First Ride: 2008 Victory Vision New face of American luxury touring.
It looks like Victory is taking this whole “New American Motorcycle” slogan pretty seriously. Just look at the all-new Vision. It was hard to know what to expect at the bike’s June riding introduction, though.
We had heard a few things from company staff and, of course, had a good look at the bike late last year at its unveiling. But full specs were only finally released last week when we visited Victory’s Minnesota design center for the technical briefing, followed by a test ride, on the company’s new luxury-tourer.
The specs hardly tell the story, though. You would expect more power from the 106-cubic-inch, 50-degree, ohc V-Twin, and that wind protection from the large fairing would be pretty good; what was unexpected is how well this motorcycle worked. Fours years of R-D and $20 million of mother company Polaris’ money have been well spent.
Harley-Davidson, BMW and Honda’s full-rig tourers were benchmarked, and the Victory team worked to make its bike competitive. Perhaps the biggest surprise in riding the Vision is how well the chassis functions. The over-engine cast-aluminum main frame is nearly invisible on the finished bike, but on the road it provided a stiff platform that allowed the 45mm conventional fork and single rear shock (with air pressure for spring-preload adjustment) to do their excellent work.
Damping is surprisingly taut and cornering clearance is very good. Steering is light and dead-neutral, even when trail-braking. Speaking of, brakes are linked rear-to-front only. The system is tuned to have the rear pedal actuate the middle pistons of the three-piston dual front calipers only under hard braking.
This allows the system to feel “normal” at low speed (parking lots, U-turns, etc.). The reach-adjustable front brake lever operates the other two pistons in each caliper. ABS is not available. “We focused on what features customers thought were important,” said a rep, the implication being ABS wasn’t a deal-breaker for most luxo-tour buyers surveyed by Victory.
Power comes from a V-Twin with the same architecture as existing Freedom-engine-powered bikes, but most parts are new. To get the 106-cubic-inch displacement, stroke was increased by 6mm to 108. Bore remains 101mm. Claimed output is 92 horsepower and 109 foot-pounds of torque, and the power curves we were shown indicated 100 ft.-lb. available at 2000 rpm. This is a stout powerplant, and pulls the 800-plus-pound machines down the road with authority.
First gear is now lower to help get the bike off the line briskly, while sixth gear has been made taller for more relaxed cruising. Top-gear roll-on felt good, but for quick passes it was best to dip into fifth. Fuel delivery was excellent and economy ran in the 40-mpg range, which with the 6-gallon fuel capacity makes for an easy 200 miles between fill-ups.
Comfort features abound. Optional electric windscreen and heated seats/grips, full trip-computer function with a dash-center LCD display, a great stereo (iPod and MP3 ready) as standard equipment and cruise control. The seat is low, the floorboards long (allowing just about any riding position you want) and wind protection was quite good.
How much for all this comfort? Base price on the Vision Street is $18,999 (cruise, stereo, manually adjusted screen), or $20,499 for the Premium model with heated grips and seats, more chrome, the electrically adjustable screen and an HID headlight with cool lit side badges. The top-trunk-equipped Tour is offered in three levels starting at $19,999.
The $20,499 Comfort package offers heated grips and seats and the electric windscreen, while the Premium level adds the HID/lit badges and chrome package, too, at a price of $21,499. Some 60 accessories (including exhaust systems that up power) will be available by the time bikes reach dealers this fall.
As for the styling, you will have your opinion, and no doubt will be willing, even eager, to share it. That really was one of the points of the design—Victory wanted the Vision’s styling to be polarizing. If everyone loves it, the styling is too bland, goes the reasoning. Victory knew the art-deco-meets-wind-tunnel bodywork would put some people off.
But others might be so moved that they would have to buy it. Which is what Victory discovered through extensive market research: The shape as you see it hit the major hot button for enough buyers that the company felt it would be a winner. The hope is that the Vision becomes an iconic product, a rolling signature of the company. Look for a full riding impression and Kevin Cameron’s tech/styling overview in the September issue of Cycle World. on newsstands August 1.
Sound Off! What do you think of the Victory Vision?
- 2011 Victory Motorcycles Preview Hot Bike Motorcycle
- 2011 Arlen Ness Victory Vision — Motorcycle Magazine
- 2009 Victory Vegas Jackpot Review – Ultimate MotorCycling
- Victory Motorcycles CORE Concept Bike – Motorcycle USA
- 2012 Victory High-Ball New Motorcycle Review — Motorcycle Magazine