Although the largest blip as of late on the Polaris radar has to be the 2013 unveiling of three new Indian models, the company continues to invest heavily into their Victory Motorcycles arsenal. Their latest salvo was launched during Daytona Bike Week with the spring release of the 2015 Gunner.
Touted by Victory as an “Urban Cruiser” with “throwback bobber styling,” the Gunner is founded on the road-proven chassis that has been the mainstay of the Victory lineup for years, with its frame and suspension featuring all the parts and pieces that have performed excellently for the company previously (don’t fix what ain’t broken). A single gas-charged mono-shock is tucked in under the seat, affording 3” of travel along with a preload adjustable spring setting. (An optional accessory shock is also available that offers a one-inch increase in ride height.) The tire sits in a stout cast-aluminum swingarm that provides the needed rigidity to keep the unit stable without any suggestion of sway or drift. The rear tire is an ample Dunlop #491, 140/90 on a 16″ diameter wheel. And at 4″ wide, this rubber is more than adequate while challenging any obstacle course and putting the Gunner through its paces. Up front, a super-smooth 43mm conventional telescopic set of forks provides more than 5″ of bounce—enough travel for the most serious of riders. And that chunk of Dunlop rotating between those forks is one of the best parts of this package—another 491 (but slightly smaller at 130/90) also wrapped around a 16″ rim. When combined with a modest 32 degrees of rake, the riding experience could not be any more enjoyable, with that front spinner literally driving itself—sure-footed with any movement on the handlebars being instantly translated to the tarmac. The response results in a high level of rider confidence that is accented by adequate cruiser ground clearance at 4.7″. Both the front and rear wheel assemblies feature elegant 24-spoke cast wheels, finished in black powder coat with polished accents. The bike’s dry weight of only 649 pounds (second only to the Vegas 8-Ball for lightest weight) gave me the opportunity to toss the bike through curves and push the limits of the Gunner’s performance while taking a heated ride through the Ocala National Forest and back.
Victory’s treasured 106 cubic inch Freedom motor (first introduced in 2008) performed flawlessly despite being flogged on occasion while traversing the crowded back roads of Florida’s most bucolic scenery. The Freedom 106 (1731cc) is a 50-degree V-twin with four valves per cylinder and a 9:4 to 1 compression ratio that delivers 110 ft/lbs of torque through a six-speed transmission with final drive being a carbon fiber-reinforced belt. Fuel is fed to the Freedom motor via a pair of closed-loop 45mm fuel injection bodies while the exhaust is dumped courtesy of slash-cut twin pipes exiting the right side. Although the Gunner carries the same powerplant as the rest of its siblings, the bike seemed a little more robust than previous models we’ve ridden. That may have to do with the weight, which was trimmed mainly from those 24-spoke wheels and creating less spinning weight. And a lighter rotating mass makes for faster acceleration—nothing earth shattering, but something that was noticeable during our test ride. The cable-actuated clutch is easy-pull, connecting to a tranny that has a great gear ratio selection with sixth gear being a true overdrive. Unfortunately the characteristic klank-klank banging during shifting continues to be a nuisance, sounding at times like a mad hammer-tinker inside the transmission and/or primary.
The rider’s saddle sits at a mere 25″, the lowest in the Victory line. The narrow-cut nose of the seat provides a slender straddle point and offers an easy reach to the ground. When combined with the design of the bars, the overall ergonomics tender a relaxed riding position. But although stylish and comfortable around town, the factory accessory Solo Mission “red” seats (as tested) might cause long-distance riders to consider investing in the cost of a gel pad. An optional passenger seat is also available; a unit that “floats” above the rear fender, mounting similar to a luggage rack. This elevated perch is necessary due to the raised rib that runs the length of the rear fender. If you decide to keep it solo, a black powder-coated luggage rack is offered that fits in the same location as would the passenger seat. Other factory options include Stage 1 exhaust, Rad III mirrors, V-Drag Bars and a variety of Victory Billet Grips and engine covers.
The braking was well delivered with the rear performing just as effectively as the front. Four-piston calipers fore and aft combine with a pair of single 300mm discs to give that little extra stopping power when entering a corner a little too hot.
While it might be a stretch to label this bike as a “throwback bobber,” its minimalist styling definitely results in one good-looking cruiser. That raised rib accent mentioned on the rear fender is extended across the bike to include the tank and front fender. The tank also features an aircraft-style fueling port. The controls are uncomplicated with the instrument package being a single, chromed unit with twin speedo and tachometer pods being an option.
With abbreviated fenders both front and rear, a sculpted tank that perfectly flows with the rest of the bike and a set of slightly-arched black powder-coated pipes, the intentional aggressive stance of the Gunner is obvious and should appeal to a large audience. Priced with a MSRP of $12,999, Victory is hoping to secure a new following of riders and still leave them enough wallet to invest in some of those “optional goodies” to further personalize their weapon of choice. But I hope you like Suede Titanium because… well, that’s the only color available at present.