2010 Victory Motorcycles Preview

Cross Roads, Cross Country and a pair of new 8-Balls

We did a somewhat informal survey of dealers last fall for our 2009 Buyers' Guide (Motorcycle Cruiser, Feb. '09), and found that the two classes of bikes that are selling strongest were touring rigs and bargain bikes (under $10k). While Victory didn't break into entry-level territory (despite having a 800cc parallel pushrod twin in its ATV line), it did add a couple more of its bargain-bred 8-Ball series, and then there's the new touring machines...

A few issues ago we showed a Victory prototype called the Core concept. It was a rigid-framed, svelte custom rod, with a bad attitude. Fuel was carried in the frame itself, and the air intake flowed through the headstock, which made for a very compact design. Victory had hinted that models based on this concept would follow. Naturally, we were waiting for a production rigid by a major manufacturer, thinking that this might be an interesting direction for America's New Motorcycle company. Probably the last thing we were thinking about was baggers.

Yea, baggers; and not one, but two of them. The Cross Country is a custom-style bagger aimed squarely at Harley-Davidson's amazingly popular Street Glide. It sports the same 106 cubic inch 6-speed V-Twin as the Vision, but far less plastic. While definitely a forward-thinking design, unlike the Vision, it doesn't make you want to hum "Meet George Jetson" when you see it. Similar to the Vision, Victory wants to continue to bridge the gap between riders who might be looking for more features/performance than a traditional touring cruiser, and one that will go all the way to a sport tourer. But in this case they call the Cross Country rider a more "traditional" rider; we'd call them more "custom."

There are a number of design elements that one would usually expect only on a customized bagger. Things like the super-dropped seating area, wheel-hugging front fender, and sleek, pointed turnsignals with matching frenched-in taillight. But combined with these custom touches are a rigid chassis, long-travel suspension, huge saddlebags and (relatively) low overall weight. Victory credits all these seemingly contradictory traits to the light, rigid aluminum frame that houses the intake tract. The new frame is a huge step from the current Victory cruiser models that have a slightly ugly and awkwardly placed intake between the steering head and the engine.

There were some nice details on the bike as well. A wide, supportive rear seat is congruent with Victory's stated demographic of late 40-somethings, unlike some others who skimp back here for the sake of style. The paint options on this bike (and all the '10s) are pretty daring as well, including a really nice matte color, and one super-hot skull scheme on the bike shown here. But the neatest, out-if-the-box thing is the new take on a highway bar. It either looks like a blade or a wing depending on what angle you look at it from. While it doesn't have the absolute versatility of a piece of bar stock, it does have a pair of mounting bosses for highway pegs or whatever the aftermarket comes up with.

Cross Roads is the second all-new touring model. Based along the lines of a Road King/Nomad/Stratoliner-style light touring machine, the 'Roads is built from the same Core platform as the Cross Country. Equipped with the same cavernous saddlebags as the 'Country, but from there the 'Roads takes it a step down in weight and complexity. While the Cross Country has a stereo system, fairing and that trippy wing, the Cross Roads has a removable windscreen and a traditional highway bar.

Perhaps most impressively, unlike most other Victorys, that are competitive on price with Harleys, the Cross bikes are both $1000 less than their Milwaukee competition at $15,999 and $17,999 for Cross Roads and Cross Country respectively.

The new 8-Balls are the Hammer and the Vision. The Vision 8-Ball is a blacked-out budget version of the Vision Street (which it replaces) as you might expect, but goes its own way in a couple of respects. For one, considering its less tour-oriented mission, it's two inches closer to the pavement, with a seat height of just 24.5 inches. Special wheels also drop the unsprung weight on the this 8-Ball, compared to the tourers. Unlike other 8-Balls, it's got the full-on 106-inch motor with six-speed transmission combo found in the other Visions. Like the other Visions the 8-Ball sports a new airbox for quieter intake noise. The Vision 8-Ball is offered for $17,999.

The new Hammer 8-Ball brings a darker look (and lower price) to Victory's aggressive muscle cruiser. With blacked-out parts all around, the Hammer also has a more traditional round headlight (not the diamond-shaped one on most Victorys), no tachometer, and a single front brake rotor. It makes do with Victory's lower-spec 100-inch motor and five-speed, and sports a more compact rider ergonomic triangle and is lowered a half inch from the standard Hammer. Unlike the older 8-Balls it comes equipped with a rear seat, not just a solo. The Hammer 8-Ball is $14,499.

Besides these new models, Victory announced a host of improvements and changes to the existing fleet, the biggest news in the upgrades to the top-of-the-line Vision Tour Premium. For 2010 it gains even more bells and whistles like linked ABS, new brakes for quieter and stronger response, new higher-definition audio display, standard 12-volt accessory outlets, and an easier-to-reach sidestand.

The Vegas got dropped to a low 25.2-inch seat height, more pulled-back handlebars and pegs (2" and 2.25" respectively). The other continuing models all recieved new paint.

Back for another go-round, and definitely not going with the affordability theme from this year's lineup, are the Arlen and Cory Ness Special Edition bikes, with Cory and Arlen gussying up the same model as last year with a Cory Ness Vegas Jackpot and a Arlen Ness Vision. Arlen's touring rig features a dropped and chopped version of the Vision with no trunk, much like the 8-Ball. Very unlike the 8-Ball is the raft of custom features and accessories Arlen's version has on it. Finish-wise everything is either blacked-out or chromed, while the wheels are billet aluminum (as are lots of the accessory parts), the badges are lighted, the engine has a diamond-cut treatment on the fins and the chopped windshield is adjustable for height.

Cory's Jackpot features many of the same accessory changes as his dad's ride, but with a distinctly harder edge, starting with spiked billet grips (ouch!). Old school pinstriping plays along the tank and fenders, while the custom paint flows onto even the headlight shell and frame.

Victory might be in a tough spot in these challenging times with nothing but big bikes to sell, but with an eye on future generations of riders and the near fanatical nature of their supporters, they look to come out strong in 2010.