Victory Cross Country & Magnum Test
The Wheel Deal.
Victory Cross Country and Ness Magnum
Victory’s Cross Country and Cross Roads touring motorcycles were released in Australia and NZ in 2010 at the Coolum resort on the Sunshine Coast, long before Clive Palmer and his Dinosaurs took it over.
That launch event was first and last time I had ridden one of the ‘other’ American touring baggers until I got my mitts on the Brisbane Dealership’s Demo model and spent a fortnight re-acquainting myself with the machine.
A 2015 Cross Country finished in Gloss Titanium Metallic to be exact.
Then, when I returned it, the crew at the Fortitude Valley store threw me the keys to their Ness Magnum demo for comparison’s sake. So I spent a week having a completely phat time on that unit too.
First: the Cross Country.
I recalled that the bike impressed at the launch and not throwing a leg over one for almost 5 years seemed a bit remiss. It was even more so after cruising and touring away my stint with the latest incarnation. About three days into the test I was delving deep into the bag of superlatives to describe how I was relating to the current model. I came up with ‘magnificent’. Yep. I thought this to be a magnificent motorcycle.
It has a lot to like. A LOT. The road holding and open road manners, stability, cornering clearance, suspension and comfort levels are amongst the best in class. The engine is torque-y and very smooth for a big V-twin and it is very pleasing to operate. The appearance and the bike’s grey and black aesthetic appealed to me too.
To the standard test bike was fitted Victory’s stage 1 oval exhausts (that sounded great without being over the top), some lower wind deflectors had been fitted to the handlebar-mounted fairing and a passenger backrest installed. A Klockworks screen was also fitted. It should put average height riders well within the bubble. There are taller touring screen options available too.
Weighing in around the middle of the semi-dressed pack at 345kg dry, the Cross Country doesn’t fell as nimble or ‘chuckable’ as some of the other baggers out there, even compared with its stable mate, the Indian Chieftain. It compensates with exceptional open road and Freeway cornering stability, cornering clearance and the way the 106 cube engine pulls the unit along.
The engine is the now (very) familiar 101 x 108mm bore, 50degree, 4 valve V-twin displacing 106 cubes or 1731cc. It has the low cost serviceability of a motor with self-adjusting lifters (no shims) - and the character of a modern big vee.
The Victory gearbox usually takes me a few days to get the mojo. It needs a definite change and you can’t be as lazy with the clutch work as on some other baggers, metric or imperial. Second to third shifts particularly, but when you do get its rhythm, it becomes quite reliable.
The gear primary and belt final drive are slop free and it makes for a bike with good feel and feedback at the throttle hand.
That directness for sports touring is where the bike really shines. The front upside down forks are 43mm diameter with 150mm of travel and the rear single mono tube is air adjustable with 120mm of travel. They are excellent suspenders. They soaked up the roughest of the Hinterland back roads without throwing the bike off line or giving any hint of vagueness – while remaining exceptionally comfortable with no sign of bottoming – even 2-up. For a big unit it is very rewarding on a twisty road. Lean angles are very good and it tips over pleasingly before the large footboards touch down (on a very sensible hero blob hanging beneath them).
The footboards are only one aspect of the bikes enormous comfort levels too. The pull back handlebars combine with a 667 mm saddle height that will be shorter inseam friendly - without compromising the bike’s comfort for us big guys. I found the bike to be very roomy, even with the co-pilot on back. Co-pilot rated the passenger accommodation as “excellent – as comfortable as any of the baggers with the top box-type ‘thrones’” after one of those Sunday afternoon rides around SEQ we wished we could frame. It’s also one of those bikes where it makes virtually no difference if you are carrying a passenger or not – as long as the air adjustable rear preload is correctly dialled in.
The dual 300mm, ABS, four piston equipped stoppers up front and two piston rear did a pretty good job hauling that 345kg - plus passenger, plus cameras - to a halt. They needed a little more pressure at the lever than other baggers I’ve tested lately, but in reality all have had good brakes for years, it’s just a matter of whether they need one finger or two on the lever. The Cross generally needed two.
Fitted with the optional taller screen the Cross Country would also make for a great hard-core tourer. The luggage and carrying capacity are excellent. The saddle is all-day good, the riding position is as good as it gets for distance riding and the way the bike performs makes the time between stops highly enjoyable. Those big footboards afford a number of different leg positions that really do add to long distance comfort and the heel shifter that usually gets in the way of my size 12’s is an optional extra.
My only gripes about the bike were minor. The Stereo isn’t quite as good as other units on the market and its connectivity is via an old-school type iPod/phone connector hard wired from the right hand pannier (albeit with a handy carry pouch).
Enter the Magnum - the Wheel Deal.
If rocking a sound track as you roll away the distance is higher on your list of bike attributes then the Magnum is da bomb. The 100w fairing mounted sound system is viable at most speeds and sounds great. It also is very easy to connect via Bluetooth from the phone or device that stays securely in your jacket pocket.
The other important differences are the front wheel and the saddle height - and of course the aesthetic/presentation. The paintwork on both bikes is good. The Ness treatment is Ness unique.
The front wheel on the Magnum is also a more fashionable 21” and it does have some effect on the handling of the bike. It’s not major, but the bigger hoop requires slightly more ‘encouragement’ to begin a turn. A little more weight shifted. But once the manoeuvre has begun, the same rock solid stability and comfort as the Cross Country ensues. Side to sides are still rewarding – they just require a bit more rider input.
On the plus side, the Magnum feels a little taller at the handlebars and when combined with the 25mm lower, sculpted saddle height it feels like you are lower inside the bubble afforded by the bodywork. I got noticeably less buffeting from the same windscreen fitted to both bikes.
The slope of the rear passenger seat as it follows the contour of the back guard means the backrest for your passenger is more of a necessity than a luxury too.
And then there is the matter of the ‘stylez’. Particular with the Ness paint scheme and presentation the Magnum has more of an urban guerrilla thing going on. It too was fitted with Victory’s oval exhausts and sports a lot more chrome than the Cross Country’s mostly ‘blacked out’ presentation on the engine bars and accessories. The Magnum scores highly in boulevard cred.
Either way, I found both bikes desirable. The Cross Country would be the choice if long distance touring your staple fare. The Magnum tours well too, but has a better concession to cruiser and boulevard duties.
In the end, both are modern, well-sorted baggers that do their intended assignments very well.
Hopefully it won’t be five years until I blag another ride. I wonder if Clive’s dinosaurs will be extinct by then.
Model Cross Country (Magnum in Brackets)
Type 4-stroke 50° V-Twin
Capacity 106 ci / 1731 cc
Cams Single overhead camshafts with,
Pushrods self-adjusting cam chains, hydraulic lifters
Valves 4 valves per cylinder
Carburetion Electronic Fuel Injection with dual 45mm throttle body
Exhaust Victory Tri-oval
Modifications Klockworks Screen, Fairing wind deflectors
Type 6 Speed overdrive, constant mesh
Clutch Wet, multi-plate
Primary drive Gear with torque compensator
Rear drive Carbon Fibre Belt
WHEELS & TYRES
F rim 18 x 3.5" (21 x 3.5")
R rim 16 x 5.0"
F tyre 130/70R18 Dunlop Elite 3 (120/70R21 Dunlop Elite 3)
R tyre 180/60R16 Dunlop Elite 3
F brake Dual 300mm floating rotor with 4-piston calipers
R brake 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper
Front Inverted cartridge telescopic fork, 43 mm diameter, 5.1 in / 130 mm travel
Rear Single, mono-tube gas, cast aluminum with constant rate linkage, 4.7 in / 120 mm travel, air adjustable
Seat 667 mm
GUARDS & TINWORK
PAINT & FINISH