At just eighteen years old, Victory Motorcycles is one of the youngest marques on the planet. And their current cruiser range has a distinctly modern aesthetic—a hard sell for potential owners looking for the American heritage vibe.
Rudy Banny is the founder of Tattoo Projects, the ad agency that handles Victory’s marketing. “One of the issues we deal with on a regular basis, is Victory’s youth,” he says. “It seems a lot of consumers out there find Victory’s futuristic, modern design quite polarizing.”
“But it’s something that we at Tattoo have gotten Victory to embrace. It’s modern American muscle.”
When Tattoo aren’t working on campaigns for some of the US’s top brands, they build custom motorcycles. And when Rudy managed to get a Victory Gunner onto his bench, he couldn’t resist the urge to roughen it up.
“I took it upon myself to take all of that awesome, bad-ass modern American muscle, and package it up in an old-school bobber-café.”
The biggest visual hit is the new tail section. Tattoo wanted to fit one of their favorite brat-café-style seats: a Nitroheads. This meant that they could trim off most of the subframe—opening up the rear end and giving the stock swingarm a stretched look.
Custom aluminum gussets were made to support the seat, and to box in the simplified ECU and fuse box setup. The battery was swapped for a smaller Ballistic unit, but this (and a few electrical components) needed a new home. So local leather specialists Colsen Keane were roped in to make up a one-off battery pouch.
To complement the new back-end, Suzuki GSX-R forks and custom-made triple trees were fitted up front. A 3.5×16 rim was laced up with stainless steel spokes, and upgraded with a dual braking disc setup. And yes, the tires are Firestone’s infamous Deluxe Champions. (“We haven’t given up on them yet,” Rudy smiles.)
The cockpit’s been finished with a mix of parts. Arlen Ness teardrop mirrors hint at the bike’s origins, while dual headlights give it a touch of streetfighter style. The handlebars are Biltwell Tracker units, and the speedo is Motogadget’s tiny MotoScope Mini LED model.
Tattoo’s biggest challenge was switching out the Victory Gunner’s wide, teardrop-shaped fuel tank. “A big reason these tanks are difficult to modify,” explains Rudy, “is that the tunnel is very unique, due to the split, wishbone-style backbone of the frame.”
The team modeled a smaller, simpler tank, and had Brendon Thompson from Elite Metal Designs ‘Frankenstein’ the stock tunnel onto the new tank. A Monza filler cap was installed, but other than that the tank’s been left unfinished. Rudy’s still deciding whether or not he wants to paint it.
The last stop was the engine—but with the Victory already pushing out a respectable 97 horses, and weighing 100lbs less now, the mods were minimal. There’s a Lloydz Torque Tube intake to help it breathe, adjustable timing gear and a new fuel control unit. Custom exhaust headers capped with stainless steel Cone Engineering mufflers round things out.
Rudy says he “deliberately took a very modern American motorcycle and distressed the hell out of it.” Tattoo’s stark Victory Gunner is certainly a departure from the factory version, and a muscle bike we wouldn’t mind owning.