Styles are cyclical, and a few years back, baggers became the rage. These vaunted, versatile machines are just at home cruising around town in their duties as a daily rider as they are packing down like a mule and riding cross country to Sturgis. Thanks to their requisite saddlebags and relaxed ergos, a bagger is capable of being loaded up for the long haul or can be hopped up for raising hell at the local Friday night drags.
Just as this style of motorcycle was trending, Victory Motorcycles went “all-in” and debuted its “Cross” line of motorcycles in 2010, two baggers with hollow, sand-cast aluminum frames mated to the company’s proprietary Freedom 106 engine. The edgy Cross Country becoming an instant hit with the bagger crowd, its distinctive lines inspiring the likes of custom builder Cory Ness to use one as his yearly Ness Signature Series offering for two years straight.
The Victory Cross Roads, on the other hand, sports a more classic look, studded leather bags and sweeping fenders wrapped around wire wheels. To promote the platform, Victory launched its CORE Custom Program in 2011, allowing riders to select the options they wanted on their Cross Roads before taking it home, ranging from the style of saddlebags to highway bars, windscreens and colors. Last year, Cross Roads offerings were trimmed to one model, the 2012 Cross Roads LE, a dolled-up version with exclusive paint and trim. This year, the Cross Roads returns for a fourth go-round, the 2013 Cross Roads Classic one of the most direct competitors to its American V-Twin rival based on archetypal styling cues and big V-Twin power base.
With ample wind protection, an ultra-comfy seat and spacious floorboards, the 2013 Victory Cross Roads Classic has the features to keep riders happy and comfortable on long hauls.
Our time with Victory’s 2013 Cross Roads Classic started not long after our plane landed in Austin, Texas. A quick 20-mile car ride later, we were at Kent Powersports in Kyle, Texas, the dealership owned by former major leaguer Jeff Kent and the starting point of our Texas Cross Roads Classic journey. With three bags in hand, one for my computer, one helmet bag, and a mid-sized Ogio bag stuffed with a week’s worth of clothes, I was initially concerned that the Cross Roads two saddlebags weren’t going to be enough. Does 17.4-gallons of claimed storage space equal three travel bags of goods? Luckily, they’re plenty deep and with a little creative packing, I was able to cram in clothes, camera equipment, a laptop, extra shoes and toiletries into both saddlebags.
Victory’s Freedom 106 engine has single overhead camshafts with four-valves per cylinder, self-adjusting cam chains and hydraulic lifters.
The next step was to adjust the preload on the rear to accommodate a 225-pound rider and the added weight of 25 pounds of gear. To adjust the single mono-tube gas shock, a Schrader valve sits just under the right side-cover and connects to a standard hand-held air pump. With the rear suspension dialed in to my personal preference, we had an opportunity to take in the styling cues that make up the Cross Roads Classic.
This angle shows the smooth, flowing lines of Victory’s 2013 Cross Roads Classic.
Front-to-back, the 2013 Cross Roads Classic has smooth, flowing lines. The centerpiece is a fantastic tank, muscular and wide with a raised spine down the top. The recesses on the sides of the tank provide a perfect spot to apply a contrasting color for the two-tone paint scheme. The tall columns of the V-Twins’ cylinders are spooned in tightly beneath it, and between the ample-sized side covers, saddlebags, and long pipes, the motorcycle overall is tightly packaged. Long, sweeping fenders are draped around a set of 60-spoke laced wheels, 18-inches tall up front and 16-inches in back, the chrome fender bumpers contributing to the motorcycle’s classy disposition. At 180mm wide, the rear Dunlop Elite 3 on the rear is wide enough to balance the bike’s aesthetics without sacrificing its handling. The only knock against the look of the rear is that its tasteful back hoop is lost beneath the oversized back fender.
The 2013 Cross Roads Classic sports an 18-inch front tire with a 60-spoke laced wheel to match its clean chrome bumpers.
We love the sculpted look of the Cross Road Classic’s tank and how tight the Freedom 106 is wedged into the sand-cast aluminum frame.
The bagger’s studded leather saddlebags have easy-locking buckles and are deep and wide enough to cram in plenty of gear.
Touring accoutrements of the Cross Roads Classic consist of a well-padded leather seat that has been studded to match the design of the saddlebags. Chrome highway bars rest just in front of the Cross Roads Classic’s long floorboards, the front of the bike anchored by a single large headlight sitting in its chrome housing flanked by two auxiliary lights. A tall, removable windscreen rises to about eye-level while the bars sweep back to place them within easy reach of the rider in their perch above the tank. The item that didn’t match the overall high quality finish of the motorcycle is the plastic shroud/chin spoiler mounted on the downtubes, the plastic of the matte black shroud looks shoddy when compared to the level of fit and finish on the steel fenders and the rest of the bike.
Between the bars lies a round, analog speedo mounted up high above the handlebar so it’s easy to read in motion. Besides the speedo, the cockpit is fairly Spartan. A handful of indicator lights are incorporated into the gauge face while a rectangular digital display provides functions like a gear indicator and clock. One amenity we appreciate is that the 2013 Cross Roads Classic comes standard with cruise control which engages easily via toggle buttons on the right handlebar. The black control housing it’s contained in is plastic and bulky, another cost saving measure that detracts from an otherwise clean bike. The black wiring under the bar is thick and noticeable and would have looked more attractive run internally.
Between its long, sweeping fenders, distinctive recessed tank, studded leather seat, crash bars and ultra-long floorboards, the 2013 Victory Cross Roads Classic is a real looker.
Hitching a leg over the saddle, a 26.25-inch seat height allows a six-foot rider solid, flat footing at a standstill. With a push of the electric start button, the just-shy-of four-inch pistons begin their rhythmic drumming within the 4.25-inch stroke, the 50-degree V-Twin settling into idle without a bunch of body-shaking vibrations. The exhaust note emanating from the split dual exhaust matches the character of the bike, rich but not overwhelming.
For the 220-mile ride down to Galveston, I meet up with Tony, my Austin-based wing man from way back. Evening is already setting in over the Texas Hill Country, happy hour for deer, wild pigs, and numerous other vermin who like to terrorize motorcyclists at dusk with death-defying dashes across the highways. We ride staggered but close down Highway 71, the headlights of the 2013 Cross Roads Classic so wide and deep Tony asks if I have my brights on. Thank you Victory for giving me the power to light up the night in hostile territory. An orange harvest moon sits just above the steel towers of a monstrously large power plant in the distance as we press on toward Galveston.
Settling into the ride, the power of the 2013 Cross Roads Classic 1731cc engine is deceptive. It doesn’t have that arm-wrenching first hit because it’s not geared to but it’s still hooking up and moving out. The powerband is relatively even, but the bike has a tendency to lug if you let rpm drop too much. Texas speed limits are higher than they are at home in Oregon so we set the pace at about an 80 mph clip. The sixth-gear overdrive comes in handy in this range, dropping 400 rpm off the top when shifting into sixth gear, going from 3150 rpm at 75 mph in fifth gear to an engine-friendly 2750 rpm in sixth. Traveling at this pace also reveals that this thing gobbles up gas when you creep above 75. We anticipated better range than the 35.023 mpg average we charted over 592 miles which used 16.903 gallons of gas. About the time the “Low Fuel” warning light comes on, the needle drops to “E” fast once it dips below the quarter-tank mark. We discovered that the needle will drop below the “E,” but watching it get there was disconcerting, especially since whenever we filled up there was still almost a gallon left in the tank.
The power of the Cross Road Classic’s Freedom 106 is deceptive. It doesn’t overwhelm riders with too much immediately available torque but has no problems getting up to highway speeds either.
With wide-open highways and little traffic, we’re quickly burning up the miles. The scooped-out seat on the Cross Roads Classic is well-padded and my knees are bent at an almost perfect 90-degrees. The floorboards are long and allow for a healthy range of movement so riders can shift pressure points on their backside during long stints while in motion. The fork-mounted windscreen deflects the majority of wind around the rider and is light enough that it doesn’t inhibit steering. After four-and-a-half hours in the saddle, I’m not tired at all, a nod to the comfort of the bike’s ergos and the layout of its controls.
For that matter, the suspension on the Cross Roads Classic deserves credit for providing a smooth-riding, comfortable platform. With almost five inches of travel both front and back, the damping and rebound are keeping the bike stable against all but the biggest Texas potholes. Only direct hits at speed tax the springs to the limit, and even then they rebound quick and smooth and keep riders in line. The inverted fork is a tad more rigid than the rear but as the miles melt away, the motorcycle’s suspension is the furthest thing from my mind, and not having to think about it means it’s doing its job well.
Waking up to green waves crashing onto tan, sandy beaches splashed in sunshine made the night ride worth it. The sound of big Twins revving in the parking bays below our condo serves as our wake-up call. There’s a ton of riders in Galveston for the Lone Star Rally, and everywhere we go the classic looks of the 2013 Cross Roads Classic is garnering praise and looks from the predominantly Harley crowd. Victory has done a commendable job of balancing the cues of the bike, attractive two-tone paint and subtle striping, chrome applied so that it’s complementary instead of overwhelming balanced out by the black of the frame, seat and saddlebags.
That afternoon we hit “The Strand,” the artery that snakes through the epicenter of the rally, which is stop-and-go packed. Fortunately the Cross Roads Classic’s center of gravity is fairly low and its dialed chassis keeps it easy to control. Doing the biker crawl on an 80-degree day brings to light the engine heat emanating from the rear cylinder head, though. The bike’s saddlebags serve us well at the rally as we carry cameras and backpacks in them as we roll between “The Strand” and the Seawall, but when it came time to stash our leather jackets in them we quickly realized the saddlebags don’t lock.
The signal-to-signal grind also makes us aware of the bike’s firm clutch pull because I was constantly working the clutch. The gears engage really late in the release while at the pedal, the shift lever engages high in the click. This created a scenario where sometimes I believed I had upshifted when I hadn’t, causing a big surprise when I released the clutch lever and the bike dove from engine braking instead of accelerating. We also had an issue with the neutral indicator on the digital display at a standstill that frequently flashed double bars, making me believe the bike was in neutral when it was still in gear. Again, a surprise was in store when the clutch was released.
The colors of fall fill the Texas Hill Country on our recent trip to Austin to test the 2013 Victory Cross Roads Classic.
After a couple of days at the rally, it was time to make the trek back to Austin. With a thunderstorm cell hovering above I-45, we opted to circumvent it by riding the length of Galveston Island until the road spit us north. After ten minutes riding through the fringe of the storm, Apollo smiled upon us with clear skies and golden rays the rest of the way. Cruising along at a 45 mph clip, the big V-Twin settles into an effortless cruising cadence while I’m sitting high in the saddle watching seabirds fly by. It is under these conditions that the merits of the Cross Roads Classic shine, a big, comfortable cruiser with relaxing ergos, plenty of power at the disposal of my right wrist, chrome bits gleaming in the sun. It’s all about getting to your destination in style and comfort. Nothing wrong with looking good while getting there, right?
One good thing our return to the hill country brings is curves in the road because traveling through the small towns of southeast Texas doesn’t provide many opportunities to test the handling of the 2013 Cross Roads Classic. Fortunately, our return to Austin remedies that with twisty little tidbits like the road to Mt. Bonnell. The neutral handling of the big cruiser means riders don’t have to leverage the bars much to get the bike to turn-in. At lean, the motorcycle has plenty of ground clearance and tracks true. Between its capable suspension and well-sorted chassis, steering the motorcycle is point-and-shoot. Pick your line and the bike will hold fine with plenty of torque ready to tap into when it’s time to accelerate out of curves.
Our time in the Texas Hill Country doesn’t come without having to dodge in and out of traffic. Austin has sprawled tremendously since I lived there and traffic is ten-fold what it used to be. Used conservatively, the brakes on the Cross Roads Classic provide linear stopping power. The front, with its big dual 300mm discs, has a progressive feel, its firm initial bite not too grabby followed by even, steady pressure. The single floating 300mm on the rear is a tad more catchy and will lock up with an overzealous stomp on the pedal. Anti-lock brakes are standard fare on the 2013 Cross Roads Classic, the system pulsy in the ball of your foot but effective nonetheless. A thumb wheel with four-way adjustability for the brake lever is an appreciated part of the package.
The classic styling of the appropriately named Victory Cross Roads Classic was a big hit with the riders we encountered during our tenure in Texas.
On an unseasonably warm Austin day in fall, car oil was thick at every intersection and it was bleeding up from the new asphalt. Add in the sand and dirt blowing around from all the construction the area is undergoing and traction from the motorcycle’s Dunlop Elite tires is scarce. The rear felt loose at times and didn’t instill much confidence in our interface with the road under these conditions.
After rambling around the Lone Star Texas for nigh on a week aboard the 2013 Victory Cross Roads Classic, we’ve witnessed the way it’s been positively received by riders of its American competitior. It’s blend of comfort, from its padded seat to its easy-riding ergos, are a plus. Its bags impressed us with how much we could cram in them. It has plenty of power without being punchy, and thanks to a stable chassis and supple suspension, ride quality is smooth and enjoyable. Eye-catching paint and tastefully applied trim add to its classic curb appeal and its versatility might be just enough of a carrot to dangle in front of bagger enthusiasts to sway them to ride Victory.