Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Harley-Davidson V-Rod

Tue, March 9th, 2010

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2007–10 Harley-Davidson VRSCAW V-Rod
The original V-Rod had one mission in life: to silence critics who claim that Harleys are under-performing slugs. With quarter-mile times in the low 11's, torque figures on a par with liter-class four-cylinder sportbikes, and power everywhere along the rev range, it certainly met that criteria. The 'W'-spec V-Rod was slowed down just slightly by its heavier rear tire, bodywork and fuel load. Thankfully, punching the engine out another 120cc in 2008 won back what was lost.
It's admirably flex-free and more neutral in turns than anything with a 240 on the back has a right to be, although the forward controls are awkward in the twisties. It feels firmly planted and secure at highway speeds, but low-speed handling is cumbersome.
Many people complain that the V-Rod doesn't share other Harleys' iconic look. My complaint is that it doesn't look like any attractive motorcycle. It's just downright homely. Newer models have thankfully lost the original model's monochromatic aluminum finish and solid disc wheels. The overgrown radiator shrouds still look like they need to be lanced and drained.
Nearly bulletproof—especially later models with the slipper clutch.
If you want a really big cruiser, this one is pretty easy to live with. It's pretty darn expensive, however, and is neither the best tourer nor the easiest to maneuver around a parking lot.
If you want a Harley, you want a Harley; If you want a muscle machine, you want a muscle machine. Few people want both in the same bike.
It's a darn good bike; I wouldn't fault anyone for buying one. But it tries to be all things to all riders. With such a wide a range of expectations, it just can't hit all the notes.