What: Victory Vision Street and Vision Tour
When: January 2008
Where: Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange County, California
Why: Riding impression, evaluation and commentary
How: Admittedly, before I begin, there's a confession that must be made: My thoughts about the Visions are as confused as to what category these bikes belong. That's not necessarily something unsavory. While undoubtedly attractive and unique in appearance, the plastic-ensconced uber-physique is reminiscent of, yes, a large scooter. OK, I said it, you may have thought it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it was just my (and many others' in an informal, completely impartial, independent survey) initial notion. I feel better getting that out of the way.
These bikes are so outside the proverbial box of the typical rendition of a cruiser/tourer that we had to establish a new set of judging criteria. For the record, Victory characterizes the Vision Street as the "Complete Cruiser" and the Tour as the "Ultimate Luxury Tourer." Other than the Tour's rear-mounted trunk (with speakers) that adds about 45 pounds to the bike, both bikes are identical in motor, trim and options. Our two test units came quipped with the Premium package, consisting of factory-installed options such as power windshield, heated seats and grips, high-intensity discharge headlight and an assortment of chrome accoutrements. The Premium package adds $1,500 to the base price of each bike, while a Comfort package ($500 with Premium features minus the HID light and extra chrome) for the Tour is also available.
Exclusive to the Vision platform is Victory's newly engineered 106ci Freedom powerplant-the company's largest ever. Like previous incarnations, the motor features two overhead cams and four-valve heads along with air/oil cooling. But this motor is more than just a stroked 100-incher; it has a new crankcase, cams, covers and primary drive that were all designed to make more power while producing a quieter, government-friendly auditory note. Facilitating the increased displacement are new pistons, rods and crankshaft. On the fuel management side of things, a new brain was employed to decipher the closed-loop fuel injection message that reduces emissions while maximizing drivability and performance under varying atmospheric conditions. All of this adds up to a torque-monster of an engine that purportedly pumps out 92hp with 109 lb-ft of torque. It's definitely peppy and has no problem moving around the large bikes.
Perhaps the biggest divergence from traditional tubular or square motorcycle frames is the Vision's monocoque frame that serves to not only suspend the motor but is also a massive airbox (see Oct. 2007 issue, page 30 for stripped-down images). The cast-aluminum part, borrowed from the sportbike world, allows large amounts of air to enter the motor; remember, a motor is just a big air pump, so more air in and out means more power. Like the rest of the Victory lineup, the six-speed overdrive transmission is contained within the engine case. To account for the extra weight, the Vision gets different gear ratios (higher sixth and lower first) that aid in acceleration and smoothness.
So far I've recounted mostly boilerplate ad copy. The meat of this evaluation should really be settled on the street-the absolutely chaotic, ever-busy, fast-moving LA megalopolis. Within an hour's ride anywhere in SoCal, one can experience the urban to the desert, the urbane to the worst roads in the country, with some of the best mountain twisties anywhere thrown in for some therapeutic adrenaline.