2016 - 2017 Victory Hammer S
Price king in Victory’s 2017 cruiser lineup is the Hammer S with its awesome 250 mm rear tire, inverted forks and red on black racing-style colorway. Originally introduced in 2006, the Hammer S appeals to the cruiser crowd with that easy-going rider triangle. With plenty of torque in the low-to-mid range, the bike is surprisingly nimble and responsive for its size. As a "super-cruiser," the Hammer S won’t be left behind if your friends are still into sportbikes. For the size, power, black-out look and almost bare-necessity instrumentation, you definitely get the no-nonsense "muscle" vibe.
Continue reading for my review of the Victory Hammer S.
2016 - 2017 Victory Hammer S
Displacement:106 cubic inches
Lack of sweep — that Ness-like flow — that Victory bikes usually have is missing from the Hammer S. That isn’t a bad thing. As far as looks go, this is probably the Victory I dislike the least. Performance-wise, the bike is right there, but I don’t care for the usual swoopy-sweep of the Victory lines. The plus side is that if you’re sitting on it, you aren’t looking at it.
The clutch is a little heavy, but power delivery is smooth all through the powerband. It’s a cruiser and that is evident in how well it "cruises." Pick a gear and just let the bike take you as opposed to other bikes that insist you stay engaged all the time or you’re borked. The brakes are positive and the analog gauges are easy to read, though the digital display isn’t positioned well for at-a-glance viewing.
It’s a bit heavy for an around-town bike; but so fun to ride, you might not care. As a commuter bike, you’re not going to sprint through traffic; however, if your commute includes a trek up the highway, you’re golden. The turning radius is a bit wide; I don’t have a spec on it but turning around in the parking lot can turn into a K-turn depending on how much room you have.
Typical of heavy, American cruisers, the Hammer S uses a thick, double-downtube, double-cradle frame design. A large gusset closes off the gap between the downtubes, backbone and steering head. While I am sure this was done for strength, I can’t help but think had they left it out, the gap between the front rocker box and the backbone would give the Hammer frame a faux stretched look.
Big, usd front forks keep the front end looking beefy, and aside from the stiffness they impart, they come with 5.1 inches of wheel travel and should be sufficient for most paved-surface situations. In a really classy move, Victory hid the rear monoshock deep within the guts of the bike which leaves the rear end clean and trim. The rear gas shock comes with 3.9 inches of travel, and an adjustable preload setting.
Victory certainly seems to make sure Hammer riders do not want for lack of rear traction. A truly massive 250 mm Dunlop rear tire caps the 18-inch cast rim, and a not-so-small 130 mm hoop rides the 18-inch wheel up front. These tire sizes give the bike something of a drag-tastic appeal, and the large contact patches certainly improve handling and safety. All-around, 300 mm brake discs work with dual, four-pot calipers up front and a twin-pot caliper in back. No ABS or linked brakes, and as usual, I am OK with that.
The Freedom 106/6 V-twin drives the Hammer S, and lends it the characteristic big-V-twin look expected in the domestic market. Although the mill comes blacked out, along with the exhaust and other components, the polished cooling fin edges makes it stand out from its surrounds, and leaves no doubt as to the power bridled within. This power takes the form of 106 pound-feet of torque, and as with most big V-twins, you don’t have to wind it up to a frenetic pitch to wring the power out of it.
A 45 mm throttle body with electronic fuel injection manages the induction, and dual, slash-cut mufflers dampen the exhaust note, as well as performance. To really get the most out of it, you will need to pay the Victory equivalent of the Harley tax, which is to say you need a Stage-1 kit with low-restriction air cleaner and exhaust to open up the circuit up and let the engine breathe as it was meant to, not as the government says it should. A six-speed tranny sends the power to the rear wheel with a quiet and low-maintenance reinforced belt drive.
MSRP on the Hammer S is $15,599, $100 over the 2016 price. It’s a bit higher than entry-level, but certainly not out of reach. For 2016, you can have it in Gloss Black with Havasu Red racing stripes and for 2017, it comes in Gloss Black with White racing stripes.
Victory compares the Hammer S to the Breakout from Harley Davidson. I don’t disagree. It is a suitable apples-to-apples comparison and Victory claims a win with specs only marginally better. Three more cubic inches, eight pounds less weight and a handful of torque don’t make for a clear victory for the Victory, in my opinion; but I don’t want to jump on that bandwagon. Instead, let’s look at the Raider from Yamaha’s Star cruiser lineup.
The Raider completely lacks the “Nessy” swoop so prevalent with Victory, and the rear fender, seat shape and tank-mounted console gives the Raider a decidedly Harley-ish vibe, much more so than the Hammer. This is interesting because both companies are in direct competition with the bikes from Milwaukee, and one seems to embrace the look, while the other seeks to establish a new look all its own. How effective are the results depend entirely on your personal tastes.
Star keeps its performance cards close to the vest, as usual, but it does squeak out a win in the displacement category with a 113 cubic-inch mill over the 106-inch Freedom from Victory. Air-cooling keeps both powerplants clean and “looking right,” a crucial component for the U.S. market. The Star tranny, however, only comes with five speeds to the Victory’s six, so Victory pulls out a minor win there, though I can’t say where the advantage to Victory falls; could be lower cruising rpm on the highway, or simply better ratios down low for powerband control.
Price is almost a wash, with the Raider eking out a minor win at $14,990, just a tad under the Hammer with its $15,499 sticker, but this discrepancy is not a deal-breaker by any means.
My husband and fellow writer, TJ Hinton, says, “Once again Victory makes a bike that I find attractive by dropping some of its distinctive overlapping-arc look. Simply by straightening the rear fender and adding the cafe’ racer-ish rear end, the factory managed to moderate just enough for my personal tastes. Love the headlight housing and cut-down front fender with the big usd front forks and blackout treatment; it makes for a solid, mean-looking ride.”
"I keep saying I don’t care much for the Victory style, but this bike really is a blast to ride. Get just a little twisty with it and the rumble of the V-Twin roars making you feel like an apex predator on the road. The seat feels a little wide with your feet down, but once you pick your feet up, the saddle is comfortable all the way across the butt. If you feel like you’re ready to move on from a sportbike and still have antiquated ideas about what cruisers are, do yourself a favor and look at the Hammer S."
|Engine Type:||Four-stroke, 50-degree Freedom 106/ 6 V-Twin|
|Valve Train:||SOHC - 4\Four Valves per Cylinder/Hydraulic Lifters & Cam Chain Adjusters|
|Displacement:||106 cubic inches (1,731 cc)|
|Drive/Driven Clutch:||Wet Multi-Plate/Diaphragm Spring|
|Cooling:||Air & Oil|
|Fuel System:||Electronic Fuel Injection with dual 45mm throttle body|
|Exhaust:||Dual-Large Bore Slash-Cut with Common Volume|
|Battery:||YTX20HL-BS/12 Volt 18 Amp Hour 310 CCA|
|Charging System:||38 Amps Max Output|
|Clutch Type:||Wet Multi-Plate / Diaphragm Spring|
|Transmission/Final Drive:||Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt|
|Transmission/Primary Drive:||Gear Drive with Torque Compensator|
|Transmission Type:||Six-Speed Overdrive/Constant Mesh|
|Final Drive Type:||Carbon Fiber Reinforced Belt|
|Primary Drive Type and Ratio:||Gear Drive With Torque Compensator - 1.49:1|
|Swingarm:||Forged and Cast Aluminum with Rising Rate Linkage|
|Front Suspension:||43 mm Telescopic Fork, 5.1-inch travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Single Monotube Gas/Preload Adjustable, 3.9-inch travel|
|Brake System Type:||Not Linked|
|Front Brakes:||Dual 300 x 5 mm/Floating Rotor/Four-Piston Calipers|
|Rear Brakes:||Single 300 x 5 mm/ Floating Rotor/Two-Piston Caliper|
|ABS/Cruise Control:||Not Equipped|
|Front Wheel:||Cast 18 x 3.5 inches|
|Rear Wheel:||Cast 18 x 8.5 inches|
|Front Tire:||Dunlop D418F Elite 3 130/70R18 63H|
|Rear Tire:||Dunlop D419 Elite 3 250/40R18 81V|
|Seat Height:||26.5 inches|
|Ground Clearance:||5.8 inches|
|Oil Capacity:||5.0 Quarts|
|Fuel Capacity:||4.5 gallons|
|Fuel Reserve:||1 Gallon|
|Recommended Fuel:||Premium Unleaded|
|Dry Weight:||672 Pounds|
|Wet Weight:||702 Pounds|
|GAWR:||Front: 415 Pounds, Rear: 758 Pounds|
|Maximum Load Capacity:||471 Pounds|
|2016:||Gloss Black with Havasu Red Racing Stripes|
|2017:||Gloss Black with White Racing Stripes|
Source: Victory Cruiser Owner’s Manual