Harley-Davidson does the impossible (for them): design a modern motorcycle.

Jack Briggs

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The loopy, swoopy thing is called the Harley-Davidson V-Rod. And for the first time in the Motor Company's history, it is offering a modern machine: DOHC, liquid cooling, four valves per cylinder--in the marque's beloved V-Twin configuration.
And yet: HD needed assistance from a venerable German automotive OEM to create the thing. The V-Rod was even the subject of a documentary this week on The History Channel.
Stop the presses! Call the media! Alert the president! Harley-Davidson has produced its first truly new engine design since the 1920s.
Never mind that the Big Four--Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha--can produce even more advanced designs with seeming impunity. The new Triumph appeared on the scene in the early '90s, sporting engines with current technology. BMW introduced a modern, DOHC, inline Four in 1983.
Even a new American marque has appeared--Victory, by Polaris--also sporting OHC valve-actuation.
All along, Harley-Davidson has been lurching along, resting on its laurels by selling overpriced internal-combustion fashion statements to weekend warriors. Honda wins races, Harley-Davidson wins the retro-mania sweepstakes.
Though the V-Rod is an interesting design, we've been here before. Think Yamaha. Think V-Max.
Meanwhile, I'll stick with the Big Four's wares.
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Bruce Hedtke

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Jack,
As they say, "A classic never goes out of style". I've always favored the look of a Harley.
Bruce
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Philip_G

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I've read about the V-Rod for a couple months now. it sort of irritates me. The jap bikes leap ahead with new innovations every year (hell they're worse than computers, my 99 R1 is a dinosaur) HD does it ONCE and it takes SIX YEARS and the world stops. Honestly so what? it's a 115 HP at the crank bike for 16 grand, that handles like a drag bike. That discovery special on the building of the vrod all they could talk about was how fast and how it was the most powerfull HD they had produced.. with all of 115HP??!? A newer 600cc sportbike can do that

just not my thing I guess....
 

Ron Eastman

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Mr. Briggs a 2 wheel fan? I would have never guessed the intellectual Jack Briggs would favor such a utilitarian vehicle.

I wonder how long until we see a V-Rod engine in a Buell?
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Rain

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Mr. Briggs a 2 wheel fan? I would have never guessed the intellectual Jack Briggs would favor such a utilitarian vehicle.
Yeah, no kidding.

The spaceship is just in the shop, right?

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Jack Briggs

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Well, Philip's post cuts to the chase: HD has been developing this thing for years. And I remember the last time that HD threatened to build a modern machine--in the early '80s, and the Motor Company claimed the so-called Nova Project was a V-Four. Then it was cancelled, due to "lack of funds," according to officials in Milwaukee.
And then I remember how, in the mid-'70s, HD was rumored to be working on an SOHC version of the venerable Sportster. It, too, was cancelled, due, you guessed it, to "lack of funds."
Meanwhile, The Big Four continued to advance the state of the two-wheeled art.
Consider this: the 1969 Honda CB750 Four, arguably the most significant motorcycle of the modern era, is now obsolete. Yet, until the introduction of the V-Rod, a 1969 Honda CB750 was more advanced than any Harley-Davidson ever built for the street.
(BTW, I have a history when it comes to motorcycles--and, briefly, I was a Copy Editor over at Rider magazine. The first motorcycle I road-tested for the magazine was--get this--a Harley-Davidson Springer Softail, of all things.)
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Philip_G

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VERY COOL JACK!
I'll be PM'ing you next time I'm pondering motorcycle history!
 

Henry Carmona

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You guys are funny. Has living in the 21st century fried your brains!
Do any of you have any passions besides having the latest greatest gear?
Yuppie America has lost its roots, its traditions, its image.
I feel the same about my Harley as I do about all the classic cars i have owned.
Its not about how fast, or how much power!
Its about a feeling, a time in space that will never go away.
Its about a connection with the past that is your own.
Its about belonging, and sharing a love with others who share the same interests and stories.
When i get into my GTO or on my Harley, not only am i in awe of the tradition, mystique, and past of the vehicle, but i think back to my younger days when I was a kid and watching my father drive up.
I remember thinking, "One day that bike/car will be mine."
I kid you not, when i start it up, and head out for a Sunday drive, i almost cry.
Call me fanatical, or obsessed if you want. But these "deficiencies" that you guys are pointing out wont stop thousands from purchasing the new design or driving the old designs either.
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Peter_A

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quote: And yet: HD needed assistance from a venerable German automotive OEM to create the thing[/quote]
That would be Porsche I believe. That new HD is the only Harley I'd ever consider buying. I'm more of a Ducati Monster fan.

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Peter
[Edited last by Peter_A on October 20, 2001 at 05:56 PM]
 

Philip_G

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When i get into my GTO or on my Harley, not only am i in awe of the tradition, mystique, and past of the vehicle, but i think back to my younger days when I was a kid and watching my father drive up.
that's not me. I don't like old cars, old bikes, or old women.
My dad has a great 68 GTO convert. It's nice. I dunno what it runs a 1/4 in, it feels fast but who knows, maybe 15's? 16's? I really don't know, it's stock and all original. a new altima would probably kill it in the 1/4.
I'll take technology, efficiency, reliability, and fit and finish over nostolgia any day. I like sportbikes. I like the connected feeling to the machine (ride a cruiser then hop on a sportbike, it's a weird feeling, such minor inputs generate huge reactions) I like to be able to drag a knee doing 60 around a 20 mph corner (yeah that's a hard one ont he old driver's license) To me it's the difference between driving a big comfortable cadilac vs a ferarri, and I'll take the ferarri every day.
not to mention sportbikes are opposite of cars in the respect that the fastest bike (we'll say a hayabusa for instance) is cheaper than the vrod (aren't they at 16k? does HD sell ANYTHING new for under 13k? I dunno, but I don't think they do)
but then again that's why they make chocolate and vanilla. Nothing can be a HD better than a HD. If that's your fix you can do no better, and I respect them for that if nothing else.
 

Todd Hochard

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Yuppie America has lost its roots, its traditions, its image.
I don't know if you've noticed, but you'll find more of "Yuppie America" on Harleys, than on R1s. THAT is a certainty.
When I saw the V Rod, I thought the same thing Jack did- V-Max. The stainless looks cool, though.
Todd
 

Sean Conklin

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Henry: 14.72 @101 is not too shabby considering your traction. I think an altima runs low 16's, heck even the Honda sportster thing(I can't remember the name maybe s-2000) only runs low 14 sec. 1/4 mile times and will destroy the Altima.
I am a Drag Racer also so I own nothing but old Hot Rods, In January I'm getting my wife a new 1990's Mini van

Give me a MOPAR(I am Mopar man) or a HARLEY anyday.
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The new Altima in a 5-spd/V6 config does the quarter in 14.8 at 96.5, according to the SEP 2001 Road & Track.
I'll take technology, efficiency, reliability, and fit and finish over nostolgia any day.
I agree 100%, which is why I've owned two Toyotas and two Acuras. The only classic car I feel any nostalgia at all for is the mid 60's Jag E-Type.
 

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When i get into my GTO or on my Harley, not only am i in awe of the tradition, mystique, and past of the vehicle, but i think back to my younger days when I was a kid and watching my father drive up.
The only peole I ever see raiding HDs are yuppies doing it becaus ethey think it will make them 'cool'. Some of us didn't groe up in the US and some of us that did want something more out of a bike or "sports" car than warmed over 1950s technology. Compare a Mustang or Camaro or even a Corvette to a S2000 or a NS-X, the yank tanks might have "tradition" but they don't have (to me at least) "mystique" they are merely not very well made low tech drag races that can be out-braked and out-cornered by a $10,000 japanese econo-box.
 

Henry Carmona

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...the yank tanks might have "tradition" but they don't have (to me at least) "mystique" they are merely not very well made low tech drag races that can be out-braked and out-cornered by a $10,000 japanese econo-box.
Theres no denying the fact that 50's and 60's American Muscle cars suffered from a lack of technology, but that isnt their fault.
Compared with most anything with that kind of affordability and power in those years, the American Muscle cars were screamin demons.
Even now, when i get around to upgrading my GTO with current technology in braking and suspension, Ill be able to give current year sports cars a run for their money.
And i am serious, my buddies got some nice suspension in his 66 GTO and front disc brakes, among other things, and there isnt much under 30k that can out do his vehicle.
BTW, outside of a 1/4 mile track, my car does about 137 mph
, maybe more, but i got scared

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Philip Hamm

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quote: And your from Florida?? Havent you ever been to Daytona?
Guaranteed there are more hardcore bikers there than your weekend yuppie warrior.[/quote]I've been to Daytona three times for bike week and once for Biketoberfest. My observation is that the yuppie poseurs outnumber the true motorcycle enthusiasts by at least 4:1.
Of course I've RIDDEN my bike there all four times (from Philly or Northern VA depending on the year) so my definition of a true motorcycle enthusiast is highly dependant on whether a trailer is used or not.
Harleys are beautiful and have an almost untouchable heritage (rivalled only by BMW and Moto Guzzi). However, for the most part they run like crap, handle like dogshit, leak oil, and generally are not mechanically sound compared to the competition. I think the new V-Rod is a fantastic step in the right direction for The Motor Company. I can't wait to see Buell build a sport tourer around the motor.
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Philip Hamm
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[Edited last by Philip Hamm on October 22, 2001 at 09:21 AM]
[Edited last by Philip Hamm on October 23, 2001 at 07:26 AM]
 

Philip_G

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actually... as much as I hate it, the new corvette is one of the best handling cars out there for it's price. I think it outhandles about everything (skidpad anyway) maybe a skyline can take it, I dunno.
again though. I REALLY dislike covettes

another thing about the HD Vrod, it took quite a bit of "tweaking" as I understand it from the discovery special to make the motor reliable in tests.. So, did they luck out on one test motor? or are people gonna tear up motors? especially with modifications.
[Edited last by Philip_G on October 22, 2001 at 10:14 AM]
 

Henry Carmona

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my definition of a true motorcycle enthusiast is highly dependant on whether a trailer is used or not
Motorcycle or Car enthusiast! I cant stand trailer queens!!!
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"Charlie don't surf."
 

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