- 1731 cc, 89 hp, 139 Nm of torque, 296 dry kilos, € 13,490
- An affordable, engaging and efficient power-cruiser with a very healthy chassis
- In the saddle
- In the city
- On motorways and main roads
- On departmental
- Comfort / duo
- Practical aspects
- Consumption / autonomy
1731 cc, 89 hp, 139 Nm of torque, 296 dry kilos, € 13,490
An affordable, engaging and efficient power-cruiser with a very healthy chassis
Mid-90s: America is growing again and the leisure civilization is in full swing. Harley-Davidson struggles to meet demand and in the residential suburbs where everyone spies on their neighbor with jealousy, customs made more or less to measure by specialized pharmacies and often powered by Smith & Smith engines are selling like hot cakes. Growing up, recreational vehicle giant Polaris sees this as a new diversification opportunity and dares to go head-on on the giant Harley-Davidson’s ground by launching a new brand of motorcycles named after a Kool & song. the Gangs: Victory. The first motorcycle, the V92C powered by a 1510 cm3 V-Twin, appeared in 1998 and very quickly, it was the consecration. The American press voted him "cruiser of the year". After having sold around 10,000 motorcycles per year for a few years, Victory is now approaching 15,000 units and this value could well rise with the recent arrival of a new access motorcycle, the Octane. In France, within a range of cruisers, baggers and tourers, the Gunner is the best seller. Le Repaire had to try it out in order to understand the reasons..
It is long: 2.37 meters. It is low, with a saddle that rises to 635 mm. It sits on two 16-inch tires with a generously sculpted appearance and relatively modest dimensions (130/90 front and 140/90 behind) fitted with fairly designer rims thanks to their 24 aluminum segments. This is a tire size that is not common, but we understand the designers’ choice to opt for 16 inches because this puts the bike even closer to the ground, while the narrow size of the rear tire overvalues the engine and the tires. curves of the motorcycle.
Thus, the Gunner constitutes a subtle mix of sobriety, elegance and dynamism, with a little "bad boy" zest suggested by the treatment of the engine, the exhausts and the chassis in black (rims, headlight casing, poles along the rear mudguard), as well as by the only two colors offered, which are sober, a khaki green or the satin gray of our test model. In short, it presents well. In this ocean of praise, the foam of reproaches is very thin: come on, let’s say that some electrical wiring could have been better integrated under the single-seater saddle (original, the Gunner is not delivered with a two-seater), but it’s to nitpick.
No American brand worthy of the name would release a machine without offering a wide range of accessories: the Gunner can therefore receive a whole series of improvements intended to improve its look (colored saddle, handlebars and mirrors designed by Ness, small luggage rack installed on the rear fender, colored spark plug wires …), its road skills (two-seater saddle with backrest, windshield, side cases …) or its performance (forged wheels, Akrapovic exhaust with stainless steel or black treatment ). Our test machine was equipped with these silencers, the price of which is 1450 €. Other adaptable mufflers are in the catalog, including a Stage 1 from Custom Planet at substantially the same price.
The heart of the machine, it is undoubtedly in the engine room: the V2 long stroke (101 x 108 mm) of 1731 cm3 (106 cubic inches, hence the inscription on the air filter cover), called Freedom by the manufacturer, develops 89 horsepower at 5000 rpm and a torque of 139 Nm at 2800 rpm. Tall and massive, he calls out with his presence long before giving voice. A generous engine in a minimalist machine, that’s what is promising.
In short, the Gunner presents well and imposes by its presence. In a competitor of Victory, you could almost call it "dark custom", no ?
In the saddle
Do you have short legs? So you will appreciate the saddle which, let us remember, peaks at 635 mm: a low saddle, we have never done anything better so that both feet touch the ground. Except that and this is where the customs hide their game: the custom is an ode to disproportion! The custom type requires large arms to be able to accompany the handlebars in the direction stop and legs ultimately not as short as that to be able to reach the footrests generally housed on the front of the frame.
The Victory Gunner is no exception to the rule. Admittedly, the footrests are placed in a rather middle position, but the handlebars, not too bent, are still generously sized. Since the turning radius is good, very small riders may suffer a little on their handlebars.
Once installed, we appreciate the saddle equipped with a small bead to secure the seat. Unlike some American machines (made in Milwaukee), the right-hand side air filter is modest in size, which allows both symmetrical ergonomics and a good grip of the motorcycle..
The Gunner is minimalism and this philosophy is found in the cockpit: a single meter faces the pilot and to make US, Victory uses the same scale for American and continental machines. Suddenly, three quarters of the counter are graduated up to 120 (which, in miles per hour, is a lot), those who like us drive in km / h will have to read their speed in much tighter graduations. It’s not extraordinarily readable, but you get used to it. The digital window indicates the time, the gear engaged, the total mileage, a trip, or the engine speed. The choice is refined by pressing the left index finger. Warnings are standard.
American culture is unique in that it praises characters as varied as Mickey Mouse and Donald (Trump), Kim Kardashian and Truman Capote, but that it is unanimously against the ignition key. In the USA, an ignition key is vulgar! Have you never noticed that they are never visible directly in front of the pilot? Also, any handling of a new US custom serves as an IQ test. But where the hell did they put it? On a left side housing, between the V of the cylinders. It wasn’t too hard.
The big V2 starts and settles on a muffled idle, at 850 rpm. The first engages in a rather dry and sonorous "klonk", but much less than on the Milwaukee side. This is the joy of separate boxes.
In the city
Good news, the Gunner is less intimidating than expected. Its size is certainly relatively large, but the excellent balance of the masses (the center of gravity is very low) and the narrowness of the rear tire ultimately make it quite manoeuvrable..
In short, it is easy: a few days of use in Paris took place in a hitch or headache (other than the transport of an anti-theft device to complete the blocking of the steering to the right of the column). The template is easy to identify, the interfile is therefore not a chore and the large lever arm generated by the wide handlebars compensates a little for the heaviness of the front tire "balloon". The front brake may seem weak at first, but like all machines of this kind, the rear provides the greatest braking effort. And the pedal controls power and dosability. RAS, therefore.
The big V2 Freedom also seduces with its length and flexibility. By being very careful on the gas, it can turn at 50 km / h in fourth at barely 1500 rpm, but for a little more dynamism, we can stay in third. As for the sound with the Akrapovic exhaust, it remains relatively discreet although it is suggestive if we approach the silencer..
On motorways and main roads
Do you like to take the wind in the face? So with the Gunner, you will be delighted! At the same time, it’s not her fault and it’s the kind she belongs to that wants it. Feet forward and arms outstretched, we experienced better posture to attack the horizon head-on. So let’s not get it wrong.
The Gunner runs on the motorway at a peaceful 2800 rpm in sixth, exactly at the level of its maximum torque, of 139 Nm. We therefore have no problems of times. It does not vibrate, does not distill resonances in the handlebars or in the footrests and seduces by the comfort of its saddle and the good composition of its suspensions. So, naturally, we will tend to lower our cruising speed to gain a little comfort, but simply because of the pressure of the wind. Equipped with an optional windshield, the Gunner would make a very convincing road.
In Germany, the Gunner could hit the 180 meter without any problem while maintaining impeccable stability.
A cruiser is revealed by crumbling, the Gunner therefore prefers the secondary network. At 90 km / h in sixth, it just purrs at 1900 rpm and displays its flexibility and goodwill from the lowest revs. The torque is consistent enough to be able to set off again or overtake without downshifting (on riding days, the Gunner can pass the 6 from 70 km / h) and, once again, we praise the narrowness of the tires which guarantees agility and a relative guidance neutrality. And on a ride, you can swallow the kilometers with flexibility without having to pull more than 2000 or 2500 rpm on the intermediate gears..
But, unlike some of its peers, the Gunner can have a second personality: its healthy chassis allows it to pick up the pace, within the limits imposed by the genre, of course. In the Drôme, at the top of the Rousset pass, a biker in a Honda Pan European, part of a group entirely dedicated to contemplation, comes to see me in the parking lot. "This is the first time I’ve been overtaken by a custom! ‘, To which I replied in a laconic" everything happens, man ".
Because the Gunner lets itself be pushed around. Of course, the ground clearance is quickly problematic in this use, in particular on the right where one finds oneself quickly placed on the pots and there, there is no more plan B. At nearly 1500 € the Akrapovic supplement, it is fast expensive spark. Before that, we will have rubbed the end of the footrests (whose material, once the nipples filed, is quite resistant), but also their plates as well as, on the compressions, the rear loop of the frame..
As a motorcycle only needs two points of support, we should be careful not to play only in bends with regular curvature, any correction of the trajectory can quickly become problematic..
However, in the context of this (almost) unnatural use, the Gunner amazes with its good dispositions: excellent agility, high level stability (it accepts bumps in large fast curves without waddling excessively. ), a real ease of driving and correct braking, if we understand that we should not forget the rear. And the gearbox follows without flinching, with gears that always lock well on upshifts and downshifts..
If one had to make a criticism, then it would come to the engine. Oh, not on its flexibility, its availability, its power, or its reach. On what, then? On this little extra soul, on this spark of life that would make him viscerally endearing. Because, despite its optional silencer (which sounds better behind the bike than the handlebars), the V2 Freedom reveals a cold and fairly linear efficiency. We are a little too far from the exuberant personality of a Harley-Davidson Low Rider S and its 1800 engine which will hit the switch without any inertia, even if the set is not sold at the same price. But there, the Gunner, should perhaps also release it a little at the admission so that it gives you the banana with each acceleration. Note, however, that having done a full test on a high mileage (I took the bike at 1600 km on the odometer to make it a little over 4000), I felt the engine release little by little and become a little rounder and more generous over time … enough to appreciate it even more over the kilometers.
With 130mm travel and 43mm tubes, the fork is classic and non-adjustable. At the rear, where machines in this segment rely on a classic double shock absorber, the Gunner has a gas monoshock with 75 mm travel and preload adjustment..
Unlike its historical competitor, the customs of the Polaris Group (Victory and Indian, therefore), use a frame made up of two stamped aluminum segments instead of a traditional steel cradle. Can we say that this changes everything? What is certain is that it brings a gain in stability in normal use and a good dose of additional serenity in the context of a slightly muscular driving. And we can make him do suddenly what few customs can do.
A 300 kilogram machine slowed down by two simple 300 mm discs, with 4 piston caliper at the front and 2 pistons at the rear, one might think that it is a bit tight. However, the device does the job and at the end of a test of almost 2000 km of small roads sometimes driven briskly, I cannot say that I was scared when braking. The front is a bit tight in absolute terms, but the rear does the job really well and as it is well dosed and the ABS does not trigger all the time, the Gunner ensures in this part of the game. , even if the engine brake is nothing extraordinary for a machine of this displacement.
Comfort / duo
For the duo, it’s simple: you’ll have to go through the options box. Passenger seat (216 €), passenger footrest (405 €) and perhaps even an optional sissy-bar (with or without integrated luggage rack) could complete the range. Because for the pilot, it’s going well, thank you. After several thousand kilometers on its handlebars, the Gunner amazes by its level of comfort..
Even after several hours of driving, the saddle does not attack the buttocks. Special mention to the suspensions, with a fork that does not bottom out on small irregularities and a quality rear shock absorber. Admittedly, we manage to make it bottom out, but it is on a dirty compression, when one is posed on the coils of the spring which debates only on 75 mm. Because even in this case, it avoids the hits of the racket in relaxation. A lot of customs are not so accommodating.
Note that in the rain, it would be illegitimate to complain about the lack of protection. On the other hand, the rather minimalist front mudguard returns all the water on the engine but also on the feet of the pilot. Super waterproof boots required…
This section will be very easy to write: nada, nothing, rien. No space under the saddle (and the mandatory yellow vest, we put it around the neck?), Nothing to carry a lock. The Gunner is a minimalist machine that fully claims it. Style wins over pragmatism: we can’t blame it for lacking in personality.
Consumption / autonomy
Good news: you can think of yourself as an American without spending your life in gas stations. Throughout a rather invigorating test, the Gunner did not cease to surprise by its sobriety. Whether on the motorway or on a departmental road, it is possible to consume only 5 l / 100 and to reach 6 l, you have to really pull it in, which its philosophy does not encourage permanently even if excellence of its chassis meets the challenge. With 17 liters, the tank guarantees more than 300 kilometers of autonomy, which is quite good. The reserve warning light on the instrument panel comes on when 4 liters remain.
It shoots hard and it hits the mark, the Gunner: sober but efficient look, healthy chassis, very correct comfort, flexible and powerful engine, it reveals a quantity of qualities that give it great versatility, from the show-off of boulevards to the road patented. The only real criticism concerns the V2 that I would have liked a little more expressive, even if it must be recognized that it has become a little freed over the kilometers.
And even if its price has increased by € 500 since its launch last year, to € 13,490 now, it remains a real bargain against a competition consisting of a Harley-Davidson Softail Slim at € 19,750, the Suzuki M1800R Boss at € 14,999 or the Triumph Thunderbird Storm at € 16,700 (or even the Nightstorm at € 17,300). At this price, a real good big American cruiser packed with qualities, here is an offer which deserves more than a simple consideration….
- Sober, clean look, a little aggressive
- Very healthy frame
- Correct comfort
- Quality suspensions
- Smooth and powerful motor, although linear
- Fuel-efficient engine
- Interesting price / performance ratio
- ground clearance
- front fender in the rain
- some micro finishing details
- With a little more driving character, we would have liked it too !
- optional duo
The technical sheet of the Victory Gunner
- Itinerary: 2,500 km for a round trip Paris – Aix en Provence via 80% of small roads, through Morvan, Auvergne, Vercors, Luberon, Drome, Burgundy and even Morvan, then a few days of daily use in Paris. In short, a complete test.
- Motorcycle mileage: 1600 km
- Problem encountered: a lot of sparks in the beautiful bends of our provinces…
Competition: Harley-Davidson Softail Slim, Suzuki M1800R Boss, Triumph Thunderbird
- All Victory Trials
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