Daytona Bike Week is a great place to be reminded that less can be more. Just an hour spent watching the tackily embellished hardware roll down Main Street makes you realize how many people confuse beauty with bedazzlement. So, what a delight to spend a day riding one of the most aesthetically elegant, quietly sexy cruisers on the market today: Victory’s 2015 Gunner.
Yes, it’s basically a Judge wearing new 24-spoke cast aluminum shoes, and a tiny skirt instead of a robe, but for a parts-bin bike, it looks very much like its own animal. A dark, muscular one that turns heads and prompts questions.
Victory is calling the new model a “bobber,” in salute to the resurfacing trend of chopping without lengthening, something made big in the ’40s and ’50s when simplicity was in style. But the claimed 649-pound Gunner, with its huge Freedom 106 V-Twin, is one big-ass bike to be called a “bobber,” a designation typically reserved for agile, lightweight bikes with inner-city appeal: think Harley-Davidson Sportster, Star Bolt, Triumph Bonneville…the minimalist sort of thing.
This is a chassis and drivetrain I know very well, so as expected, I loved running the Gunner around Daytona, and especially down some of the backroads that allow for extended romping. The Freedom 106 is a very lovable motor, with heaps of hair-tingling torque (we measured 96-pound-feet when we had the 2013 Judge on the Cycle World Dynojet, with a respectable 81 horses to further harvest momentum). It’s a real head-snapper, the 106, and the sweet snarl emitted by the blacked-out, stock dual exhaust encourages you to abuse the throttle just for grins.
The chassis is solid in feel, and though it features a low look and a low 25-inch seat height, the Gunner won’t grind pegs near as easily as some of Victory’s more chopper-esque models. Steering feel is not at all heavy, and tracking through corners is optimum for such a big cruiser. The transmission is also what we already know: industrial in feel, very loud, but with true shifts and no hunting for neutral. Braking scores for this big bobber are only decent, and would be much improved by an additional 300mm disc to match the single unit currently used up front. A single 300mm disc is also used to control the rear wheel.
Speaking of wheels, the new black, bare metal-edged, 24-spoke cast aluminum numbers really help quantify the Gunner’s overall aggressive styling. They also shave off some weight, making the Gunner about 10 pounds lighter than its familial Judge and arm-draping Highball. The solo saddle on the Gunner was comfy for our day ride, and the black, swept bar was an easy reach for this average-size rider.
We tried several accessorized versions of the Gunner, including a few with more custom-looking bar styles, but in my opinion, none felt more comfortable or looked better than the stock version. There were some awesome bits and baubles I would add to a Gunner, however, starting with the red version of the Solo Mission seat, accent-enhancing red spark plug wires, as well as the optional tachometer. And if I were riding in Florida, or some other state where the majority of days would be spent rolling straight-up and cozy, I’d shell out for floorboards and cruise control.
For many, the jury is still out on whether this lightly restyled Judge is a truly a bobber or just another way for Victory to spin its barrel full of Big Twins. But at $ 12,999 (that’s a grand less than the Judge and five hundred below the High-Ball) it’s surely one big wannabe bobber of a bargain.
|2015 Victory Gunner|
|ENGINE TYPE||air-cooled 1731cc V-twin|
|BORE & STROKE||101.0 x 108.0mm|
|FINAL DRIVE||Toothed belt|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||43mm fork, 5.1 in. of travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||Single shock, 3.0 in. of travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||Single 300mm disc, four-piston caliper|
|REAR BRAKE||Single 300mm disc, dual-piston caliper|
|FRONT TIRE||Dunlop 491 E2-RWL, 130/90 B16 67H|
|REAR TIRE||Dunlop 491 E2-RWL 140/90 B16 77H|
|SEAT HEIGHT||25.0 in.|
|DRY WEIGHT||649 lb.|
|FUEL CAPACITY||4.5 gal.|
|FUEL ECONOMY||est. 45 mpg|