Am I getting old? I think I may be getting old. What other explanation could there be for my fondness toward big-ass baggers like the Honda F6B or -- far more appealing to me -- the new Victory Cross Country? In my heart, though, I tell myself it is not so much age that makes me want such a thing but a gradual understanding of my own style and needs. The more I ride, the more I feel I'd like to own two types of bike: one for moving around in city traffic, and one that can comfortably haul Jenn, me and a bunch of stuff to various locations.
I love Aliona (that's Jenn's name for my bike), but she's not exactly the ideal machine for taking two people much further than the nearest beach. Both of us have found there is a magical 46-mile threshold before Aliona suddenly becomes very uncomfortable to sit on (I am assuming tolerance distances will increase with experience, though. And I can last longer on my own, when buzzy pegs are less of a problem due to less strain on the engine). So what I dream of sometimes is a big, comfortable beast. And when I think of big machines, I think of Victory Motorcycles.
I've mentioned before my deep emotional attachment to Victory. Their parent company, Polaris, is based in Minnesota and they hold a more legitimate claim to being American-made than Harley-Davidsons. Parts are manufactured in Wisconsin and Iowa and the bikes are assembled in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Until the day a manufacturer sets up shop in Texas I will feel a tremendous allegiance to Victory (a).
I'd love to own a Jackpot or a Judge (in spite of their stupid names) but can't honestly imagine a scenario in which a lumbering naked machine would be terribly enjoyable. Certainly not in Britain. Perhaps some day when I'm back in Minnesota such a thing would be the perfect way of meandering along Mississippi River Boulevard, Minnehaha Parkway and around Calhoun and Harriet lakes. Here, though, I'd like something just a tad more practical, even if that means forgoing some of the cool.
Step forward the Cross Country: a big, comfy, ride from the Upper Midwest (or, at least, I'm assuming it's comfy; I've never sat on one). It's not quite as sexy/threatening as I'd like a big American machine to be, but it definitely maintains an air of sleek coolness that I don't see in the Harley-Davidson Street Glide, which appears to be the Cross Country's equivalent.
I'd love to get one in what Victory calls "nuclear sunset orange," but to me looks a lot like the University of Texas burnt orange, and head out on adventures to Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Germany and beyond. How awesome would it be to tour Europe on such an intrinsically American machine?
I do have some issues with the Cross Country, though. Firstly, there is the name; it is boring and inexplicably makes me think of the golf shirts that my grandfather wore. Secondly, I feel the space on the fairing is ill-used. If I had that bike I'd probably remove the stupid, unnecessary and likely-to-break speakers to create useful space for maps and bottles of water and so on. And lastly, I'm a little concerned about that 26-inch seat height. Zoinks that's low.
In truth, if I were in the position to buy a bagger/tourer I'd struggle to look in any other direction than a reliable, shaft-driven, ABS-equipped, heated-grip, full-fairing F6B. History shows that although I love choppers and hispter rides, I'll eventually spend my money (b) on reliability and technology. But in watching the video for Victory's new line-up something very important caught my eye.
Blink and you'll miss it. But for less than half a second the camera focuses on three little letters: ABS. The Victory Cross Country is available with ABS brakes. This is what I want, yo. A cool, American bike with modern technology. Now all I need is $20,000.
(a) And the same can probably be said for new Indian Motorcycles. Like Victory, they are owned by Polaris and headquartered in Spirit Lake, Iowa. I look forward to seeing what they produce over the coming months. They new Chief is set to be unveiled at Sturgis and there is talk of an all new Scout, as well.
(b) Or, well, someone else's in the case of my bike.