VICTORY’S NEW HAMMER S fulfills its “Muscle Cruiser” classification with an appealing, simplistic approach; a big V-twin engine, clean lines, and glistening paint
scheme that bolsters curb appeal and attitude. American attitude. The changes for the new Hammer are minimal; a taller
shock—which contributes to improved lean angle and a
smoother ride—and dual front discs, which gives the Hammer S a more serious demeanor in terms of both looks and
The Hammer is Victory’s answer to the Harley-Davidson Breakout (tested in the August issue of MCN). The two
machines are similar in terms of weight, power, and overall
dimensions, with Harley possessing its revered (and highly
coveted) rough-around-the-edges persona to Victory’s slightly
more sophisticated engineering. The Hammer represents
exactly what Victory set out to achieve in 1998; to build an
alternative American heavy cruiser to go up against the 900-lb.
In addition to the patriotism inherent in the name Victory,
the company named their proprietary V-twin, “Freedom.” The
signature 106 cubic-inch engine has a somewhat modern aesthetic, capturing the essence of essential old school big bore
splendor while presenting it with cleanly-machined good looks.
The 1731cc, air/oil-cooled, electronically fuel-injected V-twin
has a bore & stroke of 101mm x 108mm and a compression
ratio of 9.4: 1. Fed by dual 45mm throttle bodies the engine puts
81.38 hp to the rear wheel at 5300 rpm, enhancing that with
88.77 lbs.-ft. of torque, which arrives at 4100 rpm.
These numbers are produced with a relatively low amount
of vibration for a big twin. Throttle response is good, with just
an ever so slight hesitation directly off the
bottom. Once underway, there’s enough
torque to lug the machine all day in sec-
ond and third gear or, if you prefer, you
can ring the Freedom’s neck and arrive
at some surprisingly rewarding adrena-
line rushes. 106 cubic inches provide a
generous amount of roll-on regardless of
gear or speed; just twist the throttle and
the V-twin builds revs effortlessly.
Transmission & Clutch
The six-speed transmission has a succinct feel and, for a big V-twin, limited
shift lever throw. The gears still clunk on
changes, but that’s to be expected with
the size of the internals required to handle big torque. The gearbox is surprisingly
responsive to aggressive downshifts, with
no finesse required, just stomp the shifter.
First gear is low enough to get off the
line without any massaging of the clutch.
Drop the lever with a light turn of the
throttle and you’re off. First through fifth
are evenly spaced with sixth gear working
as overdrive, the ratio being tall enough
to drop the rpm significantly for cruising (2350 rpm at an indicated 65 mph),
reducing vibration and granting improved fuel
The clutch has a good feel, with consistent
engagement all the way through the action of the lever.
Final drive is a carbon fiber reinforced belt.
Chassis & Suspension
The Hammer is fitted with a single Monotube gas shock
(with preload adjustment) mounted in a rising-rate linkage,
providing 3. 9" of travel—an improvement of almost an inch
over last year ( 3.0"). The taller shock was implemented to gain
ground clearance (thus providing more lean angle) with the
added bonus of a slightly more plush ride.
On the front end the Hammer sports 43mm, non-adjustable
male-slider forks that provide 5. 1" of travel. The forks, working
in concert with the added travel of the rear shock, gives the
Hammer a decent degree of comfort during cruising while at
the same time being stiff enough to support the demands of
twisting back roads.
With a wheelbase of 66.5" and a seat height of just 27. 5", the
Hammer exudes a classic low and long muscle cruiser persona.
Wheels, Tires & Brakes
A black, ten-spoke 18"x8.5" rear wheel holds a massive
250mm Dunlop Elite 3 D418 tire with a 9-inch footprint!
Despite the enormous contact patch the Hammer exhibited no
reluctance to getting turned (as was the situation with the H-D
Breakout, which had a slightly smaller 240mm tire) as is often
the case with wide slabs of rubber. Some of the Hammer’s
surprisingly obedient nature on turn-in (despite the wide rear
tread) has to do with the balance of the rear tire to the front,
which sees the ten-spoke 3.50"x18" wheel mounted with a
Dunlop Elite 3 D419; the well-matched profiles helping the
front end work with the rear.
The most significant change to the Hammer for 2016 is
the switch from a single front disc to dual 300mm floating
rotors. The units are grabbed by 4-piston calipers and provide
impressive stopping power (a good thing when piloting close
by Jeff Buchanan photos by Dave Searle