For me, one of the biggest disappointments in the demise of Victory Motorcycles was that there would be no more ‘Cross Country’ and ‘Cross Roads’ models. Particularly for us big guys these were outstanding motorcycles. They accommodated the ‘larger gentleman’ and his passenger in excellent comfort, they were roomy, performed pretty well and were a joy to chuck around – right off the showroom floor. They needed no extended reach saddles or other accessorising to fit the longer limbed and were easily ‘best in class’ in that regard.
After an extended weekend aboard the new Indian Challenger I’m pleased to report that Indian have filled the gap left by the big Vics most admirably. That’s not to say that average size riders will find the new model oversized with its 672mm saddle height and wide, pulled back handlebars, but big guys will welcome its spacious comfort as well.
It’s also gone completely next level with its performance, handling and accoutrements.
The ‘PowerPlus’ engine is similar to the highly rated Scout motor - on steroids. The capacity of the 60-degree, liquid cooled, 4-valve per cylinder power plant has been upped to 1768cc (108cu.i) and it features hydraulic valve lash adjusters and hydraulic camshaft chain tensioners amongst its niceties. It bangs out 122 horsepower and 128ft-lbs of torque in bog stock form and that’s all driven through a very sure-shifting 6-speed gearbox with a ‘true’ overdrive.
There are three riding modes available in the ride-by wire setup. Rain, Normal and Sport. Each mode makes quite a difference to the throttle response and power delivery. The EFI is also the best on a big capacity Indian so far. It’s a peach of an engine.
The handling and road manners also take what was very good with the older Victory models and bring them up to 2020 standard. The inverted telescopic front forks have 130mm of travel and the Single Shock with preload adjust rear has pretty good (for a bagger) 114mm of travel available.
The Dual 320mm Semi-Floating Rotors with 4 Piston Brembo Radial Callipers pull up the 361kg (dry) weight comfortably and it’s fitted with Indian’s ‘Smart Lean Technology: “To keep you confidently grounded and in command of the road with a 6-axis Bosch IMU, enabling Dynamic traction control, ABS with cornering pre-control, and Drag Torque Control.”
In other words, it is quite confidence inspiring and surprisingly nimble, yet sure footed, whence hooking-in. It’s all enhanced by the very impressive road holding of the Metzeler Cruisetec tyres: 19” 130 section on the front and 16” 180 on the rear.
In its roomy cockpit, the ‘Ride Command’ Infotainment system is similar to the new Chieftain tested in Issue #169 and it too has a great sounding 100-watt stereo with an impressive array of trip computer and ride data information available from the 7” touchscreen. It’s also been laid out in a new dash array that optimises the screen real estate and visibility. All the usual blue tooth and connectivity options are included.
On the Road again.
I spent Saturday afternoon in Cruiser mode around Brisbane and the Bayside with the stereo cranked and feeling that pretty good feeling that comes with riding a nice motorcycle – just for the sake of it.
That night my pals on the Gold Coast had posted that the regular Sunday ride was on for sure, so I left Brisbane base and made the hour-long freeway run down to the meet up near Robina.
The weather was near-perfect and Bossco had put a ride together that he called ‘The Seven Bridges’. As he put it, “The Bridges Over the Pacific Highway Ride came about when I was trying to work out how many different ways there are to get to Tyalgum Hotel. A great place for lunch and the ride back through Limpinwood, ever before all the rain was serene. Today after all the rain ... SERENE.
Tyalgum Hotel is such a peaceful place to go, have a beer and a burger, and chill.
There are quite a few other ways to go to get there, just to mix it up, and keep the ride interesting.” And it really was beautiful. The Hinterland was almost glowing with emerald green and golden sunshine, a far cry from the parched landscape of only weeks before.
The run us took us up and around some great back roads and fast open sweepers through the cane fields of the Tweed Valley, up and over the Freeway, down to a refreshment break at Billinudgel before skirting Murwillumbah and into the Scenic rim to Tyalgum.
The bike performed perfectly. I raised the powered windscreen to suit the condition, sat comfortably behind the efficient fairing, moved my riding position on the big, wide footboards to suit the pace, cranked up my favourite playlist and enjoyed how well the bike dealt with everything the ride threw at it. It handled, it powered, it cruised, it threw around effortlessly and it rolled away the distance in great comfort. It is a very, very capable motorcycle.
After Tyalgum the ‘Coast crew’ headed home over Springbrook hill while broke off and headed North up along the western side of the Hinze Dam - and the series of fast sweeping bends that the bike simply devoured. By now I was very enthusiastic about the new Challenger. I stopped at the Dam wall for some photos before heading back up the M1 to base.
Sitting at my computer and downloading the pics I realised that the Challenger is a hard bike to photograph. It’s one that definitely looks much better in three dimensions that it does on screen or paper. It’s available in Indian’s ‘Dark Horse’ colour-way or there are ‘Limited’ options with more gloss and chrome. Either way I thought it was a much better looker in the flesh.
But overall after the extended weekend and over 500km, I have to agree with Brum’s assessment in Issue #167. This is a brilliantly executed Bagger. This example is the Demo bike at Indian Brisbane - talk to the team there if you want to see what I saw.