In any new relationship, first impressions mean a lot. Whether it’s the way she walks in a pair of heels, or whether he holds the door open, those first few hours can cast the die and alter your opinion of that new love forever. The same is true with Victory Motorcycles’ new Boardwalk—there are parts to love, and others, maybe not so much. It’s all in the personal opinion of the rider behind the handlebars. And in this case, a very wide set of bars.
Victory continues to set sales records with claims of a 20-percent increase each year for the last three years. In an effort to stay on top of the motorcycle heap, the strategy it persists in pursuing is the introduction of a new model about every six months, hoping to keep the ballyhoo energized and consumer attention at a passionate degree. The Boardwalk is the latest in the company’s Cruiser line, with its sights squarely aimed at the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe and the crowd it garners. (The Victory Judge, High Ball, Jackpot, Hammer 8-Ball and Vegas 8-Ball are retained in the Cruiser lineup for 2013.) But just as fast as Victory is inclined to offer up new models, they are equally willing to discard anything no longer meeting company expectations. As such, the 2013 Boardwalk is replacing the Victory Kingpin, which endured a lifespan of eight years after first being introduced in 2004. And while the Boardwalk and the Kingpin may appear to be clones of one another to the casual observer, if you pay attention to the details it’s obvious the direction Victory is headed—we’re headed to the beach, baby.
Love it or loathe it
Taking its name from a wooden pedestrian walkway that overlooks a beach, there are several singular facets of the Boardwalk that are immediately noticed and would make it a natural resident along a sandy shore. And, like first impressions, they hold the ability to either entice or stir aversion. The Boardwalk’s beach bars are probably the most dominant feature of this new model and are the widest of any in the Victory fleet. But despite their initial intimidating appearance, these signature handlebars are quite comfortable and, when combined with the seat position and height, ergonomically ideal for my 6-foot frame. But as in a previous rant concerning the Victory Cross Country Tour, I remain perplexed as to the tacky handlebar wiring. When a machine is obviously designed to focus prominent attention on one particularly bold aspect, why not take the extra effort and conceal the wiring? Cables I can live with, but this is one of the first things I’d change.
Second on the “hey, look at me” chart: You simply can’t have a beach cruiser without whitewalls and laced wheels. While the Kingpin spun on 18″ mag wheels, the Boardwalk has opted for 16″ Metzelers (130/90 up front and a 150/80 in the rear) with whitewalls only surpassed in width by the beach bars. The rubber travels on 60-spoke wire wheels adding to the cruiser theme. Number three has to be the heavily valanced, full fenders that totally encase the fat rubber and are radiused to match the tire profile. Each also features a raised spine that runs down the center. A similar triceratops-type ridge runs the length of the fuel tank, making for a continuous effect along the entire length of the bike. The removable passenger seat actually “floats” above this spine on the rear fender, never coming in contact or marring the finish, so all looks good when it comes time to shift to solo-riding mode.
Slice and dice
For 2013 the Boardwalk has dumped the Kingpin’s inverted fork and instead sports a traditional telescopic cartridge front end with a healthy 5.1 inches of travel. The seat was also lowered from the Kingpin’s by more than a half-inch to 25.9″ and is now comparable to the Softail Deluxe. While they were at it, Victory also crunched up the package a little, reducing the wheelbase by 0.8″, chopping the overall length by 2.7″ and tightening the rake while increasing the trail. Oh, and along with all that dicing and hashing, the gas tank somehow got bigger; growing by 0.2 gallons and now capable of holding 4.7 gallons of petrol. So once you get beyond first appearances, this is quite a different machine from its Kingpin predecessor.
Weighing in at 675 pounds dry, the Boardwalk retains the company’s basic chassis structure; a cast mono-shock aluminum frame wrapped around the durable 50-degree Freedom 106 pumping 110-ft/lbs of torque through a six-speed transmission. Braking chores are handled by single-disc units, both 300mm floating rotors with a four-piston caliper up front and a two-piston in the back. And you will need that rear brake, since the front binder leaves a lot to be desired in responsive stopping. But when used in tandem, and combined with the 16″ tires, wide handlebars and impeccable suspension damping, the Boardwalk offers a decidedly stable ride providing a high level of confidence harnessed to ample horsepower.
Anticipating another winner, an impressive stockpile of accessories has already been developed for the expected surge in sales. These include lockable windshields, saddlebags and sissy bars. The 2013 Boardwalk comes in Solid Black or Solid Pearl White with the dark model retailing for $15,499 and the Pearl White model fetching an additional $400 (both colors run an extra $250 in California).
My first impression—I’m somewhat smitten. While the 2013 Boardwalk remains true to its heritage, it is able to offer some unique styling cues that are a departure from company norms. Yes, she looks good in heels. Just fix that damn wiring.
Victory Boardwalk Riding Impressions
The woman’s point of view
What a stunner! The Victory Boardwalk’s gorgeous pearl white paint sparkled luminescent in the afternoon sun. The model I rode was adorned with a bit of extra bling: some chrome covers, hardware and such— just enough to enhance its classy demeanor. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
But the Boardwalk is more than just another good-looking machine; it handles like a dream, with plenty of power to back up its swagger. With its 25.9″ low-profile seat, I could easily place both feet flat on the ground—not an insignificant advantage for my 5’4″ frame. The bike is quite well balanced and the beach bars make steering a breeze, giving me a feeling of control and confidence during turns and low-speed maneuvers.
Belying its smooth, quiet and mannerly persona, the 106/6 Freedom V-twin surges forward immediately when I hit the throttle. I’m at 80 mph in the blink of an eye. The Boardwalk is an elegant and powerful cruising machine, to be sure. And I just happen to have an extra space in my garage.