For decades the Arlen Ness brand has been a household name in motorcycling, especially in the V-twin customizing world. Because of the contributions from Arlen, his son, Cory, and now Cory's son-and Arlen's grandson-Zach Ness, the family business continues to thrive, even in a less-than-desirable economy. The Ness business model features a mishmash of ideologies: tried-and-true business strategies and tactics with new-school design that's evolved over the course of three generations and continues to do so today. Adapt or die as they say, which the Arlen Ness brand has done in spades.
Zach Ness joined the family business pretty much when he was born. In fact, Zach had already built several custom bikes before he even received his high school diploma. Hell, most teens are too busy trying to find their own identity, but Zach's heritage lay with custom motorcycles. It's in his blood. And when Zach was given the opportunity to take part in customizing a one-off Victory motorcycle in 2009--a Vegas--the Victory execs were pleased with Zach's efforts. After proving his talents, Victory gave Zach the opportunity to join his father and grandfather as a Ness Signature Series model contributor where he released his first limited-production run of the 2010 Zach Ness Vegas, which continued for 2011 and 2012, respectively. Because the Zach Ness Vegas line was successful, Zach graduated to Victory's bagger line and dressed up a 2013 Cross Country, which was released as the Zach Ness Cross Country (ZNCC) for the current model year. The ideas for the bike came after Zach made a cross-country voyage from Sturgis to his home in Dublin, California, aboard ironically, a Victory Cross Country.
We imagine that living up to the hype created by your father and grandfather over the years has to include a certain amount of pressure. Zach's new Victory motorcycle lives up to his customizing namesake. Zach added a slew of Arlen Ness catalog components to the stock Cross Country. Ness custom mirrors, Holeshot billet handgrips, Holeshot passenger footpegs, Holeshot Engine covers, a custom leather seat, and new split five-spoke, contrast-cut billet aluminum wheels all replaced stock Victory components. But the best feature of the bike overall has to be the subtle yet manly Suede Titanium Metallic paint and Ness graphics. The color alone speaks volumes about how important the right usage of paint can add to an aesthetic. And with just the right amount of graphics strategically placed tip to tail literally outlining the bike's lines is a great representation of Zach's eye.
Upon first glance of the motorcycle, it's evident that it was styled for a younger demographic, but one that an older, more distinguished gent would also covet. Starting at the front of the bike, the fairing-equipped bagger striped with Ness graphics, draws your eyes immediately down the side of the bike. You'll notice that Victory treated certain Cross models to a blacked-out aesthetic. For instance, the blacked-out headlight trim is another nice addition standard on certain Cross Country models. Averting your eyes down from there, you'll notice the blacked-out inverted front fork housing the Arlen Ness contrasting finish billet 18x3.5-inch wheel and dual floating 300mm rotors, with a nice marriage of black and polished metal in the front section. Also, the braking department features standard front and rear ABS. The ABS on a creme de la creme, limited-production bike should come standard in our opinion. Scanning the bike's exhaust-side profile, the blacked-out split dual exhaust with crossover features dual slip-on mufflers and again features just the right amount of contrast with the machined fins on the cylinders and heads of the Freedom 106ci V-twin. Yep, 106 ci power the Zach Ness Cross Country. It's really a powerful Engine that inspires the confidence to pass slow-moving traffic on two-laners; the type of confidence that might lead those on the fence of doing so to overlook the potential danger. Even at triple-digit speeds there is still more power there. With the Zach Ness Cross Country, you look forward to those opportunities to pass big rigs, almost like a game of chicken, and because the amount of power is so immense, the bike really comes alive throughout the entire powerband. Even better, acceleration can still be had in Sixth, to the point where you almost wonder if the frontend might point toward the heavens ultimately taking flight.
The Engine and six-speed transmission are a great representation of how the 106's power is delivered to the rear wheel. And in conjunction with the wet, multi-plate clutch, the shifter pedal glides through the gears seamlessly from First all the way to Sixth. Finding Neutral isn't an issue either as it was in years past. Granted the exhaust could be opened up a bit more to let the inner caged lion roar louder than he's able to in the stock version, but it's nothing that a set of aftermarket slip-ons couldn't fix. Overall, the powertrain department exceeds expectations. And its black with machined highlights are visually appealing and eye-catching, especially adorned with the Arlen Ness Holeshot Engine covers.
Being that the ZNCC is a dressed-up Cross Country, and said models were built for delivering the creature comforts of long trips, you still get the same brilliant 21-gallon storage Capacity via the hard, lockable saddlebags, standard cruise control, a kickass stereo System with upgraded Kicker speakers in the fairing, a saddlebag-equipped iPod cord ready to blast your favorite tunes during the ride, long Driver footboards for switching up your footing, and a toe-only shifter because hey, who likes it when their foot feels like it's sandwiched in a vise because of the heel-toe shifter? Not us.
Handling characteristics of Zach's Cross Country are as brilliant as the rest of the Cross models in Victory's lineup. Featuring a monoshock rear suspension and inverted front fork linked up to the two-piece cast aluminum frame work well in soaking up the bumps and when cornering. Cross clearance is not-nor has ever been-an issue thanks to the 4.7 inches of rear wheel travel and 26-1/4-inch seat height.
Overall, the Zach Ness Cross Country gets an A in our book. It features just the right amount of bling, a hearty and powerful motor and smooth-shifting trans that delivers said power, and because of the time Victory spent Engineering the suspension on across the Cross platform, the dressed-up Cross rides exceptionally well. And with its hot-rod paintjob featuring just the right amount of pizazz in the Ness graphics department, the bike immediately grabs your attention right out of the gate. Kudos to the youngest Ness customizer on a job well done, your father and grandfather should be proud.
|Engine Type||Four-stroke 50-degree V-twin|
|Valve Train||SOHC with four valves per cylinder|
|Fuel System||EFI, Dual 45mm throttle bodies|
|Fuel Capacity||5.8 gallons|
|Exhaust||Split dual exhaust with Crossover|
|OIL Capacity||5 quarts|
|Charging System||48 amps max output|
|Battery||12 volts/18 amp hours|
|Transmission||Six-speed overDrive constant mesh|
|Primary Drive||Gear Drive with torque compensator|
|Final Drive||Carbon fiber reinforced belt|
|Seat Height||26.25 inches|
|Ground Clearance||5.8 inches|
|Rake/Trail||29 degrees/5.6 inches|
|Dry Weight||765 pounds|
|Front||Inverted cartridge telescopic fork|
|Rear||Single, mono-tube gas, air adjustable|
|Swingarm||Cast aluminum with constant rate linkage|
|Front||ABS, dual 300mm rotors, four-piston calipers|
|REAR||ABS, 300mm rotor, two-piston caliper|
|Front||Dunlop 130/70R18 D418F Elite 3|
|Rear||Dunlop 180/60R16 D418 Elite 3|
|Color||Suede Titanium Metallic with Ness Graphics|
|MSRP||$25,999 US (California, add $250)|