This spring during the demo days season here in TX I was able to ride a few touring bikes and gave a review then.
As the summer wears on and we are starting to get some dealer incentives I have been feeling that itch again.
This week I rode a Victory XCT and a Kawasaki Voyager.
The Victory Cross Country Tourer (XCT) has been calling my name since I missed the chance to test ride one this spring. Also, white is not an option for the 2013s, and there does not seem to be too many white XCTs left. So, I have been feeling like I need to get on one.
I really liked the 4 speaker radio, the sound was great and having an Ipod dock standard is a nice touch.
The quick release trunk with a 12v power outlet, sets a pretty high bar too. Leave it on and you get a whopping 41 gallons of total storage space. Take it off for an instant bagger.
Stock heated seats and grips would be nice this winter.
The seat height is 26.25”; for shorter riders, like me, this means more confidence at stops. It also lowers the center of gravity, which should help with slow speed maneuvers.
Walking around the bike everything looks good; I like the styling, it is unique and you aren't likely to resemble everything else on the road. The V-Twin is displayed nicely, air/oil cooled engines do look sharp. The ABS plastic is thick and firm. The hinges and latches all seem pretty secure.
Start her up and you will find that the stock pipes are very unremarkable. Most people seem to either debaffle or buy aftermarket pipes anyway, but I would have liked a little more 'bark' to them.
She feels as light as my 900 coming off the stand; but the top-box and the longer wheelbase requires a bit more attention at slow speeds. The pullback handlebars probably would have improved this.
Underway and I don't have any excessive vibration, my wife says the passenger boards are pretty buzzy. The driver boards are about 17” long and provide more room than I can make use of.
The 106ci V-twin has plenty of torque, but not as much as I expected. The Vision I tested in the spring felt better, but it had stage 1 pipes and possibly more.
The ride at 80mph indicated was good, the large windshield resulted in very little buffeting. The radio sounded good at speed and cruise kept the speed without feeling jumpy.
The ambient temp gauge read 107, and even on the highway I could tell there was something very hot under me. At stops I had to take a 'wide stance' or my legs would roast.
I don't really feel like I can rate the seat after only 20 minutes; but it seemed adequate.
All in all I think it was a little bit of a let down after my experience on the Vision. (yes the spaceship!)
I rode the 2012 Voyager this spring, but wanted to do a same day 'butt comparison'; so I stopped at the Kaw dealer on the way home. While resting my backside on the Voyager, the salesman tells me that he has a demo model for the month and offers me a ride. I tell him I will be back.
I like that the Voyager has running lights stock; every bike should come standard with multiple lights up front.
I like the looks of the upper fairing and really like that it is frame mounted. I am not too crazy about the shield or the lower fairings. Overall I like the styling, just not quite as much as the XCT; but that is what aftermarket is for I guess.
The ignition key functions and location is quite nice.
I really wish Ma Kaw would provide better ABS and hinges, they seem a little weak.
The seat is higher and it takes a little more to get it off the stand; but once up I don't feel like it is a longer reach to the ground.
The exhaust note is much better than the XCT.
The frame mounted fairing feels weird at first, but once I get used to the pull on the clutch, I don't think slow speed maneuvers will be any more difficult than my 9.
Underway neither me or my wife have any issues with vibes. I wish I had a little more room to move my feet around, but again the aftermarket can provide a solution.
My un-calibrated feeling (I believe it has been referred to as a “butt dyno”) tells me that there is more pull in the Voyager. Both bikes produce power lower in the RPM range than my 9 and it will take a bit to get used to that. But, the Voyager seemed to pull smoother and longer.
80mph indicated is smooth, the radio sounds ok, the cruise works smoothly, and the wind pocket is better than the XCT, at least on this ride.
The 2012 Voyager has the KAMS air management system and while it clutters the view of the V-twin; it works well and there is no heat problem
For the short time I was in the seat it seemed somewhat better than the XCT and my wife thought the backrest was better.
I was struggling with making up my mind; but not any more.
The XCT is a nice bike with a lot of high end features in the stock version.
But, I enjoyed riding the Voyager more!
Add the lower price to the equation and it is Kawasaki hands down!