The new VRSCB V-Rod. Same hot rod genetics. More raw attitude. Black frame, silver and black powertrain, black components and adjustable handelbar, it's pure VRSC muscle. That's what the brochure said.

This was my first ride on a Harley V-Rod and hopefully not my last. We've all seen Harley dudes wearing their T-Shirts that read "It's a Harley thing, you wouldn't understand" (or something like that). Well let me try and explain. Harley-Davidson riders and their motorcycles are not your common garden variety biker. Most (not all) Harley riders are very different to other riders in their outlook towards motorcycling, most see their Harley machines as a means to show off their assumed status in life. Just as they say people can often be compared to the dogs they have, I think it's also true to say you can often judge people by what they ride. Take the typical Harley guy, if he rides a big, loud, shiny Harley, you can be sure he is also big, loud and shiny. Of course this doesn't apply to all Harley riders (or any other brand of motorcycle rider). But you won't find a quite little wimp riding a big, loud bike, that's a fact. Enter the V-Rod. My first impression of the Rod was, Hey, it's about time! Very few (if any) Harleys remain standard, so why not give the customer what he wants. Harley-Davidson have pulled all the stops out on this baby.  The V-Rod is...  long, lean and very mean (as far as Harleys go). The VRSCB V-Rod is the newest power cruiser from Harley-Davidson. Based on the award winning VRSCA V-Rod, but setting its own agenda, the V-Rod has a tougher presence that will appeal to the traditional Harley rider, who would like to push the performance envelope.

The VRSCA and VRSCB V-Rod are almost identical mechanically. Power comes from Harley-Davidson’s first liquid-cooled motor. The Revolution engine is a 60-degree V-Twin of 1130cc. Revving to 9000rpm, it is fuel injected, with double overhead cams. Power output is 115hp with 105Nm of torque at 6600rpm. Both V-Rod models offer a blend of classic Harley-Davidson style, road-burning performance and cutting-edge technology. The bodywork is aluminium. The disc wheels and a 38-degree fork could be straight off a drag bike. The tubular, hydroformed chassis is stiff, strong and beautiful (just how my wife likes it). The V-Rod has several mechanical changes for 2004. The instrument cluster receives several upgrades. The speedometer maximum speed is changed from 220kph to 240kph, to more accurately reflect the top-end power of the Revolution engine. The odometer reading can now be accessed with the ignition off by simply pressing and releasing the "trip" button. For 2004 the VRSCB V-Rod was run through the paint booth and now comes in three great colour options, namely; Anodised aluminium, Vivid black or Racing orange. The VRSCA comes in Vivid black, Impact blue, Lava red Sunglo and two lekker 2-tone colours; Luxury teal & Brilliant silver, and Smokey gold & Vivid black.

now ain't that pretty

Unfortunately I only had three days in which to test the Rod. I rode the bike out of the Johannesburg dealership in pouring rain, took the bike out again the next night, in the rain, and returned the V-Rod late on the third day, in pouring rain, so it was a short test (total distance 335km). I did get a chance to ride the bike on dry roads on the second day, enjoying the V-Rod to the maximum. It's no superbike, but in that stretched-back position with forward mounted foot-pegs, I still managed to get the speedo needle past 210kph. Cornering has to be careful, as there's almost no room before things start to scrape along the ground (and I was asked ever so nicely not to scratch the bike, as it was already sold). The V-Rod's motor is smooth and powerful, delivering more than enough grunt for a bike such as this. Belt drive is the way to go, with no mess, no noise and no maintenance for thousands of kilometers (all bikes should be belt driven). The best thing about the V-Rod was the strong, smooth, responsive, V-Twin engine. The worst thing was the lack of open, dry roads, but I certainly enjoyed every kilometer. Thanks to Harley-Davidson Johannesburg for the ride.  You saw it in Redline.   Kenn

  check that smile...  what do you think, happiness is?

Specifications VRSCB V-Rod

Engine: 60º, Liquid-cooled, V-Twin (Revolution™ engine).

Bore x Stroke: 100 x 72mm.

Displacement: 1131cc.

Valves: Direct acting double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, chain driven with hydraulic tensioners.

Compression Ratio: 11.3:1.

Engine Horsepower: 115Hp @ 9000rpm.

Engine Torque: 105Nm @ 6600rpm.

Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI).

Exhaust System: 2 into 1 into 2.

Air Cleaner: Downdraft intake – hidden.

Lubrication System: Wet-sump, integrated with powertrain crankcase.

Oil Capacity: 4.3 liters.

Fuel Capacity: 14.0 liters.

Dry Weight: 275kg.

Seat Height: (measured laden with a 103kg muscled rider) 650mm.

Ground Clearance: 141mm.

Rake: (steering head) 34 degrees.

Fork Angle: 38 degrees.

Trail: 99mm.

Length: 2435mm.

Wheelbase: 1710mm.

Tyres: Radials; Front - D207 - 120/70ZR19-60W, Rear - D207 - 180/55ZR18-74W.

Wheels: 19-inch (narrow) cast disc front, 18-inch (wide) cast disc rear.

Suspension Travel: Front Wheel 100 mm, Rear Wheel 70 mm.

Final Drive: Gates carbon fiber reinforced polychain belt, 72/30 ratio.

Clutch: 9-plate, wet.

Transmission: Five-speed. Ratios: 1st 10.98, 2nd 7.38, 3rd 5.88, 4th 5.10, 5th 4.57.

Frame: Steel perimeter upper frame with hydroformed main rails and bolt-on lower frame rails.

Swing Arm: One piece cast aluminum polished.

Front Forks: 49mm wide custom forks.

Brakes: Four-piston calipers front and rear. Dual 292mm floating discs in front. 292mm single disc rear.

Battery: Sealed, maintenance-free, 12-volt, 12 amp-hour.

Starting: Electric.

Lights: Headlamp Quartz Halogen 55-watt low beam, 60-watt high beam. Tail/stop lights reflector optics. Turn signal lights (self-canceling).

Indicator lamps: High beam, neutral, oil, turn signals, engine diagnostics, cooling temperature, low fuel, security system.

Seat: 2-piece textured vinyl with flip-up fuel fill access.

Instruments: Electronic speedometer with odometer and resettable tripmeter with diagnostic capabilities and solid-state tell-tale indicator module; tachometer Hazard warning Integrated into turn signal controls.

Warranty: 24 months (unlimited mileage).

Service Intervals: First 1,600km, every 8,000km thereafter.

Price: R189, 000.00.


Test bike courtesy of Harley-Davidson Johannesburg. Tel: 011 884 0454


"Harley-Daidson Street Rod" - (The newest member of the VRSC family of Harley-Davidson  motorcycles earns its reputation honestly by combining an upright riding position, 40-degree lean angle and tuned suspension to deliver a unique motorcycle that skilfully marries custom looks with agile performance. "Harley-Davidson’s racing genes are inside the new Street Rod," said Bill Davidson, Harley-Davidson Director of marketing and motorcycle development. "The same DNA that spawned the VR1000 and championship-winning Screamin’ Eagle  Pro Stock Drag bike are combined again to deliver this premium, hot rod Roadster.")