First Ride: Harley-Davidson VRSCB V-Rod

The most gorgeous motorcycle ever? Harley-Davidson's Porsche powered flagship V-Rod receives sharp new clothes for 2004

Posted: 30 March 2008
by Mark Shippey

Following on from the original V-Rod, the new VRSCB has countless changes in its basic makeup. However, while the same engine, chassis and gearbox are used, the revolutionary VRSC V-Rod now comes dressed in a sexy little black number - the frame.

As soon as I planted my skinny frame into the V-Rod's plush seat I felt at home - I spent most of last year with one as a longtermer and found it a revelation. The engine is superb. The performance (115bhp @ 8250rpm and 74lb.ft @ 7000rpm), gives the impression that there is a much larger lump between your legs.

In reality, Harley has used Porsche's experience to develop the V-Rod engine under the 'less is more' banner. She will rev to 9000, but this is unnecessary unless you feel the need for a quarter mile drag run. Instead, keep between 4 and 6000rpm and she pulls like the proverbial steam train in any gear.

What is clever is that the 'B' is £815 cheaper than the original 'A', but here's the twist: gone are the chrome engine covers and cylinder heads that made the 'A' such a shining trinket for grabbing attention. In their place are standard aluminium parts. However, this is offset by the use of the black frame, switchgear, shock springs, brake and clutch hoses, and calipers.

Aesthetics are still uppermost in the mind. Harley doesn't disappoint, but has given the customer a new blank canvas to stamp their own personality onto. The brushed alloy wheels remain. They look very trick in the showroom, but do take extra care to keep them clean. No joke: one wet ride and they will turn overnight.

The pegs are kicked out and the bars set for that easy rider look. That's okay if you're over six foot, but shorter legged riders may suffer a little, although this can be rectified with the 'reduced reach control kit' (for a price).

Standard on all Harleys this year is an alarm immobiliser. Finally, most manufacturers are taking security and rising theft rates seriously. It works simply with the key fob, but be warned - don't park near a mobile phone or major TV mast, airport, or seaport and expect it to work! Unfortunately, the fob uses the same wavelength as these and I speak from experience when I say that close proximity will cause the Hog's alarm to refuse to disable. There is a manual override, so remember to ask your dealer about that.

The indicators are updated with a three-point sensor measuring time, lean angle and throttle position to determine what part of a corner you are in. If the throttle is cracked open, it assumes you are pulling out of the turn, so the indicators cancel. A very neat idea, but I still found myself checking just to be sure.

The VRSCB joins the existing A model to produce an offset range of liquid cooled Harleys. The VRSCB can be customised to your heart's content to produce another
example of slick handling, high performance Cruiser chic from the house of Harley.

1994: The VR-1000 race bike makes an appearance on US race tracks, the engine ultimately being tested for the V-Rod
2001: The VRSCA V-Rod is launched, the first Harley with a liquid cooled motor
2004: The V-Rod has become an icon and
H-D launches the black-framed VRSCB

Triumph Rocket III: £11,999 This could be the ultimate competitor for performance and power with its whopping 2.3-litre triple engine BMW R1200C: £9010 The original James Bond cruiser with unique looks and ultra smooth flat-twin power

2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rod Specifications

PRICE NEW - £13,280
POWER - 115bhp@8250rpm
TORQUE - 74lb.ft@7000rpm   
WEIGHT - 275kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 660mm   
TOP SPEED - 135mph

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