I won’t start singing Under the Boardwalk, but I will sing the praises of the Victory Boardwalk, a cruiser that turns heads and turns corners, too.
There is no doubting the retro styling with the swooping tank, deep valanced fenders with their Saxon-axe-shaped ends, the 60-spoke wire wheels, white-wall tyres and chromed beach bars. Dressed in pearl white it looks like the White Knight’s steed ready for battle. However, for 2014, you will be the Black Knight on the gloss black model or pay an extra $500 for the two-tone “Sunset Red” and gloss black with pin-striping graphics. Colours are the only change for 2014.
The rest is the same, which is a good thing, because Victory Motorcycles have produced a bike that not only looks good, but goes well.
It is powered by the same flexible and robust 1731cc Freedom V-twin engine as in the rest of the fleet. Read any of my previous Victory reviews and you will find me raving about the engine’s refinement and how well it is matched to the six-speed transmission that gets smoother with each year model.
Surprisingly, for a bike that is so low slung, it corners pretty well. Ok, the clearance isn’t too good and on a jaunty ride through the country after picking up the bike, I had managed to shave a fair bit of metal off the floorboards, as well as parts of the frame and the bottom slash-cut exhaust pipe. However, the bike as a whole is set up for quite vigorous punting along a twisting road. You can’t ride it like a superbike, but you can hustle along smartly if you plan your corners. Brake early, get off the brakes so that the forks rise, then throttle gently through the corner, taking a wide arc. And when you exit the corner the massive low-down torque will hurtle you toward the next corner where you get to do it all over again.
Turn-in is quite agile because of the shorter wheelbase and rake and trail and you can put a lot of trust in the grip levels of that thick-section front tyre patch.
The single-disc front brake is adequate while there is a lot of effect in the rear brake. It doesn’t come with ABS and you can easily lock up the rear, however it has steel braided lines so you have plenty of feel in the lever and pedal to prevent skidding. The high-profile tyres help overcome the short suspension travel to provide quite a plush ride, even over some bumpy roads. It’s not as good as the Vegas which is almost the same bike except for a few styling details, higher clearance and longer wheelbase. Despite the big beach bars, they don’t vibrate in your hands or buck and bounce over bumps. They are very stiff and because they are wide they provide plenty of leverage for quick-flicking into corners.
I had two goes at reviewing this bike. The first time I had a great day out in the hills, grinding the pegs and loping along the mountain tracks, enjoying the puling power up the steep ascents. But my idyllic day came to a halt when I hit a nail and the rear tyre deflated. The tyre said “tubeless” so I assumed they had some smart hub that allowed it to be spoked and tubeless at the same time like the BMW R 1200 GS. So we tried to fix it with a plug. The first hassle here is that the deep valances allow only limited access to the tyre. After we’d plugged it we found it wouldn’t hold air, so we eventually called in Victory’s roadside assistance which towed it away. It’s a must-have service. Despite using a “tubeless” tyre, they come with a tube.
After the tyre was repaired, I took it out for a second spin over several days and had a blast and enjoyed the immense pose value. I couldn’t imagine the genteel folk who choose this bike wanting to lie in the dirt to plug a flat tyre. They’re less likely to stray too far from the city where it can get dirty – it would take hours just to clean the 60-spoke wheels! Besides, the lack of luggage means it’s only a day-cruiser, not an overnighter. As its name suggests, the Boardwalk belongs on the promenade, rolling past the cafes and chic hangouts where the beautiful people can ogle and envy this handsome steed.
Victory Boardwalk tech specs
Price: $22,495 (Gloss Black), $22,995 (2-tone)
Engine: Freedom 106 (1731cc), 4-valve, 50° V-twin
Bore x Stroke 101 x 108 mm
Transmission: 6-speed overdrive’ wet, multi-plate clutch; carbon fibre belt drive
Fuel: 17.8-litre tank, 91 RON
Suspension: telescopic 43mm forks, 130mm travel; single, mono-tube gas preload-adjustable shock, 75mm travel