Live to Ride and Ride to live Free.


The V-Rod, aside from having a frame and two wheels, is unlike any Harley ever seen. The Motor Company has departed from the air-cooled, pushrod V-Twin layout that has been its staple since time immemorial in favor of a modern, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder design. The 1130cc engine has a 100mm x 72mm bore and stroke, quite an oversquare design for a cruiser. As such, this is not a typical H-D engine that pulls like a tractor from just off idle. Based loosely on the architecture of the factory's VR1000 Superbike and honed by Porsche, forged 11.3:1 pistons and a forged crank keeps the mill together at its stratospheric-for-a-Harley 8800 rpm redline.

it's not too surprising that the V-Rod wins the drag race, but what shocked us was that the high-strung Harley also managed to beat the burly Warrior during impromptu roll-on tests. The Warrior's top gear (5th) is an extreme overdrive (0.800:1), and even its fourth gear is overdriven at 0.935:1. Conversely, the V-Rod has a much lower fifth gear (1.040:1), and it's able to use torque multiplication and its reserves of power to walk the Warrior.

The V-Rod has the most radical fork angle (38 degrees) of any production bike, as is befitting of its drag bike styling. A steering head rake angle of 34 degrees makes it chopperesque, but it counters that with a short trail figure of 99mm (3.9 inches) to make it steer quicker. The Warrior goes a different route, with a much steeper 29.3-degree rake, but with more trail (130mm/5.1 inches).

The V-Rod, with its narrow bars and heavier wheels, is less eager to carve the canyons. And with the front wheel in a different zip code, there's not a lot of feedback coming back to the rider. It steers quick enough, but the front end doesn't feel very planted, as do many bikes without much trail, and it needs extra bar effort to right itself from when leaned over. More troubling is that the Rod's pegs and mufflers dig in harshly when past its claimed 32-degree max lean angle, making the prodigious grip of the Dunlop D207s a moot point. And there's so much distance between the wheels that mid-corner bumps cause noticeable flex when it's leaned over.


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