2015 Victory Magnum

First Ride Review

With a significant share of Polaris Industries’ motorcycle R&D focused on the Indian branch of the family tree, Victory’s new-for-2015 models are stylistic spin-offs rather than all-new platforms. We tested the Gunner, a stripped-down bobber based on the Judge, in our June issue, and I saddled up on the Magnum, a factory custom “big wheel bagger” based on the Cross Country, at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August.

Some bikes seek attention, but the Magnum demands it. There’s nothing subtle about its 21-inch front wheel—said to be the largest production hoop on a bagger—with what look like silver stilettos embedded in gloss-black spokes. There’s nothing low-key about triple-tone paint jobs with names like Plasma Lime, Ness Midnight Cherry and Sunset Red (or Metasheen Black) over Supersteel Gray, with color-matched dash, saddlebag hinges, fender closeouts and radiator shrouds. And there’s nothing understated about a six-speaker, 100-watt audio system packed into the fairing. If you wear khaki trousers, this bike ain’t for you.

The Cross Country handles well thanks to its cast-aluminum frame and taut-but-compliant suspension, but the Magnum trades some agility and comfort for style and a 25.7-inch seat height.

Its slammed rear end is an inch lower than the Cross Country’s, but rear suspension travel has been reduced even further, from 4.7 to 3.5 inches, and front travel is down from 5.1 to 4.4 inches. Due to the shorter stroke, the suspension was made stiffer and more progressive, contributing to a harsher ride. That big front wheel feels a little awkward around the parking lot but its amplified gyroscopic effect helps the bike feel rock-solid at speed.

Also new are a low-profile Boomerang windscreen that deflects oncoming air smoothly but noisily, and an LED headlight that’s extra bright day or night. Powered by the same 1,731cc (106ci) air-cooled V-twin and 6-speed transmission found throughout the Victory lineup (good for 85 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel), the Magnum offers plenty of thrust, and cruise control is standard.