First Ride Review
From its gray matte paint to its straight dual exhaust and solo seat, Victory Motorcycles’ new Gunner is brazenly targeting Harley-Davidson’s Softail Slim. Victory’s press information even uses the catty tagline, “Slim chance you’ll find another bobber like it.” Me-ow.
I had the opportunity to run the Gunner up and down the backroads on a bright Daytona Bike Week morning. I’ve ridden a Slim, and found the Gunner takes things a step or two further in terms of style, power and handling. If those factors aren’t enough, the nearly $3,000 price difference should sway the undecided.
It starts with the mill. From dead stop to top gear, Vic’s Freedom 106 V-twin is a solid engine. For the retro-styled Gunner, Victory’s spec sheet claims 110 lb-ft of torque, and on a low-slung bike bereft of accouterments—this is nearly the lightest bike in the Victory line; only the Vegas 8-Ball weighs less—that power is tangible. The fierce-sounding straight pipes and solo bucket saddle offer an aggressive, unvarnished riding experience that must be the inspiration for Victory calling the bike a “bobber” (it certainly isn’t the profuse rear fender).
The Gunner’s light weight combines with its low seat height, forward controls and straight handlebar to position its rider down in a true cockpit, and the grin factor is immediate and rewarding. Throwing the bike through twists (or what passes for them in Florida) is a breeze, and accelerating out of turns is rush-inducing. The Gunner’s copious lean angle means touching down pegs takes a real effort—albeit a rewarding one.
Victory does sacrifice function for form in at least one area: While the Gunner’s optional red seat looks undeniably cool, its pan is hard and its lip intrusive. The Gunner is readily customizable via the Victory catalog, though, so there’s no need for owners to be stuck with that cool-but-uncomfortable saddle.
At $12,999, the Gunner should appeal to retro V-twin aficionados looking for a stripped-down but sexy bike, whether or not you call it a bobber.