Victory says business is up 20 percent, year-over-year, for the last three years! And while the iron is hot, the Minnesota-based company keeps firing off new models, the latest of which is the 2013 Boardwalk. Building upon Victory’s usual 106-inch Freedom V-Twin and steel-tube-frame platform, the Boardwalk is aimed directly at the Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe. With gangster whitewalls shrouded beneath full-coverage steel fenders and a wide “beach” handlebar to showcase one’s sculpted latissimus dorsi to best effect, this one’s for urban profiling more than serious traveling. Not that we didn’t do a little of both.
You’d have to work hard not to have fun riding around the hilly backroads in the Santa Barbara, California, outback. On the bumpy, twisty road to Jalama Beach for a cheeseburger and a glimpse into where SB’s less glamorous citizens congregate, the Boardwalk didn’t embarrass itself, only running through its 3 inches of rear travel over the bigger bumps. The fat Metzeler whitewalls—a 130 front and 150 rear on 16-inch wire-spoked wheels—go along with the program and allow a reasonable amount of lean angle before the floorboards begin auguring in. And don’t worry that the 300mm front brake’s not so powerful, because the rear 300mm brake hauls the Boardwalk down very easily.
With the counterbalanced engine bolted solidly in place, the Boardwalk feels like a very structurally sound platform whose 675 spec-chart dry pounds are easy to maneuver thanks to that wide bar. And the Freedom 106 has a pretty easy time propelling those pounds, too. The Judge we dynoed in February made 96 foot-pounds of torque at 2920 rpm and 81 horses at 4810 rpm. Even on a hottish day, the 1731cc V-Twin keeps its cool, thanks to five-quart oil capacity and a big oil cooler located ahead of the crankcase.
But “the widest bar on any Victory motorcycle” means diminished returns the faster you go as you troll homeward on Highway 101: 65 mph registers a nice, relaxing 2400 rpm on the digital tach (which shares space with a clock and other functions), but anything much faster becomes an aerodynamic battle. Luckily, there are accessory Lock & Ride windshields, saddlebags, sissybars, etc., available—not to mention heated grips and cruise control. And the newly enlarged, 4.7-gallon gas tank should give the bike considerable range.
Victory continues its quest for heavyweight supremacy (or at least parity with H-D), which means a new model every six months. And to go with the take-the-fight-to-Milwaukee posturing, there’s even a bold new logo on the Boardwalk sporting a big red “V” to let people know what kind of motorcycle that was that just went by. Retailing for $15,499 in Solid Black and $15,899 in Solid Pearl White ($250 more in California), the Boardwalk is a legitimate—and less-expensive—competitor for H-D’s Softail Deluxe.