The past several years we’ve noticed a trend amongst, Harley and Victory. Several months after publicly announcing the spectrum of their new model lineups, the two manufacturers follow up by releasing mid-year models. Delving even further into this trend, those mid-year models, for the most part, have been geared towards younger riders via either a low price point, fresh styling cues, or both.
Now, we’re not sure if they’re trying to start a new trend, or just trying to get a step ahead of Harley, but this past January at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, Victory didn’t intro a mid-year model for 2012, but instead brought out its first 2013 model, the new Judge. And with its five-star mag wheels, new sculpted bodywork, blacked out accents, and modest price tag of $13,999, the Judge has many points the younger crowd seems to key in on.
A new model to the Victory fleet, the press material refers to the Judge as having muscle-car-inspired styling and American power. Well, after having tested many bikes with the Freedom 106/6 V-twin powertrain, it’s been proven to us many times over that Victory’s engine/transmission combination provides good power and torque (113 lb-ft according to Victory literature) to get its models hustling down the street—especially the cruiser models. And with the Judge sporting 16-inch, five-spoke cast wheels, with a 130mm front, and 140mm rear with raised white letter Dunlop rubber, distinct bodylines highlighting the new skin, all black slash tip exhaust, and a robust yet aggressive stance, it’s easy to see how the Victory design team could have traveled back in time to the drag strips and streets of the ’70s for inspiration.
Back in February, Victory invited a group of motorcycle journalists out to the retirement/vacation community of Palm Springs, California, to take the Judge out for a day-long testride. It was quickly determined that the immediate area of prestigious gated communities and their tightly manicured golf courses probably weren’t the best places to unleash the journos on new bikes, so we were directed to the mountain roads leading to Idyllwild, California, backing the Golf Capital of the World.
Throwing a leg over the Judge and settling into its 25.9-inch seat height, we realized it isn’t the lowest we’ve sat on but the combination of the 4.5-gallon gas tank tapering down in between your legs and the slightly raised bucket of the rider’s seat, it does give you the feeling of sitting in the bike rather than on top of it. Compound that with the mid-mount foot controls and drag bars, and we found the seating position ideal for our 5-foot-10-inch, frame. The drag bars have a slight pull back and are mounted in risers that push the bars towards the rider but still puts the average-height rider in somewhat of a slightly forward-leaning position. Working our way through the twisties climbing up and down the backroads we found this riding position to be rather confidence-inspiring, providing a well-balanced and easy-to-lean/maneuver machine. While we found the riding position to be rather comfortable for our all-day road trip, we could see how riders that are significantly taller, might feel a little crunched up after a long ride in the saddle.
We hit some really good curves on our testride and with the 64.8-inch wheel base (shortened up compared to other Vic cruiser models), 16-inch wheels, and seating position, the bike had a nice low center of gravity and was well balanced. We found it easy to dip the 660-pound bike through turns and maneuvering the 130mm front tire provided a nice solid leading path. What was most noticeable was getting the 140mm rear over and in and out of quick and tight turns compared to the 250mm found on Victory’s other muscular machine, the Hammer S.
Outfitted with a conventional telescopic front fork with 5.1 inches of travel up front and a single, mono-tube gas shock coupled to a cast aluminum swingarm with rising rate linkage in the rear culminating in 3 inches of travel, the Judge handled hard jolts rather smoothly. We didn’t notice any major issues with rapid inconsistencies in the road, as the front forks were able to work quickly enough to minimize transferring the hammering effect to our hands and arms. In the braking department the Judge is set up with a single four-pot caliper cinching down on a 300mm brake rotor up front and matching 300mm rotor squeezed between a two-piston caliper in the rear. The brakes adequately handled maintaining downhill speeds and avoiding unexpected stops by the other riders in our group.
As we stated before, we’ve been very pleased with the Freedom 106/6 engine/transmission. Outfitted in the Judge frame, the powertrain combination provides a decent amount of power and easy shifting. Once off the mountain and back on the freeway, we noticed that even while cruising in the true overdrive Sixth gear, there was still some solid power left in the throttle. When we really wanted to get ahead, it was just a matter of dropping it into Fifth and giving the throttle a good twist. Is it pure unadulterated muscle car power? Probably not, but definitely capable of laying down a smoking patch of rubber when lined up next to your buddy at the stoplight.
If information is your thing, a very simple and easy-to-read single gauge pod is mounted to the front side of the triple trees and is angled just right to be easily viewed past the center of the risers and handlebars. The gauge displays speed in traditional analog format, while the center of the gauge has a small LCD screen that toggles between clock, gear, odometer, trip meter, as well as RPM. Just above the LCD are indicator lights for turn signals, oil, high beam, low fuel, and Neutral.
As far as the looks are concerned, we like this fresh direction Victory is taking with this cruiser model. The new accent lines in the fenders and tank are very prominent and give the bike a clean-edged look. Gone is the triangular shaped headlight and side covers we’ve seen on some of the other Vics and in their places are a traditional round headlight and more traditional style oval side covers similar to the oil tanks found in some old-school-style bikes. While we prefer these new oval side covers, we are not too fond of the front of the seat design and the way it dips over the front of the side cover and then juts up around the tank. From the side of the bike it just looks awkward. The rear of the bike is clean and simple with new minimal fender struts that are more like side rails, than bulky struts. The top of the rear fender features Victory’s flush-mount taillight styling but with a sleek new design. Overall, the mixture of blacked out components with black and machined finishes gives the bike a rugged and tough look and when combined with the Gloss Black paint option ($13,999), the bike really looks mean and aggressive. Victory also offers the bike in either a Suede Nuclear Sunset or a Sunset Red finish for $14,399.
Now the question remains, is Victory’s latest model for you? There’s only one way to find out. Get out there, find a dealership, or an event where Victory is offering demo rides, throw a leg over one and you be the judge. HB
|Induction||EFI, dual 45mm throttle body|
|Transmission||Six-speed over drive|
|Final Drive||Carbon fiber reinforced belt|
|Front Brake||300mm floating rotor/four-piston caliper|
|Rear Brake||300mm floating rotor/two-piston caliper|
|Front Wheel Size||16x3.5|
|Rear Wheel Size||16x3.5|
|Front Tire Size||130/90-16, Dunlop 491 Elite II RWL|
|Rear Tire Size||140/90-16, Dunlop 491 Elite II RWL|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||4.5 gallons|
|Seat Height||25.9 inches|
|MSRP||Starting at $13,999|