The Victory brand was started by Polaris Industries in 1998 as a means of addressing the lucrative big-inch V-twin market that Harley-Davidson largely had to itself. The bikes are built in Minnesota and Iowa, as are the Indians.
From the start, Victory wanted to position its bikes as more performance-oriented V-twins than Harleys and, as a result, they utilize an air-cooled, 50-degree V-twin motor with four valves per cylinder and 1,731cc (106 cubic inches) of displacement. They inhale through four valves per cylinder, as does the Moto Guzzi.
The Boardwalk model is distinguished by its larger, full-coverage fenders, but it carries the same fuel tank and running gear as the other Victory models. Its styling is all about sharp angles like those in the headlight, fenders, turn signals, tank and swingarm.
The seat is dished and well padded, and it allows the rider to stretch out behind that wide handlebar. The view forward includes a single white-faced gauge, a chromed headlight flanked by the black upper triple clamp and bar risers, and the wide tank.
After having ridden the other three bikes, I was struck by the visceral feel of the Boardwalk. Its exhaust bark has real attitude with a throaty rumble, and its pulses can be felt in the seat and grips—especially during acceleration. With the wide handlebar accentuating the motor’s shaking, the vibes caused one of my hands to go numb on a long section of highway.
Second only to the Moto Guzzi, the Victory motor generates 84.9 horsepower at 4,700 rpm, and 98.1 lb-ft of torque at 4,300. The suspension is firm and well controlled, though not plush, and the motor exudes a pleasing rawness that is not evident on the other bikes. Though equipped with only a single front disc brake, its braking action is powerful. Put it all together and the bike is great fun on a winding road, with good cornering clearance, good solidity and a pleasing aura of sound. On top of this, the Victory provided surprisingly good economy at 45.7 mpg.
In terms of sound, suspension and aggressiveness, the Victory Boardwalk reminds me of the visceral bikes we rode back in the day before cruisers were homogenized and quieted by government regulations. It provides the more rip-snortin’ ride of the group.