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Moto Guzzi Audacity, Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Victory Hammer S

Two-cylinder cruiser in comparison

We followed our inner compass on powerful cruisers with characteristic two-cylinders. We searched the distance around the Wasserkuppe, the sacred mountain of aviation. The Moto Guzzi Audace, Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Victory Hammer S in comparison.

White fleecy clouds stand in the sky, motionless like cotton balls. The firmament has its brightest blue and you put on your darkest sunglasses. You smell freshly mown hay under your jet helmet, see how a red kite turns on the spot above you. You don’t think anything, you just feel that you are under the spell of fascinating locomotion. On a casual glider with a powerful engine. Moto Guzzi Audacity, triumph Thunderbird Commander and Victory Hammer S go perfectly with the lovingly curved Rhon, the "land of open spaces" and the cradle of modern aviation.

Moto Guzzi Audacity, Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Victory Hammer S

Two-cylinder cruiser in comparison

Black matt lacquer marks the Moto Guzzi Audacity

Tea Moto Guzzi Audacity proudly wears the eagle on the tin tank panel. Audace, pronounced: “Audahtsche”, means “bold, brave”. Your license plate? Black matte paint everywhere, fifty shades of black. This dark appearance gives the Audace a masculine aura. Chrome shine? Is very sparsely sown. It is the first of four California variations that have footrests instead of running boards. Of course, it also has the 90-degree V2 with 1380 cubic meters. Europe’s thickest Vauzwo pushes real 94 PS and 112 Newton meters. This should be enough for propulsion appropriate to one’s status. Served cleanly via the Kardan, while Victory and Triumph tear themselves on the also easy-care timing belt.

Technically, the Moto Guzzi Audacity is based on the Cali Custom, for 18,500 euros it is 510 euros more expensive than that. And around 1000 euros more expensive than the Triumph Thunderbird Commander or Victory Hammer S (including accessory windscreen). That would be enough for many sightseeing flights, see information and tips. Our Rhon bikes are still resting casually on their side stands. Many motorcycle parking spaces at Wasserkuppe Airfield indicate a close connection between two wheels and two wings.

Triumph Thunderbird Commander with the largest in-line twin cylinder

The basic version of the Triumph Thunderbird with a displacement of 1.6 liters has been cruising through airspace close to the ground since 2010. Here, in the Commander version presented in 2014, it doesn’t just take a chrome walk by the square meters. Rather, it carries the largest in-line twin cylinder on the planet: In the Storm, Nightstorm, LT and the Triumph Thunderbird Commander driven here, the water-cooled big block with milled cooling fin ends and chrome-plated side covers combine a full 1699 cubic meters. Forged pistons the size of a plate (107.1 millimeters bore!) Weigh 94 hp and almost 151 Newton meters. The Commander Cruiser insignia is Anglo-American: classic running boards mounted far to the front, speedometer on the tank, rocker switch and an upholstered synthetic leather saddle.

The Victory Hammer S comes across differently, completely differently. Not just casual, but muscular. Black and red are their warning colors. A hot rod on two wheels, with a harmonious line. He eats Harleys for breakfast. With centrally arranged footrests, wide, barely cranked drag bar handlebars in a coat hanger look that stretches you far forward, and a fat 250 mm rear roller. The pronounced seat recess in front of the removable pillion seat cover integrates you sucking. And embeds you 710 millimeters deep. Look down at others from below.

Together, the trio weighs almost a ton

Size matters, size matters, promises the cool US iron. Its air-cooled V2 engine goes well with it. Its cylinders, spread by 50 degrees to form the victory sign, rise up to the tower. Damn fat oolytes. They suck in their mixture up to a full 1731 cm3, 106 cubic inches. Displacement comes from hub, a whopping 108 millimeters. Any questions, stranger? Power? Enough, that’s it! As promised, the “Freedom V2” lifts 88 hp and almost 140 Newton meters.

Wonderful how all three engines crackle for hours after they have been switched off like a recently extinguished campfire. Together, the trio weighs almost a ton, 987 kilograms of heavy metal. Spread over 317 kilograms of the Moto Guzzi Audacity, 318 of the Victory Hammer S and a massive 352 kilograms of the Triumph Thunderbird Commander. Heavy machines without fairings or saddlebags, made for pure driving experiences. We say goodbye to the pilots, wish the spar and ribs broken. The hardest thing is to lift the massive Triumph from the side stand to the vertical.

Transmission of the Audace the best of the comparison

Ignition! Gasoline burns in our hearts. This pulse is made of steel, clocked in combustion chambers the size of a jug. Badoumm, badoumm, badoumm. The whole Moto Guzzi Audacity shakes to the rhythm of the 1400 engine. Your flat, black lacquered flat bar handlebar dances in four beats. Forward, backward, forward, backward. The porch shakes. The valves tickle happily. This V2 is alive, as natural as a Rhon bull. The engine is fine and direct on the gas, responding spontaneously to every little twitch of the electric throttle.

If you do this while idling, the whole load leans first to the right and then to the left again into the starting position. Tilting moment as a greeting from the characteristic longitudinal crankshaft. In addition, there is a pithy sound from the thick exhaust bags. It is not just first gear that engages surprisingly smoothly: “1” is emblazoned in the digital gear display. Overall, the Moto Guzzi Audacity‘s transmission is the best of the comparison! The long swing arm without torque support cannot completely compensate for cardan reactions. The stern rises when you accelerate and sags a little when you take it off, just like before.

Thunderbird spoils you with a dull babble sound

The Triumph Thunderbird Commander also spoils with a dull babble sound. No wonder, because its 270-degree crankshaft imitates the firing order of a 90-degree V2. So the Triumph-Twin plays a full punch, pushes a bassy beat. The two-in-a-row car bubbles its way through the engine speed range from the very bottom, climbing in at around 100 Newton meters at idle speed. Which can be dosed perfectly with the smooth pulling cable clutch. 

Strong can be so gentle. The only drawback: As with the Victory Hammer S, the hand levers that protrude far cannot be adjusted. The thick, chrome-plated handlebars gently pushes the handles towards you. But when turning and maneuvering, the outer end is pulled out of your hand.

Victory Hammer S is a real men’s motorcycle

The V2 of the Victory Hammer S hums comfortably from the silencers stacked on one side, sonorous and deep. The tight US clutch can only be pulled with a lot of force. Despite this, or precisely because of this, you feel the mechanics of the machine with every fiber of your body. Yes, the Hammer S is a real men’s motorcycle. You have to like the potential for self-presentation. Clone! The gears of the first gear mesh relentlessly. A real steam locomotive feeling lures you here. In the engine room everything is clear to put down and take off.

Hard gear shifts, such as when downshifting from third to second gear, are a quality criterion in the USA. Fits perfectly with the macho image. Just healthy toughness. I drive, therefore I am. Integrated deep into the machine, it stretches you far forward. Drag bike feeling. A real muscle bike, the Victory Hammer S. Okay, in sixth gear the engine chops below 2000 rpm. But then the mail goes off. From around 2500 rpm, hard metal vibrations underline the strong propulsion. This motorcycle celebrates an intense driving experience, pulls you and yourself through the orbit. Simply cool. In the sixth, the electronics lock just above the 4000 mark, around 190 things. That’s a narrow speed range. Good: the mini windscreen.


We followed our inner compass on powerful cruisers with characteristic two-cylinders.

The gliders screw themselves up into the sky, we down the streets from the Wasserkuppe. Rough direction? Just follow your nose. The Triumph Thunderbird Commander shakes its performance out of its sleeve calmly and smoothly. The English internal combustion engine remains silent about the exact speed; it lacks a rev counter. Maybe because their rubber band motor just keeps pushing. Almost. Because sheer mass and a long gear ratio eat up some of the power: at 50 km / h in the sixth, the lead-heavy crankshaft rotates a full 1300 times per minute, while the Victory Hammer S only rotates 1100 times in overdrive.

1700 laps give the Moto Guzzi Audacity the best round trip when strolling through town at 50 km / h. Still, out of pity for the material, it is better to switch down once or twice. In this XXXL environment, the Guzzi cannot completely hide its displacement deficit (!). You need more speed. Doesn’t matter, because chopping in the speed cellar is alien to the Italo-V2. The smallest is also the most flexible motor in the trio. Staccato fortissimo. Its free revving helps it over the slight torque drop at medium revs: only at 4800 revs is the same newton meter level as it was already 2000 revs before: 110 Nm.

Audacity with three-stage traction control

When it pounds evenly to the left and right and the cylinder on the outside of the curve is almost vertical with a proper incline, then that is a magical moment, the constructive core of the Moto Guzzi brand. Three different mappings change the throttle response of the individual 52 millimeter, digitally operated throttle valves in front of the Y-shaped intake tract: from nice and soft to very direct. Tea elastic engine suspension of the Moto Guzzi Audace in rubber elements eliminates "good vibrations" almost too effectively for enthusiasts.

Tea Moto Guzzi Audacity also offers an exclusive, three-stage traction control. It regulates sensitively and depending on the lean angle. Stable, almost stubborn, the Guzzi runs straight ahead. Even with over 190 items, if you need it. A cruise control is also on board. Own: In the partial load range, the transmission and cardan howl a little. The rear plastic fender looks cheap, the front one made of carbon looks good. Only the Triumph Thunderbird Commander and the Victory Hammer S have real protective sheets. Stylish on the Audace: Your analog tachometer in the central, huge round instrument surrounds the displays of the richly stocked on-board computer and LCD speedometer.

The rear brake makes a big difference on cruisers

A real techno bike. In the test copy, however, with annoying electronics fips. The yellow warning lights for the engine and inactive traction control came on again and again. The “crowning achievement” was the red warning light with a flashing “Brake” logo in the cockpit of the Moto Guzzi Audacity. Well, braking is no fun, so you better pull over. But everything is fine again when you let it roll: It was just a loose contact on the brake light switch, the braking power always available.

Constructively, the Italo brakes are convincing, are modern like the whole Moto Guzzi Audace. Brembo four-piston calipers, which are attached radially, effectively grip the 320 double disc, supported by a sensitive ABS. The ABS of the Triumph Thunderbird Commander does not control the front brakes quite as sensitively: downhill on bad roads they sometimes open for a long time. It regulates well at the rear – especially on cruisers with their high rear wheel load, the rear brake makes a big difference.

Victory Hammer S without ABS

The martial Victory Hammer S is not lacking in sheer braking effect. But on ABS. The “Judge” muscle bike, which is hardly less daring, is equipped with this. It is also almost 2000 euros cheaper, the cruiser "Gunner" with ABS and identical engine even 4000 euros. Is that logical??

The Moto Guzzi Audace masters playing with the lean angle and flying in two and a half dimensions. It rolls wonderfully round and homogeneously through the curves. And this despite the immense wheelbase of 1,695 meters, at least three centimeters more than the others. In addition, there is the flattest steering head angle (52 degrees!) And the longest caster of a full 145 millimeters. What then makes the Agile Audacity? On the one hand, the narrowest tires, if you can say that with a 200 mm rear roller. Above all, however, the installation position of the engine: the cylinder V at a right angle is not only effectively positioned in the cooling airflow, there is also a separate oil cooler.

Really active driving, this stretched Italo chassis

But the crankshaft rotating transversely to the direction of travel also makes it easier to handle and supports steering impulses. Drivers of BMW boxers, Honda Pan European and Gold Wings benefit from this effect. The big Moto Guzzi Audacity surfs through the corners more lively than the other two Rhon bikes. Your suspension struts with adjustable rebound and expansion reservoir work properly, absorb a lot. The fork also works well and offers reserves. Really active driving, this stretched Italo chassis. 

In addition, the footrests of the Moto Guzzi Audacity are the last to touch. Ergonomically, you would almost want it further back. The 1400 thus offers the greatest freedom to tilt. And the triumph the least. Krrrkk, krraaak, krrrkk, even at moderate angles of inclination (turning in the city!) Your running boards drag sparkling over the asphalt. Be careful when their outriggers come, they cannot be folded. Somewhere in between the Victory Hammer S is making furrows in the tar. Your damn fat 250 rear slider needs more lean angle at the same speed. Like a dowsing rod, he finds longitudinal grooves and gutters, hugs them, stands up.

The Polaris Group’s bike is polarizing

The US cruiser has a life of its own. Grab tight, reduce the erection torque! This is a distilled macho feel, unique, not good. Despite the deflection, the central shock absorber of the Victory Hammer S responds woodenly. Short, hard bumps hardly get through to the driver. And the fork does not process all of the glitches either. So it is difficult to swing the hammer. Take it or leave it, the Polaris Group’s bike polarizes.

Again and again the Rhon offers open distances – large clear lines of sight, kept free by a lot of grazing cattle. The Triumph Thunderbird Commander sails pleasantly through this picture-book landscape. Enjoying instead of heating is the motto of what is probably the best decelerator of the trio. Already forgotten and forgiven: On the way to the Autobahn, the limiter switched off the ignition spark light for the Thunderbird. So what? Here, in the open, the fluffy driving comfort is pleasing: Soft springs and lazy damping pamper you, even when they let the Thunderbird swing happily.

Which offers the most comfortable seat?

The wide front balloon tire with an extravagant cross-section (140/75 ZR 17) dilutes the British woman’s steering precision a little. After all, in terms of grip, the German Metzeler Marathon ME 880 the Triumph Thunderbird Commander are the safest bench. Her wide, well-padded saddle appears soft and comfortable – even with lumbar support. But our medium-sized photo driver complained of back pain after a few hours. The handlebars, which are curved far back, result in a hunched back position. He also forces the wrists into a bent position. And the amount of chrome on the tank console dazzles violently when the sun is high.

If you want to share the driving experience, the Triumph Thunderbird Commander is the only option. It offers the most comfortable, cozy seat for a passenger, including the best positioned pegs. However, when fully loaded, your chassis reaches its limits. Tea Moto Guzzi Audacity has a tight seat, with the passenger pegs well ahead. The Victory Hammer S is even more extreme – as in the past, high notches are mounted right at the front of the swing arm! Better to leave the cover on over the barren, hard seat.

And the winner is …

Traditionally, cruisers fall out of the grid of objectively comprehensible evaluation schemes. Harley-Davidson has ridden it well for decades. Nevertheless, the Moto Guzzi Audacity took a superior test victory. Wow, when has that happened since Le Mans 1976? Not even older members of the editorial board can remember it. The Audace dominates every single chapter in the 1000-point ranking of MOTORRAD! With the exception of the cost balance. These are almost BMW conditions. Ultimately, the Italian is the most modern design, offers a lot of technology for even more money.

With a maximum of 570 points, is the one-eyed among the blind king? This does not do justice to these motorcycles. Because Triumph Thunderbird Commander and Victory Hammer S are motorcycles for special, magical moments: only flying is more beautiful.

Technical data and measured values


Power measurement on the crankshaft. Measurements on the Dynojet roller test stand 250, corrected according to 95/1 / EG, maximum possible deviation ± 5%

Buffalo or venison? Most of all, Triumph’s 1699 cube in-line twin presses sheer power onto its wide crankshaft, painting picture-book curves on the role of the dynamometer. The Triumph Thunderbird Commander has neither the largest stroke nor the largest displacement.

These are the insignia of the Victory Hammer S. The low-compression Ami-V2 draws "only" 88 hp and real 135 Newton meters from an opulent 1731 cm3. In direct comparison, Europe’s largest V2 engine, the Moto Guzzi Audace, looks almost slim. For a cruiser, this is almost a high-speed concept. Modest: 112 Newton meters of torque output from 1380 cubic meters with a typical Guzzi depression in the middle.

Info and tips


Information and tips for traveling through the Rhon.

We have journey in the Rhon

The 42-kilometer Hochrhonring holiday route runs through the Rhon Biosphere Reserve. It leads in a ring along the 950 meter high Wasserkuppe, the highest mountain in the Rhon. Hesse, Bavaria and Thuringia have a share in it. At the traditional Wasserkuppe airfield there are up to 20,000 take-offs and landings per year, the Rhon information center and the German glider museum. Sightseeing flights are possible spontaneously: depending on the type of aircraft for 30 to 50 euros per person per 20 minutes ( You can stop off in nearby Poppenhausen. The characteristic round building of the "Fuldaer Haus" from 1925 offers a great view from its terrace, as well as delicious cuisine, delicious drinks and affordable rooms.

The imposing stone wall is very close by. At the other end of Poppenhausen, the mountain inn “Zur Ebersburg”, below the castle ruins that gives it its name, beckons: affordable good kitchen, great beer garden, friendly staff, neat rooms. In Hilders, the traditional hotel “Leist – Sonne – Engel” is well worth a visit. It has an exquisite restaurant and its own butcher’s shop, which sources the meat of local breeds from regional smallholders. They make one-a-sausage here and offer ham seminars. The 927 high Kreuzberg is the highest mountain in the Bavarian Rhon. Below the wooded summit plateau, the Franciscan monastery Kreuzberg houses a monastery brewery that has been brewing unfiltered beer since 1731 – also to take away. The Gichenbachtal between Schmalnau and Rommers parallel to the B 279 to Gersfeld is a nice little motorcycle route.

Test result


Three strong two-cylinder cruisers competed, now it’s time to choose a winner.

1st place: Moto Guzzi Audacity


Tea Moto Guzzi Audacity wins.

AT Motorbike Guzzi wins a group test! Go bene. Tea Moto Guzzi Audacity (in English "the brave") is the most balanced, most normal motorcycle, least of all cruiser. Active driving and cornering, blessed with the highest quality equipment. But the Piaggio Group is paying dearly for that.

2nd place: Triumph Thunderbird Commander


Second place goes to the Triumph Thunderbird Commander.

Master and Commander. When it comes to driving, the Triumph Thunderbird Commander finds its master. But as the only shiny chrome cruiser in the comparison, it offers a lot of built-in nonchalance. In addition, there are traditional tourer virtues such as superior suspension comfort, low fuel consumption and top range. 

3rd place: Victory Hammer S.


Third is the Victory Hammer S.

The brand name Victory ("victory") is not the program here. The hammer hangs elsewhere. On the other hand, the muscular bike lacks ABS, equipment and some fine-tuning. But it is precisely the raw, muscular quality that gives the Victory Hammer S its very own charm. When it comes to emotion and driving feeling, the Langhuber is at the forefront!

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