Article & Photos By: J.Ken Conte
Originally Published In The April 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
I was getting ready for Sturgis last year, and by getting ready I mean re-building my engine with my good friend Joe. We gave it our all, but it was obvious I wouldn’t be riding “Blood Stains” through the Black Hills for the 75th. I wasn’t heartbroken— it was my fault for not setting aside the time needed to properly get it together. It had been doubtful that I’d ride up even if we had gotten it done, because I wanted to break it in right. I contacted my friends at Victory and asked if they had a bike I could borrow. I requested a Cross Country for convenience. It had bags, a fairing, and a stereo, which are all accessories I wasn’t used to having on a motorcycle. When I got dropped off at the Victory demo lot I felt the usual unease that comes when getting familiar with a new ride. My initial thought, getting out of the parking lot, was that it felt nimble for a bike its size. I had spent some time on a Streetglide Custom, and this was very different, but that is not really an apples-to-apples comparison. I made my way to Lazalle, and there was no break in the traffic. I needed to get back toward the campgrounds, and there was only one sure way: gravel roads. I had been on the bike exactly 15 minutes and was already taking on gravel roads. That i is the true test of a bagger: how well it does on South Dakota’s “special” mix of pea gravel and fine dust.
That uneasy question—“Is it a good idea to ride a bagger on gravel?”—was starting to creep into the back of my skull as I crested the first hill. But there was no turning back and certainly no turning around. I eased into the first turn, just to see what I was dealing with. I was surprised at the surefootedness of the steady chassis. Shifting was smooth through the gears with no sudden jerks or audible clunks. It passed the initial gravel road test—now it was time to take it on a real ride. I met up with my friends Joe, Loren and Jeff, and they wanted to ride: It was in the 90’s that day and sitting around was not an option. We took the back roads through Sturgis, and I was still digging the nimble low center of gravity this bike offered at slow speeds. We rolled through traffic at a grueling 90 degrees, but I didn’t experience the typical unbearable heat coming off the exhaust. We soon threaded the congestion and moved on to roads more suitable for a serious test ride. We opened it up through the canyons outside of Sturgis, heading for Rapid City, and I put the bike to the test. I checked the braking and found it to be even and stable without any shuddering. I hit corners at a good clip, and the acceleration out of the turns was even and fluid—and there was no sign of dragging floorboards no matter how hard I tried.
The accessory plug worked even when the bike wasn’t running, which was nice for charging cell phones. The stereo was simple, sounded nice and paired well with my iPhone. On the highway, I found the bike to run very well at high speed, with very little engine noise and a decent amount of wind breaking from the fairing. As with most fairings, it sent the wind right to the top of my helmet, but a taller windshield would fix that. Overall, the Victory Cross Country handled well and performed its duties properly during my time at the 75th anniversary of Sturgis. If I were in the market for a nimble bagger, I’d definitely be thinking about a Victory Cross Country and you should too.