Daytona Beach, Fla.—Motorcycles and the riding experience have been a major influence on the music scene for decades (no way you can hear “Born to Be Wild” or Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” without thinking about a bike blasting down the highway). But for the majority of motorcycling history, that love of music was restricted to either a roadhouse jukebox or your garage CD player. That is until the recent explosion in the popularity of the modern bagger hit its stride. The result has been manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers waging megawatt war and fighting for any available space to install additional speakers and amplifier upgrades. And despite the industry-wide, all-out fight for music dominance, the recently launched Victory Motorcycles Magnum X-1 may be the new band director of this aural craze.
The inaugural Victory Magnum (non X-1) was launched mid-2014 at the end of the Polaris Industries’ weekend dealer meeting in Minneapolis. Its major design shakeups included a tall 21″ front spinner and a somewhat slammed rear end along with some stunning paint graphics, full LED lighting and a stylized boomerang windscreen. The new Magnum X-1 upgrade was presented to the public on March 7 during Daytona Bike Week 2015. The hoopla of that unveiling played center stage at the Full Moon Saloon on Daytona Beach Main Street along with a special concert by the band Godsmack. That Saturday night at the corner of Main and Wild Olive (location of the Full Moon), Main Street slowed to a crawl as the sold-out concert crowd spilled onto the sidewalks and into the street disrupting traffic flow for hours—quite an orchestrated motorcycle debut that caused more than a few headaches for local law enforcement.
This X-1 version would be the first Magnum model reviewed by Thunder Press and we are so glad we waited. It possesses all the attributes of the original Magnum along with some stunning billet wheels, a striking proprietary paint scheme and an audio system that will make your parents scream for ear plugs. (Your grandparents will simply scream.) Its name is derived from the Bell X-1, the first manned plane to break the sound barrier with the legendary Chuck Yeager at the controls in 1947. And while I’m not a big fan of highway cruising music due to the fact that is mostly gets washed out by ambient road noise and the bike’s exhaust, this system is truly impressive and offers some of the highest-quality sound reproduction I’ve ever enjoyed on a bike. The X-1’s surround sound is Bluetooth capable and incorporates 10 speakers total—two located in each saddlebag lid and an additional six divided across either side of the fairing. Cranking out an incredible 200 watts (four times louder than the company’s Cross Country and twice the amount of watts offered on a standard Magnum model with its six-speaker arrangement), this 10-piece band is a combination that works exactly the way it’s intended, providing a stable music delivery system that can be heard clearly at highway speeds. I was impressed and even found myself cranking up the volume whenever I pulled into multiple Daytona venues. And the bike’s lavish styling and generous music capabilities certainly garnered interested fans wherever I rode, no matter what genre of music was blasting through my big 10.
The two speakers located in the top of each saddlebag top are blended into the outside surface as not to be unduly conspicuous. Inside the bag, they take up very little space, one being a 6″x10″ oval and the other a 2″-diameter tweeter. And the bags actually act as a sound box, providing additional bass resonance. (Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to investigate how a saddlebag full of dirty laundry and road gear might affect sound performance.) The six speakers up front are housed in the bike’s inner fairing with everything being controlled by a simple set of pushbuttons that dangle beneath the clutch perch housing. An auto-volume register increases the music sound level as ambient noise escalates. This feature is adjustable. But even the most excellent sound system is useless if coupled with a poor-handling motorcycle. That evaluation would be determined by throttle and brake, certainly not by a play list.
One of the first things that catches your eye on the X-1 is the exaggerated front hoop. This striking 21″ billet is wrapped with a 120/70R Dunlop Elite 3. The wheel is black powder coated with machined accents that highlight the polished aluminum underneath. A matching rear wheel setup (180/60R 16″) is just as pretty but almost completely hidden by the bike’s bags and fender. Frame modifications were not required to accommodate the X-1 21″ front wheel and is the same chassis as the Cross Country with 29 degrees of rake and 5.6″ of trail. The inverted cartridge forks are also the same as the Cross Country but were tweaked a bit with reduced compression travel and stiffer progressive-wound springs. The rear of the bike was dropped 1″ lower than the Cross Country, resulting in a more aggressive stance while the suspension travel was reduced to 4″ of travel (air adjustable) resulting in a 25.7″ seat height. The seat measures a sumptuous 14″ wide at the operator’s section with a 6″ tall lumbar bucket making for a mighty comfortable ride. It is finished with a combination of top-grain and perforated black leather. Braking is handled by dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston calipers up front, a single 300mm floating rotor with a 2-piston caliper in the back and ABS all around.
The blending of the 21″ front wheel and the modified suspension components results in a bike with perfect balance, light and nimble handling with no indication of low-speed front-end flop. And despite the reduced compression travel of both the front and rear suspension, ride quality did not appear to be compromised. Additionally, the low seat height and the well-placed tiller-style handlebars created an ideal riding posture for a 6-foot operator while the 106 c.i. 50-degree Freedom V-twin engine easily provided all the horsepower needed to push the bike’s 761 lbs. (dry weight) through all test conditions. This is truly a fun bike to ride.
A cut-down tinted windscreen provides adequate protection at highway speeds while sitting atop the X-1’s shark-nose fairing. The Victory signature triangular headlight has been upgraded to a smoke-tinted LED unit providing the best nighttime visibility possible. Below the fairing in front of the motor, a chin spoiler skillfully hides the oil cooler from view. The controls are well-proven Victory production units, with a rider-friendly instrument panel, an easy-pull clutch, cruise control and the largest (and, as a result, most comfortable) floorboards on the market. The proprietary paint scheme is exclusive to the Magnum X-1, consisting of jagged Electric Red lightning bolts with Platinum Fade panels etched across a canvas of gloss jet black, spanning the front fender, fairing, tank, body panels and bags. And it’s a damn good look.
But… with all the development being pursued for a booming sound, surprisingly the exhaust is extremely anemic and would probably be the first modification any new owner would tackle—unless your playlist blasting through 10 speakers included sound bites from the local dragstrip. Not to worry; a stage 1 exhaust and performance air filter along with a Tri-Oval exhaust setup is already in the Victory catalog.
The Magnum X-1 is a stunning addition to the Victory model lineup that hits the mark both audibly and visibly—a well-handling, top-of-the-line factory custom boasting the most impressive sound system available of any OEM motorcycle. So if the $24,499 price tag doesn’t cut into your concert budget too severely, then you need to give the X-1 a look… and a listen.