Ridden & Rated: 2012 Motor Trike Victory Vortex
Heavyweight touring bikes such as the Victory Cross Country and Cross Roads easily lend themselves to the additional stability, luggage capacity and weight of three wheels. Introduced for 2010, Victory’s Cross bikes combined the proven air/oil-cooled Freedom 106/6 V-twin and cast-aluminum hollow main frame from the Vision, but with less polarizing styling. In our tests of the Cross Roads (Rider, December 2010), Cross Country (May 2010) and Cross Country Tour (December 2011), we’ve been consistently impressed with the power, handling, cornering clearance, comfort, luggage capacity, build quality and value these bikes offer.
During the Americade rally, held last June in Lake George, New York, I arranged a test ride on Motor Trike’s new Victory Vortex trike conversion, released earlier this year and compatible with all Cross bikes. Dressed like Johnny Cash in all-black, the Vortex I rode was based on the flagship Cross Country Tour, its fiberglass fenders and rear bodywork complementing the sharp, flowing lines of the CCT’s front fender, fork-mounted fairing, scalloped fuel tank and Lock & Ride top trunk.
Established in 1994 and based in Troup, Texas, Motor Trike designs, manufactures and assembles all of its trike conversion units in-house. Rather than stocking inventory, Motor Trike builds to order, ensuring that customers receive exactly what they want, from extensive options to color-matched paint. Custom-built kits are then shipped to one of Motor Trike’s approximately 200 dealers around the world for installation on customers’ bikes. Painted units are delivered in 3-4 weeks of ordering, gel-coated units within 1-2 weeks.
The key feature of the Vortex trike setup, also found on some of Motor Trike’s other conversions, is independent rear suspension, allowing each rear wheel to move up and down autonomously in response to bumps. Each wheel has 4 inches of suspension travel, and the Vortex comes standard with an onboard air compressor to adjust damping, controlled by buttons on a rather bulky, crude-looking box attached to the handlebar that includes LED readouts for air pressure and voltage for the bike’s charging system (redundant on the Cross Country since it already has a voltmeter on the instrument panel). Motor Trike’s suspension and chassis engineers have worked on NASCAR and other automotive race teams, and their expertise shines through. Taking curves at speed and intentionally hitting big bumps with the rear wheels failed to upset the Vortex, which stayed planted and on track. The two large, automotive-tire contact patches and added rear weight help the rear tires grip the road tightly. As with any trike, steering requires effort but the Victory’s wide, easy-to-reach handlebar provides plenty of leverage.
The Cross Country Tour is a big bike, and it’s even bigger in Vortex form. Wheelbase is 66 inches (just a tad longer than the 65.7-inch wheelbase on a stock Cross Country Tour), total length is 107 inches and total width is 55 inches. Motor Trike claims the Vortex weighs 1,200 pounds, 332 pounds more than the last fully fueled CCT we tested. You’ll need a larger parking space and acceleration is blunted by the added weight, but the tradeoff is a comfortable, stable machine you’ll never have to pick up off the ground.
Other standard features on the Vortex include disc brakes, 15-inch Torque Thrust aluminum wheels (which match the stock front wheel on the Cross Country Tour; many other wheel options are available), a tire pressure monitoring system, a 12V power source in the trunk and a light mounted on the trunk door, which has hidden external hinges. Victory claims the Cross Country Tour’s 41 gallons of storage is the most available on a production “motorcycle.” The Vortex does away with the CCT’s saddlebags, which provide 21.4 gallons of storage, but adds a 3.3-cubic-foot (24.7 gallons) lower trunk between the rear wheels, bringing the total amount of storage to 44.4 gallons. That’s a lot of milk, or whatever else you need to tote from A to B and all points in between.
Options, of course, are where things get interesting. You can add a parking brake, running boards, fog lights, fender bras, upgraded wheels, trunk carpet, bolt-on trailer hitch and wiring harness and more. By the time you read this, Motor Trike will also offer an optional electric reverse—invaluable for getting a fully loaded rig out of tight, downhill parking spaces. Photos and prices for the various options are available on Motor Trike’s website.
Motor Trike’s well-designed, well-built Vortex conversion is a perfect fit for the well-designed, well-built Victory Cross Roads/Country platform, so much so you’d swear it rolled off the assembly line with three wheels. The base-model Vortex costs $8,995, and installation adds about $1,000 (depending on the dealer), in addition to the cost of the Victory motorcycle. For more information, visit motortrike.com.
(This article Perfect Match was published in the November 2012 issue of Rider magazine.)