Road Test Review
The east Texas Hill Country is made for motorcycles. Countless curves and elevation changes on the roads near Austin are a sporting rider’s delight, particularly around Leakey on Ranch Roads 335, 336 and 337, aka the Three Sisters. Yet even touring cruisers work well there when they have a bit of cornering clearance. The loping, relaxing thrum of a big V-twin provides plenty of torque for the bends and hills, yet doesn’t tempt one into troublesome triple-digit speeds on the straight, often deserted, stretches in between.
Most cruisers would be a handful in the corners on these roads, reason enough for Victory to choose the area to introduce its new Cross Roads and Cross Country models. As with its unusual Vision luxo-tourer, Victory has left plenty of handling in the more traditional-looking new Cross bikes. And if you’re shopping touring cruisers, just the stock power output from their 106ci (1,731cc), 50-degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder will make most riders do a double-take, first at the price, then the dyno results. Both are based on the same new platform and aimed straight at the American competition, the Victory Cross Roads with a good-sized removable windscreen and single instrument, and the Victory Cross Country with a fork-mounted fairing with full instrumentation and a sound system.
We’ll have a full test of one of the new Cross machines soon, and weigh and dyno it as well as track its actual fuel economy rather than what was displayed on the trip computer. Based on tests of the Vision, we already know the 106/6-speed makes about 87 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel. If Victory’s claims for their wet weights and big load capacities of 560 pounds for the Roads and 580 for the Country hold true, these bikes will offer a lot of value as well as power. At 21 gallons total the locking, quick-release saddlebag capacity is among the largest in the class, and the male-slider cartridge fork and air-adjustable, constant-rate single-shock rear suspension shared by both bikes offer generous travel. Maintenance is simplified with self-adjusting cam chains and hydraulic valves.
As with the Vision, comfort is a priority on the Crosses, and the first thing you notice is the cushy lowness and ample lumbar support from their seats. I could easily plant both feet firmly on the ground, and long floorboards similar to the Vision’s—with three-position fore-and-aft brake pedal and shift lever adjustment—allow both stretching out and tucking your feet under you, enough that you can stand up for large bumps. Grips on the wide tubular handlebar fall naturally to hand, and the levers and switchgear are normally sized and functional. Wind protection is excellent on both bikes as well, though at speeds above about 60 mph the Roads’ stock midheight ’screen and both the stock low and optional midheight ’screens on the Country created some buffeting. Among the various windscreen options, I liked the stock ones best, as I could see over them straight up or leaned over.
Whether you’re twisting the throttle hard or just loping along, the 106/6 engine in the Crosses delivers plenty of urge with deep, booming pulse feel. Shifting is quiet and precise (unlike most bikes in this class), and the overdrive sixth gear is so tall that the engine never feels busy—I often caught myself riding in fifth gear at cruising speed, in fact. Strong bursts of power for passing or hills are on tap with a downshift, though so much torque thumps out of this mill that most of the time little shifting is required. Some vibes creep into the hand grips and buzz the mirrors when accelerating in the lower gears, but it’s never bothersome thanks to the engine counterbalancer. Engine heat was never an issue on this ride, either, though the temperatures were in the 90s.
I didn’t have time to ride Ranch Roads 335-337 on this trip, but sampled enough winding roads to well appreciate the handling and braking performance of the Crosses. Cornering clearance is ample and I never wished for more in the Hill Country, and steering is low effort and quick enough that you can have quite a bit of fun in the corners, even on the Country with its fork-mounted, electronics-laden fairing. Some credit for this goes to the two-piece, complex sand-cast hollow aluminum frame that uses the engine as a stressed member and keeps the 18- and 16-inch front and rear wheels rigidly in line on the large bikes. The Crosses remain stable and composed at all times, and their triple floating disc brakes with opposed four-piston calipers up front are more than up to the stopping tasks, with good feel at the lever and pedal.
If I had to choose one of the Crosses at this point, it would probably be the Roads, not for its lower price but for the lightweight simplicity of its removable windscreen and single instrument. I confess I never even tried the sound system on the Country, and didn’t have much use for its tach and additional instrumentation, especially when most of the same trip-computer readouts are available on the Roads’ LCD display by scrolling through them with the handlebar-mounted switch. On the changing road surfaces of the Hill Country I also liked being able to see the whole road through its clear ’screen. That preference would probably change in cool temperatures, though, when the Country’s additional wind protection and optional lower covers for the front tipover guards would be welcome. More than a hundred accessories for both include heated seats, both lower and normal, and heated grips. Victory wouldn’t say if a top trunk is on the way, but it’s a good bet.
From this brief ride, it seems you can’t lose with either the Cross Roads or Cross Country, as other than some windscreen buffeting I couldn’t find a thing to gripe about. We’ll just have to go for a longer Cross Country ride for the full test coming soon….