We pit the 2014 Harley-Davison Softail Slim against the 2015 Victory Gunner in this comparison between American V-Twin Cruisers. Ride along with Motorcycle USA in our video and be sure to check out our 2015 Victory Gunner vs 2014 Harley Softail Slim
article for dyno charts, mpg, weights, and more.
Forks thick like Popeye’s forearms, rolling on black chunks of Dunlop rubber, the 2014 Harley Softail Slim sports a brawny disposition with its solo seat slung low and vintage bars. At 23.8-inches, its seat indeed sits low and had the better contour of the two bikes in our test. The Slim’s rider’s triangle is compact but comfortable for a six-foot tester.
The exhaust note coming from the shotgun exhaust is rich and soulful, a saxophone solo at Preservation Hall. The harmony is provided by a pushrod-driven Twin Cam 103 delivering a healthy punch of torque low in the rev range in a powerband that’s fairly linear. We love that the engine can pick back up from virtually nothing while on the freeway doles out plenty of passing power. It won the efficiency battle against the Gunner with a 35.974 mpg average but lost the horsepower wars on the dyno to the Freedom 106. While vibrations are minimal, its rear cylinder head did generate heat on the inside of our right thigh. The gap between the seat and tank exacerbates the situation.
With its low seat height and compact 64.4-inch wheelbase, the bike balances on a low pivot point, making it manageable at low speed. Once the pace picks up and the roads bend, a stout, stubby fork set at a 32. 1-degee rake angle and chunky front tire make for weighty steering. With the Softail Slim you have to be smooth and deliberate on turns as the floorboards touch down easy and often.
Rolling through the first few gears, you hear the Gunner’s tranny over the Harley every time it shifts. The Softail’s Six-Speed Cruise Drive Transmission engages reliably, smoother and quieter. And while the Slim has a great hard tail look, the back end delivers a good jab when you square a pothole because there’s not much travel on the rear shock.
Braking on the Softail Slim is a mixed bag. There’s little bite or power on the spongy front brake. But the unit we tested had the optional ABS, and during braking tests it kept the Harley upright, shortened braking distance and made the bike easier to control.
Low-riding, profiling, the 2014 Softail Slim is a solid choice to patrol the city beat on with its low-speed mannerisms and muscular disposition. We gave its smoother-shifting transmission the nod and its ABS proved its effectiveness. We like the way the TC103 can generate power as low as 2000 rpm. But in our impromptu drags it was already falling behind the Gunner before the first shift, and the way it drags floorboards limits it in turns. The Slim’s fit and finish is top-notch, but also comes at a premium. The package we tested with grey colorway and ABS bumped MSRP up to $17,094, four grand more than the Gunner. But a livelier engine and better handling are the reasons we gave the Victory the edge in this comparison.