Be prepared to change your mind

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IT’S good to challenge yourself, to take yourself aside and question your beliefs from time to time. It’s even better if you can do it in glorious sunshine. As I sit reflecting on my newly-shifted reality I am gazing, almost adoringly, at a polished American beauty. Sunlight glinting from its chrome, the big

V-twin engine pink-pink-pinks, cooling in a gentle summer breeze. We have just done some very hard miles. I’ve shown the big cruiser no mercy. And it has left me smiling.

I’ll be honest with you. When someone uses the word motorcycle my mind’s eye has a picture of a fully-faired, kneeslider-destroying, soft-rubbered sports bike. These heavyweight chrome collections might be a great pose, and something of a lady thriller, but they rarely light my candle.

But the Victory V92SC has taken my comfortable world and given it a quick and effective shake. It all started when I flicked the under-fuel tank ignition switch to " run " and the built-in engine diagnostic system went through its checklist…

In front of me there is a warning light mounted on the dash to display any faults. A tiny LED panel sits centrally in the round-faced speedometer displaying a tripmeter selected from switchgear-mounted buttons.

The engine’s rev-counter rests in the lower half of the display. Hit the button and the starter motor chugs the 1507cc V-twin lump into instant life. At idle the beat sounds lazy… lazy but menacing.

Select first gear, and with a quick blip on the throttle I start to slowly filter out of the car park. At this speed you feel the weight – 317kg (697lb) with its 22.5-litre (4.95-gallon) fuel tank filled to the brim.

The saving grace is the V92SC’s low seat height. Even with my little legs, my feet rest comfortably on the ground. You sit low-down like on a ’70s superbike – complete with the slightly raised handlebars. And as soon as you get above waddling pace and rest your feet on the footrests, the weight seems to melt away.

There’s something about riding in a group of 10 big cruisers: Kids wave, OAPs stop to crane wizened necks. Just try to stop Born to Be Wild from starting at the back of your mind.

As we finally clear the congested streets and head out into the country, I get a first chance to turn up the wick on the fuel-injected motor. Every upward gearchange is rewarded with not only a " clunk " but a lunge forward. The Victory seems to lighten-up thanks to its well matched Marzocchi 50mm front fork assembly and adjustable Fox rear monoshock. This is quality stuff in the world of cruisers and together they deal with the big torque being spat out at the back wheel and with every undulation of the road.

And as the speed increases I recall that alien spaceship in The Navigator. It’s almost as if it changes shape to go faster. It feels nimbler, more able to cut through the air. The tortoise has ditched its shell.

I start to experiment with the chassis and the brakes as we duck and dive through the back roads. The only thing letting it down is that old cruiser bugbear: Ground clearance. And it’s not just a footpeg thing. Chuck the V92SC in hard and the frame rail will soon be on the deck. Scary stuff.

It demands a different style of riding, and one that can be just as much fun. You soon learn to make the best use of the suspension and the excellent Brembo four-piston twin-disc front brakes and the charging grunt from the engine.

Crank it a bit, then grab a handful to send the big pistons up and down in double-quick time and you get a fine kick in the guts and your neck is snapped back. Now, with many cruisers, I wouldn’t feel the need to give it a thorough pasting. Thrashing is, after all, for more sports-biased bikes. These machines are meant to be laid-back, aren’t they?

Well, Victory doesn’t call this bike a cruiser, they call it a Sport Cruiser (hence the SC designation). There’s no doubt it can cruise, but how hard can it sport? Allowing the pack to get some distance ahead I prepare for a thorough work-out.

Exiting a slow corner, and with a clear road ahead, I wind the big V-twin up almost to the red line. Through the five-speed gearbox, I watch the speedo needle climb toward 85 then 90 mph. Then I’m hard on the brakes and, using a wider line than normal, grind it through the next turn. It’s a strange feeling on a cruiser where you can actually feel the suspension moving and soaking up the bumps at all speeds. I wasn’t the only one to be playing this game.

For the next 20 miles a pack of V92SCs were well and truly thrashed. The resulting wide smiles suggest Victory may not be so far wrong with that " SC " designation. Just don’t go challenging R1s...

VICTORY V92SC

Cost: £12,449

Availability: Mike Pedlar: 01869-363640

Colours: Black, silver/grey, blue/grey, black/grey, yellow

Specification

Engine: Air/oil-cooled, 1507cc (97mm x 102mm) 8v sohc four-stroke 50° V-twin. Electronic fuel injection. 5 gears

Chassis: Steel double-cradle

Front suspension: 50mm Marzocchi forks, no adjustments

Rear suspension: Single shock, adjustments for pre-load only

Tyres: Dunlop D205F; 120/70 x ZR17 front, Dunlop D205; 180/55 x ZR17 rear

Brakes: Brembo; 2 x 300mm front discs with 4-piston calipers, 300mm rear disc with 2-piston calipers

Performance

Claimed power: 72bhp

Weight, power to weight ratio: 286kg (630lb), 0.252bhp/kg

Claimed top speed: 110mph

Geometry Rake, trail, wheelbase: 30°, 11.9cm, 164cm

Fuel consumption/Average mpg/tank capacity/range: 35mpg, 22.5 litres, 173 miles

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MCN Staff

By MCN Staff