisms the young man never thinks of the old man as being wise until he has become the old man. I ride because of the feeling I get when I ride not because of what others might think. I have owned Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Harley. Each was a good motorcycle and I enjoyed them all but the Harley let me lose myself and find the joy of the ride like no other. I will take a good look at the 1600 GT when BMW releases it but it too will be for a different ride than the Harley.

    • Steve says:

      Yeah…. I’m going to check out the new BMW 1600 GLT as well…. if it’s as good in person as it is on paper, BMW might have built a bike that trumps the Gold Wing!

  30. Gary says:

    I prefer the Victory if for no other reason than everyone rides Harley. I am the Anti-Lemming. Add the facts that it is faster, more reliable, has an available centerstand (!) and is supported by a company that actually seems to care about its customers, and I am there. May even trade in my K1200LT. We’ll see.

    • Steve says:

      where are the data to back up your claims Gary?

      Customer satisfaction??

      you’re showing your “I ride a BMW” bias….

    • dan says:

      I have 2 harleys ( fatboy and street glide) currently……..I’ve had other harleys in the past….hondas……yamahas…..and a bmw r1100r………the bmw was the only bike i ever had that leaked oil…..take about customer care, i live near chicago and there is not a bmw dealership within 2 hours driving distance……just spent a month on the rode, put 6,000 miles on my street glide, and it performed perfectly….but if it hadn’t there were dealerships anywhere i found myself

      • nico says:

        try Chicago harley/bmw on the 6900 block of north western avenue “in” the city. they have a small bmw showroom but an extensive service department.

  31. Cal says:

    love em but can’t justify the cost! if it was $3,000 cheaper I could be pursuaded.

  32. ziggy says:

    Q: What’s more exciting, Harley or Victory?

    A: Morphine

  33. Cajun58 says:

    If the Victory could poop German Choclate cake and leaked pure agave tequila I’d be all over that otherwise I’m with Gabe apple pie and scotch would not get me off a Harley.

  34. Al says:

    I can see Todd’s & Mark’s point. It seems every one has a Harley. I did ride a Road King more than a few times and I get the whole Harley “thing”. I enjoyed the RK very much. However, all the copy cat metrics are just as competent even though they don’t have the Harley cachet. Which brings me to my final point. Victory is not going the Harley/Metric route. I’m not bashing the Harleys or Metrics but, I think if Harley had evolved its’ styling it would look like a Vic (maybe in 10-15 yrs?). Besides, Vic’s are made in the U.S. That makes me feel better about it since I will purchase one after a glorious time riding a Cross Roads! What a bike! I look forward to riding with my Harley friends!


  35. Scottie says:

    I don’t think you can add the Wing into the mix. The Wing is a tourer, not a touring cruiser. Personally, I can not and will not have a motorcycle with anything but forward mounted controls and floorboards. That’s just me. And before you start berating me as an old cruiser guy – I’ve kept my stock seat and I’m also a cyclist who can clip off 100 miles on a tiny racing saddle.

    Not a fan of the Vulcan, but it seems that it should have been included here.

    I still don’t understand the need for radio/music on a bike?? Perhaps it’s that I live in Manhattan and I’m just so happy to take in the countryside?

    If Vic had introduced the X-C and X-R a year sooner I’d be on an X-R now rather than my Stratoliner. I love my Strat and it really is the best cruiser of this generation, but Yamaha skimped on storage.

  36. Bob says:

    There are a lot of people who appreciate the values that this country was built on. There are also many who, justifiably, have a great sense of nostalgia for those values. In what other form can one purchase a product that so clearly offers that nostalgia in a competent, well engineered package? A product that traces its lineage directly to the beginning of the previous century, a time not far removed from our parents’ and grandparents’ experience. Harley-Davidson is a powerful piece of Americana. I believe that Harley-Davidson aficionados sense the history of this motorcycle in a way that parallels the history of this country, whether they are completely aware of it or not. I will not begrudge them this. It is part of our shared experience as Americans. Certainly in a hundred years from now, we won’t be buying retro-styled computers that hearken back aesthetically and functionally to those produced in the seventies and eighties by IBM. Considering that as perspective, who can disagree that the very existence of Harley-Davidson represents a profound fortune for us as motorcyclists?

    • Tim says:

      Okay. But would it kill them to innovate once in awhile?

      • Bob says:

        I believe that every model in the Harley Davidosn lineup has been fuel injected for years. What Japanese motorcycle company can make that claim? Just sayin’.

        • Tim says:

          It’s pretty easy to develop FI for your entire model line when they all use the same, 70 year old engine design. EFI is NOT innovation. Criminy, it’s been around for 30 or 40 years. ANd even then HD was drug, kicking and screaming into the EFI world by Federally mandated emissions standards. If they had their way, they’d still have single carburetors and constant loss oiling systems.

    • Brian says:

      So Bob
      Ya goin out to restart the Hudson Car Company?
      Pontiac? Plymouth? Willeys? Indian? Ariel?
      Whats your point, that people only by vehicles because they are an old company?
      Rethink that and get back to us.

    • Zombo says:

      I wonder how many Harley fanboys will feel this way after they start making all of them in India ? It’s a publicly traded company so it’s just a matter of time until they move production to a third world country with no benefits for it’s meagerly paid workers .

  37. gt928 says:

    I’ve owned Harley’s in the past, and though I get it, “it” is just not compelling enough to influence my buying over other more suitable bikes for me. If I wanted to travel cross country with a pillion, neither would get the nod. It would be a Goldwing. I believe part of the “it” for many HD riders / buyers is that they are really conformists. It is a safe pick. Everybody does it. They justify their “individually” by buying a lot of chrome to personalize. It would be just too “out there” to buy anything else. I like Harley’s and if one fit my riding style at a reasonable price point, I would not hesitate to buy one. They are good bikes.

    • mikedard says:

      gt928, I totally agree with you. HD is a safe pick. The friends of mine who have purchased HD’s over the years care less about the engineering and more about the social contact they have with their Harley’s. They hardly ride further than 150 mile a day. They dress up wearing clothes that can’t protect them in a fall but “looks good on them and on their Harley”. Now sadly as they get older they’re falling off their Harley’s at a much greater rate than the 25 year olds and younger on Rice Rockets.

  38. Tom Shields says:

    Style points go to Victory. Its styling is fully integrated from tire to tire, and it looks all of one piece.

    By comparison, the H-D looks like a series of afterthoughts bolted on to something from 1950. Not my cup of tea.

  39. Mike says:

    “not do a straight-ahead nuts-and-bolts comparo, but rather try to see if we could get to the essence of each brand, its ka, as the ancient Egyptians might say.”

    “That’s not exactly comparing appletinis to appletinis, is it?”

    “the full-dress Vision (which arguably would have been a better comparison with the Road Glide)”

    Maybe the ancient Egyptians might understand the logic of having the Road King and Cross Roads in any test since they are not in the same market segment. Because of this I believe the test results/conclusions are unfair to Harley Davidson and Victory……and little, if any value, to most motorcyclists looking for a bike in the actual market segments each of these bikes represent.

    Finally there is that uncomforable feeling one gets when the possibility that a desired and predictable conclusion might have been a consideration for the two bikes selected for this test

    Please advise us if/when the Victory Vision and Harley Road King comparison test will be on the schedule.

    Thank you


  40. Mickey says:

    I was just at a Victory dealer yesterday and sat on the very bike you tested. Seemed nicely made to me. Although these are not the types of bikes I am interested in, I don’t mind stopping in a dealership and looking at the new stuff, no matter who makes it.I also stop at Ducati dealers and look, and I’m not interested in buying one of those either.

    I don’t think either of those bikes could get me to move off my ST1300 which goes fast, stops fast, handles well, has shaft drive and a smooth liquid cooled 4 cyl motor which eats up miles on any kind of paved road you throw at it while carrying 2 up with luggage, but I do recognize there is a considerable market for bikes such as these (and the new Kawasaki bagger which I’d probably choose over either of these were I in the market for such a bike), and glad to see the mfgs not ignoring this market.

    Nice write up..and you’re America,and most every other part of the world, in this type of bike, Harley’s rule…even if they are not necessarily the best bikes in their respective classes. Hard to argue with sales figures.

  41. Steve says:

    The same arguments people use against buying a Harley over a Victory or any other brand can be used against any bike as well… for instance… why buy a Ducati 848 or 1200, or similar (more expensive) Italian bike when you can buy a Honda CBR, Triumph, Suzuki GSXR, etc….

    & when it comes to owning & riding a Harley… which I do…. I like them for a variety of reasons… #1 being I don’t want a sport bike or a sport tourer… I want a sit up bike with windshiled, bags & a motor that pulls like a tractor (unfortunately, it’s suspended like a tractor too). I want something comfortable for 2 up riding. I want a bike that has a huge dealer network so wherever I am, I’m close to a dealer & believe it or not, I only use the dealer for regular service work..I haven’t had any quality issues. Now… if I could own 2-3 bikes, I wouldn’t mind having a KTM 690 Duke or a BMW R1200, or maybe a Triumph 675 Speed triple…. but since I am not yet retired, I really don’t have the time to ride a bunch of different bikes. So the H-D suits me fine. I dislike the heat that comes off the right rear cylinder & will probably get the FI tweaked to enrichen the mixture to lessen the heat. I’m still waiting for H-D to release a liquid cooled bagger & will most likely buy it once they do.
    I am not a “Harley only” kinda rider… but I do appreciate the bikes, the quality, the dealer network, etc…

    I know there are Gold Wing & BMW riders that are just as or more vehement about their chosen brand of bike.. so the stereotypical H-D riders are not alone.

    just my opinion…

  42. Chris says:

    A major part of buying into the Harley mystique deals with “what will people think of me”. And if you’re that concerned, by all means buy a Harley. Me, i’d buy a Harley because of the way it sounds, the way it feels, its looks, its history. But that whole “being part of a brotherhood” thing? I served 4 years in the Marines. THAT is a brotherhood.

  43. Old town hick says:

    “What is it about Harleys, anyway?”

    Yes, will others please help me understand why these anachronistic painted-and-chromed motorized boat anchors are so popular? I have owned many bikes from Japan, Germany, and Italy, and I have ridden several H-D models…and I just don’t get it. It is as if Harley owners have drunk the magic cool-aid that renders them unable to appreciate ACTUAL MOTORCYCLE PERFORMANCE like handling, braking, and acceleration.

    PT Barnum was especially correct when it comes to much of the American motorcycle market: There’s a sucker born every minute.

    • Steve says:

      same can be said about your bike preference Old Town…. I could just as easily ask you how you can stand leaning over to grab the clip-on handlebars… how you have no room to store any “stuff” & how any passenger’s knees will be up next to her ears if she’s not too afraid to ride on the back of a bike that can do 0-100 in 1st gear…

      But I don’t say that… I respect the fact that you prefer a different type bike to ride… so go ahead & keep riding it….

      You don’t have to “get it”…

      • Old town hick says:

        Steve, your first paragraph might be relevant IF any of the bikes I have owned were like how you described…but none of them were/are. None had clip-ons, most had room to store my stuff, one or two (out of 17) were not really passenger appropriate, and none of them went 100 mph in first gear.

        It is “OK” to like Harleys. I just wonder why so many people do.

  44. Tom Barber says:

    I have pondered the Harley question numerous times over the decades, and each time, I have reached the conclusion that the appeal has nothing whatsoever to do with the physical, tangible aspects of the machine per se, but rather has entirely to do with the image that is associated symbolically with the machine and the brand.

    Thanks in large part to movies such as “The Wild One” and “Easy Rider”, the Harley brand has become synonymous with an image that many people like to associate themselves to: an image of freedom and independence to the point of rebellion. I am convinced that the broad appeal of the Harley Davidson brand is almost entirely due to this image, and has essentially nothing to do with any tangible aspects of the machine, except for the minor fact that appearance eschews a modern, civilized look. The violent shaking of the engine goes along with that image, and of course many (I said many, not all …) Harley owners install ridiculously loud pipes, which they justify on the phony basis that it is essential to their safety, while they ignore almost all other commonly accepted safety practices to include getting proper training, wearing a helmet (which they claim is dangerous due to the obstruction of vision), and not riding immediately after having consumed a six-pack of beer (which they claim has no effect on them). The true reason that they install the loud pipes is simply that it compounds the image of rebellion and bad behavior, because it irritates other people immensely.

    In other words, it is all about projecting an image that says:

    “Look at me, I’m a bad boy and I refuse to grow up. You’re not the boss of me.”

    • Tom Barber says:

      I should probably add that the reason that so many people are attracted to the aforementioned symbolism has a great deal to do with the fact that in modern civilization, people has less opportunity to express their individuality through their means of making their living. We think of ourselves as small cogs playing small roles in a gigantic machine over which we have no influence. In modern civilization there are many rules that we are expected to follow as individuals. We are expected to moderate our own behaviors to conform to the norm. For many people this is not easy, hence the tendency toward rebellion.

      • BoxerFanatic says:

        The tendency toward rebellion is just getting them to buy the same product as every other wanna-be, so-called rebel.


        Buying a bike purely on image is just continuing to conform to another set of rules, and being a cog in another machine, and just paying lip-service to the machine being named “rebellion”, when in fact it really isn’t much of a rebellion.

    • says:

      Image drives most bikes purchased in the US not just HD’s.

      The attributes the buyer covets are ones he may not have achieved.

      Harley: non-conformist, anti-social (yet rides in packs dressed like everyone else)
      BMW: conformist, smug, condescending (their riders have normally achieved this prior to purchase)
      Sportbike: skilled, bravado (with highest accident/death rate)
      KLR: non-conformist, loner (riders seem to take pride in their dorkness)
      Scooter: no other choice/oh well (DUI)

    • scorpio says:

      Didn’t Brando’s “Johnny” ride a Triumph in “The Wild One?” So do I (2007 Bonneville), but more because it’s versatile and entertaining to ride at speeds that won’t sacrifice my license, than out of longing for a time that was before mine anyway. But I get the cache thing, having owned ten Japanese bikes prior, and never experiencing this satisfaction of authenticity before. My dream bike is another Bonneville, only bobbed, or maybe a Scrambler set up as an ode to Ted Simon. H-D makes a much more refined product these days, but I’d much rather go my own way.

  45. jerrylee says:

    I don’t own a H-D anymore but rented one this summer and I can say even though they look the same as my 2003 they have made a lot of little changes that results in a much nicer handling and performaning motorcycle.

    As they say “if you have to ask you just don’t get it”. I might add “if you don’t try it you will miss the point”. Not my style of riding anymore but for traveling the great American West for a week or two they are hard to beat.

    Victory is making a nice bike and if I were in the market might consider one but in the end would probably be back to H-D.

  46. MGNorge says:

    That would be an interesting additional test. Add the Goldwing into the mix for an even more interesting comparo. I think you get the Harley look from others simply because it’s a look that a whole lot of people want. But taking basically a cruiser type motorcycle and adding touring goodies to them is going to have them looking similar and a large part of that similarity comes from the V-twin engine. Some people just got to have ’em. My latest bike has one but it’s turned the right way! 🙂

    Can anyone break the strangle hold Harley has on so much of the US market? I’d like to think so if only for diversity’s sake. I’m one who does not like to look like everyone else riding by me or dress in a fashion that tells everyone there’s little doubt as to what brand motorcycle I ride. Yes there is a vast universe of motorcycles out there and it would be nice to see more riders lose they myopia.

    • Gabe says:

      Honestly, the ‘Wing is a nice bike, but it’s as heavy as these bikes, doesn’t go that much faster and has less range and carrying capacity. Better on a twisty road and smoother, though. In any case, you can’t buy them for 2011.

      • MGNorge says:

        You’re correct Gabe, but the Wing doesn’t seem to be that much heavier from the specs I just looked up. That it can’t carry quite as much may be an issue with some, I’d bet it is sufficient for most. I have two neighbors/buddies who have GL1800s and these are their only bikes and they use them for everything plus long distance trips. I would think the same usage as either of these two. That’s why I think a comparison would be very interesting.

  47. Jay Mack says:

    I’d get the Goldwing.

  48. Tom says:

    when I was a kid in northern Minnesota in the early 60s I saw some cool Harleys and Indians and some pretty cool riders in jeans and leather who didn’t give a damn about refinement and style. They cared about going fast and having some fun and not many parts falling off their bikes. What bike would make me feel that way today? Hard to say, that’s a tough call. Every bike today is polished and refined, “perfect” and styled. I think a well used speed triple, or a clapped out new Z1000, would put me back into that time and place… Probably not a Harley

  49. BATMAN says:

    Seems like if you would have added the taller shield on the Victory, you would have a $2,500 cheaper, better bike. Oh that’s right, the rear trunk doesn’t open to the side like the Ultra. Sorry.

  50. Tim Melnick says:

    Bless your tiny hearts – and did you ever consider the wild idea that these machines are meant for TRANSPORT

  51. mechelaar says:

    Well that was a waste of time. Very few Harley riders will ever consider looking anywhere else other than a Harley JUST BECAUSE “but it’s a Harley” reason. And people who have their minds open, will most likely be turned off by the Vetter-type fairing. All in all, just like the rest of these “comparisons” it didn’t make any definitive statements.

  52. mark says:

    I guess I don’t get it. If I wanted a Lazyboy recliner on wheels I’d get a Goldwing. Buying 50 year (+/-) old technology doesn’t make sense to me, even if its been refined and updated over the years. And it also makes no sense to me that so many manufactures have to ape the Harley “Look”. If I wanted a bike that looked like a Harley, I’d buy a Harley, not some wanna-be look-alike. Which brings me to my final point – I think a lot of Harley riders are bad boy posers that only care about the look. Let the flaming begin.

  53. todd says:

    Did you consider the “now I’m just like everyone else” problem/benefit with choosing the Harley? I’d rather be an individual than join the ranks. How would a Gold Wing compare with these? Oh wait, they aren’t built in the USA any more…


    • Jim says:

      The Wing loses every time for me because it is so uncomfortable, and “car like”. The Harley loses because it is not as comfortable, or fun to ride as the Victory.
      If we are throwing any touring bike into the mix then the Victory loses out to the R1200GS/A BMW. The performance, handling, comfort (I’m 6’4″ 300lbs), bad/off pavement ability, etc, make them the best touring bikes on the planet as far as I’m concerned.
      Hopefully the new Yamaha Super Tenere will be as competent as the GS, for a better price, and dealer availability.

  54. Mr. Dirtrider says:

    I recently rented a couple of tourning bikes, just to see what they were like. First I rented a Goldwing, then I rented an HD Electraglide.

    One bike was unbeleivable, lots of comfort and performance.

    The other had a more pleasing exhaust note.

    • Trpldog says:

      I had two Harley Powered sportbikes – Buells. Talk abbout a weird mix. I found it increasingly difficult to continue to ride a sportbike-framed cement mixer.
      But, for a touring bike, I guess a cement mixer motor works.

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