Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition Test
When the first Victory motorcycle emerged from the Spirit Lake, Iowa assembly line on Independence Day 1998, the level of anticipation and curiosity was palpable.
Many companies have tried and failed to compete with the juggernaut from Milwaukee, so no one knew if Polaris, a company famous for building snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, was up to the monumental task.
Fifteen years later, Victory has answered that question authoritatively. Simply surviving the Great Recession has been an accomplishment for Victory, given the hit that custom motorcycle sales took a few years ago. However, it is the level of desirability and functionality that Victory has established that forges a bright outlook for the future of the brand.
This credibility is enhanced by the expanding line tendered by Victory, from an assortment of cruisers to tourers and baggers. With all of its bikes propelled by the muscular and modern Freedom 106/6 motor- though specifically tuned for different applications – Victory has wisely exploited its powerplant, employing it in various ways.
While Harley-Davidson is celebrating its 110th year with a pleasing array of models with special livery, the Cross Country Tour Limited Edition is the only Victory recognizing the company’s crystal anniversary. The striking Antares Red (named after a supergiant star in the Scorpius constellation) over gloss black paint job with gold pinstriping – the same combination as the Victory V92C that first rolled off the line – is only the most visible aspect of what makes this 150-piece Limited Edition model special.
From a riding standpoint, the Cross Country Tour Limited Edition is no different from the standard model, which is to say it is an outstanding touring mount. The 106 cubic inch motor is just what you need to power around a touring bike that will likely have a passenger aboard and its 41+ gallons of cargo space occupied.
Despite being cooled by air and oil, rather than antifreeze, the Freedom 106/6 powerplant has a much more modern than traditional American feel. Each cylinder gets an overhead camshaft with self-adjusting cam chains, as well as four valves with hydraulic lifters. This is not a motor trying to present itself as anything but contemporary.
The balance of the 50-degree V-twin limits its vibration to an unobtrusive pulse and the large displacement (1731cc for the metric-minded) has abundant power that peaks at 106 ft/pounds of torque – two attributes we associate with bikes from overseas. That much muscle can be a negative, if not carefully managed.
Victory has tuned this version of the Freedom 106/6 to be deliberately beefy off idle, and then build into a robust midrange. You will not have to shift the six-speed transmission all that often, unless you choose to, as over-rev is decent.
When it does come time to shift, those accustomed to riding with floorboards will notice the absence of a heel-toe shifter. Yes, you upshift with your toe and the transmission is slick enough to accommodate that style, but we prefer the operation of heel-toe shifting on a big touring cruiser. A trip to Victory’s accessory catalog reveals a factory heel shifter add-on.
Matching the power nicely is the long-wheelbase chassis with a relaxed rake. You want a touring bike to be rock-solid on the open road, and the Cross Country Tour obliges. Crosswinds are not a problem due to an effective aerodynamic profile, and when the bike is at its weight limit, you have 1360 pounds gluing the versatile Dunlop Elite 3 tires (mounted on special billet wheels) to the pavement.
Handling in the canyons is steady as she goes. Don’t expect to make quick line changes, though any redirections will be solidly implemented. The pullback bars are extremely comfortable and give just the right amount of leverage to muscle the Cross Country Tour around with confidence. Cornering clearance is more generous than you would expect, so you have the option of pushing harder when threatening weather or darkness compels you to do so.
Putting nearly 66 inches between the axles, there is plenty of room for the operator and passenger. The Cross Country Tour is just short of a full dresser, but the passenger will not feel slighted. A top-box mounted backrest (with custom 15th Anniversary stitching) and floorboards puts the bike in the luxury category, as does the Limited Edition’s custom cut and sewn seats, which are unquestionably comfortable over the long haul.
We like the abbreviated frame-mounted fairing and lowers, which have a number of adjustable vents that allow you to customize the airflow to your preferences and conditions. Put a little time into them and you will get excellent results. Heated seats and handgrips mean colder days are as welcome as the balmy time of the year.
On the 15th Anniversary Limited Edition version, the cockpit is enhanced. In addition to the standard audio system (with iPhone integration), you also get a Garmin GPS system, access to XM radio and Kicker speakers. Additional chrome is added to the package, with the shiny stuff on the radio and cruise controls, switch cube, various racks and rails, the engine and sprocket covers, fender trim, and fuel cap.
Whether or not you want to ante up the additional $8000 Victory wants for the 15th Anniversary Limited Edition is purely a personal decision. Upping the price of the Victory Cross Country Tour to four quarters less than $30,000 certainly puts it into the elite status of motorcycles, and in the same price category as the exclusive Indian Motorcycles that Polaris also builds.
Even without the bling and welcome accessories, the Victory Cross Country Tour is a distinguished motorcycle for travelling the country. Comfort and performance roll along hand-in-hand, and there’s not a thing wrong with the standard bike’s appearance.
Having said that, the Victory 15th Anniversary Cross Country Tour Limited Edition is unquestionably something special and will make those transcontinental trips just that much more gratifying. Think fast, as you only have 150 opportunities to grasp the golden pinstriping.
Photography by Don Williams