Air/oil cooled, four stroke, 50° V twin SOHC, 4
valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke
97 x 102
Electronic Fuel Injection
with 44mm throttle bodies
- / electric
5 Speed / Reinforced belt
Single, mono-tube gas
forged and cast aluminum w/ rising-rate
linkage 100mm wheel travel, preload adjustable
2x 300mm floating rotor
4 piston caliper
Single 300mm floating rotor
2 piston caliper
MCN [art 1 -
part 2 -
part 3 -
Someday, sociologists will wonder
about about the massive motorcycles that ran about the country at the turn of
the millennia. Following a decade-long trend, displacements have doubled,
wheelbases have stretched, and gross weights have ballooned.
When introduced in 1998, Victory's
V92C motor was the biggest and baddest V-twin you could buy. The 1507cc
platform has now been overshadowed. First, Yamaha's 1602 cc Road Star platform
appeared and then Honda's 1800cc VTX juggernaut steamed in.
This put Victory at a crossroads.
No longer able to compete on size alone, they were forced to rethink their
positioning, and provide a better powerplant.
This they have done. The new
so-called Freedom Motor makes 20% more power, 6% more torque, yet gets better
economy than its ancestor. This is no ad hype. It truly is new and improved.
Most obvious, it has been restyled
and reshaped. Let's face it; Victory's first motor was a tall, blocky lump of
a thing. The new Freedom is gorgeous. More fins were added; the cylinders were
contoured; the heads were softened and rounded.
When you combine these new shapes
with the polished finning over blacked-out cylinders and heads, we finally get
to see the beauty that was always within this motor. No longer looking like an
industrial pump unit, the Freedom motor commanded attention at fuel stops.
Even better, they have massaged
the motor to finally deliver the power and torque once promised. One of the
most exciting things about the Victory's launch in 1998 was their claim of a
motor that delivered more. Unfortunately, these claims never materialized, due
to EPA strangulation and stunted development.
The first-generation motor MMM
tested (see issue #35) produced a mere 58 horsepower and 76 foot-pounds of
torque. Ample power to be sure, but neither class-leading nor what was hoped
You've got to give Polaris credit
for standing behind their promise. They've substantially re-engineered the
entire motor. The valve train was smoothed; reshaped combustion chambers boost
compression; (9.2:1 from 8.5:1) Heat management was improved, the engine sheds
heat more efficiently. Piston wrist pins are offset 1mm, to reduce
power-sapping piston rocking and further quiet the motor. Engine management
was outsourced to Visteon (division of Ford) at considerable expense. You
don't drop major coin on a project like this if you don't believe in it.
Polaris stands behind the Victory Brand, and is obviously in it for the long
The result? How about more
horsepower and torque than Harley's new 88-B motor; more than any other V-twin
tourer. The V92TC woofs out 71 rear-wheel horses at 5,000 rpm, and a honking
87 foot-pounds of torque at 3,300 rpm. That's John Deere territory, folks.
Indeed, according to published figures, the stock Freedom motor produces
essentially the same output as an 88-B with a Stage I big-bore kit. Why buy
and build when you can simply buy and ride?
Riding is what the TC does, and
does right. We picked up our gorgeous Champagne and Pearl White ride in Santa
Ana, CA. As we headed north and east towards Amboy and Death Valley, the
Victory settled into its groove. Happily rumbling along two-laners between 40
and 80 mph, it carelessly ate up miles.
While cruising you are treated to
either a mechanical symphony or a clattering racket, depending on your point
of view. You can distinctly hear the primary gear whine, valve train, the "shlack"
of each gear shift, tire hum, fairing roar and of course, the booming exhaust
note. I don't know how cruiser riders in general feel about all this, but I
thought it was a delight. You definitely know you are astride a machine.
An added benefit of the quieter
motor means that Victory can now dedicate more decibels to the exhaust. The
huge two-into-two pipes emit a pleasant boom. Close inspection reveals that
the mufflers are actually cloaked with chrome covers. This is actually a
genius move; if you scrape your pipes, you only have to replace the shrouds.
Each pipe also has a bolt-on
chrome "handle" to protect the beautifully finished saddlebags in a tip over.
Some riders thought they looked dorky, but we like the thought of replacing
one part vs. painting an entire bag in a mishap.
The rear "handles" echo the lines
and function of the massive crash bar up front. Stout and robust, they offer
peace of mind and a heftier road presence.
The saddlebags were a mixed....er...bag.
They have a matching two-tone paint scheme with quality equal to Brand "H".
The functional lids are easily opened with one hand, and pivot on a beautiful
Deco-styled hinge. The rear signals are stylishly integrated into the bag
lids, avoiding a tacky added-on appearance.
On the other hand, you can't begin
to fit a helmet in the bags, except for one of those shorty beanies favored by
cruiser riders in general. Granted, we don't need another manufacturer making
full-on dorky bags a la BMW, but once you've tasted the forbidden fruit...
Additionally, while they lock with
the ignition key, the saddlebags don't completely keep out the elements.
Go ahead and load those saddlebags
and hit the road. You can blast along all day at an indicated 80 mph, and the
motor couldn't care less, though sustained cruising at this rate reveals three
First, fuel economy. With that big
windscreen, you'll stay bug-free, but at a price. MMM ran one complete tank at
an average 80 mph and the mileage plummeted into the high 20's. Second; noise.
The unadjustable windscreen is pretty quiet at Minnesota-legal speeds, but at
anything over 70 mph, the rider is bombarded with wind roar. Third; torque
peaks at around 3,500 rpm, and the engine starts to buzz over 4,000 rpm. There
really is no power advantage running over 3,500 rpm.
While there is ample power to warp
along at higher speeds, your mileage and hearing will suffer. Best to keep it
near legal speeds, and wear ear plugs. The V92TC felt happiest and ran
smoothest at 3,000 rpm in top gear, or at an indicated (and accurate!) 70 mph.
Next to the motor, the tranny is
most improved. First generation gearboxes were clunky, stiff and noisy. The
new product is much improved, but still not on par with Kawasaki's buttery
1500 Drifter, (see issue #38) the finest big V-twin gearbox MMM has tested. Is
this an issue of Victory gearboxes still needing improvement, or that cruiser
riders don't care about smooth transmissions?
The transmission may be noisy, but
the interface is wonderful. Your feet rest on robust polished-aluminum
floorboards. They have tasteful rubber inserts, and hinge during spirited
cornering. Both floorboards have removable feelers, both to give warning and
Shifting is controlled by a
beautiful heel-and-toe setup. A rigid, one-piece casting, the shifter is big
enough to bracket my size 12EEE boots. The action is very positive whether
upshifting or downshifting. We had no missed shifts in over 1,000 miles of
The only complaint here is an
elusive neutral. Whether from 1st gear or 2nd, while moving or stopped,
finding neutral was a random event. To be fair, it did come easier as the
miles added up, but we are unsure if this was due to rider finesse or the
tranny loosening up. No big deal, but deduct two points for being annoying.
Power meets the road through a
quiet belt drive. The rear pulley is a beautiful polished affair that
compliments the spoked wheels. It was never snatchy, even with our abrupt test
If you haven't owned a bike with
belt drive, you don't know what you are missing. They are quiet, need no
lubing or adjustment, and don't fling crap over your paint and gear. This is
another place where Victory hasn't sacrificed engineering to style.
The wheels are beautiful too.
Thick spokes are laced between machined hubs and weight-saving aluminum rims,
all basted with delicious chrome. Victory has responded to accusations that
their products had engineering substance, but lacked cruiser style. These
wheels are simply gorgeous.
If you are on a budget, you can
always select the V92TC Standard ($15,599 two-tone) at the expense of the
spoked wheels, driving lamps, fairing lowers, back rest and chrome fender
One thing about the American
Southwest: exits are few and far between, even on Interstates. It is not
uncommon to go 40 miles between exits, with no guarantee of fuel availability.
You will frequently find signs warning "No Services Next 110 Miles."
I headed east on I-10 toward
Blythe to focus on the V92TC's freeway manners. Quick math in my head gave me
more than enough fuel to run the necessary 92 miles. The Tour Deluxe, like all
Victorys, has that great multi-function window in the speedo. You can cycle
through odometer, resettable tripmeter, clock, gauge brightness, high beam
indicator brightness, alternator output, and fuel level.
The switch system is clever. There
is one trigger mounted on the forward side of each handlebar switch cluster.
Tap the right trigger, and you cycle between the seven functions. Hold the
left, and you reset both tripmeter and clock. Best of all, this is
accomplished without having to move your hands from normal riding position.
MMM liked this feature when we first got our hands on a Victory, and we
absolutely love it now.
With a minimum of brains you can
switch between tripmeter and fuel level and calculate both mpg and distance to
empty, a very handy capability. Coming up to the exit for Twentynine Palms
Marine Base. I noticed the low fuel light blinking, indicating the 0.9 gallon
"What thuh?" I wondered. On the
top of the ramp, I checked the tank and realized that I hadn't gassed up the
night before in Palm Springs. "D'oh!"
A quick check of the map revealed
42 miles north to Twentynine Palms; 20 gravel miles south to Mecca; 21 miles
east and uphill to Chiriaco Summit; and 22 downhill miles back toward Indio. I
opted to double back, figuring I could always coast downhill if I didn't make
21.5 miles later, the Victory
sputtered dead dry at 143 miles on the trip meter. "Oh well, at least there is
a mega truck stop in sight," I thought, laughing at such a rookie move.
I hadn't even got my helmet off
when a white pickup pulled over to offer aid.
"Outta gas, huh?" he chuckled.
"Operator error!" I replied,
fumbling for my wallet.
My two rescuers sped off before I
could say anything more. A few minutes later, I added the half gallon they
brought me, and unsuccessfully tried to pay them for their kindness. They
wouldn't even take anything for the fuel they had purchased!
I figure they were savoring yet
another tale of a dumb flatlander out in the desert. MMM would like to thank
David and Doris for preventing our tester from becoming buzzard bait.
The fuel capacity is somewhat
confusing. Victory claims 5.0 gallons, yet when full, the display reads 4.1
gallons. Below the 0.9 gallon reserve level, the display doesn't reveal
remaining tenths, preventing you from a sneaky calculation at fill-up. If you
are the type that must know such things, you'd have to dead-fill a dry tank,
and calibrate from there. Deduct two more points for being annoying.
On the plus side, the V92TC Deluxe
comes standard with auxiliary driving lamps. They spit out a great deal of
side light at night, which is appreciated in the unfenced desert. The spots
are controlled by a discreet switch mounted under the top fork clamp. It would
be nice to have an indicator in the gauges for daytime use. In the end, I
simply kept the lights on continuously, for increased conspicuity.
Overall, the V92TC has excellent
highway manners. Victory stretched the swingarm and slowed the steering (by
adding trail) to stabilize ride. The handlebar is extended further for a more
upright riding position. Both the V92TC Deluxe & Standard come with
floorboards for both rider and passenger, to increase comfort.
Great attention has been paid to
the seat. It is highly dished and offers a great deal of support. At first, I
was put off at being held in one place, thinking I would need to adjust my 240
lbs. There is no need to change position as no hot spots developed, even after
one 300+ mile burn.
Passenger X felt her
accommodations to be comfortable, with plenty of leg room. She was pleased
that her legs weren't fouled by the roomy saddlebags and liked the
floorboards. The backrest was comfortable, but felt too low for her. No worry
here. Victory offers a jumble of seats and backrests to please everyone.
One Victory hallmark is excellent
brakes, and the TC Deluxe doesn't disappoint. Out front are twin 300mm
floating rotors pinched by 4-piston Brembos. Out back is a 300mm rotor,
coupled to a 2-piston Brembo. All the sauce is piped through Goodridge braided
stainless-steel hoses. This is recent sportbike-spec stuff folks, and is more
than sufficient to stop 750+ pounds of motorcycle. A gold star to Polaris for
making premium efficient brakes a priority.
The bike rides on excellent
Dunlops. A MT90B/16 491 Elite II is mounted up front, paired with a 160/80B/16
D417 on the rear, made exclusively for Victory.
The Dunlop Elite II is a proven
tire. It has a rider-friendly, easy-turning round profile and provides high
mileage. Also important to tourers, it is readily available anywhere. Other
than this test, MMM has no experience with the new D417. Additionally, many
riders will appreciate having American-made tires on their "Merkun-made"
If you are handy, oil management
couldn't be easier. A car-type spin-on filter is accessible on the back of the
motor, and level is checked by a BMW-type screw-in filler w/ dipstick. Or,
have your dealer do it.
The bottom line? The V92TC is
certainly equal to a Road King. It has the civilized manners of that fine
Harley as well as excellent paint, chrome and finish. There is no denying the
superiority of the Freedom Motor over that of its competition. Unknowns? H-D's
resale is tough to beat, as is their larger aftermarket support.
Whether you can go your own way or
have to fit in with the crowd is a question only you can answer. For those who
are ready to ride, we encourage you to try the Victory V92TC Deluxe.
A tourer this good justifies a
Potentially leaky saddlebag lids
Non-buffeting windshield please
Wife's First Reaction:
"Jeez. It's HUGE!"
Selected Competition: BMW
R1200C Montana; Harley Davidson Electra Glide & Road King; Kawasaki Vulcan
1500 Nomad; Suzuki 1500 Intruder LC; Yamaha Royal Star Venture & Road Star