Non-conformity ain’t what it used to be. Harley-Davidson motorcycles spent decades holding the torch for rebel outlaws and angry young men, but the world—and the motorcycle universe—is a different place in 2007. Now favored by weekend warriors with disposable income, Harley’s evolving demographic has cast the Motor Company in a more mainstream light. At the same time, there is a migration of riders from pure cruisers to touring cruisers.
Victory’s attempt to take a larger market share involves a slick, custom-looking, clean sheet design that skirts the current trend of retro styling with a touch of flush, modern cues. By incorporating more streamlined surfacing textures, flowing lines, and uncluttered hardware, Victory’s Kingpin Tour offers a slightly more forward-looking, somewhat less-nostalgic alternative to an equivalent Harley-Davidson. The Kingpin Tour seeks those who can afford a premium-priced package that delivers on the road what it promises on the showroom floor.
While touring on the Kingpin, traditionalist Victory riders might feel reassured by the bike’s air-cooled, V-twin, 100 ci powerplant (that’s 1634cc for the metric-minded). Although externally finned and seemingly uncomplicated, inside is a four-valve, overhead cam design coupled with electronic fuel injection, a non-Luddite response to the air-cooled configuration. Power from the smooth-running, counterbalanced Freedom enginenever feels lacking, and provides healthy thrust at low rpm, accompanied by a willingness to rev to its otherwise unremarkable 5,500 rpm redline. Peak torque occurs just past 2,400 rpm, encouraging early upshifts that extend the cruising range.
Fuel stops, however, might not be a completely unwelcome task; the Kingpin’s saddle has a tendency to press against the rider, which becomes tiresome on long rides. Lifting the left foot from the floorboard invariably produces smooth shifts, and the six forward gears are well-spaced—if a bit long, in keeping with the motorcycle’s county-hopping mission. (Click image to enlarge)
The tire arrangement (130mm up front, and 180mm at the back) is somewhat aggressive, but not over the top. Unlike its sporty siblings, such as the Victory Hammer S (which boasts 70mm more manhood at the rear), the Kingpin Tour’s configuration lends presence to the bike without getting too much in the way of turning. Though some initial effort is required to motivate the tallish Kingpin in becoming more diagonal, the bike provides no surprises, except for some standard-issue peg scraping during more assertive cornering.
Handling gets trickier when the 22 gallons worth of storage is filled, particularly the trunk sitting behind the passenger’s back support. The Kingpin’s suspension is firm but comfortable. Ergonomics, with the exception of the somewhat abusive seat, are relaxed and legs-forward in the grand tradition of cruiser-based touring bikes. (Click image to enlarge)
As anyone who has spent extended time on two wheels knows, windscreen height and angle is crucial to avoiding turbulence. Riders of average stature should find a decent, though not eye-of-the-storm, calmness from the stock windshield and lower deflectors until about 75 mph, at which point volume and wind levels rise considerably. There’s protection enough to hear the optional XM Satellite Radio speakers, though audiophiles may be tempted to abandon all musical hope and embrace the natural sounds of the great outdoors (while avoiding, of course, the roar of passing 18-wheelers).On the topic of options, Victory follows in Harley’s footsteps with a plethora of customizable parts and accessories with the goal of creating flashier, prettier bikes, while raising its motorcycles’ desirability through branding. Victory is positioning itself as a major player in the almost-custom market.
For a solution to the aforementioned seating issue, for instance, look no further than the 131-page accessory catalogue. The book features several aftermarket seating options, along with such goodies as trick exhaust systems and chromed-out components.
While the Kingpin Tour provides an otherwise comfortable and involving ride for medium journeys, one should not confuse it with an ultra-tourer, such as Honda’s Gold Wing. In the grand scheme of butt-numbing, globetrotting bikes, the Kingpin Tour is better suited for shorter jaunts than longer journeys. Smooth, well constructed, and freshly styled, it sits in a well-earned niche as a domestic off-the-shelf motorcycle with enough presence to roll with the boys from neighboring Wisconsin. Say what you will about non-conformity, Victory offers compelling alternatives to blending with the crowd. And, if their upcoming luxury tourer is as radically styled as its concept sketches indicate, Victory will soon be strengthening its position as a growing company with bold, iconoclastic products.