If you are planning to travel long distances with style and grace, and in a great deal of comfort, the Victory Cross Country Tour must be on your shopping list.
My wife and I are currently in the middle of a 3200km trip from LA to Sturgis on the Victory Cross Country Tour and we are revelling in the comfort of the big tourer.
The big fuel-injected bike has effortlessly climbed from sea level to more than 10,000 feet (3300m) in the Rockies with a pillion and luggage crammed into every orifice of the lockable panniers and top box.
My wife has been stunned by the luggage capacity (155 litres to be exact), but that hasn’t stopped her pushing the limits at every shop stop. The panniers look a little narrow, but they swallow up our stuffed liner bags and the top box is simply massive. I like the fact that you can still open the top box with a helmet sitting on the back seat.
With the rear air shock pumped up to suit, the bike rides beautifully over the very rare bumps we have experienced on America’s smooth asphalt roads.
Despite all the weight on board, the 2015 Victory Cross Roads Tour is relatively easy to pick off the side stand and it flicks around corners quite nicely. The front doesn’t feel vague at all and I’m starting to improve my feet-up u-turns, even with a fully-loaded rig.
Nothing much has changed for 2015 except the lockable top box, dual heated seats and grips, and new colours. Ours is a beautiful pearly white and metal-flecked grey that glitters in the sun.
While the bike is kitted out for winter with the dual seat heaters and grip warmers, the ventilation falls short in the extreme heat of the Mojave Desert. We rode for several days through over 100F (37.7C) according to the display on the instruments and it was unbearable. From 80F (26.6C) it becomes uncomfortable for the rider with rear cylinder heat radiating on to the backs of the legs and the backside. The pillion gets none of that heat.
Vents under the fairing direct air toward the rider’s torso and the foot vents improve some flow around your legs, but they still can’t beat the heat from the rear header pipe. I’d invest in ceramic coating for the header pipe and a heat shield under the seat or – as I have done – an Airhawk air-cushion seat.
You won’t need it for comfort as the riding position with the deep-dish seat, generous floorboards and easy reach to the bars make a perfect combination for my six-foot (182cm) frame. My wife, says the rear seat and large pillion footboards are very comfortable. She has hardly moved the whole journey.
Entertainment on the Cross Country Tour is provided by an AM/FM radio with weather channel and there is an iPhone 4 connector in the left glove compartment. That seems awfully strange and outdated. A USB connector would make much more sense so it had more universal connectivity.
Since I don’t have a convertor for iPhone 5, we have been listening to American radio and reception has been quite good from the rear-mounted ariel. However, the amount of noise in the cockpit at highway speeds means you have to pump up the audio and it is a little distorted at these volumes.
There are three convenient 12 volt chargers on the dashboard for a GPS, in the left glovebox for a phone and in the top box for anything else you need to charge.
The instruments feature a comprehensive range of information that is vital for the long-distance traveller such as range, economy, two trips, clock, ambient temperature, gear indicator and more.
Out on the open road, the bike feels settled and composed, and despite the fairing mounted to the forks, it experiences only a minor weave when you tuck in behind a big truck on the highway.
The aerodynamic fairing, high gear ratios and fuel-injected engine have combined to deliver fuel economy of 5.9L/100km so far on this trip which is quite favourable given the load it is carrying, the high speeds we have been doing on some interstates and the steep climbs in the Rockies. That gives about 300km of range before we have to think about fuel.
In the many tight and twisty sections we have encountered in the canyons north of LA, Big Bear Mountain, Zion National Park and the Rocky Mountains, the Cross Country Tour is a capable machine. The tilted-up floorboards allow good lean angles and the engine pulls effortlessly from low revs to accelerate out of bends.
The brakes feel strong and have good feel thanks to the steel braided lines. The rear brake nicely settles the bike and deftly tightens any line that needs tightening.
Gears are getting less clunky each model year and, except for the first three upshifts, these are quite good. Thanks to a neutral assist function, neutral is very easy to find, yet you’ll never grab a false neutral, either. Ratios are nicely spaced with a big sixth overdrive for the 75mph (120km/h) interstates. However, with a load on board there is too much of a gap between second and third for riding around town. You are either over-revving in second or labouring in third.
But it’s not made for around town. It’s called a Cross Country Tour for a reason and that’s what we’re doing.
The 2015 models also come with an expanded range of new accessories including pannier-mounted speakers.
Victory Cross Country Tour tech specs
Price: $A29,995 rideaway
Engine: 106 (1731cc) air-cooled V-twin
Bore x Stroke 101 x 108 mm
Compression: 9.4 : 1
Transmission: 6-speed, wet, multi-plate clutch, carbonfibre-reinforced belt