In many ways, the Victory Gunner and Harley Softail Slim are mirror images. Both sport chunky Dunlops on 16-inch wheels, front ends with rakes in the 32-degree range, spreads of 64. 4 to .8 inches between wheels. Forward controls and pullback bars equate to comparable riding positions, both sporting low-slung seats. Each is powered by torque-happy V-Twin engines, Harley’s Twin Cam 103 at 1690cc’sa and Victory’s Freedom 106 measuring 1731cc. Similar on paper, their differences became apparent during our test.
At 673 pounds, the Gunner tips the scales 31 pounds lighter. Throw in an engine with a few extra cubes and you’ve got a bike that goes from 0 -60 .5-seconds quicker and continues to open the gap through the quarter-mile. It ruled the dyno with 101.3 lb-ft of torque, pumping out over 90 lb-ft between 2300 to 4700 rpm. Fueling on the Harley is a tad better, the Gunner harsher at the throttle. The Freedom 106 doesn’t pick up from nothing like the Twin Cam 103, chugging to build back up, but its overall power advantage won us over.
The differences in handling became evident on our favorite testing grounds in our local mountains. The front end bias of the Gunner is about 19 pounds lighter and steering is lighter as a result. Transitions are smooth thanks to a low center of gravity and it holds true in turns. The Gunner’s pegs are higher than the Slim’s floorboards so riders can attack corners more aggressively, the Harley lagging behind due to its lack of cornering clearance.
In the stopping department, the Gunner’s front brake has a better initial bit and more consistent power. But the rear is a bit grabby, locking up regularly during simulated emergency stops. This is where both testers appreciated the ABS safety net offered by the Harley, ABS not an option on the Gunner.
With its long, sculpted tank and raised spine running the length of the bike, the Gunner has a modern, racy profile. From the back the Gunner looks thinner, the primary cover of the Softail Slim prominent on one side, its air cleaner on the other. And while Harley still sets the standard for fit and finish, the Gunner provides a more scintillating ride. More power, lighter steering, more lean, a back spring that’s a bit stiffer and a price point four K lower, the Gunner is a lot of bang for the buck and the winner of this cruiser comparison.