Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Prairie Dog Heaven, CO, USA
Defector posting impressions with new bike (Victory Vision)
I thought I post this here, too - just for a nice read for folks here. Not that I want to contribute to the decimation of members here ;-)
My wife and I took a ~1000 mile road trip this weekend and I thought I'd post up some impressions of our new 2010 Victory Vision (Bat Bike).
We have a fairly long history of two-up touring on BMW K12LTs and 11xx GSs before that. So I'll be comparing the VV to the LT both from the rider's and passenger's point of view. A comparison with the GS really only makes sense engine-wise as they are both twins but there are so many years between the designs that this does not really make sense. The inadequacy for two-up touring (with a “non-ruggedized” passenger) on a GS was the reason we had bought our first LT about 9 years ago…
We did not encounter any rain this weekend (but I have solo a week or so ago). Temperatures ranged from 40F to 90F going over a number of 11-12kft mountain passes. We also encountered a nasty traffic jam including a re-route through the woods when we came upon a highway closure yesterday.
Let me say I'm very, very pleased with the Victory Vision. So is my wife even though she says that the rear accommodations are not quite as nice as they were on the LT (emphasis here is on "quite" as she was very comfortable for an ~8 hour ride yesterday). She says that the VV backrest is a bit harder and the seat to peg relationship is a tad little bit tighter (she's 5'11"). On the plus side, the floorboards give more room to move around and the view is a little better since I'm sitting a little lower down.
Wind protection and temperature management is excellent (with the optional lower deflectors). The upper winglets on the VV were copied from BMW (the LT has similar winglets and they were always my favorite as they allow to flow air around your mid-section or completely block it). Excellent. The lower deflectors allowed me to ride with just my Olympia Airglide pants without liners and be comfortable through the entire temp range. When it’s hot and the going is slower, they make a huge difference in how much heat you feel – they keep you cool when they are adjusted all the way inward. The lowers are a very nice and accessory, and they work extremely well in both cold and hot climates. An electrically adjustable windshield is also a must for a touring bike IMO.
When I rode in driving rain the other day the lowers and uppers, together with the adjustable windshield, will essentially keep you dry as long as you keep moving. Again, I was riding in my Airglide pants and I did not get noticeably wet until stopped at a light close to my house. The VV is even with the LT on this one.
The stock suspension is much better than the LT's. Even though I miss the anti-dive effect of the telelever fork on the Beemer a little, the rear shock makes more than up for that. The air shock on the VV is excellent and very nicely adjustable to load changes. I ran 45 psi in it two-up with light luggage and the bike handled all kinds of mid-turn bumps and nasty frost-hives and dips on the passes very well. Far superior to the stock setup on the LT. No upgrades necessary here (mandatory on the LT when you travel 2-up, IMO).
The ABS brakes are strong but require a little more force on the controls as they are not servo assisted like on the LT. On the plus side, they are much easier to apply gently in parking lots and other tight places.
I very much like the rider’s seating position (much to my surprise - I never thought I would feel comfortable with a feet-forward posture on a bike). I’m 6’2” with a 34 inseam and the ergos are just right for me when I sit on my airhawk. It puts me up about ¾ inches from sitting on the bare seat, which is perfect for me. That said, I have ridden several hours without the airhawk also and it’s fine. The huge floorboards allow so much moving your feet around that my knees feel like heaven for hours. Riding hard is just as easy/fun as it is with my feet right under my hips, cruising is that much more comfortable. A negative on the VV is the heated seat. My wife loves it, and I really don’t. That wasn’t a problem on the LT as the front and rear were controlled separately. The VV seat is one piece so I will have to get used to it I guess
While the relaxed nature of the VV does slow me down (that was part of why I bought it – I often rode like an a$$ on the LT) it might be capable of keeping up with an LT in twisty terrain if ridden really hard – depending on the skill of the rider. The cornering clearance on the VV is certainly sufficient. No contact with the asphalt yet, on the LT I had the centerstand lowers completely ground off to triangles after about 2 weeks. That said, the LT was amazing for a touring bike once moving swiftly (outside of parking lots and camgrounds, where I much prefer the VV because of it’s lower CG).
Long story short I think if I had to follow myself on an LT, I would not quite be able to keep up on the VV. The VV also feels just a tad more cumbersome in the very tightest turns on mountain passes than the LT was (probably a result of the longer wheel base). Doesn’t bother me though as I want to slow down a little.
On the plus side, the VV is more stable in crosswinds (even riding was still interesting in 70+ mph gusts on US285 yesterday).
The transmission of the VV is clunky, and so was the LT tranny. I really like the overdrive on the VV, which gives you one more gear to choose from in the mountains. I always thought the 5-speed in the LT was just barely sufficient.
Fuel economy is about the same, around 50 mpg here at high altitude (which translates into the low 40s at sea level).
The VV’s communication system is much better than the BMW system (had the VOICE and the BMW Comm system II on my LTs). The VOX circuitry is excellent. I also had a Baehr Ultima XL on my first LT which was as good as the VV’s comm system with respect to the VOX circuitry, but the VV stereo sounds much better in the helmets (J&M Elite Headsets). Love the iPod integration ($100 cable) and everything is controlled on the handlebars. Very nice system.
Styling, of course, is in the eye of the beholder but IMO the Vision is by far the most daringly styled touring bike out there and I happen to think it looks ultra-cool. Many will likely disagree with me on this one. I probably would have bought one even if it had an obvious flaw or two just because of its styling. But it does not seem to have any apparent flaws. At least I have not found any yet. The VV seems to be a very well thought-out and well designed bike.
Reliability will have to be assessed in a few years but it can hardly be any worse than my LTs, which were quite a disaster. Maintenance will be less expensive as there are no valves to adjust, and labor costs at my shop are ~25% lower then at BMW. Oil changes will be less messy. Drive belt is essentially maint free.
Tires are about the same price but it will be a little more involved to get the wheels off the VV (the Beemers are unbeatable in that department).
One little negative is the black paint on our VV. While it’s nice and shiny in most places, on the front of the right saddle bag and on the sides of the touring trunk the paint has a bit of “orange skin” appearance. That disappointed me as many on the Victory board have raved about the paint quality. I cannot really agree with that.
In summary, my wife and I look forward to many happy miles on our new "Bat Bike."