Victory 2005 Hammer Motorcycle First Ride

Victory's supersized V-twin motorcycle, the Hammer, strikes its first blow. By Evans Brasfield.

Whenever marketing folks talk about bold new colors, they're usually covering for the fact that the new model year has little new to offer—except for a change in pigment. By the same token, when a motorcycle manufacturer flies you to Austin for a ride in the Texas Hill Country, you don't expect to hear about bold colors early in the pre-ride technical briefing—if at all—unless, of course, the bike in question is the 2005 Victory Hammer. In the case of the Hammer, the color palate had to be new and particularly bold or it wouldn't live up to the rest of the bike.

Victory's Hammer, first introduced a few months ago. sports colors with names that sound exciting standing still—Cosmic Sunburst, Flame Yellow, and Toxic Green—and live up to their billing. But even so, the first thing everyone seems to notice about the Hammer is the 250mm wide rear tire mounted on an 18 x 8.5 inch wheel. The thing's beefier than most car tires! As you can probably tell, subtlety wasn't part of the job description for this motorcycle.

Unlike other kit bikes mounting monster rear tires that were fitted more for looks than for actual riding, Victory made sure that the Hammer was a rider's motorcycle. To meet that goal, Victory's engineers built a new, bigger engine to complement the specially designed rear Dunlop. The Hammer is the first Victory to displace 100 cubic inches (that's 1634cc for the metrically inclined) and sport a six-speed transmission with a true overdrive. To give riders the freedom to use that more powerful engine, the crankcase is actually 10mm narrower than the current 1500 engine. This one change gives two degrees more ground clearance on both sides of the bike.

A cartridge fork and single rear shock handle the suspension duties. Slowing comes courtesy of a pair of 300mm front discs and Brembo four-piston calipers. Stretched between the 18 x 3.0 inch front wheel and the 18 x 8.5 inch rear, the Hammer carries an inverted fork and a swoopy styling—including a sportbike-type passenger-seat cowl—that makes the motorcycle look fast even when the engine is off.

If you've ridden a cruiser with a huge rear tire or heard a critical report by someone who has, you may be wondering how well the Hammer works. Well, it's true that fat-tired customs usually handle in a...uh...less-than-optimum manner. However, a mass-produced bike from a major manufacturer won't get cut the same slack as a builder's one-off piece. Consequently, the Hammer rides and steers remarkably well. Yes, the Hammer "feels" somewhat different on turn in than a traditionally shod cruiser, but its behavior is friendly and completely predictable, allowing the rider to take full advantage of the increased ground clearance. The beefed-up engine works well with even more authoritative acceleration throughout the rpm range than the 1500 Freedom engine, which already rules the world of mid-teens V-twins. The welcome sixth gear makes highway cruising a relaxed proposition, and the comfortable riding position allows the rider to easily rack up the miles between stops for more sumptuous Texas Barbecue.

Want to know more about how the Hammer performs? Wondering if it's worth the $16,499 MSRP? Watch for a complete test In an upcoming issue of Motorcycle Cruiser to find out.

Evans Brasfield_ is a former staff editor for Motorcycle Cruiser and Sport Rider magazines. He currently freelances and has recently published his first book, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects.

_Additional motorcycle road tests, first rides, and comparison tests are available at the Road Tests section of MotorcycleCruiser.com. For a complete listing of the motorcycle tests available, see the _Motorcycle Cruiser Road Test Finder.

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