A vintage airplane and a slice of American muscle. What more could a guy with refined tastes want than this custom Victory Hammer.
Everything about Chris Walker is precise. He responds to emails and phone calls immediately. He arrives at appointments prepared and exactly on time. A commercial pilot and aircraft maintenance engineer in a former life, Walker now builds high-end custom homes on Vancouver Island though he’s still a hobbyist flyer.
He was in the midst of formation drills with fellow low-wing vintage aircraft enthusiasts when I first made the acquaintance of his motorcycle, parked on the tarmac of the Victoria Flying Club where I was attending a local show ‘n’ shine. While he was in the air being drilled, his bike was on the ground getting judged. When I asked who owned the custom Victory Hammer that had caught my attention, one of the show ‘n’ shine organizers pointed skyward where Walker was at that very moment motoring overhead in his Chinese-built Nanchang. Looking at the bike it didn’t surprise me then that its owner would also own and pilot a 1960s-era warbird. For me, it’s still an easy association to make.
This particular Victory Hammer is from the 100-cubic-inch series of Hammers that first surfaced in 2005 with a 250-section rear tire and six-speed transmission. It was pitched to compete in the muscle bike segment with a low-slung saddle, wide, aggressive bars, dual staggered pipes and twin disc brakes riding beneath inverted forks. Victory has traditionally flirted with strong paint tones, and the Hammer was no exception. If it was intended as a swashbuckling bike for spirited riders, then it’s fair to say an aviator in a classic plane fits the bill.
Yet Walker didn’t arrive naturally to the cruiser community. Early in life he’d taken the sportbike route, with a successive series of Kawasaki firebrands like the Ninja 900 and turbo GPz750. But like many others approaching 50, he found his preferences changing. Two years ago he began researching chopper styles and builds, looking for a particular type with clean, simple lines. This is how the Victory entered his world. The essence of the stock bike is still easy to detect with a custom treatment that’s “not too much, not too overdone, but still reeks of testosterone,” said Walker.
Walker’s custom Victory Hammer does not carry an aviation-themed custom treatment. In fact, the paint scheme pays tribute to a classic Ford muscle car, the Mustang GT350H. A variation of the race-ready GT350, the H-car was a small-production-run model built specifically for a sportscar rental program operated by Hertz. A mere 1,000 units were built, all of which arrived bearing the colours and stripes of the rental giant—a livery that now details Walker’s custom, and evokes the notion of American muscle.
The fabrication and paint is the work of Conquest Customs who added chrome details and reshaped the stocker’s shrouded tail section for an abbreviated presentation that isolates the matte-finished 2-into-1 Assault tail pipe for a sinister, phalanx-gun look.
Highlighted beneath the red-stitched solo seat is the toothed belt final drive and the big Dunlop tire, spooned onto red-accented wheels complementing red Brembo calipers.
Whiplash Customs of Vancouver Island added to the appearance with a molded, frenched-in tail lights, and fabricated rotating licence plate holder.
In many ways the first-generation Hammers were groundbreaking. They were the first big-inch production cruisers fitted with six-speeds and the first to carry 250-series rubber. If the factory horses weren’t enough, Victory entered into an agreement with S&S to produce stroked 106-cubic-inch upgrades of the OEM 100-incher, thus signaling Victory’s mutually beneficial relationship with the aftermarket.
Distinctively shaped handlebars that flare out into a flying-V configuration put Hammer riders into ahot-rodding posture. With double-disc brakes, big motors, six-speeds, and sporty suspension, the Victory Hammer has always been about creating an impression on the street, and there’s never been any doubt they were meant to customize. They were also meant to ride with controlled aggression, offering the kind of focused performance that a guy who demonstrates precision in all other aspects of his life might appreciate. And dressed up, they look killer.
Story and Photos by John Campbell Canadian Biker Issue #317