Victroy Cross Country Tour Review

2015 Victory Cross Country Tour in the Twisties
Victory Cross Country Tour

The Victory Cross Country Tour is the Gordon Gekko of the motorcycle world. Like Gekko’s deception on Wall Street, so it goes on Main Street with the revamped 2015 Cross Country Tour.

One look at Victory’s sharp-lined machine that some refer to as spaceship-like, and the typical rider thinks two words – heavy and slow.

But Victory pulled its massive resources from parent-company Polaris Industries, and designed a tourer that not only offers agility, but speed in ways not many other motorcycles at over 900 lbs (wet, sans rider) can deliver.

After four weeks of intensive testing (thank you Kyle Clack!) that included over 2000 miles of commuting, weekend touring, and spirited riding while keeping up with sportbikes, I can attest the Cross Country Tour is beyond capable with the correct hands at the controls.

It all begins with the engine; since the 106 Freedom 50-degree V-Twin became standard on all 2011 Victory motorcycles, I was impressed. One read of my 2012 Victory High Ball review attests this.

Through the years, this “other” American V-twin only improved, garnering revised fueling and power. The 2015 Cross Country Tour arrives with the latest 106/6 Freedom, which produces 110 ft/lbs of asphalt-commanding torque with the stock exhaust.

The stock setup doesn’t produce much sound until around 3000 rpm, but this was somewhat of a blessing for touring – a time when loud gets annoying. And even at 3000 rpm, the sound is perfect –  ideal considering this is the sweet spot of rpm for highway cruising around 75-80 mph.

Regardless of weight, the Cross Country Tour’s engine cranks out enough oomph for easy passing in sixth gear while strapped with a passenger, or, if the maniacal attitude surfaces, scrapping the optimally positioned chrome protective bars beneath the saddlebags.

When the latter persona surfaces, some negatives surface, such as no initial bit from the front brake when loading the 43mm upside-down cartridge forks (think sportbike!) for optimal tire contact, or those saddlebag-protective bars grounding out. But seriously, how many will truly ride the Cross Country Tour to its utmost sporting ability?

Let’s save those thoughts for later and get to the exact customer Victory pursues with its Cross Country Tour – the tourer.

Most of my test notes were completed after I set out with my father for our first father/son trip on my 35th birthday in late September. The route took us through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia as we trekked from Northeastern Pennsylvania to Skyline Drive.

2015 Victory Cross Country Tour Review, left sideDuring the three-day trip, the temps were descending daily, and I knew the heated grips and seat – along with the ability to close the lower fairing vents and suck up some heat from the engine – would keep me toasty.

Before the true riding began, my father – riding a stroked Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail –  and I had to crank through some of Northeast Pennsylvania’s gorgeous highways to make it to the dealership – Rollin’ Fast in New Jersey – for the Cross Country Tour’s 500-mile service.

I had picked the bike up two days earlier with just over 100 on it, and forgot the service was needed before touring southbound. But throughout the test – before and after breaking it in – I never had one hiccup from the engine or slick-shifting transmission – though we’d welcome the optional heel shifter as stock equipment.

The trip to Rollin’ Fast gave me my first taste of longer miles on the highway. The Victory provides absolute comfort expected of such a large bike, mostly from the cushy seat and wind protection from the huge windscreen and fairings.

The Cross Country Tour’s seat is only 26.25-inches from the ground – the lowest height in its class. Seat height on machines pushing 1000+ pounds (with rider) has always presented issues for shorter riders. But no worries here; even the shortest of riders will be able to anchor both feet down comfortably.

I frown at windscreens one must look through, but when that morning chill or highway air is blocked, browsing through is not a problem. An adjustable screen would have been welcome for the back roads or hotter weather. The other option would be to purchase a smaller screen similar to the one on the standard Cross Country.

Besides the huge windscreen that was just a bit lower than the top of my helmet, the upper fork-mounted fairing’s wide design helps the comfort level, flowing air smoothly around the rider even at triple-digit speeds.

The Cross Country Tour utilizes the Victory Comfort Control System (VCCS), which features adjustable upper and lower air controls to manage airflow. Simply put, keep them open when it’s hot and closed when it’s cold or raining.

When the lower air controls positioned ahead of the spacious adjustable floorboards are closed, they prevent any airflow from hitting the lower legs – perfect for riding in the cold and the annoying constant air to the legs on the highway. But if it gets warm, simply reach down to the easily accessible lever, and open the vents.

The VCCS’ upper air controls are two clear-plastic wind deflectors positioned under the main fairing. These can be positioned to offer full air flow or – when closed – prevent air from hitting the shoulders and chest. These mid-fairing wind deflectors are extremely useful when it’s raining, helping to deflect the wet stuff. When closed on the highway, these also provided further comfort at highway speeds due to blocked air.

Like the lower fairings, these upper air controls look and feel cheap, but as with many things on this monstrous tourer, function reigns over form.

The lower fairings each have a tiny compartment for quickly stashing away things like your phone and wallet. But be warned – the left compartment opened on me when I encountered a huge bump, and I lost about 20 gas receipts.

The left compartment also features a plug for an iPod/iPhone/MP3. Unfortunately, it’s for pre-iPhone 5 models. I did find a few of my older iPods, and was able to utilize the plug.

The iPod/iPhone/MP3 attachment compliments the standard AM/FM/Weather radio that utilizes four KICKER Premium speakers – two in the front fairing and two besides the passenger back rest on the trunk. I never had an issue with the sound, which was audible at highway speeds up to around 80. After that, things began to break up. The volume also adjusts to the speed, and the Cross Country Tour has a huge antenna out back that helped provide clarity when listening to channels.

2015 Victory Cross Country Tour ReviewAll the radio controls are easy to reach on a simple panel located on the left handlebar. The panel’s design is somewhat crude, but again, functionality reigns. There is also a similar setup on the right side of the handlebar, but it features the cruise control.

The cruise control worked flawlessly, and is set up like a car – set your speed, and then accelerate/decelerate with the slight push of a buttons. Over 2014, I completed nearly 15,000 of just touring, and the Victory Cross Country Tour was the only bike I tested with cruise control. I don’t know how I lived without it, especially on those days where I was riding over 600 miles.

Heated grips are nothing new for me – all my personal ones except the race bikes have them – and the Cross Country Tour’s performed flawlessly. They simply have two settings, and the low was sufficient even for temps in the lower 40s.

But the jewel of staying warm came from the heated seat (both rider and pillion). Like the gloves, the seat also has a low and high setting, and provided much warmth for my bottom. But be warned – reaching the toggle switch to turn them on is a PITA, especially while donning winter riding gloves.

Commuting – especially in my Northeast Pennsylvania environment – is no chore on a large motorcycle. But the Victory’s design allows for much agility around town, regardless of the long 65.7” wheelbase.

The bike looks long – and feels extra long for the pilot –  but rides like it has a shorter wheelbase. This is very noticeable at parking-lot speeds when doing things like gassing up every 180 miles (pushed it over 200 once, but only had about a half gallong remaining out of the 5.8-gallon capacity).

Speaking of this, the gas tank’s opening initially gave me trouble, and I spilled gas a few times. You quickly learn to trickle in the fuel so you don’t make a mess. Later, I spoke with officials at Victory and was told to simply insert the pump nozzle all the way down the right side of the opening, allowing full flow until the pump shuts off.

Though the Cross Country Tour is agile at slow speeds and provides solid comfort on the highways, where it really shows its true deceptive character is in the twisties.

The Cross Roads Tour’s non-adjustable 43mm front fork offers much feedback, providing an optimal mix of rebound and damping for the back roads. Even when aggressively loading the front end I never bottomed out.

Part of the Tour’s sportier attitude is due to the 5.1-inch front-wheel travel, which is short for a tourer. Though short, comfort is not sacrificed, the Victory churning out smooth mile after mile on the highways.

Rear suspension duties are handled by a hidden monoshock with air adjust – a feature found on many of the Cross Country Tour’s largest competitors. To make things easier on the rider, Victory includes a chart in the right saddlebag near the air-adjust valve. Using an air pump (don’t ever use compressed air due to blowing out), I adjusted the rear suspension for my setups, whether solo, solo with loaded bags, or two up.

The rear suspension has 4.7 inches of travel, which was optimal across all riding situations when the rear shock was properly filled with air. I made a mistake of riding two-up with loaded bags and the air adjust set on solo, and my passenger wasn’t too happy.

The Cross Country Tour’s suspension is further complimented by Dunlop Elite 3 rubber – 130/70R18 up front and a 180/60R16 out back. These tires provided excellent traction and feedback in a variety of riding situations, including one stint in about four hours of heavy rain.

Be warned when enjoying sportier situations – the floorboards will scrape. The first few times the floorboards began sparking, it was scary, considering my foot slipped off and upset the suspension. This was mostly because I was using the floorboards like mid controls, keeping the ball of my foot down for a feel of balance. This kept my heel dangling a bit, hence why it would contact the ground and cause the suspension to become upset.

And when really pushing it, I touched down the rear saddlebag crash bars. This is tough to do, though, unless you don’t have the correct air in the rear Fox shock.

Stopping the behemoth Victory Cross Country Tour may seem like a chore, but the Spirit Lake, Iowa, company wisely choose a dual-disc brake setup up front and ABS.

The setup – two 300mm discs are squeezed by four-piston calipers up front, and a single 300mm disc by a two-piston caliper out back – is further paired with ABS.

The front brake lacks feel and initial bite when loading the front tire for optimal traction, but under emergency situations a handful can quickly slow the bike down. The addition of aftermarket steel brake lines over the stock ones (rubber over steel braided) may be the simple solution for lack of brake feel.

2015 Victory Cross Country Tour Review, left sideAs for the rear, stomp on the huge brake pedal and you shall receive. The rear impressed more than once in some staged emergency-type situations such as slamming on the rear brakes at triple-digits speeds in the rain. The ABS obviously aided in these situations, though compared to some competitors heavy pulsating is felt throughout the rear pedal and front lever.

While touring, cargo space was never an issue. The rear saddlebags hold a combined 21.3 gallons of cargo space. Add the foolproof top trunk and front compartments, and the Cross Country Tour yields 41.1 gallons of space. During my touring trip, I had enough room to pack an extra lid for some open-face freedom on Skyline Drive. Tour with the Arai RX-Q and roam Skyline with the HJC CL-JET – a perfect situation, and the spacious cargo room allowed for this.

Besides ample cargo space, the touring amenities are highlighted by the simple things, such as three 12V chargers – one each in dash, left fairing compartment, rear trunk – mirrors that give a wide view, and a classical-styled dash layout featuring white gauges (fuel, speedometer, rpm, voltage) and a digital box that includes time, gear indicator, degrees, two trip meters and odometer.

The larger heated seat also provided much comfort, and allowed for some moving room to readjust the posture on highway rides of over 400 miles. This seat comfort carries over to the passenger, who also enjoys arm a padded backrest and small arm rests, along with spacious floorboards that are height-adjustable by two inches.

With a starting price of $21,999, it – and the equally priced Magnum – is the second highest-priced motorcycle in the 2015 Victory lineup (Ness Magnum is $22,999). This comes under the base prices of comparable Harley-Davidson models, including the 2015 Ultra Limited ($26,099) and Electra Glide Ultra Classic ($23,249).

The 2015 Victory Cross Country Tour is without a doubt a bargain, but with the lower price arrives some things that may annoy people, such as sloppy clutch and electrical wiring – especially near the rear cylinder – and the cheaper look of the lower fairings.

But if you can get over this – and are a fan of the Cross Country Tour’s controversial “spaceship” styling – this is definitely a bike to check out.

Remember, under all that clothing is one of the best handling and most powerful mile-eating tourers available today. In the world of the Victory Cross Country Tour, deception trumps all, and function reigns over form.

Riding Style:

Photography by Jason Healey

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