Victory Judge – Road Test

What is it?

Officially classified by the manufacturer as a cruiser, the Victory Judge fits the bill perfectly. This V-twin muscle bike draws its styling from the 1969 Pontiac GTO, which was colloquially known as The Judge too. Even the five-spoke mag wheels hark back to the muscle car design. Drag-style handlebars, a shorter wheelbase than most other Victory bikes, and a narrower rear tyre all have the effect of making the Judge a bit more nimble; as nimble as this type of bike can be. And, if you can’t see the obvious, it is in direct competition with the other American V-twin manufacturer.


A 1731 cc (106 cubic inch) Freedom V-twin. Victory introduced this power mill in 2009 and it is currently found in all Victory bikes. It produces 153 Nm of torque to a six-speed gearbox. The Freedom engine has been recognised for reliability − it doesn’t have push-rods or valve adjustments, but runs an overhead cam with four valves per cylinder. The hydraulic lifters and roller rockers are self-adjusting, as are the camshaft chain tensioners. This results in reduced maintenance cost over the lifespan of the bike. Or so they say. Nothing fell off during the time rode had it.

The first, 92 cubic inch, version of the Freedom engine was originally launched in 2003 along with the then-new Victory Vegas bike and there have been a few power upgrades to the current range.

A carbon-reinforced belt is used for the final drive.

Style, instruments and equipment

The Judge follows the irritating trend of having no fuel gauge − or if it does I couldn’t get it to show on the electronic display. There is a single, round instrument dial, which follows aesthetic cruiser form rather than fulfilling an optimised function.

But it really is in the styling where the Judge, and Victory in general, stands out. It’s all sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. This is an exceptional combination of modern and retro elements. Classic enough to be instantly recognisable, yet sufficiently differentiated to satisfy even the most discerning. There are very few standard bikes that elicit such universal reaction of admiration from both bikers and civilians.

Customisation can be done when you order your Judge. It comes in one of three colours: Black, Gloss Sunset Red or Suede Nuclear Orange. Other customisations are available for the exhaust, seats and chroming, among others. Check the international site for full details.


The torque is almost immediately available, being such a large-bore beast, and the red-line r/min is a moving target depending on which gear you are in. At 300 kg dry weight, it is a rather hefty piece of metal that you need to get going and the weight is certainly apparent, but is no more pronounced than can normally be expected from a cruiser.

Ride and handling

The handling through twisty roads is predictable and it has the graceful appearance and feel that you’d expect from such a large machine.

Optimum ride comfort is between 90 to 110 km/h. You are supposed just to cruise, after all. South African road surfaces are, for the most part, not ideal for riding at speed and you really feel every bump through the Judge’s short rear suspension. It is easy enough to weave through traffic though, and this would be a cruiser to try for the novice biker.

Likes / dislikes

It’s a cruiser, with all the normal cruiser hang-ups. As far as bike designs go, cruisers are impractical. They have hard suspension, an awkward riding position and are generally more difficult to manoeuvre, which really comes into play in town driving. But then, no one would buy the Judge for its comfort.

On the plus side, you have heaps of torque that just oozes out when you roll on the throttle and then there are the looks, of course.

Verdict and rating

As a total package this bike is everything it promises to be and more. A serious contender if you are in the market for a cruiser.

Also consider

Victory Vegas, Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy, Triumph Thunderbird, Harley-Davidson Dyna Superglide, Yamaha Star Warrior, Suzuki Boulevard, Kawasaki VN 1700

Specifications of the Victory Judge (2012)

  • Engine  1 731 cc 4-stroke 50° v-twin
  • Gearbox  6-speed overdrive constant mesh. Carbon-fibre reinforced belt
  • Power  73 kW
  • Torque  153 Nm
  • Weight  300 kg (dry)
  • Seat height  657.86 mm
  • Fuel capacity  17 Litres
  • Fuel consumption  not available
  • Warranty and servicing  2 years unlimited km warranty. 8 000 km intervals
  • Price  R 189 000
  • Review by  Louis Fourie, October 2012


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