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Victory Ups American Bike Power for 2011

By Arv Voss, January 15th, 2011

The Victory motorcycle division of Polaris Industries bills itself as "The New American Motorcycle." Victory's bikes, regardless of category, fill the bill as highly customized turn-key units right off the showroom floor.

For the 2011 model year, Victory has chosen to power all of the bikes with their 106 Freedom V-Twin - 1,731cc (106 ci) 4-stroke 50-degree SOHC, 8-valve Freedom V-Twin with electronic fuel injection, dual 45mm throttle body and split dual exhaust with crossover. The motor, which mates to an improved and enhanced six-speed constant mesh overdrive transmission, is capable of cranking out up to 97 horsepower, along with 113 lb.-ft. of torque.

As part of the special custom lineup, the Ness Signature Series represents three generations of custom Ness designs. The company's patriarch, Arlen Ness, has chosen the Vision Tour as his 2011 custom palette, while son Cory selected the Cross Country to make over, and Grandson Zach picked the Vegas model to modify.

Each specific Ness model is numbered and signed by its creator. My personal favorite for 2011 is Cory's Cross Country bike with a Cory Ness engine cover, stunning custom paintwork and Anvil-design 5-spoke alloy wheels. The seat is a low set, comfortable one-piece affair with a stepped up passenger pillion with a strap grip for the passenger.

The Cory Ness Cross Country rolls on Dunlop Elite 3 rubber -- 130/70 R18 up front and 180/60 R16 aft mounted on Anvil 5-spoke alloy wheels. The suspension componentry consists of front 43mm inverted cartridge telescopic forks with 5.1 inches of travel and a single rear monotube gas shock, with a cast aluminum, constant rate linkage swingarm providing 4.7 inches of travel. Bringing the Cross Country to a halt is accomplished by a conventional hydraulic system with forward dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers and a single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper in the rear.

My test Victory was the 2011 Cory Ness Edition Cross Roads model. The base sticker was set at $24,999. The 2011 Victory Cross Roads Cory Ness edition displays an emotional and dramatically pleasing visual presence, with the styling cues rivaling the appeal of a custom Harley.

All the angles and contours flow harmoniously, with the 106 cubic inch motor displayed in the frame as a jeweled focal point. The motor not only looks good, it delivers the mail with gusto. If there were a downside at all, the stock exhaust note, which is pleasing, would benefit from a little more thunder. On the plus side of that issue, it's much less likely to offend neighbors when firing it up.

The riding position is particularly comfortable and well balanced. The Ness Cross Country is a touring machine where everything works well from the handlebar and floorboard positioning to the well-padded seat.

The suspension travel smoothes out rough road surfaces for more pleasant riding conditions. The new modified six-speed gearbox is definitely smoother and quieter. The positive Neutral finder is a nice touch, unless you actually don't want to find Neutral, which happened on more than one occasion. There's plenty of power on tap with a very broad torque range if you want to minimize shifting gears.

During the national press launch, which took riders from Grand Junction, Colo. to above Telluride and back. On the return leg, riding through thunder and lightning accompanied by a torrential and soaking downpour didn't make for the most enjoyable ride I've ever taken, but the bike proved to be a stable mount, taking everything in stride.

Victory's new 2011 Cross Country Cory Ness edition provides a custom version right off the showroom floor in a lineup that now seems to be complete, with a wide selection of models that has something to satisfy every rider -- at least in the Cruising and Touring categories. The company's new tagline "Fuel It" refers to fueling one's passion for hitting the road on two wheels.

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