In keeping with what seems to be a returning trend in the cruiser motorcycling community, Victory Motorcycles has launched the Victory Gunner, which is executed in a style reminiscent of early “Bobbers”. What is a Bobber you might ask? It is a motorcycle that makes the statement “Less is More” – at least in the basic styling sense.
Bobbers were essentially stripped down motorcycles that made a minimalist statement in their heyday. The Bobber terminology originated from the “bobbed” or chopped fenders, along with the elimination of any excess accessories or expensive chrome dress-up items – all in the interest of improving the bike’s performance by achieving a lighter weight, while at the same time making them more affordable. The Bobber trend or philosophy is indicative of the new cruiser order that typifies a counter culture, anti-establishment mind set, displaying a sort of ‘Black Sheep’ attitude that focuses on the “Less is more” mind set and demonstrating pride in making a lot from a little by doing it themselves through mechanical independence and by not following the crowd.
The developmental goal in producing the Gunner aimed at delivering several essential elements to ensure its success. It would have to deliver a dynamic ride quality with large doses of torque and power over a broad range, a light and manageable athletic sensation, adequate and capable braking and a satisfying lean angle. The Gunner would need to be comfortable on both urban and suburban rides with high quality suspension componentry in a natural riding position. The Gunner would also have to have an easy to control feeling with a low seat height and lightweight feel. In the final analysis, the Gunner would have to display a pure, simple mechanical appeal in an original design but with a true Bobber style utilizing basic, genuine materials. There is a noticeable absence of chrome goodies or bling on the Gunner.
The Victory Gunner represents a visual tribute to that popular early movement, but with the implementation of modern technology and improved reliability and dependability, not to mention a very healthy level of performance from its air-cooled, 1731cc Freedom 106 V-Twin, with 8-valves, 45mm electronic closed loop fuel injection and dual, staggered slash cut right side exhaust pipes, which emit a pleasing thrum.
The potent motor pumps out an estimated 81 horses at 4,810 rpm, while generating 96 pound feet of torque at 2,920 rpm. Power is geared to the rear wheel through a six-speed constant mesh overdrive manual transmission with a wet multi-plate/diaphragm spring clutch, via a gear primary drive with a torque compensator to the final, right side Carbon fiber reinforced belt.
stock and suspension componentry consists of Dunlop 491 Elite II 130/90 B16 67H tires up front and 140/90 B16 77H in the rear mounted on 16”x3.5” 12 ”zig-zag” loop (24-spoke) black painted, machine faced cast aluminum wheels. Suspension elements include inverted forks with 5.1’ (130mm) of travel in front and a rear swingarm with a single gas preload adjustable monotube shock with 3.0 inches (75mm) of travel.
Reining in the Gunner are single 300mm x 5mm disc brakes with floating rotors fore and aft. There’s a 4-piston caliper up front and a 2 piston caliper aft. The addition of another rotor forward would be a plus.
The chassis showcases a low-slung look along with a low 25-inch seat height and a solid feel. The steering doesn’t feel heavy at all, despite the bike’s 649-pound mass, so tracking through the “twisties” is actually quite good. The Gunner’s wheelbase measures 64.8 inches, while the overall length is 93.4 inches. The ground clearance is 4.7 inches, and the fuel tank holds 4.5 gallons of juice.
In terms of styling, the Gunner is essentially a blacked out Victory Judge with a few tweeks and Bobber treatment, while still retaining Victory’s trademark center spline accent that runs through the teardrop tank and rear fender. The front fender is appropriately small, befitting the bobber look. Handlebars are wide and somewhat swept back, and the forward foot controls allow for stretching out comfortably. There are no provisions for a passenger – only the low set, high back, solo rider seat. There are also no bags or any other provision for storing personal gear for that matter.
Instrumentation is minimal, housed in a single pod positioned just above the single headlight, with a switch for scrolling through available settings.
The Victory Gunner is available in two finishes: Suede (matte) Titanium Metallic with Black tank graphics; and Suede (matte) Green Metallic with Black Graphics. The bike’s base sticker is $12,999 but dealer prep and handling will and the addition of accessories will add to the cost and can vary from dealer to dealer. Figure roughly $13,500 out the door. My test Gunner was in the Green finish.
SUMMARY: The new Victory Gunner is in reality larger than a traditional early Bobber would have been, but it looks the part. It also cranks out a much healthier dose of power than Bobbers of yore. One could pose the question, is it really a genuine Bobber, or an excellent recreation? Let’s just say that the Gunner is as much of a Bobber as today’s laws will allow – especially from a manufacturer, individual ownership and customization certainly offer more leeway.
In any case, there are thoughtful additional touches that enhance the Gunner’s appeal – things like self-canceling turn signals and a gear indicator for ready reference – things that a self –respecting Bobber would not have had.
Acceleration comes instantaneously with a quick twist of the throttle, and braking is adequate, but could be improved upon as already mentioned. Shifting gears is a positive maneuver, although a tad noisy, but there is no searching for neutral with the Neutral Finder feature.
Bottom line, if it’s old school that you’re looking for, the Victory Gunner fills the bill, but with lots of meaningful improvements. It should prove to be a worthwhile addition to the Victory stable.
- On the TFLcar scale of:
- Buy it!
- Lease it!
- Rent it!
- … or Forget it!
I give the 2016 Victory Gunner a Buy It! for a stylish, affordable and fun to ride “Bobber”
|Price as Tested||$13,249 (estimated – dealer prep and handling can vary)|
|Engine||Air-cooled 1731cc Freedom 106/6 V-Twin, 8-valves with 45mm electronic closed loop fuel injection and dual, staggered slash cut right side exhaust pipes|
|Power||81 @ 4,810 rpm (estimated)|
|Torque||96 @ 2,920 rpm (estimated)|
|Transmission||Six speed constant mesh overdrive with wet multi-plate/diaphragm spring clutch.|
|Drivetrain Layout||Primary Drive – Gear with torque compensator /Final drive – right side Carbon fiber reinforced belt.|
|Curb Weight||649 lbs (dry)|
|Fuel Capacity||4.5 gallons|
|Seat Height||25.0 inches|
|0-60 mph||Not tested|
In this exclusive TFLcar 0-60 MPH video we find out just how fast the 2009 Husqvarna TE-450 can go from 0-60 MPH at a mile above sea level.
|Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.|