to 700-lbs. of steel at speed). In addition to the
added stopping power, the dual rotors give the
Hammer a more aggressive and balanced look.
On the rear is a single 300mm disc working
with a 2-piston caliper.
Although the brake combination works
exceptionally well, the front and rear units are
not linked and there is no ABS option. Despite
the sheer weight contributing to keeping the
Hammer planted under hard braking, the lack
of ABS makes the wheels prone to locking if
you get too aggressive.
When it comes to cruising, the seat is
an extremely vital part of the package. The
Hammer has this covered, with a plush, well-shaped pad that places the rider low against the
chassis, granting an integrated feel in relation
to the bike. The handlebars have a swept bend
that complements the position of the pegs for
a very laid back riding position. As tends to be
the case with cruiser-type seating positions, get
some seat time before purchase to see if the ergos
run the risk of placing undue stress on your lower back.
Once underway on the Hammer the first noticeable aspect
of the bike’s character is its smoothness. The 106 cubic-inch
V-twin has a calm demeanor, whether letting the engine lug
at low rpm or getting into the throttle. Even at higher rpm the
Freedom powerplant doesn’t exhibit any serious vibration.
For a heavyweight, the Hammer’s chassis delivers responsive
handling, which works nicely to counter the inherent reluctance
of a big fat rear tire to turn. With its weight carried extremely
low and its balanced feel, the Hammer is actually a somewhat
nimble machine, its cornering potential benefiting noticeably
from the increased ground clearance. In that regard, Victory
proudly compares the Hammer’s lean angle of 26. 5° to the
Harley-Davidson Breakout’s 23. 4°. Yes, the lean angle is better
but, rest assured, you will touch the pegs down occasionally.
Get up to speed on the freeway and immediately the Hammer’s lack of any wind protection shows itself by drawing the
air right into the rider’s chest, creating a sail effect that requires
tightening your grip on the bars—not exactly the comfort one
expects from a cruiser. This unusual channeling of wind also
conspires to force the rider’s legs open and a conscious effort
is required to keep the knees pressed against the tank. For
short hops and cruising this isn’t a problem, but for lengthy
hauls these seemingly trivial concerns will exert themselves in
accumulated fatigue over the course of a day.
Sitting at long traffic signals on hot days you will definitely
feel the heat rising up off the large diameter exhaust pipes that
run down the right side of the bike. Once underway, even at
low speeds, the heat is instantly drawn away.
Instruments & Controls
The minimal design approach of the Hammer extends to
its instrumentation; a large faced analog speedometer and
tachometer, as well as a small digital tachometer, odometer,
trip meter, and a clock. Indicators include high-beam, turn
signals, neutral, check engine and oil pressure. However, no
fuel gauge. In this day and age it seems odd to not provide
this most basic of gauges. Although having to open the cap
and slosh the contents of the tank to guesstimate how many
more miles you’ve got does create some nostalgia. But it’s
maybe not so charming when you run out of gas. However,
with a 4. 5 gal. capacity and an average of 42. 5 mpg, you’ll
have a range in the neighborhood of 175 miles before you
need to get nervous.
The levers and pedals are well-placed and functional with
good feel. The mirrors are small and shapely but do a good
job of revealing what’s behind and next to you.
Attention to Detail
Despite the importance of paint schemes in the cruiser realm,
Victory offers the new Hammer with a single choice; Gloss
Black with Red Rally Stripes. The bike has a generous amount
of black bits and pieces which work with the black wheels to
create an appropriately mean-looking muscle cruiser.
The small cowling that covers the passenger portion of the
seat can be popped off easily—though removing it reveals
three very unappealing snap holes. The Hammer’ styling has
an attractive flow, the front fender, headlight bucket, fuel tank,
seat and tail section tie together in a tasteful design sweep that
possesses a mix of modernity with retro locomotive elements—
all without upstaging the Freedom V-twin as the centerpiece.
It’s no secret that when Victory entered the market in 1998
they had Harley-Davidson squarely in their sights. An audacious task, to take on the American icon. Seventeen years on,
Victory is still in the game, having earned a loyal following
by giving enthusiasts another choice in the realm of American
heavy cruisers. The solid build quality and impressive performance of the new Hammer is underlined by a base MSRP
of just $15,499. Victory’s created a muscle cruiser with curb
appeal right out of the showroom, leaving plenty of room to create your own two-wheel statement. Perhaps the most noticeable
difference between the two big American brands is that Victory
has a more refined approach to its mechanicals; engine, clutch,
and transmission. The Hammer unwinds with a smoothness
unusual for a large displacement V-twin. In fact, it’s a bit of a
shame that it’s engineering refinement has resulted in such a
subdued exhaust note. So please forgive us if we have to wonder
how the bike would sound and perform with a slightly lustier