There are many different styles of motorcycles on the road these days: sport bikes, cruisers, touring, adventure, old-school, and the list goes on. If you like, that list can be expanded even more into subcategories, but one group that didn’t exist until Victory released the Vision was: futuristic.
Many people will say of the styling that they either love it or hate it, but no matter what you think of its looks, once you have ridden it, it’s pretty hard to disagree that the big Victory is one of the plushest, most comfortable bikes on the road.
As I walk up to the Vision, I cannot deny that its size is daunting, even more so when I am sitting on it and looking forward to the dash and fairing out front and the size of the handlebar, and glancing behind to the huge swooping hard bags and top box. But I soon come to realize, as I lift it off the kickstand, that maybe it isn’t going to be such a bear to handle after all. The bike feels relatively light considering the apparent mass that surrounds you.
Letting out the hydraulic clutch reveals a very friendly, wide friction point as the Vision begins to move off. It’s immediately apparent that the balance is quite good as my feet find the extra large floorboards. It’s impossible to miss the huge pothole when leaving our parking lot, so I scrub off some speed before impact. The bike handles the hole with no problem and even at the low speed, stays very stable.
This was my first experience as I climbed aboard the Vision. While the bike is big, all concerns faded as it became obvious just how easy it was to ride and handle. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this is the easiest big bike I have ever done a feet-up U-turn on without first getting a feel for the bike itself.
Riding the Vision through town to the highway results in stares from onlookers, both in cars and those walking on the street. Turning onto the ramp that leads to the highway and quickly spinning up into third gear surprises me when I glance at the speedometer–it’s reading 120 km/h. (I had to confirm the speedo’s accuracy with a GPS). It’s partly the size of the bike, but it doesn’t feel like you are going that fast, and what surprises the most is the short time it took to get there. Cruising down the highway seems to get the same reaction from the motoring public. As cars seem to catch up to me and position themselves in the next lane while they check out the Vision’s styling, making me nervous knowing that they aren’t watching the road and that they are only a metre or so away from me.
Luckily, with a very healthy claimed 97 horsepower and a maximum of 113 foot-pounds of torque occurring around 2,800 rpm, acceleration is no problem for 106 ci (1731 cc) Freedom V-Twin, and I scoot away from wandering eyes and cars. The air- and oil-cooled 50-degree V-Twin boasts a single OHC and 4 valves per cylinder with self-adjusting cam chains and hydraulic lifter to keep things quiet and maintenance free. The electronic fuel-injection system works flawlessly in any rpm range, and providing the engine is above 2,000 RPM, acceleration is smooth. Acceleration does suffer in the overdrive sixth gear, but a quick downshift takes care of that.
Shifting was positive throughout all six gears–loud in the lower gears, but then again, a heavy clunk is fairly normal for large-displacement, high-torque V-Twins. Final drive to the rear wheel is via carbon-fibre reinforced belt for durable, clean and quiet operation.
Comfort on the luxury-touring Vision is exceptional, with a deeply sculpted seat that offers lower back support and gives the feeling of sitting in the bike, as opposed to sitting on it. This results in a comfortable perch designed for hours in the saddle. Reach to the ground with flat feet is ideal for most inseams thanks to the seat’s taper at the front and the very low seat height of only 673 mm (26.5 in). The handlebar matches the size of the bike as it pulls back approximately 380 mm (15 in) to meet the rider. While it puts the rider in a comfortable upright position, it does make the dash seem a long way away, but other than viewing, no interaction with the dash is required. Feet are positioned on the floorboards below the hands, making for a relaxed riding position, and the oversized floorboards offer plenty of room to move your feet around on those long trips. I averaged 5.94 L/100 km (47.5 mpg) and with the 22.7 litre fuel capacity, it shouldn’t be any trouble to ride into the 375 km range between gas stops. The fuel tanks are tucked inside the fairing on both sides above the front wheel, aiding in even weight distribution.
The engine remained smooth with the exception of a very slight vibration in the mirrors and floorboards at 3,500-4,000 rpm on hard acceleration, but that is certainly nothing to be concerned about. I did find that the bike wandered a bit in crosswinds and when a transport truck passed in the opposite direction, as the expanse of bodywork acts like a bit of a sail. That is a petty point though, as any bike covered in bodywork will catch some crosswind, and the Vision handled it well. Generally, the Vision was very stable in a straight line and handled curves with equal ease, requiring only a slight push on the handlebar to hold a line.
The return of my press bike involved an hour and half ride on the superslab. Most times this would not present an issue, but on this particular day the temperature was two degrees and it was raining. Not so much of a problem with the Vision Tour, since both front and rear seats have their own dual-temperature heat controls (the switches are hard to operate, as they are at the bottom left of the passenger seat). Also, the handgrips are heated and the power windshield moves approximately 95 mm (3.75 in). I found the ideal position for the windshield to be about the midway point. If the windshield was in its highest position, it tended to whip the turbulence over my head and push on my back. The lower fairing offers great leg protection with just the outside of my legs getting wet from the rain. With this much protection from the elements, the nasty weather still allowed for a somewhat enjoyable ride.
Coming to a stop is as worry-free as speeding up. A pair of Victory-branded three-piston calipers squeezes 300 mm floating rotors up front, while a two-piston caliper clamps a 300 mm floating rotor in the rear. The system makes use of a linked brake system (ABS is optional) so that even a push on the brake pedal results in some front-brake action. A moderate two-finger squeeze on the brake lever will haul this 387 kg (852 lb) bike down in short order. Because of the linked system, utilizing the rear brake pedal alone does a fine job of slowing this mass down as well under regular conditions. Very nice polished 5-blade wheels wearing Dunlop Elite 3 tires, a 130/70-18 on the front and a very reasonable 180/60-16 on the back, round out the braking and engine power delivery to the pavement.
The Victory Vision Tour truly has all-day comfort built in with its touring seat, riding position and supple suspension. While I didn’t get the Vision on any rough roads, other than the normal irregularity of our secondary highways and county roads, there is no doubt that the Vision provides an ultra-smooth ride. The conventional 46 mm telescopic fork operates with cartridge dampers and progressive springs, providing 130 mm (5.1 in) of travel while the rear air-adjustable single mono-tube shock and constant-rate linkage give up 120 mm (4.7 in) of vertical movement.
The easy-to-see instruments are set high in the dash and display analog fuel and battery voltage gauges as well as a large speedometer and tachometer. Nestled between the larger gauges are warning lights and a vehicle information LCD screen that displays gear position, time of day, ambient temperature, trip meters, odometer, mileage information, average speed and distance to empty. You’ll find the radio, switches for the dual-range heated grips, 4-way flashers and driving lights as well as the ignition switch on the ‘faux tank’ console that stretches back toward the rider. The ignition switch also doubles as the fuel door opener when you turn the key backwards. Most switchgear controls are easily accessible, but reaching the handlebar stereo and cruise control buttons while still trying to hold the handgrip made for quite a stretch. The toggle and reset button for the dash’s LCD screen is easily accessible on the front of the left handgrip.
When riding any bike, but especially a big touring rig, there is always a possibility that you might lose your footing when stopping on gravel or an uneven road surface, and the thought of having 387 kg (395 kg / 869 lb with ABS) lying on the ground might seem a little troubling. Well fear not, the engineers at Victory thought of that. The Vision has ‘landing pads,’ so to speak. Under each floorboard are structurally sound frame members that prevent the Vision from landing on its side. Go to any motorcycle show with a Victory display and you will probably see it demonstrated. The bike stops at approximately a 45-degree angle that, first, makes it easier to pick up, and secondly, doesn’t allow damage to any painted or bright parts.
The Vision also has plenty of storage space as well–110 litres to be exact. The top box will easily swallow two full-face helmets, but the side cases are deceiving. It might be due to their large visual design, but when the side covers are opened, the side-case storage area seems fairly limited and only takes up a portion of the overall body panel. There is also a handy glove box on the left side of the fuel tank housing, opposite the fuel filler door. A 12-volt power plug and an MP3 plug reside inside – the stereo will accept an auxiliary sound source. For those times when the top box isn’t required, it is removable, making the Vision Tour appear much more svelte.
Even with the expanse of body panels that need to mate together, fit and finish is very impressive. The two-tone Ocean Blue and Sandstone Metallic paint scheme glistened in the sunlight and the panel seams matched perfectly.
There shouldn’t be any problem seeing the Vision at night, as the lighting is a predominant feature. The large 155-watt HID headlight and running-light turn signals take up almost the whole width of the fairing, while the tail, brake and rear signal lights, displaying a very prominent V, are big and bright. Running lights are also present on the lower rear corners of the trunk. Even the logo side badge on the Vision lights up to be visible from the side.
Whether you want to stand out from the crowd or just have a comfortable mount for touring, the Victory Vision Tour is an ideal bike. With the possible exception of the Gold Wing, its comfort is unsurpassed, and its slow-speed ease of handling is unexpected, as are many other aspects of this bike.
Very competitively priced at $25,867 to $27,539 depending on colour and optional ABS.
Go to www.victorymotorcycles.com or your dealer for more information.