Review: 2012 Victory Cross Country Tour
Riding: BMW K1600GTL
2012 Victory Cross Country Tour
For the last 2 years I’ve been searching for the elusive clean pocket of air while riding my 2010 Cross Country. I’ve tried everything from soft lowers, 7 different windshields and miracle “winglettes”. Some things did better than others and I was able to put together a combination of products that allow me to enjoy the bike with some compromises.
Just when I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve done all I can do what does Victory do, they bring out the Cross Country Tour.
I immediately sent a note to Andy Pallemaerts, owner of Volusia Motorsports, asking him to give me a call when he gets one in so I can see it first hand and possibly ride it to see if it lives up the the hype. Well, last week he gives me a call and luckily I was able to find time this week to dedicate a few hours to a serious road test of the new Cross Country Tour.
This bike is big! I know, I’ve been riding a Cross Country for 2 years and should be used to the size but when you add the top case, fill in the area around the highway bars with bodywork and put on a barn door windshield the bike takes on an entirely different presence.
I did the initial walk around to familiarize myself with the new parts. The lowers are quite a piece of work with lines and curves that Andy explained were designed to not only redirect airflow but also redirect water. I’m told the initial top portion of the hard lowers was flat but when they did their road tests they found that in the rain water would run over the top right onto the rider’s legs.
They designed in the outer crease so water is channeled away from the rider and although I didn’t get a chance to test this out I have no reason the believe it doesn’t work as advertised.
The hard lower storage compartments are cavernous compared to the competition and have a very positive latch to make sure they stay closed. It uses a metal to metal spring clip that I’m told has been tested through a lifetime of opening and closings along with a lower hinge design that may seem flimsy to some but was specifically designed to work with the spring clip to provide a positive closure and a long life without binding or deteriorating over time. Based on my limited use they work as designed.
The air flaps incorporated into the lowers are very discreet and have a large arm on the top that can operated by hand or by foot though with large boots on I think using your feet might end up breaking them if you aren’t careful. I was able to operate them with my feet but I wasn’t wearing boots. I believe Victory recommends using your hands so we’ll stick with that as the preferred operating method.
The new touring windshield is huge, there’s no other way to describe it. The new mounting bracket is one of the most solid mounting systems I have ever seen, there’s absolutely no movement of flex. They claim the revised mounting that places a small gap across the entire lower portion of the screen improves airflow as well.
The faring wind wings, for lack of a better term, are very well integrated and operate through their full range of motion using friction so you can position them any way you choose. In the open position their curvature funnels air up onto your body, in the closed position they extend the faring’s wind protection.
Additional items you’ll find on the Tour include heated seat and grips, saddle bag protectors, removable top case, HID headlight, adjustable passenger floorboards and ABS (but you already knew all this )
I did a short 20 mile loop that was comprised of secondary roads, some turns (as much as you can find in a coastal Florida community) and the Interstate. Speeds varied from stop and go to 80 mph. The air temperature was a mild 84 degrees by the shop rising to 88 degrees out on the interstate. There was a decent breeze between 5 and 10 mph throughout the ride.
Also note that I intentionally wore mesh type sneakers with low socks and jeans to be able to sense as much heat as possible. Wearing proper riding boots will insulate you more from any heat.
The handling is basically the same as my Cross Country but the top case does raise the CoG making the bike handle differently at slow speeds. It only took about 3 turns in the parking lot to acclimate to the additional weight.
I started the test with all the vents closed, just to see how well it managed lower speed winds and how much heat it trapped. While there is some heat buildup around your legs it’s not terrible. Opening the lower vents literally is a breath of fresh air and makes the temperatures at slow speed quite reasonable.
While not as cool as my open bike it’s not uncomfortable in any way. Opening the faring vents funnels a lot of air onto your body even at slow speeds.
With the vents all closed the air pocket is very good. Compared to other touring bikes I’ve ridden (Vision, GoldWing, BMW RT and LT, Harley Ultra) it’s as good as the best and better than most. Turbulence is not an issue at any speed although the barn door windshield will catch rough air like off the back of a semi and move you around a bit.
It’s the exact same sensation you get on any bike with a large faring mounted shield so it was expected. With everything closed heat does build up around your lower body and legs. It’s less heat than you experience on a Vision but it’s noticeable none the less.
Opening up the faring side vents at speed provides a refreshing blast of air to your torso. It doesn’t introduce much turbulence, much to my surprise, but it will blouse out your shirt so be careful if you wear a shirt with a pocket because anything in the pocket will probably get blown away. This doesn’t do much to reduce the lower heat coming off the engine, most notably the heat from the rear cylinder that warms up your left leg.
Closing the faring vents and opening up the lower vents at highway speeds is not a task for the faint of heart. It’s a combination of cruise control and contorting while making sure the tourists on I-95 don’t decide they want to occupy the same space as you. The things I do for The VOG
With the lower vents open all of the heat issue become a thing of the past. The air is channeled in a ram air effect that literally blows away the engine heat without hitting the upper part of your legs causing turbulence to disrupt your nice pocket of air around you head and upper body. If things get really hot you can open up the faring vents.
With everything I think I can honestly say that at speed, the bike is as cool as having no lowers installed! In this configuration your will get some turbulence but honestly, at 88+ degrees air, and lots of it, is not a bad thing. At no time did I find I was fighting the wind like you do on a stock Cross Country.
Moving from the wind management and onto the mechanicals there were 2 things that stood out for me, comparing it with my 2 year old Cross Country, the transmission and the transmission! First off, the shifting is improved. It’s much more positive going into and out of gear and I felt I needed less force to engage gears with up shifting or downshifting and the neutral finder does work.
Secondly, I do not like what they have done with the shift indicator. Any time you are not moving forward or have the clutch pulled in the indicator goes from your gear to a horizontal bar. It also has a peculiar way of re displaying your gear once you complete a downshift.
It starts at 6 and counts down until it gets to your gear. I honestly hate the new gear indicator, it’s basically worthless whenever the clutch is engaged with is 90% of the time I use it.
Aside from the transmission issues the bike seems a bit smoother than my 2010. I don’t know how much of that can be attributed to it being new and not broken in yet but it was noticeable so I will be going over mine soon to make sure everything is tight and since I’ve played around with the exhaust I’ll probably drop the entire exhaust, front to back, and reinstall making sure nothing is in a bind. Experience tell me that a lot of RPM related vibrations come from binding exhaust systems so I’m going to start there.
I think Victory has hit a home run with the Cross Country Tour. They successfully addressed what has been the single most troubling problem, wind management and have taken this bike to the next level.
Victory is positioning this as their “Ultimate Touring Machine”. That may seem odd to those who view the Vision with it’s frame mounted faring, electric windshield and 5 years of street cred as the top of the heap but it was explained to me that because of the massive amount of storage and the improved ergonomics the Cross Country Tour surpasses all of the completion. Supposedly the Cross Country Tour has the highest storage capacity of any production touring bike in the world and that’s how they justify it’s classification.
I would have to say, after having ridden a Cross Country for 2 years and experiencing the improvements in wind management and storage of the new Tour I can’t really argue with them. It comes down to what you want out of a bike but for comfort, protection and storage the Cross Country Tour is world class IMHO. Congratulation Victory, You hit it out of the park with this one.
Many have asked about highway pegs on the XCT, there appears to be plenty of room to attach any number of bar mounted peg mounts so you should be able to find something in he aftermarket. You also can use the Vision floorboard mounted pegs which I plan to go to regardless whether I add these lowers.
On that, I will probably go to these lowers. Although the CeeBailey lowers work and work well, having the on the fly adjustability of the factory parts is what will probably win me over.
I have attached photos and a crude walk around video shot from my camera.
I want to thank Andy @ Volusia Motorsports for allowing me to spend the better part of the day poking, prodding and riding that brand new Victory. Without his help and understanding none of this would have happened. Thanks Andy!
Last update on September 8 2011, 11:24 am by mjw930.
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