2009 Victory Hammer S First Impressions


by Pascal Bastien,

In 2005, Victory sought to conquer a new market segment: performance cruisers. Often criticized for their uneasy relationship with the rider, the original Hammer has evolved into a friendlier machine, with upgraded frame, brakes and engine. I recently had the opportunity to take Victory’s latest 2009 Hammer S for a quick spin.

The 2009 Victory Hammer S is aptly named -- it hammers the road with killer styling and accelerations.

Power and stability
The Freedom 106/6 powertrain (106 cubic inches, 6-speed gearbox) twin-cylinder and its modern components, including sophisticated (‘cause it works so well!) electronic fuel injection, single overhead camshafts with 4 valves per cylinder, and larger displacement (1,731 cc), delivers awesome torque, right from 2,000 rpm (80% of the maximum) all the way to the 5,200 rpm redline. The engine pushes really hard right up to the rpm limit, seemingly harder than the other models we rode the same day, which leads us to believe that engineers may have tweaked the electronics (or mounted a lighter flywheel?) for the sportier Hammer S, despite not admitting to anything. In fact, the Freedom 106 feels a lot more like the more technologically advanced Japanese engines than the more traditional American ones, as evidenced by the steady idle and eagerness to build up revs under hard acceleration.

The frame of the Hammer S boasts excellent overall rigidity, thereby improving riding precision and straight-line stability in accordance with customer expectations for performance cruisers. When entering corners, however, it becomes somewhat reluctant to obey due to the fat, 250-mm rear tire which fights to maintain the bike upright. Despite this resistance during transitions, the Hammer S still allows sporty riding on small byroads… provided that you don’t try to impersonate Valentino Rossi.

Geared for sporty riding
Thank God, the Hammer S features a pair of 300-mm discs with 4-piston Brembo calipers up front, and a similar-size rotor in the back. Riders can be a little more aggressive with the brakes when pushing the limits on twisty roads. But watch out, as a single finger will apply enough pressure to lock the front wheel as there is little weight transfer to the front wheel under hard braking on relatively low and long cruisers. Remember to use the rear brake to achieve maximum deceleration.

In corners, the 250-mm rear tire fights to maintain the bike upright.

For experienced riders
Even at 303 kg, the low center of gravity of the Hammer S makes low-speed manoeuvring a breeze. At high speed, the firm suspension makes the bike a little twitchier than soft sprung boulevard cruisers. That being said, the firmer suspension allows an experienced rider to attack corners without fear of unsettling the machine, if you can push through the bike’s resistance to changing direction caused by the extra-wide rear tire. Finally, the relaxed riding position proves extremely comfortable and strain-free for your entire body.

The Hammer S is equiped with the Freedom 106/6 powertrain (106 cubic inches, 6-speed gearbox).

The Hammer S features a white-faced tachometer, super-lightweight X-Factor alloy wheels, a removable passenger seat cowl, braided brake lines and performance tires. The sharply-executed design makes it an exceptional machine that draws stares wherever it goes. It’s like a two-wheel Ford Cobra.

Bottom line
While it’s not the most rider-friendly cruiser in the line-up, the 2009 Victory Hammer S is aptly named -- it hammers the road with killer styling and accelerations. It will appeal to riders looking for a sexy, high-performance cruiser without the radically-stretched riding position associated with this type of machine.

Great power and torque
Relaxed riding position
Sporty-tuned suspension

Harsh ride on bumps
Almost over-sensitive brakes
Cornering resistance from fat rear tire