The leaves continue colouring, the lake is empty and calm, the air is brisk and one by one, bikes are being put to bed for the winter. However, the sun still shines and no matter how cold, the handlebars call you and you just have to give in and last week, the 2013 Victory Judge beckoned and I gave in.
Three colour options to choose from: gloss black; gloss sunset red (see above) and in the showroom of M&M Performance – Suede Nuclear Sunset – wicked colour for this time of year.
By the time I bulked up with clothing, I would have better been suited in a certain tire commercial and looking at those beefy 16”, 5-spoked Dunlops, I wasn’t far off.
Why all the clothing? This Judge was a raw bike – no bells and whistles – and no wind screen. There were no heated grips, no jacket or glove plug-ins (both are options), and no fancy dials or gauges. You don’t even have a gas gauge for the 17.8 ltr (4.7 Gl) tank but the low fuel light in the analogue speedometer will come on and give you about 50 km to fill up.
Look at the bike’s design – masculine, American muscle cruiser. You just know it is packed with raw power that translates in to 106 cubic inch, four-stroke 1731cc, V-Twin serving up 110 ft-lbs of torque with plenty of high-end power throughout the six-speed transmission.
This is a highway bike. At 4,000 rpm the bike purrs between the gears with an attitude and dull roar from the staggered, slash-cut dual exhaust. Baffled loud yet not obnoxious. The only problem is you are well beyond city speed at 4,000 rpm. You can ride in the city, but, as I discovered, it is tough to get out of second gear.
The city is not where this bike is comfortable anyway. Riding the twists of BC Highway 33 (or any other twisty highway road) is where I felt the bike perform. Surprisingly, this 600 lb. beast flips over in those curves effortlessly. It is a real aggressive bike with easy handling.
Victory refers to this bike as ‘muscle car inspired styling and sporty ergonomics.’ Those sporty ergonomics will only suit a handful of riders in my opinion. Most cruisers are designed with forward controls, a tilted back seating style and pulled back bars.
The Judge, on the other hand, has the look of the cruiser but the handling of a sport bike so the ergonomics didn’t work very well for me and other taller riders may have the same issues.
Seated on the 25.9” seat (nice and low), the controls are mid-controls so larger riders may have lower body discomfort. However, with the designed stretched forward to grip those drag bars, mimicking that sport bike position, it requires the stature of a bigger rider to reach the grips. Larger riders will have upper body comfort with lower body discomfort, while smaller riders (or ladies) may experience upper body joint pain although their lower body should be quite comfortable.
Another issue for riders is the grips. For the ladies (and the Victory designers may not have had ladies in mind for this one), the standard grips on the bars are barrel shaped – wider in the palm than the thumb and pinky – pair that with a stiff clutch lever and you will have hand discomfort.
The discomfort I am referring to is probably not enough to keep you from riding the bike. This is just one of those rides that may require frequent stops. As I rode along, cool air blowing in my helmet, spectacular autumn colours passed me by as the vineyards of the Okanagan begin to change. Then I came upon a beautiful graveyard, up on the hill, overlooking Lake Okanagan and the contrast of colour made me stop to photograph the bike.
As I stood looking at the bike, with the graveyard in the background, I thought, ‘We are all going to die, but today, this is living.’