In keeping with what seems to be a returning trend in the cruiser motorcycling community, Victory Motorcycles has launched the Gunner, executed in a style reminiscent of an early "Bobber." "What is a Bobber?" It's 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 was indicative of a new cruiser order that typified a counter-culture, anti-establishment mindset, displaying a sort of "Black Sheep" attitude that focused on a minimalist mindset and demonstrated pride in making a lot from a little by doing it themselves through mechanical independence and by not following the crowd.
To ensure its success, the developmental goal in producing the Gunner aimed at delivering several essential elements: 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 and simple mechanical appeal in an original design, but with a true Bobber style utilizing basic, genuine materials. As such, chrome goodies and bling are notably absent on the Gunner.
The Victory Gunner represents a visual tribute to that popular early movement, but with 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 eight-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 lb.-ft. 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.
The chassis showcases a low-slung look along with a 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 tweaks 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 the rider to stretch out comfortably. It offers no provisions for a passenger -- only a low-set, high-back, solo rider seat. It also has 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 and the addition of accessories will add to the cost and can vary from dealer to dealer. Figure roughly $13,500 out the door.
In reality, the Victory Gunner is larger than a traditional early Bobber would have been, but it still 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, thoughtful additional touches enhance the Gunner's appeal -- things like self-canceling turn signals and a gear indicator for ready reference -- things that no self-respecting Bobber would have had.
Acceleration comes instantaneously with a quick twist of the throttle, and braking is adequate, but could be improved upon. Shifting gears is a positive maneuver, although a tad noisy, but there is no searching for neutral with the Neutral Finder feature.
If it's old school 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.
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