Bikes we love

What I Want: Victory Gunner

I can’t believe I’ve thus far neglected to add the Victory Gunner to my What I Want list. I suppose I got a little wrapped up in being disappointed in Victory for appearing to rest on its laurels over the past year or so.

The 2015 model year line up that was announced this past summer was a real let down, full of rehashed versions of bikes that have been around for years. Before that was the let down of the Gunner itself. The first new model since the rebirth of Indian Motorcycles (both Victory and Indian are owned by Minnesota-based Polaris), it fell short of my hopes. Polaris had promised a new, performance-oriented Victory as a result of Indian, but the Gunner is not the all-singing, all-dancing wündermotorrad I had wished for.

Really, the Gunner is just a stripped down Victory Judge. Same engine, same rake angle, pretty much same everything but for paint and seats. And that is, as I say, disappointing when you’re a Victory fan who was hoping for so much more.

(On a side note, I recently wrote an article for BikerNewsOnline explaining why I think something very big will be coming from Victory within the next 5 months.)

But, the thing is: just because the Victory Gunner isn’t the newest, most-amazing, most-spectacular example of American engineering ever known in the motorcycling world doesn’t mean it’s not a cool bike. And it definitely doesn’t preclude me from wanting one.

The fact is, the Gunner is right near the top of my list of bikes that I really would buy if I had anywhere near enough money to pay for one. Especially now that it will come with anti-lock brakes. If you’ve read my blog for long you’ll know I’m a stickler for that feature on motorcycles and have complained vociferously about its absence on Victory’s line of cruisers.

But back in October, Victory announced at the Intermot motorcycle show that the Gunner models coming to Europe in March 2015 will be equipped with ABS. This is, of course, a response to the fact that anti-lock brakes will soon be required on all motorcycles (above 125cc) sold in the European Union.

Though, I’ll admit that I’d still be a little concerned about the Gunner’s stopping power. As I say, the Gunner is effectively a Judge styled to capitalise on the current bobber craze. I got a chance to ride a Judge a few months ago and my primary complaint was that its brakes seemed inadequate in countering all that power and weight. Adding ABS isn’t really going to resolve that issue (though, I guess you can at least now grab more aggressively without fear of locking up). Really, the Gunner should be equipped with a second disc up front.

But apart from that — based on my experiences on the Judge, at least — the Gunner is an amazing machine. It has an immensely powerful engine that launches you forward without every really seeming to strain at all.

The bike’s subdued aesthetics of no chrome and blacked-out sections appeal to me infinitely more than the shining tassle-laden butt jewellery that many cruiser manufacturers seem to think their customers want.

Priced at £10,300 (US $16,200) in Her Majesty’s United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Gunner costs exactly the same as the new Indian Scout (which will also be out in March over here and will also be equipped with ABS as standard). I like to daydream about being in a financial position where I could choose between the two. I go back and forth in my deliberations, but always eventually decide to spend my (imaginary) money on the Gunner.

I daydream of adding a passenger seat and hunting down the same sort of bullet fairing that the Ness family put on their custom-built Gunner. Though, I sure as hell wouldn’t incorporate any of the other changes they made. I like the Gunner as a machine of understatement and utility. The matte green paint available on standard models is exactly the sort of look I prefer. It gives the Gunner a sense of being something you could scratch without feeling too much guilt — a machine on which you could ride long distances in the ever-present British rain.

Whether it will ever be anything more than a daydream remains to be seen. Victory motorcycles are pretty sparse on UK roads and perhaps because of that they hold their value pretty well on the rare occasion that an owner decides to part with one. But, hey, hope springs eternal. If anyone wants to send me the cash for a new Gunner, please get in touch.