My wife and I recently returned home from a 10 day trip from the Seattle area to Estes Park, CO and back. This was our first long trip on our 2013 XCT. In the past, we traveled on a 1600 Vulcan Nomad which served us well. I thought I would share my thoughts after having a chance to really put the new ride through its paces.
First, the load handling capabilities of the bike are fantastic. As you can see from the photo, we had the thing loaded down. Both saddlebags were carrying Cee Bailey liners loaded to the hilt with our personal clothing and sundry items. The HD Premium luggage rack also hauls a load as my Dekker Supreme bag was packed full of gear as well.
I really appreciated the cruise control and the vents in the lowers, as well as the XM radio, which believe it or not we could still hear pretty well even with foam earplugs and 3/4 helmets. That made for some relaxing riding through long stretches where your only real concern is wildlife as there are so few cars.
The wind management on this bike is fantastic, but the RAIN management.....not so much. We got our first (and only) rain test coming south on Hwy 93 out of Missoula, MT heading for southern Idaho. As we crossed Lost Trail Pass, low clouds were spitting pretty good as we kept on truckin'. The cut-out area in the center at the bottom of the shield allows for water to pour in through there like an open ditch....gurgling up in your face and completely covering your gauges and dash. Being used to the exceptional protection of my Nomads large windshield and lowers, I found the design of the XCT to be poorly thought out in terms of rain protection. We spent about an hour or so in rain on this trip....I cannot imagine spending an entire days ride in the rain on this bike. I think the answer is to put some sort of louvre in that space that you can close in a rainstorm, then open again once it clears. My mind is still churning on ideas in that regard.
Mileage.....what can I say. Since most of our riding was long, continous, higher-speed runs, we were able to get the most out of our fuel consumption. What I found especially pleasing was that while riding two-up with at least 50 lbs. of gear, I continually took less fuel at every stop than my buddy who was riding solo on his Vulcan Nomad. I attribute most of that though to the fact that the XCT has a sixth gear where the Nomad does not. Still, if he took 3.7 gallons at a stop....I would routinely take 3.1. My mileage varied between 37 mpg's while facing a stiff headwind, to 50 mpg's riding at high altitude, two-up with no gear. Overall, we usually got between 43 and 46 mpg's.
Seat. Before we left on the trip I had my seats, both rider and pillion, custom fit and upholstered at Rich's Custom Seats in Kingston, WA. Well worth every penny as my bum was very comfy throughout the trip and made a huge difference in our ability to enjoy the ride without thinking about butt pain....
Power....again, what can I say. I was nearing home when the biggest test of the trip came before me. Coming out of Yakima on I-82 heading towards Ellensburg are two long, steep (7%) ridges you must climb back to back....and they are brutal. My Nomad hated climbing those...even riding solo with just with an overnight load. With the XCT, two-up, loaded to the hilt, running on 87 octane fuel (I love that)...as we approached the first hill...I ran it up to 76mph GPS speed in sixth gear, hit the cruise control and waited to see what happened. I was blown away as the bike never lost even one mile per hour and flew up that hill with power to spare! I knew right then I had chosen the right bike....