Did custom touring just become a category?
Not being a fan of trailer queens or any machine that’s only meant to be looked at, I get a bit wary when I hear the word “custom” used to preface the name of a motorcycle, in this case Victory’s new Magnum “custom” bagger. Does this mean its abilities have been compromised in favour of aesthetics? It would be a shame, because baggers are among the most useful motorcycles made today: they’re comfortable and functional. They’re generally at the top of a product line and feature the finest engineering and amenities a manufacturer can offer. Take for example the Victory Cross Country: a great long-distance bike that’s become immensely popular, and is almost universally praised by its owners and most who have ridden one. So why then, would Victory take its beloved Cross Country and turn it into a factory custom bagger? I believe the answer is the highest of holy orders in this retail-driven world: customer demand.
First in Line
Our opportunity to be one of the first ones let loose on Canadian roads with a 2015 Victory Magnum came at the end – and I mean the very end – of the 2014 riding season, courtesy of Victory Motorcycles and Peak Powersports in Burlington, Ontario. We took full advantage of our allotted time with the Magnum, planning a trip to the north shores of Lake Superior aboard this touring machine, and a real test of what it’s capable of.
The new-for-2015 Victory Magnum weighs in at 345 kg dry, putting it in the heavyweight category, much like the price of admission at $25,399. Although it’s a deal when compared with the cost of purchasing any of the Magnum’s competitors, and then having to buy wheels and suspension components to achieve the look of this bike.
Victory uses the same proven frame and powerplant in both the Magnum and Cross Country. The Freedom 106/6 drivetrain is aptly named for its 106 cubic inches of displacement and six-speed gearbox. Producing a peak output of 106 ft-lb of torque, this sneaky smooth air/oil-cooled V-twin resides in all of the company’s models. While that may seem like a lack of variety to some, simply turning the throttle on the Freedom engine a couple of times will evoke an approving nod from most. Electronic fuel injection meters the “go-juice” admirably, returning fuel economy numbers around 6.25 L/100 km during 2000 kilometres in the four days I spent with the Magnum.
An inverted 43 mm cartridge fork upfront is tuned for a taut but compliant ride with 113 mm of travel. The rear mono-tube gas shock is air adjustable and offers 90 mm of movement. A new constant-rate linkage allows the Magnum to sit one inch lower than the Cross Country. The shock has also been stiffened to offset the lowered stance, reducing the chances of bottoming while maintaining the ride quality.
The Magnum comes standard with ABS and features a pair of four-piston calipers acting on dual 300 mm discs. The back is controlled via a two-piston caliper, squeezing another 300 mm disc. The front brakes have the look of something much sportier than might be expected on a cruiser, and the large rotors do double duty by filling some of the void inside that big 21-inch front hoop.
Keeping a Low Profile
More wheel and less rubber is clearly the going trend, and though it looks good – to a point – there are major concessions in ride quality. A low-profile tire on a large rim makes for a jarring ride, and on a motorcycle, having a giant pinwheel out front can make changing direction a challenge; all that rotating mass is not easily persuaded. Trying to find a balance between form and function, Victory has settled on a tasteful 21” x 3.5” front wheel design (the largest used on any bagger in production), while an equally attractive 16” x 5” rear hides behind the sleek saddlebags.
Victory upped the ante on the audio system, bestowing the Magnum with its most powerful stereo to date. The colour-matched front fairing houses six speakers through which you can channel the amp’s 100 watts using Bluetooth, USB or AM/FM radio.
In keeping with the design theme, paint…