I parked the bike a few metres away from the famous Penang Road chendol stall. The chendol is a must whenever one’s in Penang, what more on a hot day like this.
I returned to find a small crowd surrounding the bike. A few were already posing for pictures with it. Everywhere I went, it was like people had just spotted The Rock and they couldn’t help to stop and stare, snap pictures. And ask questions. Many questions.
The interrogation started as soon as I got near it:
“How many cc is this?” “What is it?” “Where is it from?” “How much is it?” “Must be great on the highway right? Isn't it heavy?”
They were easy to answer, given the amount of practice I’ve had over the last 3 days. “1,737cc, Victory Cross Country Tour, America, around RM180K. Most definitely, it’s a tourer. Not really.”
But there’s one question that bugged me from the time I took the bike from Victory at Naza Auto Mall. It was from my significant other, no less: “Abang! Can you really ride this bike? It’s huge!”
The Cross Country Tour was released as a good ol’ big cube American bagger tourer, something more traditional next to its “bigger” sibling, the Vision Tour. First debuted in 2012, the Cross Country Tour and Cross Country have sold many units in the United States.
I’m glad to have found out the reasons firsthand, after riding it around KL, then to Penang and spending some time touring the island before finally returning to KL, totaling more than 1000 kilometres. I loved every second of it!
First off is the amount luggage space the Cross Country Tour has. The combined capacity of the huge top box, and two sidecases is an astounding 155.58 litres! That’s more than a Honda Gold Wing’s and way more than a Harley Electra Glide’s. A Perodua Viva’s boot space is only 149 litres by comparison. So instead of getting stressed out about what to leave out, you could probably just bring anything. The top box took two fullface helmets AND a backpack!
Victory Motorcycles Malaysia removed the air deflectors that were mounted on the tubular crash bars on the review bike, but owners will receive their bikes with the item fully mounted. They provide more storage spaces and the left side also has an iPhone/iPod connector, plus another 12V outlet. There are two more outlets, one on the dash and another in the top box.
The large fairing looks mighty imposing, but it is truly functional. Below it on either side, are two transparent hinged panels. The rider could angle them to stream air to the legs, elbows or chin. The tall windscreen is claimed to flow some air to the rider but cuts out on turbulence. Victory wasn’t blowing hot air about this. I could ride all the way to the bike’s top speed with my helmet’s faceshield open and it was good at deflecting rain from my torso too. There’s just enough airflow to the top of the shoulders, top of the helmet and elbows.
That large fairing provided a great place for some handsome gauges, with a large speedo on the left and tacho on the right. The speakers were clear and had great bass which could be heard through a fullface helmet even at speed. They held up against heavy rains too.
I rode all the way to Penang with only one short stop without any discomfort anywhere. I’ve always asserted about the Gold Wing’s seat being the most comfortable but the Cross Country Tour’s buried that notion by a wide margin. The handlebars are swept back toward the rider for a super comfortable reach and allowed the elbows to hang downwards naturally. The seat is low and set further behind the engine than its contemporaries, which has the effect of moving the rider away from the engine’s heat (which isn’t much anyway, surprisingly).
Speaking about the engine, that 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin nuclear powerplant is unexpectedly smooth and quiet. Vibration is there but unobtrusive, despite being solidly mounted to the frame, so you don’t have to worry about your body turning numb when you reach your destination. The engine pulled like a locomotive all the way to fifth and sixth is overdrive (the output shaft spins faster than the input shaft) for even smoother cruising. Overtaking is absurdly easy with all that torque.
So, being 1,737cc must mean the bike’s thirsty, right? Nope. Average consumption at 140km/h was 18km/litre.
The Cross Country Tour has pretty amazing brakes for a bike of this weight too. They may not have as much feedback as a sportbike’s, of course, but they hauled the bike down from big speeds really quickly. ABS is standard and oh my, was I glad!
It rained heavily on the night I picked up the bike. I was on my way home and followed a car off a set of traffic lights when it suddenly swerved left and then cut back across the road to U-turn, leaving half its length across the road! My right foot was still off the footboard so all I could do was pull in the front brake lever with all my might. The front tyre started pulsating as ABS came on and I managed to swerve away. I never thought it would be possible on a sub-400kg bike!
So, how was it to ride?
The Cross Country Tour just rumbled happily along on the North-South Highway to that thundering V-Twin soundtrack. The plush suspension rolled over every bump like they weren’t there, but still provided enough feedback from the tyres’ contact patches.
My main concern was course the width of the bike in tight spaces. En. Mazhar and En. Ady of Victory laughed and offered the tip to let the bike flow. It worked. The bike passed every tight motorcycle lane behind those toll plazas without bother. It cleared the ferry’s toll booth, too.
That’s also helped by the fact Polaris set out to make Victory motorcycles the best handling cruisers from the very outset of their venture.
All those fears and concerns of needing muscles like The Rock to control the bike were utterly destroyed. The bike was agile! A shove of the handlebars and some body English had the bike railing through corners. And once leaned over it just digs in and goes, even in pouring rain. Not as agile as sportbikes, of course, but relatively good nonetheless.
Another great attribute of a large motorcycle such as this is its imposing size. Other vehicles gave way without protest. You could also imagine the number of stares coming your way. I’m not one who likes the limelight, but it’s impossible to not feel a little pompous while riding the Victory Cross Country Tour.
To demonstrate how easy it was to ride (by not launching into a 15-minute briefing), I allowed a few individuals to push the bike around using their feet while seated on it. They were surprised they could.
So what was the answer to the Mrs.?
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
Engine 50-degree V-Twin, SOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder, air- and oil-cooled
Displacement 1,737 cc
Bore x Stroke 101 mm x 108 mm
Compression Ratio 9.4:1
Torque 143.7 Nm
Fuel injection Electronic fuel injection with dual 45mm throttle bodies
Transmission 6 speed, constant mesh with overdrive
Clutch Cable actuated, multi-plate wet clutch
Front suspension USD forks, 130mm travel
Rear suspension Single tube air adjustable shock, 120mm travel
Front brake Two 300mm discs, four piston caliper
Rear brake Single 300mm disc, four piston caliper
Fuel tank capacity 22 litres
Rake/Trail 29 degrees/142 mm
Seat height 667 mm
Wheelbase 1670 mm
Dry weight 384 kg
Story and pictures by Wahid Ooi Abdullah