2013 Victory Boardwalk | A Cool Summer Breeze

2013 Victory Boardwalk: The Epitome of Happy Hour

If you’re one of those people who greets every manufacturer’s grand statement about “bold new ways of doing business” and “rocking the market,” with a big sneer and a dose of cynicism, you’re not the only one. So when Victory Motorcycles announced an ambitious plan to bring a new model to market every six months, most of us in the moto-journo pool blew big raspberries into our PBRs. But, true to its pronouncement last year, the New American Motorcycle Company has actually stepped up and introduced the promised new products with startling regularity. Six months earlier, we saw the mod-rod Judge hit the market, and now, we’ve been served up Victory’s take on a quintessentially classic cruiser, the Boardwalk. Two cruisers in 10 months? After half a dozen years of cranking out tourers and baggers, I’ll bet the designers at Victory are welcoming the return to cruisers.

Cool Runnings

But no, it’s not a clean sheet design. The Boardwalk picks up where the Judge left off, though both use Victory’s long-running original cruiser, the Vegas, as a foundation, with a similar 64.8 inch wheelbase and 25.9 inch seat height. Unlike the Judge however, the Boardwalk goes longer and lower, piling on the sheet metal, with tire-hugging, stylish full-length fenders, spoke versus cast wheels, a more spacious saddle and pillion, and a slim gas tank with a Vegas-like raised spine carrying over onto the fenders (though tank capacity is the same as the Judge’s). Like the Judge, the Boardwalk is built in Victory’s Spirit Lake, Iowa facility.

Fit and finish is attractive and solid, with details like 16-inch 60-spoke wheels (the first Victory to wear them) with whitewall tires, a wide beach bar, abbreviated floorboards and a two-up seat. The rear fender holds a flush-mounted tall taillight with powerful LED lighting (though it’s less than impressive in daylight).

Unlike on the Judge, you’ll find plenty of chrome bits here, including the headlight, gauge housing, handlebars and dual staggered exhaust, all of which provide the right finishing touches on a boulevard bike, and further accentuate the premium paint job. The Boardwalk is big, long machine, but to Victory’s credit, it somehow manages not to look or feel massive.

Riding the Walk

Settle into the saddle and you’ll find that the Boardwalk’s biggest difference is in the ergonomics department, with the supremely relaxed riding position owing mostly to slightly forward footboards and a wider, more pulled-back beach bar. The low seat invites you to kick back and chill, and the wide handlebar—widest of any Victory—practically demands it. Even better, the pillion pad is easily removed, so you can ride solo whenever you’re feeling antisocial. Instrumentation features a simple single gauge with analog speedo and an LED info window within the face, controllable via a toggle switch on the left bar. It’s simple yet effective.

Unlike Victory’s other Vegas-based classic machine, the Kingpin, the Boardwalk has conventional forks (versus the ‘Pin’s inverted jobs), a different triple tree and smaller wheels. Just to make matters perfectly clear, the Kingpin is being discontinued for 2013 anyway.

If you’re looking for a new mill on the Boardwalk however, you’ll be sorely disappointed; running the show down below is the same ol’, reliably stout 106/6 Victory powertrain. Not that there’s anything disappointing about the Freedom 106 engine. On the upside, the benefit of running only one engine option across the line is that the EFI and road manners are dialed in. The counterbalanced engine is solidly mounted in the frame so it’s a stressed member of the chassis and the Boardwalk doesn’t waste that opportunity to serve up solid, stable tracking in both slow and fast corners. We were pleasantly surprised by Victory’s choice of Metzeler ME880 tires on the Boardwalk, a nice bang-for-the-buck upgrade from the usual stock rubber.

Swinging the ‘Walk on our short ride through the sycamores and coastal oaks of rolling Santa Barbara County provided a few glimpses of the bike’s ride qualities as well as its limitations. First things first—the Boardwalk is an easy-to-ride, smooth operator right from the jump, with an easily-accessed and modulated powerband that was never lacking for power, or overly abrupt. On the open road, the floorboards come in very handy as they’re easy to shift around on, though they’re shorter than the units you’ll find on Victory’s touring bikes. There’s no heel shifter to crowd your foot space, though an accessory one is available if you absolutely have to have one.

Tackling some of the more out of shape and twisty roads wasn’t as much of a workout as we thought it might be—the Boardwalk absorbed most imperfections (and there were plenty) decently enough considering it has only 3 inches of travel out back, and the conventional front fork (5.1 inches of travel) never felt like it was in over its head on the rippled beach-side back roads we chugged across. Only the gnarliest bumps and yawning ruts in the road got to the front end’s otherwise good damping, though the back was overwhelmed more easily. It’s a low-riding cruiser by design, so naturally there was some floorboard dragging during aggressive cornering, but we had no beef with it in most general riding situations.

As on the Judge, there’s only a single brake disc on the front of the Boardwalk, with no help in the form of ABS. Though a hard squeeze gets the job done, there’s still that nagging wooden feel at the lever, and using the back in combination with the front helps. At least the front brake lever is adjustable.

On Target

The official poop from Victory is that the Boardwalk’s customer just wants to relax and chill—not get all carried away with complications and an overwhelming menu of high-tech features. On that point, the Boardwalk succeeds mightily, and serves as a solid addition to Victory’s growing line of new cruisers, which also includes the Judge, the High-Ball and the Vegas 8-Ball. Victory’s designers straddled the line between modern and retro with the Boardwalk, somehow managing to make a long, stripped-down classic cruiser without poaching the same me-too styling cues seen on all too many other machines, and appealing to a broad range of riders. Victory’s smart enough to realize that this style of bike works equally well as either a solo troller or on the occasional two-up stint, so accessories include the Lock n Ride shield, Lock n Ride backrest and Lock n Ride saddlebags (all removable). An EPA-compliant accessory dealer-installed exhaust system (with revised mapping) is also in the works, and customers can also order an info display upgrade to their instrument gauge at their dealer. According to Victory, Boardwalk model-specific accessories will be available by early October, while the new Boardwalk model should be sitting at local showrooms by the time you read this.

With Victory sources telling us they see the Boardwalk as a direct competitor to Harley’s Softail Deluxe, we’re already busy prepping for our next shootout. Stay tuned; it should be a good one.

2013 Victory Boardwalk
MSRP $15,499–$15,899
Colors Black, white
Type Air/oil-cooled, 50-degree V-twin
Displacement; bore x stroke 1731cc; 101 x 108mm
Valve train SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression 9.4:1
Fuel system EFI; 45mm throttle bore
Transmission 6-speed; Belt final drive
Overall length 97.2 in.
Wheelbase 64.8 in.
Dry weight 675 lbs.
Seat height 25.9 in.
Rake/trail 31.7-degree/6.7 in.
Front tire 130/90-16
Rear tire 150/80-16
Front brake 300mm floating rotor; 4-piston caliper
Rear brake 300mm floating rotor; 2-piston caliper
Front suspension 43mm telescopic fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear suspension Single mono-tube shock; 3.0 in. travel
Fuel capacity 4.7 gal.
Helmet: HJC SyMax 3 JACKET: REV’IT! Sand BOOts: Wolverine Cannonsburg GLOVES: Rev’IT! Fly