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Special thanks to Heather from Scottsdale Models for the help with the pictures.
Tubo V-Rod
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V-Rod Screamin Eagle

Harley-Davidson’s new Street Rod and Night Rod Test Drive
by Kirk Johnson Sept 2005

2006 V-Rod and more

In late 2001 Harley-Davidson introduced a totally new bike to their family. It was called the 2002 V-Rod and to some it sounded like a very bold venture to bring in a German Porsche engine that was liquid cooled and add it to their very successful collection of motorcycles. Bold move or not, it is obviously a success. Then it was just one, now it has two cousins. The Night Rod and the Street Rod. Actually it has two more cousins if you consider the Screamin Eagle V-Rod and the Screamin Eagle V-R-Rod Destroyer.

I really wanted to ride the new Destroyer, but they did not have one at Hacienda HD, so I settled for a ride on the Night Rod and the Street Rod. What a treat.

Rick Hatch pulled them right off the showroom floor at Hacienda Harley-Davidson for the test rides. They had less then 5 miles on them so I really did not want to push the engine too hard. Bummer. Didn’t even take them to the on ramp for the 101. Having ridden many V-Rods in the past, I was very much aware of what they perform like and they have always performed very well in the past.

As for performance, they all have the exact same engine. The Porsche Designed chain driven four overhead cams, eight valves, 9,000 RPM, Liquid cooled Revolution engine is still as great as it has ever been. The V-Rod specs out at 115 HP and the Night Rod and Street Rod both spec out at 120 HP with the new straight shot exhaust system.

What I wanted to find out about these two new cousins were how they were different from the standard V-Rod, and that I did. Below you will find a comparison of some of the differences and how they fit in a little different niche in the market.

Night Rod Test Drive

The first Rod that I rode was the Night Rod. Love the name. It makes you want to disappear into the night. The first thing I noticed, and loved right away, was the center pegs and controls. Remember this is a sport bike first. But should you want to you could spend the day on it cruising down the highway. Not only does it have the center controls, it also has road pegs for the guy that wants to sit back and spend the day on the highway.

Harley-Davidson claims that the center pegs enable the rider to sit in a more road racing position with the ability to lean forward. Your feet are not stretched way out front for the forward controls. I found that the center pegs enabled me to sit more upright with less curve in my back. This helped a great deal because of old back injuries.

The center pegs give the bike a much more sport feel. Aside from that this bike is a lot like the V-Rod, but much better adapted to the environment, that I believe the bike was created for.

Performance from what I could tell was about the same as the standard V-Rod. Great acceleration and rock solid on the curves and on the straight a ways. The new Brembo Brakes were very effective and solid, a very welcome new addition to the 2006 line-up. This bike should be in the mid to low 12’s for the quarter mile. Very impressive indeed.

Street Rod Test

Now the Street Rod is a step in the direction of serious fun! The first thing that I noticed when I got on this bike was how tall it was. The seat height for the V-Rod and Night Rod is 27”. The seat height for the Street Rod is 31”. I am a little guy, so this will not affect everyone the same. I am 5’ 8” tall. When I sit on the V or Night Rod my feet are flat on the ground. When I first mounted the Street Rod I felt like a little kid. When the bike was given to me for the test ride there was a car parked directly in front of it. When I tried to move it back I was using my toes to move the bike. I had trouble with that. I ended up getting off the bike to move it. Because of the high center of gravity it was a pain to move.

Because of the height of the Street Rod there is a lot more clearance under the bike enabling a very aggressive lean angle. The stock V-Rod and Night Rod is 32 degrees, the new Street Rod is now an aggressive 40 degrees. Pair that with inverted shocks up front with the Brembo 4-piston brake calipers and a front fork angle of 30 degrees instead of the old 34 degrees and you have a whole new animal. Two other neat things that they did was, one they put the key switch in the up front postion. It is much more accessible and they have increased the fuel capacity from 3.7 gallons to 5 gallons of fuel.

Once underway this bike was a totally different story. This bike was born and bread to run. It reminded me of sitting on a Buell. This was a serious fun bike that yearns for corners. I wanted to head for Yarnell hill just north of Wickenburg and spend the day there. I did not get a lot of time on the Street Rod, but from what I could tell this is the bike you want for serious play. You could feel the road as if you were part of it, not just riding over it.

One thing that was missing from the Street Rod was the road pegs. They are not even an option. If you do want to go cross-country with this road-grabbing machine you will just have to cramp up with the only available places to rest your feet and that is on the center pegs. If you spend a lot of time in parking lots or stop and go traffic and you are only 5’ 8-10” you will not like the tall seat. This bike, though only 615 pounds, is a lot to move with only your toes. You can remedy this situation. Ride it, don’t park it.

Summary

Overall the V-Rod, Night Rod and Street Rod are great machines. My favorite is the Night Rod. This is my personal choice and not based on technical specification or looks, but based on my riding preferences. The center controls are a must and the added road pegs are great and I can put my feet flat on the ground while stopped. The performance is about the same for all three bikes with the edge to cornering to the Street Rod. One thing that I did not like and never have liked about the V-rods is the engine noise from the showroom stock bike. With the chain driven overhead cams and eight-valve engine design the engine makes a lot of noise. I want to hear the exhaust. Obviously this can be easily fixed by upgrading to a pair of aftermarket set of headers or exhaust. And of course if you want to go faster, you can easily add a Turbo to the V-Rod.

Ride safe,

Kirk

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without the permission of Kirk at phoenixbikers.com.