Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special vs. Victory Hammer S | American Muscle

Is it the meat or the motion?

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Alex Hearn
I guess they called it the Hammer because that's what you'll end up beating it with!

A fantastic engine hamstrung by a useless chassis. That 250-section rear tire is a classic tail-wagging-the-dog, two-wheeled fashion disaster. And while a low-resolution looker, up close the Victory doesn't feel worth two-thirds what Timmy says they charge for it. The H-D Night Rod packs a faster engine, and works more cohesively as a package. Riding as quick as it can go? That's another story and always the case with Rods of any description. Love the dark-lord moodiness, though; black is back? Hell yeah!

Age: 38
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 200 Lb.
Inseam: 32 In.

Barry Burke
Cruisers usually come with feeble brakes and acceleration, so the Night Rod Special was a pleasant surprise on both counts. But I never did fit in with the weird ergos. You see one of these things go by and the rider doesn't even look comfortable. The Victory looks better to me all the way around. It seems like they designed the Hammer S with a human being sitting in the saddle. It accommodates the rider, where the rider adapts to the Harley. So if the whole thing comes down to looks, I'd have to go with the Hammer.

Age: 43
Height: 6'
Weight: 165 lb.
Inseam: 33 in.

Harley Revolution vs. Victory 100/6
A quick sprint through the torque vs. rpm conundrum
Surprised to see the 1130cc Night Rod Special pound Victory's 1630cc Hammer S at the dragstrip? You shouldn't be. The Hammer's 101 x 102mm cylinders generate a heroic 92.9 lb.-ft. of torque at 2800 rpm vs. the 'Rod's 69.0 lb.-ft. at 7650 rpm. That's instant gratification for the Victory when the light turns green, but it doesn't last. The muscle that fires a 16-pound shot 75 feet isn't much good in the 100-meter dash, and torque alone can't keep the Hammer in front for a quarter-mile. Speed and acceleration require horsepower: a manifestation of torque and rpm. Multiplying the Harley's torque by its 8000-rpm power peak makes all the difference.

When it comes to going fast, the big-bore/long-stroke equation generates its own set of problems. Even in a relatively modern OHC design like the Hammer's, throwing those 101mm pistons through their 102mm strokes much faster than the posted 5600-rpm limit would spell trouble. The Harley's 100 x 72mm cylinders are a happy place at 8000 rpm, but spinning the Hammer that fast would move each slug more than a mile every second. Suicide. Relatively slender inlet runners and small valves fill the Victory's big air-oil-cooled cylinders with combustibles quickly enough for triple-digit torque, but there's a downside: They suffocate high-rpm horsepower, which is one big reason why it runs out of breath well before the Harley does. On top of all that, there's heat. Even the smaller, short-stroke Revolution twin would melt without the miracle of liquid-cooling.

On the street, where you're more likely to encounter a radar gun than timing lights, the Hammer's big-inch approach to acceleration is more accessible and, depending on your relationship to the shift lever and the tach, just as satisfying. And thanks to a balance shaft, rubber mounts and an overdrive sixth gear, precious little vibration ever reaches the rider. Pay your money. Make your choice. But if you choose the Hammer and a Night Rod Special rolls up at a stoplight, look the other way.

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