Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Victory SportCruiser

Wed, May 11th, 2011

2000-01 Victory V92SC SportCruiser
The 65 HP Victory Freedom motor provides a nice torquey feel and responsive fuel injection. A counterbalancer keeps things admirably smooth. But the driveline has lots of lash, the clutch is abrupt and shifting is clunky and balky.
For a big V-twin cruiser the SC was a standout, thanks to sticky stock tires, massively stout forks and great brakes. Compared to the whole gamut of other bikes out there, however, it falls more in the neighborhood of 'pretty okay.' Even though ride height was increased over the standard Victory, ground clearance is not all that remarkable and dragging parts will put a damper on the fun much sooner than the chassis warrants.
The mixture of traditional cruiser and sportbike-esque styling is a bit schizophrenic. The 17-inch front tire, extra-tall ground clearance, and that massive, shiny canister muffler effectively communicate the difference between the SC and other big cruisers, but they don't integrate with the rest of the bike to create a cohesive overall look. Slotting Victory's crude-looking, ill-proportioned Freedom V-twin into the middle of it didn't help.
Despite suffering some minor problems and being rather rough around the edges, the Victory really wasn't as troublesome as you might expect from a new manufacturer who was still working through the teething pains of bringing an all-new design to market.
It's hard to fault a bike designed to excel in the twisties and on the open road. Unfortunately, that formula always results in a compromise: as a sporty bike the steering was heavy and slow, the motor was not lightning fast, and gearshifts had to be made slowly and deliberately. As a cruiser, the seat was too poor for extending wanderings and the all-important long-lean-low style wasn't there. The one ergonomic middle ground that did work was the reasonably placed mid footpegs, which are comfortable and provide a better sense of connectedness than forward controls or floorboards.
It's a rare, intriguing, slightly bizarre attempt to be all things to all men. It's one Victory model that makes my 'might buy someday' list, though there are admittedly a whole slew of bikes that rank higher on that list.
The SportCruiser flopped despite actually working fairly well. Few riders liked Victory's formula for a sporty cruiser. Was it an ill-conceived idea in general, or were the particular details just mis-executed? I wonder whether cruiser riders truly don't care how their bikes corner, or it was just the huge muffler that turned them off.