UPDATED: Victory 2011 Model Year Launch

More Motor and Tighter Transmissions across the board

In the race between the New American Motorcycle Company and the, uh, 'old' one-as to who was going to be the first to announce new 2011 machines, Victory Motorcycles emerged triumphant, revealing its new roster to the waiting public a mere 24 hours before Harley. Except there was one kink in the plan-Victory didn't actually have any new models. But even without an all-new machine, the upstarts from Minnesota made some intriguing announcements; for 2011, they have ladled on a series of upgrades, many of them major, across the entire line.

Add this to the recent report that parent company Polaris's 2nd Quarter 2010 sales of Victory bikes were up 48% (year over year) and you can see why the Victorians are feeling upbeat.

Bigger is Better
The biggest news was that the Freedom 106 (1731cc) V-twin engine now gets distributed across the entire 2011 lineup-all models get the more powerful mill, which will be available in two versions.

The slightly hotter, Stage 2 version of the 106 incher will power Victory's 2011 cruisers-which by the company's definition, includes the Vegas Jackpot, Hammer/ S, Vegas, Kingpin, Hammer 8-Ball, Kingpin 8-Ball, Vegas 8-Ball, and the Zach Ness Vegas 8-Ball. That motor is said to bring 97 hp and 113 ft-lb of torque-14% more horses than the old 100 incher-at no additional price.

The 2011 touring bikes, meanwhile-the Cross Country, Cross Roads, Vision Tour, Vision 8-Ball, Cory Ness Cross Country and Arlen Ness Vision-will get the milder Stage 1 engine. Company reps say the Stage 1 version produces 92hp and 109 ft-lb.-pretty respectable numbers in our book.

Tranny Tweaks
The other important upgrade is what Victory calls its "100,000 mile" transmission, which also now appears on all models. It's not completely new, though it does feature several major revisions. For one, Victory has instituted a "hi-lo dog/pocket" design within, which they say offers better engagement and a 66% decrease in driveline lash. Shift forks have been redesigned for better durability; the bearings are larger and gear-sets wider for 4th and 6th gears. A Neutral Selection Assist feature lets you click up to neutral more easily, and helps extend oil service intervals, now to 5,000 miles.

Our many complaints about annoying transmission whine have apparently been heard too: with new helical-cut gears to reduce noise, Victory's touring models are now able to meet Euro noise regs. As a side benefit, quieter gears leaves room to increase noise elsewhere, so the exhaust outlet tips have been opened up to produce a heartier rumble.

The rest of the news amounts to subtle tweaks. For example, all the cruisers and the Cross Roads get new instruments (an analog speedo joined by an LCD panel with clock, gear-position indicator and tach). A new 48-amp charging system is added to all models, as are less bulky, easier-accessed sidestands. On the Kingpin, floorboards are pulled back 2 inches, and the Vegas bikes get a new handlebar reaching back 2 extra inches. Finally, Victory has decided to roll the Vision Street model into the Vision 8-Ball, which is a more stripped-down version.

Dress to Impress
The closest thing to a new model came in the form of the Cross Roads Custom, a highly configurable bike that owners can customize as they see fit, with the Core Custom Program. Rounding out the news for 2011 is a series of new Ness Edition bikes (one from Arlen, one from Cory and a new version from Zach) as well as new accessories, exhaust systems and apparel.

The marquee item Victory seems to be really pushing for 2011, though, is the new removable top trunk option available for the Cross models. Victory touts it as more capacious than Harley's Tour Pak, and also a better value. The argument is that the $1795 Lock-N-Ride trunk comes with integrated rear speakers and a rear taillight already pre-wired, standard-so all you have to do is plug it into an existing connector under the sidecover. Harley's color-matched King Tour Pak retails for $800 less, but it's not detachable, and adding lighting or audio to it will put a significant additional dent in your wallet. We think the Lock N Ride is a good concept, and should have plenty of traction for both hardcore touring riders and weekend warrior types.

First Ride: 2011 Cross Country
To showcase its 2011 lineup, Victory brought us out to western Colorado, charting an absolute doozy of a course that churned through some magnificent, less-traveled canyons south of Grand Junction. We hopped from bike to bike, sampling as many as we could in our short time, and came up with some quick impressions.

We liked the Cross Country already in its 2010 form, and the love affair only continues with the 2011 version. Victory's shot at the popular light touring market compares favorably to Harley's Street Glide and Star's Strat Deluxe (see our shootout on page 30), bringing the same aluminum backbone as the Cross Roads, but adding a frame-mounted fairing and hard saddlebags as standard equipment. The Country starts at $17,999 in black; another $500 gets you Blue Metallic color, and $500 delivers the two-tone version.

Settling into the still-comfortable 2011 Cross Country, the first thing that crosses your line of sight is the new dash arrangement. The single-unit gauge configuration is a welcome change, boasting better positioning and visibility for the pilot. The standard AM/FM stereo is MP3-compatible, and cruise control, a separate tach and speedo, plus fuel and volt indicators are complemented by an LCD display with a gear position indicator. Functions are easily accessed by a button on the left switchgear, and it's a joy to have a tach-even if it's a tad hard to read. Victory enlarged the speaker's grill holes to increase the sound reaching you, and the improvement is noticeable at speed-wind noise doesn't completely overpower your songs as before.

Chugging off on the Country, the 106/6 engine is a welcome motivator (though it's not an upgrade; the 2010 model already had it). Still, the big motor cranks out a broad powerband that's strong from way down at 1500 rpm, carrying the 800+lb. bike easily, and on demand. With a silky EFI and smooth throttle response, we found we could better concentrate on the twisty curves ahead. The neutral steering allows you to enjoy the turn-in rather than fighting mass, and for all its weight (we rode a model with the optional trunk installed), the Country is supremely stable in turns.

What's more noticeable are the helical-cut gears in the revised transmission, spinning much quieter than last year's version, especially in the upper gears when winding the motor out. Surprising to us though, was that shift engagement was not as slick as we expected from a new 'box (though we had no issues with missed shifts or stuck gears).

When comes time to haul down this Cross bike, you'll find decent feel from the 4-piston calipers that work the dual 300mm front discs, though initial bite is vague. A harder squeeze, though, will bring plenty of power, and all Victorys get a 300mm rear rotor and 2-piston caliper, which also offer admirable backup. The Cross bikes, alas, still aren't available with ABS, but we suspect that'll change soon enough.

Specifications
2011 Victory Cross Country
MSRP: $17,999 - $18,999
Colors: Black, Blue; Two-tone white/silver

Engine
Type: Air/oil-cooled, 50-degree V-twin
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1731cc, 101mm x 108mm
Valve train: SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio: 9.4:1
Fuel system: EFI; 45mm throttle bodies
Transmission: 6-speed; wet, multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Carbon-reinforced belt

Chassis
Overall length: 104.4in.
Wheelbase: 65.7 in.
Dry weight: 765 lbs.
Seat height: 26.25 in.
Rake/trail: 29 deg./5.6 in.
Front tire: 130/70 R-18
Rear tire: 180/60R-16
Front brake: dual 300mm discs, 4-piston calipers
Rear brake: 300mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front suspension: 43mm inverted fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Mono-tube damper, air-adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.

First Ride: 2011 Victory Cross Roads
Casual touring is one of the few healthy motorcycle segments around these days, so for 2011, Victory says it will hit that market harder. The company will use what it calls the Cross Roads Core Custom Program for its attack, with the base Cross Roads model as the weapon; with a retail price of $14,999, along with cruise control and removable soft saddlebags (the biggest in the industry according to Victory) as standard equipment, it could be an attractive proposition.

Start with that base model, and tart up your 'Roads with all manner of add-ons: a windshield will run you $550; locking hard bags will set you back $300. There are 48 possible combinations, and Victory says a tricked-out Cross Roads retails for $2K less than a similarly accessorized Road King, along with the bonus of more power, storage and suspension travel.

Like the Cross Country, the Cross Roads is all about neutral steering that's confidence-inspiring, along with plenty of ground clearance (in some cases, more than Victory's so-called 'cruiser' line). We had a blast riding a stripped, base Roads model; with similar handling characteristics to the Country (along with the same engine and brakes), the lighter payload allowed us to fully explore some of the canyon road's twisty arcs to better effect. And we didn't touch a hard part down once.

Specifications
2011 Victory Cross Roads

MSRP: $14,999 - $15,499
Colors: Black, Crimson

Engine
Type: Air/oil-cooled, 50-degree V-twin
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1731cc, 101mm x 108mm
Valve train: SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio: 9.4:1
Fuel system: EFI
Transmission: 6-speed; wet multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Belt

Chassis
Overall length: 104.4 in.
Wheelbase: 65.7 in.
Dry weight: 745 lbs.
Seat height: 26.25 in.
Rake/trail: 29 deg./5.6 in.
Front tire: 130/70R-18
Rear tire: 180/60R-16
Front brake: Dual 300mm discs, 4-piston calipers
Rear brake: 300mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front suspension: 43mm inverted fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Mono-tube damper, air-adjustable; 4.7 in. travel
Fuel capacity: 5.8 gal.

First Ride: Vision Tour
Ain't nothin' _traditional _about it, but you have to admit the Vision design brings a lot to the table. True touring enthusiasts will love hi-zoot comfort bits like a power windshield, heated saddles and handgrips, cruise control and a brilliant HID headlamp. You can plan your expedition better with a trip computer and average mileage and ambient temperature data; sock away your valuables in the 29 available gallons of storage in the hard side bags and spacious trunk.

We're glad to see that ABS is now a standard item on the Vision Tour, with no price increase over the 2010 model. Other improvements include grippier passenger grabrails, and saddlebags that are easier to operate (achieved simply by removing the previous hydraulic dampers).

Love or hate the styling, the Vision proves to be a surprisingly competent open-road performer. It doesn't necessarily match our riding style, but it's certainly plush, both ergonomically and from a suspension standpoint, and its aluminum frame makes for a solid, fairly lightweight platform. Plus it's got all the right touring amenities. On the downside, it's a weighty machine, and its side cases hold less than the Cross bikes' saddlebags. Plus we never liked the latching system on the Vision, especially compared with the newer, more positive Cross Country versions. The Vision Tour starts at $23,199 in Solid Pearl White.

Specifications
2011 Victory Vision Tour
MSRP: $23,199 - $23,699
Colors: White; Red/Black: Silver/Black

Engine
Type: Air/oil-cooled, 50-degree V-twin
Displacement, bore x stroke: 1731cc, 101mm x 108mm
Valve train: SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio: 9.4:1
Fuel system: EFI
Transmission: 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt

Chassis
Overall length: 104.9 in.
Dry weight: 869 lbs
Seat height: 26.5 in.
Rake/trail: 29 deg./5.4 in.
Front tire: 130/70R-18
Rear tire: 180/60R-16
Front brake: Dual 300mm discs, 4-piston caliper; linked ABS
Rear brake: 300mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front suspension: 46mm fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Mono-tube damper, air-adjustable; 4.7in. travel
Fuel capacity: 6.0 gal.

The Rest..and the Nesses
New for Victory's high-end boutique bikes for 2011 is the addition of yet another customized model-from yet another member of the Ness family.

We already know about Arlen and Cory, and this year Cory's son, Zach, joins the bling bunch with some younger ideas.

The canvas chosen by the youngest Ness is the Victory Vegas, which gets the stripped-down treatment. The subtle and dark Zach Ness Vegas brings a long and low attitude framed by custom graphics against a matte-black frame. Billet aluminum 5-spoke wheels are complemented by Victory's Holeshot billet pegs and grips, and a detailed, custom-stitched leather seat tops the silhouette. A signed engine number plate means it's the Zach Ness Vegas, retailing for $18,999.

Now on its second showing in the Ness Series is Arlen's Vision, which this year gets black finishes with scrolled graphics, including on the adjustable windshield and billet wheels' spokes. Chrome bits include diamond-cut cylinder fins, billet grips, foot controls, mirrors and engine covers. This highest-spec Ness rings in at $27,999.

Cory Ness gets a new canvas for 2011: the Cross Country. The new Ness model wears Ness chromed billet grips, foot controls and passenger pegs, diamond-cut cylinder fins and custom handlebar. Billet "Anvil" wheels will attract plenty of attention, and the suede seat and ghost treatment of the Victory logo under the red paint's clear coat are sweet touches. For $24,999, you get a signed number plate too.

2011 Victory Cross Country, fully loaded
2011 Victory Vision 8-Ball
2011 Victory Hammer S
2011 Victory Cross Country
2011 Victory Cory Ness Signature Series Cross Country
2011 Victory Cross Roads Core Custom (Accessorized w/ hard bags and shield)
2011 Victory Cross Roads Core Custom (Base)
2011 Victory Vision Tour
The 2011 cruisers are powered by the Stage 2 Freedom engine. That includes the Jackpot Hammer, Vegas Kingpin, Hammer 8-Ball, and Kingpin 8-Ball.
The base Cross Roads bags are removable and offer 17.4 gallons of storage.
The Cory Ness Cross Country sports a Sunset Red paint job and a heavy dose of shiny stuff: chrome Ness grips, billet pegs, engine covers - even the radio display!
The cruiser models like this Hammer S get an updated instrument panel which includes an analog speedometer with LCD window displaying time.
The latest Cross Roads looks slightly different due to a coat of black for the brake calipers, rotors, belt guards and floorboards.
The new Zach Ness Signature Series Vegas 8 Ball ladles on black paint a custom seat and custom graphics along with billet wheels, handgrips and more.
The Victory Cross Roads Core Custom base model. You can choose: bike color, bag style, shields and bars, for a total of 48 different possible combos.
A new trunk option is available for the Cross Country and Cross Roads. The Lock Ride unit pops on just by lining up the mounting legs with mounting points at the rear and snapping down the locking arm.
Victory now uses the Freedom 106 (1731cc) V Twin engine across its entire 2011 lineup.
Victory's new Lock Ride trunk incorporates a passenger backrest and its own power cord - connect it to a plug under the side cover to power the integrated taillight, speakers and an accessory power outlet.
The Vision Tour gets the Freedom 106 Stage 1 engine and ABS as standard equipment for 2011. A new handlebar and redesigned exhaust tips also get added.
You can tell the Hammer from the other cruisers by its bobbed front fender and chunky 250mm rear tire.
All new models also come with an updated six speed tranny with new helical cut gears to reduce gear whine and an updated mainshaft designator.