I finally rode one- first impressions
First, some background. I currently ride a 2004 Honda VTX 1800N1 that I bought new in 04. This has been the only street bike I've ever owned, though I have ridden others for short distances. I bought my X as a gift to myself after getting home from Iraq- was sitting in my driveway a week after I got home. Anyway, I just wanted to add that as the X is the only bike I have extensive seat time in to compare to (28K miles on her now).
I've been wanting to move up to a full touring machine for a year or so now. I rode my VTX 1400 miles round trip to Deal's Gap back in 2010. I added a real cruise control, so that helped a lot. I love the VTX, especially the abundant torque, but even though I have some bags and sissy bar luggage, it's just not set up like a full touring machine is.
Today, the local dealer had a test ride day for the Victory bikes. I picked out a blue XCT and spend half an hour on it in mixed city and highway / interstate riding. Here are my first impressions:
Love the suspension. The XCT has a 20mm narrower front tire than my VTX (130 vs 150), so it feels a bit more nimble in quick swerves and falls into the curves a bit easier. The XCT soaks up the bumps much better. I have the rear suspension on my VTX on the softest setting, but I can still feel virtually every pebble I roll over. That's the difference between a power cruiser and a touring machine, I suppose. I wouldn't mind the XCT's suspension being a little softer yet, but I suppose that's adjustable via the rear shock air pressure.
I didn't realize how much I would enjoy having some tunes. Damn, I'm gonna miss that already. I think the volume ramp up is a bit aggressive- I found myself turning the radio up at stop lights and back down again while under way at speed. Maybe there is a sensitivity setting for that somewhere? The iPod kit or some way to adapt my phone (Android) would be a must.
The seat was very comfortable, if a bit narrow. I'm used to the Ultimate Big Boy seat I put on my VTX. I don't think the narrower seat is a bad thing, just different. I would need the driver backrest, however. I'm used to it on the X.
Love the integrated cruise control. I wouldn't have a bike without it again. Standard heated grips are nice, though at 80+ today I didn't test them, obviously. The louvers in the lower fairing do a fantastic job controlling how much air the driver gets.... much appreciated.
6 Speeds!!! Even today I occasionally look for that non-existent 6th gear on my VTX on the interstate. The XCT seems much more suited to high speed long distance cruising. Having a tach and fuel gauge helps here too.
This bike doesn't have near the stones that my VTX does off the line or at speed. I suspect that's a combination of the XCT being heavier by a hundred pounds or so and my VTX is equipped with a Barnett clutch. Maybe a high performance clutch replacement would help some? While we are talking about the clutch, I've been spoiled by the VTX's hydraulic clutch. I don't understand why Victory doesn't put a hydraulic clutch on the XCT but they do on the Vision. I understand that there retrofit kits, so that would be another must. The VTX also has a set of Jardine drags and a Kury Hi-Five air cleaner, likely adding a few HP. What would the Victory Stage 1 get me?
The mirrors are set ridiculously narrow. I have to angle them out so far to see past my own shoulders (I'm a big guy at 6'5" and 250 lbs) that a car can easily hide in the gap behind me. I have Kury Scythe mirrors on my VTX to correct this same problem. It's worse (stock) on the XCT though.
Even as tall as I am, I have to look right through the upper edge of the windshield or slouch a little to look through it. I'm not sure which shield this bike was equipped with, but I think I would want something else.
No heal shifter. Easily remedied through Victory, but I instantly missed it from my X. Interestingly, I don't miss it when I ride my wife's 2011 Suzuki C50T. That bike has boards too, so you would think I would be reaching for that heal shifter there also. Strange. I use it all the time on the VTX and I kept reaching for it on the XCT.
Vibration is a little different than what I'm used to. That's the difference between a rubber mounted engine and one that's a stressed frame member, I guess. I wish the XCT was a bit smoother at highway speeds, though.
The tach seems slow to respond. It had me wondering if the clutch was slipping on high torque upshifts.
The bar angle and spacing is quite a bit different. For such a large bike the grips seem pretty close together. As soon as I took off it felt quite strange coming from the VTX, where the grips have quite wide spacing from the beach style bar. I got used to it a lot faster than I thought I would, and then getting back on the VTX felt strange, lol.
The lower fairing storage compartments are pretty flimsy. I think they could have made them lockable and of better construction, especially on a $20K+ bike.
Overall I was very pleased with the bike. I can see how, with a few modifications, it will be a great long-distance touring machine for me.
Last edited by Sandman333; 08-10-2013 at 05:46 PM.