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.
Judge in Suede Nuclear Sunset.
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.