1. Victory’s 106 Cubic-Inch Freedom
V-twin has cut out a niche for itself,
bridging the gap between old and new,
an engine with raw emotive character,
combined with sophisticated engineering.
2. The big change on the 2016
Hammer is the addition of dual
300mm front rotors to provide
stronger braking performance
(a welcome trait given the
bike’s 692.5 lb. wet weight).
But oddly, our dyno testing
found 4. 7 less hp this time.
3. The dash is simple with
analog instruments encased
in chrome. Essential warning
lights are positioned on the
face of the speedo as well as
in a small window with digital trip meters, a clock, and
odometer. It’s all there, save
for a gas gauge. My Kingdom
for a gas gauge!
4. The Hammer’s plush seat is
a bucket shape that cradles
the rider, placing them low
in the bike and providing
an easy reach to the ground
5. 250mm of Dunlop rubber is
almost wide enough for the
Hammer to stand up on its
own. Despite the large footprint, the Hammer has an ease
of turn-in that doesn’t require
a lot of physical muscle to get
the bike up onto the edge of
the tire and into turns.
The highly visible tail/
brake light is smartly flush-
mounted into the contours of
the fender for an exceptionally clean rear end.
The large diameter 2-into- 2 exhaust
pipes are almost too quiet, which begs the
question; what would that Freedom 106
V-twin sound like uncorked?
One thing I have to say about the Victory Hammer; it gets a
lot of attention when you’re out and about. And, after all, that
does seem to be a lot of the appeal of muscle cruisers. Thankfully the Hammer delivers equally well in terms of performance,
with that smooth running 106 c.i. V-twin churning out some
impressive power—especially at low-rpm.
Though I didn’t get the opportunity to take the Hammer on
a long trip to test its viability for distance, I did hustle the bike
down a very long, very twisty, and very bumpy, semi-maintained
county road and was pleasantly surprised at the bike’s ability
to take it all in stride. Despite the bike’s weight and length,
it tackled the run—which was a 20-plus-mile long series of
uneven switchbacks and extremely tight corners—with unexpected aplomb. Furthermore, it was a blast and didn’t drain me
of energy, which speaks volumes about the bike’s rideability. The
Hammer is a well-made, highly functional muscle cruiser that
exudes confidence, with its own niche of style and statement.
Although we were unable to get the Harley Breakout together side-by-side with the new Hammer as intended, comparisons were inevitable, especially as the new fat-tired H-D was
fresh in our minds. In that light, I’d have to give the Victory the
edge in outright performance, although the whole cruiser genre
isn’t really about split-seconds but rather the sensations they
provide, and I found the Breakout’s anvil-like solidity and the
Big Twin’s signature thunder the more memorable of the two.
As for handling, the Victory has significantly more cornering
clearance, so I wasn’t obliged to slow down so much on the
fun parts of our favorite roads, while the Breakout dragged its
footpegs much too easily. And the Hammer’s steering effort
is much lighter than the H-D as well, despite the fact that its
rear tire is even wider than the Breakout’s. Plus, its suspension
is also noticeably better. However, I did like the H-D’s riding
position best, as its wide, flat bars prevented me from slouching into the seat, which made the Victory’s thinly padded seat
backrest painful over time. —Dave Searle
DAVE SEARLE PHOTOS