Test Ride: 2011 Victory Cory Ness Cross Country

Each Ness clan member adds custom touches to individual bikes

The Victory motorcycle division of Polaris Industries celebrated their 10th Anniversary in 2008 and entered their second decade of ?The New American Motorcycle? production with significant mods to the 2009 lineup of bikes in both the cruiser and touring categories. 2010 saw the addition of two new touring models ? the Victory Cross Roads and Victory Cross Country. The Cross Roads bike offered hard sculpted bags, forward crash bars and a windshield, while the Cross Country cruiser substituted a fork-mounted fairing with a ?shorty? windshield. As with all of Victory?s models, regardless of category, the bikes fill the bill as highly?customized turn-key units right off the showroom floor.?

For the 2011 model year, Victory has chosen to power all of the bikes with their 106 Freedom V-Twin – 1,731cc (106 ci) 4-stroke 50-degree SOHC, 8-valve Freedom V-Twin with electronic fuel injection, dual 45mm throttle body and split dual exhaust with crossover. The motor, which mates to an improved and enhanced six-speed constant mesh overdrive transmission, is capable of cranking out up to 97 horsepower, along with 113 pound feet of torque.

As part of the special custom lineup, the Ness Signature Series represents three generations of custom Ness designs. Patriarch, Arlen Ness has chosen the Vision Tour as his 2011 custom palette, while son Cory selected the Cross Country to make over, and Grandson Zach picked the Vegas model to modify. Each specific Ness model is numbered and signed by its creator. My personal favorite? for 2011 is Cory?s Cross Country bike which features a Cory Ness engine cover, stunning custom paint work and Anvil-design 5-spoke alloy wheels.?

The Cory Ness edition Cross Country sports a rich Sunset Red base coat accented by Blue and Black graphics on both fenders, the fairing, tank and hard bags. A center character line runs the entire length of the bike from the front composite fender, through? the headlamp and fuel tank, and continuing through the rear fender to the stylized ?V? taillight and running light with a chrome trimmed ?V? rear directional light assembly. The streamlined, extended tank also features a distinctive side sculpting, as do the contoured, composite, lockable hard side bags. The fuel filler cap is positioned to the right of the centerline of the otherwise uncluttered tank top – the only non-symmetrical styling cue on the bike.

The upscale Victory Cross Country is exceptionally pleasing to the eye even in its base form, and it is not as futuristic or radical in appearance than the larger Vision models are. Large floorboards are provided for the rider, with pegs for the passenger.

The Cory Ness Cross Country rolls on Dunlop Elite 3 rubber — 130/70 R18 up front and 180/60 R16 aft mounted on Anvil 5-spoke alloy wheels. The suspension componentry consists of front 43 mm inverted cartridge telescopic forks with 5.1-inches of travel and a single rear monotube gas shock, with a cast aluminum, constant rate linkage swingarm providing 4.7-inches of travel. Bringing the Cross Country to a halt is accomplished by a conventional hydraulic system with forward dual 300 mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers and a single 300 mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper in the rear.

The seat is a low set (26.5-inches), comfortable one-piece affair ideal for vertically challenged riders, with a stepped up passenger pillion with a strap grip for the passenger. Dimensionally, the Cross Roads is longer in terms of wheelbase and overall length than Harley-Davidson?s Ultra Classic Electra Glide, yet it weighs in at 107 pounds less than the Harley thanks to the use of composite materials in the body work. The cost of the Cross Roads is also considerably less.

My test Victory was the 2011 Cory Ness Edition Cross Roads model. The base sticker was set at $24,999. Add $250 for California emissions. Some dealers may charge for dealer prep and handling.

SUMMARY:? The 2011 Victory Cross Roads Cory Ness edition displays an emotional and dramatically pleasing visual presence, with the styling cues rivaling the appeal of a custom Harley. All the angles and contours flow harmoniously, with the 106 cubic inch motor displayed in the frame as a jeweled focal point. The motor not only looks good, it delivers the mail with gusto. If there?s a downside at all, the stock exhaust note, which is pleasing would benefit from a little more thunder. On the plus side of that issue, it?s much less likely to offend neighbors when firing it up.

The riding position is particularly comfortable and well-balanced. The Ness Cross Country is a touring machine where everything works well from the handlebar and floorboard positioning to the well-padded seat. The suspension travel smooths out rough road surfaces for more pleasant riding conditions. The new modified six-speed gearbox is definitely smoother and quieter. The positive?Neutral finder is a nice touch unless you actually don?t want to find Neutral, which happened on more than one occasion.? There?s plenty of power on tap with a very broad torque range if you want to minimize shifting gears.

During the national press launch, which took riders from the Gateway Canyons Resort (about 60 miles out of Grand Junction, Colorado) to Mountain Village, above Telluride for lunch (about 100 miles) and back. Riding along a river, through towering red cliffs provided a remarkably picturesque scenario. On the return leg, riding through thunder and lightning accompanied by a torrential and soaking downpour didn?t make for the most enjoyable ride I?ve ever taken, but the bike proved to be a stable mount, taking everything in stride.?

In the final analysis, Victory?s new 2011 Cross Country Cory Ness edition provides a custom version right off the showroom floor in a lineup that now seems to be complete, with a wide selection of models that has something to satisfy every rider ? at least in the Cruising and Touring categories. The company?s new tagline ?Fuel It? refers to fueling one?s passion for hitting the road on two wheels.


More from Our Auto Expert