We recently got a chance to ride the 2015 Victory Gunner amidst the hazy carnival of fun and chaos that is Daytona Bike Week. The Gunner is a motorcycle that sits in strong contrast to the blinged out "check me out" bikes that seem to be the status quo of the typical bike week goer. While those rides look as they emerged from an amusement park merry-go-round, the Gunner refreshingly looks like it appeared from a custom speed shop a handful of decades ago, which is somewhat fitting because Victory describes the Gunner as a "Bobber". While not a Bobber in the truest custom construction sense, it is definitely noticeable that the Gunner took it's styling queues from the Bobber mantra of "simplified and stripped down" that was originated by retiring WWII US Serviceman in the 1940's and ‘50s. The Gunner is based off the same platform as it's Victory siblings in V-Twindom, the Judge and High-Ball which is a good thing because those bikes have a proven and respected pedigree of power and handling. Those bikes aside, the Gunner is it's own form of highway artillery.
The Gunner has a copious amount of "whoa! hold on" torque
The lifeline and star of the Gunner is it's 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin engine. It's copious amount of "Whoa! Hold on" torque and smooth, broad power throughout the RPM range will have you shooting around town and the interstate in an ear-to-ear grin. We also rode a second Gunner fitted with Victory's Stage 1 Straights Exhaust System and other goodies out of their accessory line. While the stock pipes sound and look pretty decent, the Stage 1 system really makes the Gunner roar with ear pleasing authority and they are a bit more easier on the eyes. A few other benefits of the Stage 1 are a noticeably bit better throttle response and a lighter weight over the stock system. All that engine goodness is transferred to a sturdy and precise, albeit a bit loud and thunkish 6-speed transmission that performed predictably over the duration of our testing.
Handling wise we were a bit surprised that the Gunner felt a little bit different than it's Victory Cruiser brethren, the Judge and the High-Ball which it shares the same chassis and wheel/tire size with. What made the difference? We attribute it to the 24 spoke cast aluminum wheels that drop upwards 10 lbs. of total weight over the chunkier setup on the Judge and High-Ball. The lighter rolling mass made the steering feel lighter and easier to transition in curvy s-turn type of situations. This was also helpful in low speed settings making the front end feel less floppy. High-speed handling was predictable, stable and confidence inspiring. The Gunner does not ride like it's 678 lb. wet weight would indicate, it feels lighter and more agile in motion than just about all of it's similar spec'd cruiser competitors. One small negative is that scraping the pegs comes very easily and quickly on the Gunner impeding the fun factor. The second Gunner we rode, with bits from the Victory catalog, was equipped with the Driver Floorboard Kit which scrapped at even lesser lean angles than with the stock pegs, so much that we dragged them in the parking lot before even hitting the open road. Although the floorboards were comfy, we preferred the feel and better cornering clearance of the stock pegs.
Once getting out of that parking lot, we put the Gunner and it's suspension through it's paces and it passed with flying colors. It's 43mm fork and Mono-tube shock did a good job of keeping the bike adhered to the road while keeping you from feeling every undulation in the road. Except for some alligator head sized potholes along the Florida back roads, the suspenders soaked up everything in its path with no worries. Stopping power on the Gunner was passable but not great. The front end relies on a single 300mm rotor clenched down with a four-piston caliper. After some spirited riding and some jockeying around in the downtown Daytona Beach mayhem, we were feeling a jump to dual rotors would be a welcome addition. Out back another single 300mm rotor spins between a two-piston caliper providing decent power and a good feel at the pedal. In a few "stop now" situations we deployed some healthy engine braking along with the front and rear stoppers to ensure a quick and steady deceleration. Yes, we know this a cruiser and not a sport bike, but the Gunner gets up and MOVES and we feel should have brakes to match.
Ergonomically speaking the Gunner puts you in a naturally comfortable seating position. The stock forward peg position feels like it is the place your feet should rest .The seat is comfy without out being too soft and sits at a 25 inch height which is friendly for even the most vertically challenged V-twin thunder seeker. The stock bars I felt were a just a tad too far pulled back for my six-foot tall frame, but no problem because the second Gunner we rode had a set of Black Hammer "V-Style" Drag Bars from the Victory accessory line that put us a little bit more forward and let our arms rest in a more natural riding position (for longer arms) along with giving the bike a little bit of that custom look.
The Gunner has a base price of $12,999 and comes in a great looking Suede Black metallic color scheme. At that low of a price, you should have some dough left over for some of the fine parts available from the Victory Accessory line that are ready to bolt on. Standouts for that line include V Style Drag Bars, Stage 1 Exhaust System and the Solo Luggage Rack, which we tested, and think are very worthy upgrades.
What do we really think of the Gunner?
Regardless of what Victory calls it (Bobber) or even the so-called category it falls under, Cruiser, the Gunner is one fun as hell motorcycle to ride. It's fantastic motor, good handling and good looks will have you shooting down the city streets and highways feeling like a hotshot.
*All photos shot with the GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition