You might even say the Cross Roads grants the rider a purer, almost elemental wind-in-the-hair ride compared to other touring-biased cruisers.
Although the Cross Roads doesn’t provide what the Country does in terms of wind protection and creature comforts, it is otherwise the same basic motorcycle as the Country, a variation on the same theme, if you will.
Where the Country has a fork-mounted fairing and hard saddlebags, the Cross Roads is without wind protection of any kind, and its hard interior saddlebags wrapped in black vinyl with real leather accents, while quite roomy at 17.4 gallons total storage, are roughly 3.6 gallons shy of the upspec hardbags' total capacity. The Roads' bag lids use a common plastic buckle for opening and closing. A leather buckle attached to the upper plastic buckle helps snug up lid closure as needed. (Were the bags wholly lashed with a real leather buckle you'd likely get frustrated with having to line-up the pin to the holes, and also have to contend with the very real issue of leather stretch, dry rotting, etc. Ergo the plastic buckle presents a potentially more secure, simpler and reliable closure – hence their use on most cruisers' leather bags.)
No, you won’t get to tune in your favorite FM classic rock station or pump music from your iPod while aboard the Roads like you can on the long-haul-oriented Cross Country. But with the Roads you’ll enjoy a $3000 savings when comparing the Cross Country’s costlier $17,999 MSRP.
The Cross models’ potent 106-c.i. air/oil-cooled V-Twin with 6-speed gearbox carried in an aluminum frame proves plenty of go power, while an excellent suspension package gobbles up rough roads as you rack up the miles. During our recent 2011 Bagger Shootout the Cross Country’s forgiving ride and solid-handling chassis impressed us, as did its abundant lean-angle clearance. All those good qualities are also found on the Cross Roads.
"...An excellent suspension package gobbles up rough roads as you rack up miles."
The Cross Roads is largely the same bike as it was when introduced in 2010. However, for 2011 the 106-cubic-inch mill (now standard on all Vics) receives a reworked transmission to provide smoother shifting and quieter operation, while the Roads (along with select other models) also sports a new speedo/instrument cluster.
This new, single-unit instrument now includes integrated warning lights that Victory had previously placed in the top of the triple clamp. A comprehensive LCD readout in the bottom of the gauge displays a segmented bar graph fuel gauge, digital rpm readout, trip meter, odometer, gear-position indicator and clock. Indigo backlighting for the instrument is a slick touch – its illumination at night has a soothing effect on the eyes.
Victory claims the Roads’ dry weight of 745 lbs is 20 lbs less than that of the Cross Country. We’ve not had the opportunity to put each bike on a scale, but the Country’s batwing fairing (which houses a sound system, tachometer, other small gauges and LCDs), hard saddlebags and flying buttress-style aluminum highway bars seem like a combination that would add up to more than 20 lbs.
Regardless of how much the Cross Country’s fairing actually weighs, its added weight is up high and is what I suspect contributes to sometimes unwieldy slow-speed handling – like when picking your way through a U-turn or making that last-second dive for a parking space.
The Cross Road’s front-end is free of this added weight, and after a day aboard the bike, my perception is that low-speed handling is a touch more agile compared to the Cross Country.
If you’re the type of rider looking for an unadulterated view across the handlebar, then the Cross Roads might interest you. But as I’ve learned over my many years of riding, life behind a windshield is good.
My Cross Roads testing took place during a cold and windy late fall day in SoCal, and I couldn’t have been happier to have the accessory mid-height windscreen. Wind buffeting was limited, and I stayed much warmer than if I rode shield-less. The screen attaches rather simply but securely with four Allen bolts.
Victory’s intention with both Crosses was a direct aim for the heart of Harley-Davidson’s bagger dominance, attempting to offer more bike for less dollar. Where the Cross Country targets the Harley Street Glide, the Cross Roads is aimed at the more classically styled Road King.
As the Roads comes equipped, it doesn’t quite mimic the equipment the RK carries, but the Cross Roads also retails for $2K less than the $16,999 Road King in Vivid Black color scheme – other color choices raise the King’s base price. The Victory also comes with cruise control as standard (same on the Country), where H-D charges an additional $295 for that feature.
Another, more expensive option is available in the Road King Classic.
The RK Classic uses leather bags instead of the hard shell units on the standard RK, but the addition of Harley's new PowerPak (103 c.i., ABS and security system), whitewall tires and wire spoke wheels adds approximately $2500 beyond the standard Road King's tag, meaning the Classic ($19,499) is $4500 beyond the Cross Roads' starting price. Yeah, figured that'd get your attention.
If you’re really keen on the base Road King’s standard goods of windshield, hard saddlebags and chrome tubular steel highway bars/engine guard, there’s a way to get a Cross Roads equipped in similar fashion.
Using what Victory calls its Cross Roads Core Custom program, you can build your Cross Roads online or at a dealer by selecting the aforementioned windshield for $550, hardbags for an extra $300 (listed separately for a grand) and highway bars for $350. For another $350 you can select crash-protecting bars for the hardbags.
So, equipping a Cross Roads similarly to a Road King certainly will boost the Roads’ base MSRP of $14,999, pushing it to within roughly $450 to $800 of the Harley’s price tag – depending on the number of add-ons for the Vic. But a key distinction remains in that the Victory comes with a 106 cubic-inch engine, while the standard Road King employs a 96-incher.
Dyno testing in this year’s Bagger Shootout revealed the Vic Twin churned out nearly 89 ft-lbs, while the Harley Street Glide – equipped with a larger 103 c.i. engine as part of the $1995 optional PowerPak – managed only 81.4 ft-lbs. Furthermore, the Victory hit peak torque later in its rev range and carried the power advantage farther compared to when and for how long the Harley achieved its peak.
Despite the obvious comparison of Victory to Harley, another player worthy of consideration waits patiently in the shadows.
Although Kawasaki's Vulcan 1700 cruiser platform consumes but a fraction of the bagger sub-segment dominated by Harley, the Vulcan 1700 Classic LT is an oft-overlooked contender in what is quickly becoming an American vs. American battle.
The Vulcan's 103 c.i. Twin is a bit less engine (1700cc vs. 1731cc for the CR) than what the Victory brings to the game, however, the Kawi's Twin does benefit from liquid-cooling. The soft-leather-bag bagger from Team Green also comes with a windshield as standard, and retails for $14,199 – an $800 savings compared to the Cross Roads.
In our recent Bagger Shootout, we dubbed the Country as the bike offering the most bang for the buck. Considering the Roads’ intended American competition, there’s no reason we couldn’t say the same for this other Cross model from Victory.