First Ride: 2010 Victory Cross Roads and Cross Country

Victory takes on Harley-Davidson with new American V-Twin Baggers.

Photography By Brian J. Nelson

2010 Victory Cross Roads and Cross Country - First Ride

2010 Victory Cross Roads and Cross Country - First Ride

If there is one thing that Victory Motorcycles has taken to heart it is listening to its customers. And cruiser customers want to tour on their American-made, V-Twin motorcycles. On the one extreme, says Victory VP of Motorcycles Mark Blackwell, you've got your luxury-seeking, progressive globe-trotting motorcycle people who can't get enough modern technology; they want it all. For them, Victory builds the Vision (and for 2010, equips it with $1k optional ABS brakes). At the other pole, there are a bunch of heritage-minded touring traditionalists rolling around who want just the essentials: a windshield and saddlebags. Now Victory builds a bike for them, too, in the form of the new, 2010 Cross Roads. Natch, while they were at it, Victory built a bike it hopes will be just right for those in the middle—the Cross Country. I keep it straight by thinking of the Country music pouring out of the Cross Country's stereo as I roll through the Texas hill country with the cruise control on, very nice... Lone Star beer and Bob Wills music has kept my heart alive since you've been gone, sniff...

The Victory Vision was the most innovative "touring" bike to come along in quite some time when it rolled out a couple of years ago, and it is upon the same casting technology that Victory built the new, model-specific aluminum frames for the Cross Country and Cross Roads. The Cross Roads, with its basic windshield, lone speedometer and big saddlebags, is intended more for meandering along backroads, quite probably in traditional, heritage-minded, wife-on-the-back mode. The Cross Country gets a bigger batwing fairing (fork-mounted) packed with electronic gear, including the aforementioned stereo, a multifunction LCD dashboard and, most importantly for people who like to cover longer distances, cruise control. You might carry a non-traditional person on the back of it or let the wife take the controls, even! (And on the Vision you might carry an outer-space alien or chorus girl, who knows?)

From the fairing back, the Cross Roads and Cross Country are practically identical, each packing a pair of locking saddlebags with a combined capacity of 21 gallons, which actually is a lot for this kind of bike—and they're easy to remove, too. The Vision carries its fuel in a pair of bilateral aluminum tanks up front; the new bikes use traditional steel tanks, but the aluminum frame saves enough space that fuel capacity is 5.9 gallons. With the bike delivering around 41 mpg city/highway combined (according to a Victory engineer), this should give the Cross Roads and Cross Country very respectable touring range. (The other difference is that the Cross Country has a pair of very unique chromed, forged-aluminum crash bars, pre-drilled for highway pegs should you wish.) Weightwise, Victory says the 765-pound Cross Country weighs 104 pounds less than an ABS-equipped Vision, with the Cross Roads coming in at 745 pounds.

With no downtubes, the aluminum frame lets the Cross bikes carry Victory's usual 106-cubic-inch 50-degree V-Twin nice and low, and the seats on the new bikes are likewise a mere 26.2 inches from the pavement. Even at that low elevation, there's a nicely plush yet well-controlled 4.7 inches of rear-suspension travel, with air-adjustable preload similar to that used on the Vision.

For "touring" baggers, the Cross bikes can actually be hustled along at a reasonably rapid pace, with that aluminum frame/stressed-engine chassis keeping the wheels in good alignment and aimed in the intended direction quite nicely over some of Texas' finest twisty pavement; you're going at a pretty good clip when the floorboards let you know to chill a little. And when you're just cruising, 3000 rpm on the tach nets a nice, relaxed-feeling 80 mph.

Prices range from $15,999 for a Solid Black Cross Roads to $19,499 for a Black/Graphite w/Extreme Skulls Cross Country (California bikes run $250 more due to emissions equipment).

Elsewhere in the 2010 lineup, my personal favorite might be the new Vision 8-Ball, all murdered-out in shiny black paint and slammed closer to the ground for a relatively reasonable $17,999. It feels like you sit a bit further back in the dark Vision, like some two-wheeled Batmobile. That's probably because the 8-Ball has a very low 24.5-inch seat height (slammed, remember) rather than the 26.5-inch of the standard Vision, making the 8-Ball perfect for my shrunken Greek god 5-foot-7 body. The Cross bikes have the same riding position as the standard Vision, by the way. The 8-Ball, meanwhile, retains the slightly firmer suspension settings of the heavier, full-boat Vision, leading to a more taut ride that responds well to being pushed to a faster pace. The Cross bikes have a softer setup to appeal to a more traditional V-Twin bagger buyer. Look for an in-depth evaluation of the Cross Country in an upcoming Cycle World.

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