With a catchphrase like “Ride One and You’ll Own One,” Victory strives to get people in the saddle of its motorcycles. To increase accessibility of the brand and to appeal to a broader scope of riders, Victory trimmed the fat off its latest aggressively styled cruiser, the 2015 Gunner, lowered its seat height to a rider-friendly 25-inches, and offered it at an attractive price point of $12,999.
The Gunner’s menacing disposition comes courtesy of blacked-out components and engine, throaty pipes streaking down its right side, a small front fender covering chunky Dunlop 491 Elite II tires, and a low-slung solo seat, the entire package decked out in attractive Suede Titanium paint. Victory slapped on a new set of 24-spoke cast aluminum wheels for good measure.
After spending an afternoon in its saddle cruising around Daytona Beach, we discovered its 1731cc V-Twin really shines in this platform. Victory’s Freedom 106 put out a verified 93.68 lb-ft of torque at 3700 rpm on our dyno last year, and though the powerplant is unchanged, it spools up hard and heavy on the Gunner. Laying down rubber is no problem on this bike. Though the clutch pull is tight, it engages almost immediately upon release making for quick launches. It also weighs 11 pounds less than Victory’s power cruiser, the Judge, so it makes even better use of the engine’s abundance of immediately accessible torque.
Transferring power to the rear is Victory’s tried-and-true 6-speed overdrive transmission. While gear engagement is abrupt and loud, the gearbox didn’t miss a shift and neutral is not elusive. And while the Gunner hooks up when the clutch is dropped, first gear taps out early, banging off the rev limiter just below 40mph in first gear. Thankfully, second compensates with a wide spread of power, the speedo approaching 70 mph before the engine screams for an upshift. At highway speeds, the engine hums along at an effortless 2350 rpm at 65 mph in overdrive sixth. Drop it down a gear and a healthy dose of engine braking assists the braking package.
This package consists of a single 300mm disc on both front and back. A relatively light squeeze gets the 4-piston caliper to put a firm bite on the 300mm floating front rotor, while the twin pot arrangement on the rear is a bit more grabby and will lock up the back wheel with regularity. In keeping the Gunner’s price point down, ABS is not an option.
Though sweepers and switchbacks are a rarity in Florida, when we did get a chance to get a little lean angle, the Gunner’s low center of gravity and lighter unsprung weight courtesy of its new wheels makes for easy transitions and moderate leveraging at the bars. Its forward mounted controls allow for decent lean before pegging out. With a 32-degree rake angle and 64.8-inch spread between wheels, it’s by no means a canyon carver but holds true to its line at lean. And while the 43mm fork with 5.1-inches of travel keeps the front end firmly planted, the single mono-tube gas shock on the rear has only 3-inches of leeway before bottoming out, leaving the rear a bit harsh.
After our afternoon bombing around central Florida on the 2015 Gunner, it likes to be ridden fast and hard. It’s a tight package with big power, a low COG, in a bike that’s easy to manage. At a grand less than the Judge and almost three K less than its targeted competitor, Harley’s Softail Slim, Victory has left leeway to tailor it further to a rider’s preference. A bona-fide blacked-out brawler, it’s a bike that rates high on the fun factor.