2012 Victory Cross Country Tour Review

The next evolution of our favorite bagger

story by Pete Brissette, Photograph by Barry Hathaway, Victory, Created Aug. 11, 2011
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Victory’s Cross Country has left a positive impression on the motorcycle-buying public as well as the moto media in the past two years, earning Best Cruiser in our Best Of 2010 awards. For 2012 Victory has expanded the Cross Country into the Cross Country Tour.

Voluminous hard saddlebags, a robust fork-mounted fairing, class-leading power from Victory’s Freedom 106/6 V-Twin, sure-footed and confidence-inspiring handling from a stout but lightweight cast-aluminum frame, generous-for-a-cruiser air-adjustable rear suspension travel and sharp, distinctive styling lines have all added up to a winning combination for Victory in the Cross Country.

The CC (and Cross Roads) is the new sales leader at Victory, and it’s the bike the Minnesota-based company points to as a pivotal component in helping the company gain a 24% growth rate ahead of the rest of motorcycle industry, and moving Victory from the number-five spot to number two in sales in 2010 for 1400cc and larger cruisers. Furthermore, Victory says its international sales are up 59%.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

We’re not too surprised to hear of the success Victory is having with the groundbreaking Cross Country. We knew from our first trip with the CC in 2010 that it was, and still is, an impressive bagger. It offers a lot to the rider and leaves little to complain about.

Now, only a couple short years following the CC’s introduction, Victory has elevated the Country’s status to that of flagship model in the form of the new Cross Country Tour.

As we learned from our recent preview of the Tour, the once optional 17.7-gallon Lock & Ride trunk box is now standard equipment on the Tour, as is a new 20.5-inch windshield, and new hard-shell lowers each have 1.0-gallon storage capacity. Victory says the Tour’s 41.1 gallons of total storage capacity is more than any other touring motosickle on planet Earth.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

Built into the lowers are manually adjustable wind dams, and the left-side lower’s storage compartment sports an interface for an iPod/iPhone, and a 12V power outlet. The large fork-mounted fairing now wears new, clear wind deflectors located on the fairing’s lower edge. The deflectors, along with the airflow controls in the lowers, are what Victory calls the Comfort Control System.

When it came time to consider the passenger, Victory also built in a level of controllable comfort in the form of adjustable passenger floorboards. With three possible positions, the boards adjust up or down a total of 2.0 inches and also allow for a 10-degree angle adjustment. The CC Tour – along with all 2012 Victory touring models – gets non-linked brakes with ABS as standard. Also standard on the CC are heated grips, heated seats and cruise control.

Getting (re)acquainted with the Tour

Since the Tour is really just a variation of a Cross Country, a lot of what we’ve come to know about the CC in terms of engine performance, handling, braking, and even the sound system, is familiar stuff on the Tour. The chassis is generally a stable, reassuring platform for the type of spirited riding that would have many other touring sleds flexing and wallowing at the mere thought of sailing through a sweeper at speeds far beyond the posted limit.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

The Tour’s rigid but light sand-cast hollow aluminum frame helps keep the bike notably composed when bending this big rig through speed-welcoming corners. In our 2011 Bagger Shootout we noted that the Cross Country transitions quickly and easily between rapid-fire corners, its quick handling partly attributable to a narrow front wheel that may give its 130/70 x 18 front tire a more triangulated profile.

During our day-long 250-mile loop aboard the new Tour I was quickly reminded of just how agile this big Vic is when the road is twisted into ribbons of concrete. But I also recognized that I wanted a little more communication from the front-end, as at times feel was vague while cornering aggressively. Otherwise the Cross Country Tour is a rock-solid handler.

The addition of the Lock & Ride trunk with associated mounting hardware, the new fairing lowers, ABS system, and possibly even the taller windshield, push the Tour’s claimed dry weight to 845 lbs – a full 100 lbs more than the Cross Country’s dry weight.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

This added weight is most noticeable during slow-speed handling when, say, attempting a tight-radius U-turn, picking through a parking lot, ambling up to a red light and occasionally when heaving the Tour off its sidestand. But once thrust from the Freedom 106/6 (good for 77.5 hp and 88.9 ft-lbs in the Cross Country during our Bagger Blowout) has the Tour under way, the added weight melts away from perception in terms of negatively impacting handling. Yet I could sense the added weight has taken away some of the zip and pep I was used to feeling when accelerating the (lighter weight) standard Cross Country.

Slowing the Tour is also another low-effort, easy-going affair with ample stopping force and sufficient feel on tap from the dual four-piston caliper/300mm caliper/rotor combo up front. ABS activation has a low threshold and with limited pulsing sensation at the lever or brake pedal – all good things for the rider.

I’ve learned to become wary of bold claims by manufacturer’s, so when a Victory rep said that they effectively eliminated wind buffeting on the rider courtesy of the Tour’s new, taller windshield, fairing wind deflectors and hard lowers, I gave an audible Puh! and a snicker. Less than 100 miles into the ride I realized I had to eat my words, at least privately.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

The windscreen is quite tall. At 5 feet 8 inches tall I can look squarely through the screen rather than suffering the annoying task of craning my head to look over the shield to avoid the shield’s top edge from partially obscuring my view. Neither did I find myself slumping in the saddle to dip my vision below the top edge so as to look through the shield. Nope, this new screen offers a lot of clear plastic real estate.

And yet, when all venting was closed the cockpit was wonderfully absent any discernable air vacuum creating negative pressure that would normally force my head forward, like a bothersome chimpanzee was in the pillion trying to push my helmet into the handlebar.

Not content my experience was the best indicator of airflow in and around the rider environment, I asked our salty motojourno colleague and good chap, Barry Winfield, who stands well in excess of 6 feet tall, his assessment of any draftiness at the Tour’s helm. To my surprise he, too, reported no aggravating buffeting. Mission accomplished, Victory.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

Although rather simple in operation and concept, the airflow-redirecting Comfort Control System is nevertheless effective – just as advertised.

The middle portion of each hard-shell lower is a manually operated vent/air dam. A molded-in handle operates the vents and is easily worked with gloved hands. I found carefully opening or closing the vents with my boot proved a decent method, and although perhaps not as safe as coming to a complete stop to adjust the vents, it was a safer process than reaching down to work them by hand while the bike is still motoring along.

The air deflectors on the lower part of the front fairing are much easier to reach by hand, operate simply, and like the lower vents, are quite efficient at directing airflow to or away from the rider.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

The lower vents create a sizeable opening and do an excellent job of blasting your legs with cool air, as the left side engine did seem to produce a notable amount of heat. During winter months in mild climates when riding is still possible, this toasty heat will serve to keep riders comfortable. However, Winfield noted, that for his tastes, even with all venting open, he wanted for greater air circulation – he prefers less comprehensive wind protection from his motorcycles. Take his observations under advisement if you have similar needs from your ride.

The 1.0-gallon storage units in the top portion of the lowers provide welcome added storage. They’re roomy enough to stuff a lightweight jacket if it’s compressible, or perhaps a couple souvenir T-shirts. Unfortunately, the left-side hard lower’s storage door popped open on me two separate times while riding. The latch system – if I dare call it that – is just a simple plastic hook and tab. I checked the closure more than once, assertively, to ensure it was secure.

Normally I wouldn’t have been too concerned by this annoyance, however, this is the side that houses the iPod/iPhone connector, to which my iPhone was attached. Thankfully the phone remained connected to the cable while the compartment door was open, as I wasn’t sure exactly how long the door remained open during the ride. This whole issue is easily resolvable if Victory will see to installing some type of more secure-latching metal hook and tab rather than the current flimsy plastic set up.

Secondly, a strap or pocket for the iPhone/iPod is another worthwhile update for this storage compartment. At the end of the ride I realized I hadn’t padded my phone’s environment in any manner. A few abrasions on the phone meant it was rolling and bouncing around in the compartment while I rode along at 90 mph-plus blissfully ignorant of my poor phone’s torture. Thank goodness I invested in a hard protective phone case a year ago…

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

Other tidbits worth noting are that the sound system is powerful, the volume auto adjust worked perfectly, and the speakers have excellent clarity. The simplistic sound system controller is carried over from the Cross Country; while you’ll have access to the various menus (Artist, Playlist, Album) in your iPod, getting to them takes some practice.

Another revision I’d like to see is a more inconspicuous mounting rack with better styling integration for the Lock & Ride trunk. And I’ll bet ya a dollar to a doughnut that if given the option of an electronically adjustable windscreen, consumers would take the bait.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

I concluded at the end of our journey that the most compelling compliment I could give the CC Tour was that I was fresh and ready to immediately log another 250 miles the same day thanks to the bike’s overall excellent ride quality (including the comfy seat), and enhanced rider environment with welcome flexibility and accessibility.

More tour in the Cross Country means more grief for Harley

With all that makes up the Cross Country Tour, it now supplants the polarizing Vision as top dog in the Victory stable. We know this if for no other reason than by the $1000 premium the Tour’s MSRP demands over the Vision’s $20,999 price tag.

Like the Cross Country before it, the Tour presents more serious competition for Harley-Davidson’s touring lineup.

The original Cross Country gave riders everything and more than they could get from Harley’s Street or Road Glides, at least in terms of objective areas like storage capacity, engine power and suspension performance. And the CC did this for at least $1000 less than the comparable H-D models.

2012 Victory Cross Country Tour

Now the fully loaded Cross Country Tour follows suit, with its $21,999 price giving grief to the similarly equipped (hard shell lowers, ABS, cruise control, full luggage, sound system, etc) Road Glide Ultra that retails for $500 more. Yet the Ultra still comes up short in the engine department with its Twin Cam 103 not on par power-wise with Victory’s 106-cubic-inch Twin.

The H-D Electra Glide Ultra Limited pushes the price gap further, costing nearly $2000 more in its basic Vivid Black color scheme than the Cross Country Tour.

Related Reading
2012 Victory Cross Country Tour Preview
2011 Victory Lineup Reviews
2011 Victory Cross Roads Review
2010 Victory Cross Country Review
2010 Victory Cross Country vs. Harley-Davidson Road Glide
2010 Victory Models Lineup Preview
All Things Victory on Motorcycle.com
All Things Touring on Motorcycle.com
All Things Cruiser on Motorcycle.com

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