After more than a year of building up a motorcycle that was six years in development, Victory Motorcycles executives finally gave members of the motorcycle press the keys to the first Vision motorcycles to roll off the assembly line. In mid-June, I joined my motorcycle media colleagues at Victory headquarters in Minneapolis to test ride the two versions of the Vision -- the Tour and the Street. The bikes are exactly the same except the Tour has a rear top pack that adds about 50 pounds to the bike.
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There are three versions of the Vision Tour: the basic Tour priced at $19,999; the Comfort package priced at $20,499; and the Premium package at $21,499.
There are two versions of the Street: the basic model selling for $18,999; and the Premium selling for $20,499.
The question on all our minds was would the bike live up to all the hype, and did Victory accomplish what it set out to do -- that is build a luxury touring motorcycle that meets the style and comfort demands of its customers? Let me start to answer that by sharing my initial thoughts.
My first impressions:
1. They're big: From my 5-foot 6.5-inch, 30-inch inseam, 117-pound vantage point, the bikes are big -- 849 and 804 pounds without fluids respectively for the Tour and Street to be exact. Having spent thousands of miles each on a Honda Gold Wing and a Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic, two of the biggest motorcycles out there, big doesn't intimidate me. Big just means I have to be extra careful in my footing and in my slow handling of the motorcycling.
2. Low seat:
The Vision has a low center of gravity and is very balanced. I never felt it was going to tip over easily. P.S. I'm wearing the G Line Doheny jacket and pants; Harley-Davidson boots, and an Arai helmet.
The first thing I hone in on when I sit on a motorcycle is seat height. Despite its bigness, the low seat on the Street allows me and those with similar or larger measurements to sit flatfooted with bent knees. The 26.5-inch seat height is the lowest of any of the big luxury touring bikes. Good thing. Shorter riders will benefit from the extra leg length needed to maneuver the bike when straddling it.
3. Very comfy seat:
The rider and passenger seats are the same on the Street version (foreground) and the Tour version (background).
The next thing I notice is the seat. This one is extremely comfortable. Not too hard and not too soft. Victory boasts four inches of padding. I like how it curves up around my butt and lower back providing extra support. On these bigger bikes, I usually have to scoot up to reach the handlebars. Since the position of the bars is ergonomically correct for my body size, I enjoyed the comfort of the entire saddle. (See photo of me on bike above.) Riders slightly smaller than me as well as those larger will easily "fit" on the Vision. I noticed my male colleagues (of varying sizes, mind you) also enjoying the friendly ergonomics. Interesting how Victory could make a bike fit both a woman like me of average height as well as a guy 6-foot-2. Kudos for rider fitment!
4. Lots of cool gadgets:
This iPod plug, located in a compartment on the lower part of the dash, is an optional item on the Vision motorcycles.
The coolest, I think, is the interface the bike has with an iPod. Victory worked exclusively with Apple to provide an accessory plug on the bike that connects only to an iPod. The rider can control the iPod using the bike's handlebar mounted audio controls and listen to it through the bike's external speakers. No need to use earphones. An iPod essentially replaces the need for a CD player. Note that this is an accessory item. All Visions come with MP3 player plug as standard equipment.
5. Tip-over protection:
The Vision has mounting points and electrical connections for a GPS and a CB radio.
In the event of a tip over, the Vision is protected by small "wings" on either side of the bike.
I was real keen on the tip-over protection feature built into the bike. Victory engineers are well aware the Vision is big so they incorporated a metal "step" near each passenger footboard that sticks out just far enough that when the bike tips over it lands on the edge of that step preventing the bike from tipping over further and damaging it.
The tip-over wing is placed right under the passenger floorboard flowing seamlessly with the lines of the bike.
From this position, riders skilled in up-righting a downed motorcycle using their legs and butt can easily perform the lift maneuver. Victory Motorcycles' public relations rep., Robert Pandya, shows how it's done.
6. On-the-fly windshield adjustment:
Even though the Tour is more than 800 pounds, its low center of gravity allows Robert to steady it while he puts down the kickstand.
Vision models equipped with the premium feature package come with a windshield that's electronically adjustable. A button on the handlebar moves the windshield up or down on the fly, meaning it can be done while riding. Comes in handy when, say, you've turned onto a highway from a country road where you require more wind protection. Bikes not equipped with the premium package can adjust the windshield manually -- when the bike is stopped, of course.
7. Wind deflectors
The adjustable windshield and wind deflectors can be seen in this picture.
: Winglets, as they're called, are nothing new, but they don't usually come standard on a motorcycle. The Vision is equipped with plastic side wind deflectors that can be manually moved to adjust air flow. Anyone who's used these gadgets know they make a significant difference in how much air flows towards the rider and passenger for a cooler ride. Oh, and the come in two different shades -- smoke and clear.
8. Extra large footboards:
The extra long floorboard.
This allows riders to reposition his or her feet while riding. Feet can be stretched out far or placed right below the knees. The floorboards are that long. No matter what size your feet are, you'll like this feature. On my long 400-mile test ride, I used the whole floorboard to reposition my legs many times. The passenger footboards, on the other hand, are a standard size -- a little smaller than my size nine boots -- and don't allow for any repositioning of the passenger's feet.
9. Small saddlebags: I was disappointed with the storage capacity of the side compartments. The large cover gives the illusion they're roomy. Press the lockable latch to open and you'll find there's barely enough room to stuff a man's leather jacket in there. In fact, I don't think it would fit because my leather/textile mix jacket could barely fit. I tried to stuff my backpack in there, which included my camera case and personal items (wallet, lipstick, hairbrush, etc.) and it wouldn't fit. I had to take the camera case out and put it in separately on the other side.
My camera case took up more than three quarters of the side compartment.
The closure of the compartments seems flimsy to me as well. I was never sure if the side compartment was completely closed. The feel and closure sound don't feel and sound like it's closed. That's the only way to describe it. When it is closed there is a small gap where the side cover meets the bike. The two edges don't meet which made me think it was still open. I think this design could be improved. With that said, I'm told the models we were riding were pre-production units. The models that customers receive starting in the fall will have body components that fit better.
9.Top pack decent:
The rear trunk can fit two full face helmets oriented three different ways.
The size of the rear top pack on the Tour version is competitive with the size of the Gold Wing's in that it can fit two full face helmets. That should give you an idea of its size.
10. Intuitive dash: Call me old fashioned, but I'm not a fan of digital dashes that's why I like the the Vision's all analog face. A big analog speedo and separate tachometer are flanked by an analog fuel gauge and temperature gauge. I can deal with the one control that is digital that shows you what gear you're in, and calculates mileage and gas consumption a bazillion different ways.
11. Comfortable back seat:
The demographics of the Vision's target market like analog controls. At night, a soothing blue light illuminates the controls.
I spent about 180 miles on the passenger seat of both the Street and the Tour. Mega comfort and lots of room. The passenger seat is very important to Victory as executives are aware of how much women will influence the buying decision of this motorcycle. I have to say this rear seat felt much like my time spent in the passenger seat of a Gold Wing (reviewed on the Passenger Page of WRN). You're seated just above the rider, and when the windshield is moved up to its max position and the winglets are flexed out wind buffeting is reduced considerably. I'll write more about my time spent on the back seat of the Vision in an upcoming review on the WRN Passenger Page.
12. Smooth ride:
Passenger accommodations are good. I would add some lumbar support if I was going to spend any major time on the back.
Enough of the creature comforts you're thinking! Tell me about the ride! OK, OK. It's smooth, very smooth. Victory has its new 106 cubic inch engine dialed in just right on the Vision, with plenty of power and torque right when you need it. Considering this bike is so heavy at more than 800 pounds, the engine is powerful enough to propel it forward with ease. Roll-on is crisp and responsive; the bike tracks well. Considering this a first year motorcycle, I was very impressed with how the engine was right on. At speed, the bike coasts along and goes right where you want it. Much like riding the Gold Wing, the Vision felt very "light" at speed.
So is the Vision a motorcycle women would enjoy? And does Victory care about marketing this bike to women at all? Click here to find out and read some background on the development of this groundbreaking motorcycle.
When you're through reading the articles, click on TheVictoryVision.com to read more about the bike.