First Ride: 2007 Victory Kingpin Tour

Victory's new light-duty touring bike, the Kingpin Tour, makes a powerful, distinctive short-range traveling motorcycle. By Art Friedman.

I recently did a quick 200 miles the new-for-2007 Tour Version of the Victory Kingpin. Victory calls this version of the Kingpin motorcycle a "soft tourer." It offers a medium-sized windshield — low enough for me (five-foot-ten) to see over — and clear plastic lowers alongside the fork legs for wind protection. The windshield, lowers, and the smallish, leather-covered, lockable hard saddlebags were offered last year as an accessory package that turned the Kingpin into the Kingpin Deluxe, although that bike was never considered an official model.

To create the Kingpin Tour, Victory simply added a locking trunk that matches the saddlebags. The bags' height is limited because the right one has to fit above the stacked dual mufflers. As a result, each one holds just under five gallons. The trunk adds an additional 13 gallons of capacity, for a total of 22 gallons. That may sound like a lot, but it's actually about enough for one light-packing person for weekend or for a couple overnight. The trunk mounts on a rack that offers some fore-and-aft adjustment to put the integrated passenger backrest in a suitable position.

Victory's introductory ride took journalists from Palm Springs down through the Anza-Borrego area and back, with a nice mix of twisting, gently curving, and empty wide-open roads. After an hour of photos, I was able to reacquaint myself with the Kingpin and discover how it performs as a light tourer.

No question that the power is there. The 1634cc Freedom V-twin engine is built for torque, and even though first gear in the six-speed is somewhat tall, it pulls away easily. Clutch pull is moderately stiff, and initial engagement is slightly abrupt, but it takes little practice to make smooth, quick starts. The ratios are nicely staged, and the noisy shifts of past models are history. Victory touts that its sixth speed is a true overdrive, and it certainly is tall. I didn't want to shift into it at less than about 55 mph. The flip side is that the engine still seemed pretty relaxed at 90 mph in top gear. There is enough power to support that tall gearing too, though I always downshifted when I wanted to pass.

The Kingpin is our favorite Victory because it has escaped the fat-rear-tire styling wave that has hit all Victory models except the Vegas and similar 8-Ball but it also has a reasonably wide front tire, which improves steering and braking. The Victory motorcycle with the big 250mm rear tires resist steering, and roll into corners unevenly. The Kingpin steers much more predictably and with less effort. My biggest handling criticism was a shortage of cornering clearance, noted mostly as lower speeds and more in right-handers than when leaning to the left. The additional weight of the luggage and windshield had just a minor effect on handling (at least when empty), though I notice a slight aerodynamic twitch when cornering at over 80 mph.

Like all Victory models except the Hammer and new Hammer S, the Kingpin has a single disc brake up front. It is just adequate with one person aboard with the luggage empty. Add a passenger and fill the luggage, and I'd want to have two discs up there.

Though the Kingpin's saddle if a bit fuller than those of the rest of line, I was ready for some relief after about three hours. The kick-up in the back put a little pressure on the back of my butt. The riding position suited me well, and although there is some vibration, it didn't annoy me at all. The suspension provided reasonably smooth passage over most of the bumps I encountered.

For my build, the windshield provided just about perfect air deflection. Little wind hit my torso or helmet, and the lowers protected my legs pretty well. They also seemed to minimize the amount of wind that comes up under the windshield. I could see over the top of the windshield, which I appreciated during the brief rain I hit, and I would have liked even more in an extended wet ride. I noticed very little buffeting.

Though not particularly roomy, the bags are easy to open one-handed with push-button latches. The trunk has a twist-type latch, and you have to manually close the latch or the lid will be loose. The leather outer skins of the luggage resist some scuffs, but requires a bit more care than paint.

Overall, my initial take is that the Kingpin hits the day-tripper sort of target that Victory set. It will do that job in style, with great power, pleasant comfort, and a quality style that doesn't shout "Me too!"

Meanwhile, the company continues to develop a luxury touring motorcycle and expects to have additional details by the end of 2006.

The Tour enjoys the same pleasant handling characteristics as the standard Victory Kingpin cruiser. Action photography by Kevin Wing.
Your legs feel less wind because of the wind deflectors. The Kingpin Tour could use an additional disc and caliper on the front wheel.
Even with the added touring gear to drive around, the Victory Freedom V-twin engine continues to impress.
The smallist trunk also acts as an adjustrable backrest for the passenger.