By Gary Koz Mraz
2015 Champion/Victory Cross Country Tour Trike
Three wheelers have become all the rage and come in all flavors. From reverse Trikes like the CanAm Spyder (two wheels in front and one in the rear) to traditional Trike conversion manufacturers that offer a plethora of models. Champion/Lehman alone has 24 different Trike kits available. Now, they have 25: the CrossFire, based on the Victory Cross series platform. This Trike takes dead aim at the competition riding directly into the crossfire of the three wheel shootout.
Converted or Reincarnated?
Champion’s approach to the CrossFire has been completely unique. Their special relationship with Victory/Polaris on this new CrossFire/LLS independent suspension, resulted in a conversion that’s sold warranted as new. New owners receive Champion’s three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Most other motorcycle manufacturers void the original manufacturer warranties once the two wheels motorcycle is converted to a trike. Champion/Lehman went the distance to get DOT compliance and certification, and it is insured and financed as such. The Bombardier CanAm and Harley Tri Glide were the only other such vehicles until now.
What this means to buyers is that you can purchase a complete finished Victory CrossFire Trike in any state in the U.S. In fact, you can purchase this very trike in almost any country in the world legally. It’s available at all Champion/Lehman dealerships, and Victory dealerships are getting on board. It also means purchasing the confidence and integrity of Champion/Lehman and Victory. The Crossfire LLS independent is currently manufactured at the Lehman plant in Spearfish South Dakota but Champion is preparing to ramp up manufacturing at their plant in Garden Grove, California to supply demand. This American made trike is selling at an introductory price of $30,495.00. For those who already own a Victory Cross series and want the conversion, the base kit is available for $8900.00.
Front End View
But how does it ride? Let’s first dissect the platform. The Victory Cross Country Tour features inherent design features that make it a consummate touring motorcycle. The modern Freedom 106 power plant now has15 years of proven reliability behind it. There is much discussion and debate about gearing because trike conversion manufactures can’t change the OEM gearing on installation. In some cases sixth gear lopes along even at freeway speeds, not so on the Crossfire. She settles in comfortably at 75 in 6th gear with power to spare. I personally hit speeds upwards of 90 easily but never got her flat out. The CCT Airflow system allows riders to ventilate via the lowers and the adjustable air wings on the faring. The heated rider and passenger seats and grips are a distance riding necessity. It has a great sounding stereo system with iPod connector, 2 accessory DC connectors, roomy floorboards and comfortable seating. The adjustable passenger floorboards make distance touring a pleasure.
Rear End View
Let’s address the conversion, or in this case the reincarnation, since my CrossFire rolled off the factory line as a new, fully factory warranted trike. Champion has been manufacturing IDR Independent suspension designs since 2009 and the LLS, Limited Lean Suspension is their state of the art. The ‘pogo effect’, (side to side motion) associated with solid axel design all but disappears. The result is a smooth balanced ride. The Crossfire comes standard with an unobtrusive left side handle brake. The optional Victory reverse gear which utilizes the starter motor is also discretely hidden on the left passenger side. Three wheelers experience centrifugal forces that will toss the passenger in aggressive mountain riding and passenger handle grips are standard, an essential component on any trike. My passenger suggested some foam grips as I was riding pretty aggressively in the mountains. Victory also makes an optional armrest for the passenger seat that swings open for ease of access.
Champion utilizes every square inch of space including two channels inside the rear trunk providing 6 cubic feet, and you can actually fit two full faced helmets in the rear. Optional trunk rack and wheel racks are available. Hey, it’s a trike! If you really need space get the optional hitch and you can confidently tow a camper trailer.
A Runway Model
Esthetically, the new Crossfire model integrates fluid aerodynamic lines, yet keeps the stealth like angularity that defines the Victory Cross series motorcycle line. It is sexy yet bold and modern, from the sleek front to the molded lines over the rear exhausts. The matching rims provide a pleasing visual continuity. The factory floorboards provide ample size and support for mounting and dismounting. Lehman/ Champion brilliantly reversed the rear passenger floorboards which are comfortable and adjustable in height. There is a notch by the rear passenger seat for east access to the heater seat toggle switches. I also felt using OEM taillights found on the Victory Boardwalk compliments the overall design as do the stylish factory turn signals. Overall, fit and finish is exemplary. I have to admit that everywhere I stopped a crowd gathered, and lady motorcyclists demanded to mount the Crossfire.
I was able to spend some serious time in the mountains and on freeways and found handling and performance phenomenal with minimal headshake at slow speeds and stability and control at high speeds. My Crossfire had the Champion EZ steer installed, which is optional. Freeway acceleration and powering up mountain grades the Freedom 106 really pulls its weight. Braking is tight and responsive. Champion uses automotive disc brakes on both rear axels. Be apprised that ABS is disengaged and this is generally the case on all trike conversions. Fear not, with such massive rear tires and three wheel triangulation stopping distances are actually shorter than ABS.
It’s a Gas
With the moniker “The Triking Viking” I’ve ridden a lot of three wheelers. I know that automotive tires, added suspension and frame weight coupled with wind drag drastically affects gas consumption. Harley claims 38mpg on their website for the Tri Glide. Can Ams claims are a more realistic 29.27 Miles per gallon. Their website claims a range of 202 miles at 75 mph for the RT Touring. (The RT has a 6.9 gallon gas tank).
I picked up the CrossFire with a full tank of gas ran a worst case scenario riding her hard through the mountains with a passenger and luggage. Hammering the throttle, accelerating onto freeway onramps and passing tests. I clocked 114.6 miles on 4.3 gallons of gas, that’s 26.65 mpg, not that bad in the real world. To be fair I did a best case scenario, no passenger no luggage filled up the 5.8 Gallon tank and hit the open freeway with cruise control at 70. Well cruise control is a pipedream in Los Angeles, from texting teens drifting into my lane, accidents and lane closures any constant rate of speed was wishful thinking. By no means a scientific study I ran out of gas at 175.6 miles averaging 30.27 mpg.
Tale of Rebirth and Renewal
There is very little here to criticize about the reincarnation of this CrossFire. If foam on the handgrips is the best I got where’s the back massager and cappuccino maker? Polaris/Victory has spoiled me with their electric windscreens on the Vision and now on the Indian Chieftain. (That’s just not in the CCT faring design) and if I really want to whine, can I have an off button on the stereo? The standard factory Victory CCT CrossFire LLS Independent suspension with parking brake and passenger hand grips comes in at $30,495. That’s thousands less than its closest full factory warranted American made relative, which mind you, is a solid axel design.
If you are looking to buy a new Trike, the paradigm has just shifted and this reincarnation of the popular Cross Country Tour is a mandatory test ride. You and your significant other need to ride this Trike, not just around the block – open it up on the highway, knock through some twisties and do ride the competition.
Put them all into the crossfire.