- The Washington Times - Friday, August 8, 2008

Harley-Davidson first entered into the power cruiser category with some serious drag bike influence reflected in the styling in 2002. Except for the V-Twin configuration of the motor, tradition flew out the window with the non-traditional VRSCA “V-Rod”. It didn’t look or sound like anything that one had come to expect from America’s best-known oldest motorcycle manufacturer.

Harley-Davidson’s V-Rod drew its power from a Porsche designed 1130cc DOHC, 8-valve Revolution V-Twin, liquid-cooled motor with electronic sequential port fuel injection. Exhaust exited via a unique and stylish, 2-into-1-into-2, single right-side system. The motor mated to a five-speed manual transmission, with a high ratio spur gear primary drive and a final belt drive.

In terms of its appearance, the V-Rod was totally “Space Age.” That first V-Rod came finished only one way — with a total silver aura featuring a collective theme of silver painted, chromed and anodized aluminum components. It was the most technologically innovative product to have emerged from the Milwaukee-based Motor Company in its history when it was launched.

Now, the V-Rod has benefited from a power increase across the model range, which for the 2008 model year consists of three bikes: The VRSCAW/A V-Rod, the VRSCD/A Night Rod’s and the VRSCDX/A Night Rod’s Special. The latter two models kick the horsepower up thanks to a modified exhaust system.

All 2008 V-Rods are powered by a 1250cc liquid-cooled DOHC, 8-valve, 60-degree Revolution V-Twin, with electronic sequential port fuel injection. The base motor delivers 121 horsepower and 84 lbs.-ft. of torque, while the Night Rod and Night Rod Special both crank out 125 horsepower. The difference between the Night Rod and the Special Edition is cosmetic — the Special reflects a more sinister persona, with its stealth-like, flat black treatment throughout, while the regular Night Rod comes across with more “bling”.

Over the course of model development, the rake and trail have been experimented with, as has the control placement, which began forward, then moved to mid controls, and now have returned forward once again.

The test bike for this review was the VRSCAW/A V-Rod 105th Anniversary model finished in Anniversary Copper metallic over Vivid Black on the air box, with Orange and Cream striping separating the two. Fenders were Copper, and the Black saddle sported a Copper-toned center insert. The base price was set at $18,360, while the final, out-the-door price totaled $19,700.

New for the 2008 model year, the descendent of the original V-Rod now rolls on a massive 240 mm rear tire mounted on a machined 5-slot cast aluminum, 18-inch disc wheel.

Up front, the 19-inch wheel is a brushed aluminum profile laced spoke unit wrapped by a 120 mm tire, both courtesy of Dunlop.

The handlebar is a pullback-welded affair that provides a controlling attitude. Other new features include the liquid-cooled, 1250cc Revolution V-Twin engine producing 121 horsepower at 8,000 rpm and 84 lbs.-ft of torque at 7,000 rpm; the Slipper Clutch that yields a reduced lever effort; and ABS availability.

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