Leaving no marketing stone unturned in its zealous mission to close the cruiser gap, Victory’s latest is the 2013 Judge, available in Suede Nuclear Sunset (orange) and wearing five-spoke wheels that actually do conjure up Pontiac’s famed special-edition GTO of the same name. Teasing wildly and throwing off the veils cattily in the lead-up to its introduction, the Judge plays fast and loose with the term “all-new.” If a bike that uses the same frame, swingarm, engine and gearbox as Victory’s Vegas (which has been around the block many times) can be considered virginal, then that’s what the Judge is.
One of the big things that separates the Judge from the Vegas, though, is distinctive new angular bodywork on a bike with what looks like a nice place to sit for sportier riding. The 25.9-inch-high seat resides behind a nicely sculpted 4.5-gallon tank, a flattish standard-style handlebar and foot controls that have been moved a few inches closer to where they belong on a motorcycle designed to be ridden a bit more aggressively than your average cruiser. We wouldn’t say “all-new,” but we would say these are steps in the right direction if tapping into the café-cool trend is the goal. The oval “numberplate” sidepanels are a nice touch, and the new taillight integrates cleanly into the fender line. Chunky-fat Dunlop Elite II tires (130mm wide at the front and 140 at the rear) roll on 16-inch wheels and feature muscle-car-inspired raised white lettering, making us crave leaded high-octane fuel and Van Halen.
Power-wise, you’re looking at Victory’s standard 106-inch V-Twin, rated at 113 foot-pounds of torque (expect about 85 horsepower and 105 ft.-lb. at the wheel), backed by the same not-bad-but-not-great six-speed overdrive gearbox sending power rearward via toothed belt. Both ends get a single 300mm disc brake to bring the 660-pound (claimed, dry) proceedings to a halt. The handlebar, swept-back risers, triple clamps and (pleasantly round) headlight get the black-out treatment—and those clamps also give the Judge the 6.7-inch trail and 64.8-inch wheelbase of Victory’s other 16-inch-wheeled cruiser, the High-Ball. The fork serves up 5.1 inches of travel; the single shock gives 3.0 inches (also High-Ball numbers) and adjusts for spring preload.
We’ll be riding the Judge in the coming weeks and look forward to the opportunity to see what Victory has done with handling. This machine is highly reminiscent of the first sporty Victory, the 2000 V92SC (for Sport Cruiser), right down to the round, black headlight and superbikeish handlebars. I really seems to almost be a rebirth of the idea, 13 model years later.
The price isn’t all-new either: $13,999 for Gloss Black and $400 more for Suede Nuclear Sunset or Sunset Red, MSRPs almost exactly that same as those of the V92SC in 2000!