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Hammering Established Norms

2015 Victory Hammer S
Words and photos by Lester Dizon

It would take something extraordinary to make someone get out of their comfort zone and take a leap of faith. It would something very special to make someone change their preference, turn away from their favorites, or simply shun the established norms. At times, it would even take a miracle to make someone change.

Take the case of Emerson Raymundo: this hardcore rider eats, sleeps and breathes Harley-Davidson. He restored and rides a pan head Harley, a model that comes from the brand’s dark AMF days. He’s an active club member of the Mad Dog Motorcycle Club, and he jumped at the opportunity to work at the local Harley dealer when it opened. He was a true, dyed-in-wool H-D loyalist until last year. But now, he works for the Philippine distributor of Victory motorcycles.

If I Had a Hammer

When I asked him why he moved to Victory, he simply smiled and said, “I’ll lend you a Victory motorcycle so you’ll find out why.” To those who hid under a rock for twenty years, Victory is an American motorcycle manufacturer from Spirit Lake, Dickinson County, Northern Iowa in the United States. Its parent company, Polaris Industries, wanted to compete directly with Harley-Davidson and the first Victory, the V92C, was launched in 1998.

True to his word, Emerson soon got me mounting a 2015 Victory Hammer S. My first impression was that Victory did not change the time-tested formula of making large American-style cruisers with V-twin engines in various configurations. In fact, the Hammer S falls into the “muscle cruiser” category that includes the liquid-cooled Harley-Davison V-Rod and the air-cooled Fat Boy and Breakout Softtail variants. After riding several Harleys in the past year, I was ready to nitpick the Victory.

Hammer Time

The first thing you’ll notice on this Victory is its fat 250-millimeter rear tire that unashamedly announces the bike’s reason for being a Hammer: pounding acceleration. Power is supplied by an air-cooled 1,731 cubic centimeter 50° V-Twin motor with single overhead camshafts (SOHC) instead of overhead valves, four valves per cylinder, self-adjusting cam chains, hydraulic lifters and an electronic fuel injection with dual 45mm throttle bodies. The diamond-finished edges of the motor’s air-cooling fins are nice custom touches that speak volumes about the company’s attention-to-detail.

Dubbed as the 106 Freedom V-Twin, the motor cranks out about 100 horses and around 113 foot-pounds of torque according to conservative factory claims. For those oriented in the Metric system, that’s about 155 Newton-meters of torque moving just 305 kilograms of beautiful sculptured mass, resulting in hammering (pardon the pun) acceleration from rest. The fat rear meat transfers the power to the pavement after the 6-speed manual overdrive transmission multiplies the torque and sends it to the rear via carbon fiber reinforced belt drive.

Like Thor’s Hammer

Gunning the Hammer S is almost like getting hold of Thor’s hammer. Like the weapon of the Marvel Comics superhero, this Victory provides an exhilarating acceleration that is un-cruiser-like and almost sport bike-like maniacal. The bike aggressively leaps forwards and leaves behind a distinctly angry exhaust note from its staggered slash-cut dual mufflers with crossover tube. While I would personally like more growl from the stock exhausts, I could wager a guess that Victory Philippines will eventually come out with accessories that would allow owners to customize their bikes to suit their individual tastes.

Like the Asgard god’s mighty hammer, the Hammer S follows your commands around the corners with its 43mm inverted telescopic front fork controlling the 130/70R18 Dunlop tire and single-shock cast aluminum rear swingarm with rising rate linkage managing the 250/40R18 rear meat. With 135mm of ground clearance, the Hammer S can be leaned aggressively into a corner like a sports bike and stopped like one with its dual 300mm front discs with 4-piston caliper and single 300mm rear disc with 2-piston caliper. It’s like having a muscle bike, cruiser and sport bike all rolled into one. The mythical Thor might want to replace his mighty hammer.

Hammering the Message Home

From the tip of its front fender to the edge of its rear fat tire, the Hammer S glistens with the raw aggression that muscle bike and cruiser riders rave about. Victory pushes it to another level with the custom details, custom wheels, hard-to-miss paint job, exciting power, smooth ride, easy maneuverability and overall desirability of this machine. The Hammer S would be a dream to own and to ride in town and on the open road.

Yet, despite its distinctive styling, fat rear tires, power cruiser styling, and exclusive passenger seat cowl, something seems to be missing. Riding around town and occasionally revving the 106 cubic-inch Freedom V-Twin engine to attract attention, the Hammer S and I slither our way through the heavy traffic without much fuzz. And perhaps, that is precisely what the Victory Hammer S lacks – the fuzz. As a 17-year-old motorcycle brand competing against a 112-year-old motorcycling icon, people recognize a Harley-Davidson and ogle at it almost immediately. It would take a real motorcycle enthusiast to come over to a Victory and salivate over it. Some uninformed kibitzers even asked me if the local upscale Christian religious group Victory has started producing a cruiser.

But all these are going to change soon. We have to thank Victory Philippines, Teddy Alberto and Emerson Raymundo to thank for that. Motorcyclists in the country now have an alternative choice in American iron. They have introduced a refined, stylish and aggressive ride that will soon hammer the message home. All you need to do is take a test ride and have an open mind to take a leap of faith. Needless to say, my stint on the Victory Hammer S opened my eyes and challenged my perceptions.

Specifications
2015 Victory Hammer S
Price : P1,000,000.00
Category : Cruiser / Muscle Bike
Engine : Air-cooled Freedom® 50° V-Twin SOHC
Displacement : 1731cc
Fuel Delivery : Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI)
Power : 100hp
Torque : 153Nm
Transmission : 6-speed Manual
Final Drive : Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt
Brakes Front : Dual 300mm discs with 4-piston calipers
Rear : 300mm disc with 2-piston caliper
Wheels : Black multi-spoke cast aluminum 18×3.5 (F) 18×6.5 (R)
Tires Front : 130/70R-18
Rear : 250/40R-18
Length : 2382mm
Wheelbase : 1689mm
Seat Height : 660mm
Ground Clearance : 135mm
Fuel Capacity : 17 liters
Dry Weight : 305kgs