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So I test rode a Night rod at a Harley dealer one day, loved it, but 15 minutes wasnt enough to make me bite the bullet, so I rented a muscle last weekend for a cruise with my brother and a bunch of guys he knows (they didnt have a night rod to rent). We went up to the Kancamangus Highway in New Hampshire, boy was it a beautiful ride, a bit cold, but beautiful to say the least. I put 700 miles on it over the course of the weekend (699.1 to be exact), man what a great time.

I picked the bike up Friday afternoon (Skipped out of work early) in Danbury Connecticut at Danbury HD/Buell (shameless plug!). Rode it up to Massachusetts, stopping in Plymouth CT to get some buffalo wings at J Timothy's Tavern (Dirt wings there are awesome). Continued up to Pepperell MA to meet up with some friends for a late dinner.

Saturday at about 7:00am headed out to Townsend MA to meet up with my Brother, from there we rode up through Meredith NH, and met up with the rest of the guys in North Conway. Rode pretty much all day, stopping for gas as required, and we stopped at 1:00pm to have lunch in Gorham NH. Looped down 110, to "old" Route 3, finnaly back o route 93 near Littleton and back down to Pepperell MA for 6:00pm, then rode the bike around town a bit, just because.

Sunday I rode around myself, in Pepperell MA & Groton MA to try and find the bikes limits; playing with the bike in the rotary, throwing it at the twisties, accelerating and braking tests, just generally feeling the bike out. Finnaly brought it back to the dealer in danbury after a sprint down 495, I-90, and 84 and dropped the keys in the key-drop at abut 8:30pm.

Generally had a great time on the bike, having been on a 600cc crotch rocket all season (and a 1000cc crotch rocket last season) I was trying to figure out if I could go to a cruiser, so I came up with some comparison data to try and help my decision along.

First, heres my info, with regards to fit/comfort - 5'-9" tall, 150lbs, 31inch waist, 27 years old.

Comfort - Holy crap, even though I was in the clamshell position the whole time, this bike is worlds more comfortable than my crotch rocket, my ass didnt get sore, or numb, even though I was pretty much on this bike the whole weekend, I felt I could have kept riding it even longer.

Performance - I'm confident in saying this bike could keep up with my 600cc through the V-rods first gear, but after that my 600 would walk away, then run away from it. The biggest difference between my 600 and the v-rod during acceleration was that when I romp on my 600, the front end lifts up, when I romp on this thing the tire will actually break loose around 6500rpm. I don't know if its because I'm relatively light, or because its on the stock rubber (which sucked by the way) or because it was a bit chilly out, I'm sure it was a combination of the three, but I found myself while we were all cruising, just getting it up to 6500rpm in first, letting go of the throttle, then ripping it in order to break the rear tire loose, it was a whole new level of fun on a motorcycle I hadnt experienced yet, as my 600 always wanted to wheelie. Also I came out of a gas station a little too hot on a left hand turn, and the bike kicked out on me, I was suprised at how easy it was to control with the rear tire spinning, probably because its a 240 and the bike is pretty darn long.

Handling - yeah I pretty much peg dragged this thing all day long, I think it could use to be a bit higher, but other than that, it handled fairly well, was easy enough to get to turn, definately a heavier bike than I'm used to, but for what it was it handled really well, I like how rigid and planted the frame felt, and it wasnt much of a chore to get it to transition left-right quickly. The stock rubber did suck though, especially when I was using the edge of the tire, I would toss those tires aside and buy better ones if I got one of these. Did notice a slight shimmy in the front end at 45mph or lower; at first I thought it was just vibration from the twin, but when I let go of the bars to stretch my shoulders I thought it was going to death wobble on me (perhaps you've heard tank slap instead?).

Brakes - Amazing, just amazing.

Storage - worse than my 600, I couldnt believe how little storage there was, It was a chore to get my tail bag on this thing, and of course, I couldnt use my magnetic tank bag on it.

Fuel economy - Horrid; 30mpg was my average, my worst tank, of course, was the first one, I got a whopping 28mpg! my best tank was 32.5mpg, that was when I was taking it easy trying to get a control tank. the rest of them were in that range, mostly on the lower end. The rental guy at the dealer said he gets better than that on his night rod, he claimed 35 as a low figure and 40 as his average, he claimed he has seen 45 on his highway cruises. I kept the bike in the 3k-4k range when possible, usually closer to 3k as that was where it felt like a good cruising RPM, anything lower felt like I was lugging it along. I get 42 all day long when I flog on my crotch rocket.

Transmission - suprising. I couldnt believe how smooth the transmission was, and I never encountered a false neutral. I do have a few complaints though, 5th gear on the higway 75mph at 5000rpm, is to high, it needs a 6th gear, or a longer 5th gear, but I'd rather a 6th gear. The upside of this was that I didnt have to shift down to accelerate/pass on the highway.

Final thoughts:

Bike needs a 6th gear, or a longer 5th gear
It either needs to get better fuel economy or a larger gas tank
Low speed wobble in the front end was unnearving, guy at the dealership said that wasnt normal and he would have the bike looked at.

Even with these issues, I'd still consider buying one if the right deal came along, it was a freakin blast to ride. maybe use it for non-highway duty or something, since I don't see HD installing a 6 speed transmission any time soon.

I got a compliment every time I stopped, or went through a toll booth, and even some thumbs up on the highway from cagers. That was a different experiance, since when people see me on my crotch rocket they usually give me half of the peace sign or a few choice words.

If I got one, windshield, pipes & programmer would go on right away, tires soon to follow; oh and it would be a night rod, not a muscle. Maybe next season will bring along a good deal, or who knows, maybe the 2012 models will have 6-speed transmissions (heres to hoping).

I don't know if I can say this enough, it was a blast to ride, Harley made a good move building this bike, its somewhere in between a crotch rocket and a cruiser, the "Muscle Cruiser" name fits. This bike was fun at high speeds and slow speeds, and comfortable the whole time, where my crotch rocket is really only fun when ridden fast, or when I'm throwing it at corners, and I can really only go 400 miles on the crotch rocket in one day, any more than that and it gets too uncomfortable. Maybe if I don't own one next season, I'll at least rent one again, give it a second go around to see if any of my opinions change.

Oh one other thing, to try to escape the wind on the highway, I ended up putting my feet on the passenger pegs and laying on the tank; it was comfortable enough for a 20mile stretch, any more than that and my arms/shoulders got tired from being aped at such an odd angle.
 

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myvrodrocks
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All that thinking and talking...i saw the vrod in 2001 in a short demo clip on the internet and knew i would have one. None of the above mattered, i just knew.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
myvrodrocks - There is no purchase I've ever made that I haven't thought out; my requirements for a bike are pretty high as I put a lot of miles on them (1500+ a month through the spring/summer/fall rain or shine). I pretty much stop driving my car once it gets warm enough out the ride the bike (somewhere in march), and dont drive my car again until its too cold to ride the bike (somwhere in october). On average i spend 7 months total on the bike and 5 months total in the car, so for those 7 months things like highway cruising & distance between fill ups really matter as I do a lot of distance riding. Maybe if I didn't already have a bike that got the job done, I would have been a little less nit-picky about the V-rod, but then again, I really don't think so, I'm a fairly particular person, I like my things to be a certain way, right now the crotch rocket is getting the job done, I want the Night rod, but I can't justify the purchase yet, because of the items I mentioned, if I got a great deal on one, then ok I can justify it; but I'd prefer to have one motorcycle to handle all of my riding needs, and that includes highway for me, so either a bigger gas tank or a 6th gear/taller 5th gear are must haves on this bike before I buy one. Oh and I should mention I'm an Engineer, we think a lot and talk a lot, and arent usually swayed by aestethics alone.
 

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Banned
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So I test rode a Night rod at a Harley dealer one day, loved it, but 15 minutes wasnt enough to make me bite the bullet, so I rented a muscle last weekend for a cruise with my brother and a bunch of guys he knows (they didnt have a night rod to rent). We went up to the Kancamangus Highway in New Hampshire, boy was it a beautiful ride, a bit cold, but beautiful to say the least. I put 700 miles on it over the course of the weekend (699.1 to be exact), man what a great time.

I picked the bike up Friday afternoon (Skipped out of work early) in Danbury Connecticut at Danbury HD/Buell (shameless plug!). Rode it up to Massachusetts, stopping in Plymouth CT to get some buffalo wings at J Timothy's Tavern (Dirt wings there are awesome). Continued up to Pepperell MA to meet up with some friends for a late dinner.

Saturday at about 7:00am headed out to Townsend MA to meet up with my Brother, from there we rode up through Meredith NH, and met up with the rest of the guys in North Conway. Rode pretty much all day, stopping for gas as required, and we stopped at 1:00pm to have lunch in Gorham NH. Looped down 110, to "old" Route 3, finnaly back o route 93 near Littleton and back down to Pepperell MA for 6:00pm, then rode the bike around town a bit, just because.

Sunday I rode around myself, in Pepperell MA & Groton MA to try and find the bikes limits; playing with the bike in the rotary, throwing it at the twisties, accelerating and braking tests, just generally feeling the bike out. Finnaly brought it back to the dealer in danbury after a sprint down 495, I-90, and 84 and dropped the keys in the key-drop at abut 8:30pm.

Generally had a great time on the bike, having been on a 600cc crotch rocket all season (and a 1000cc crotch rocket last season) I was trying to figure out if I could go to a cruiser, so I came up with some comparison data to try and help my decision along.

First, heres my info, with regards to fit/comfort - 5'-9" tall, 150lbs, 31inch waist, 27 years old.

Comfort - Holy crap, even though I was in the clamshell position the whole time, this bike is worlds more comfortable than my crotch rocket, my ass didnt get sore, or numb, even though I was pretty much on this bike the whole weekend, I felt I could have kept riding it even longer.

Performance - I'm confident in saying this bike could keep up with my 600cc through the V-rods first gear, but after that my 600 would walk away, then run away from it. The biggest difference between my 600 and the v-rod during acceleration was that when I romp on my 600, the front end lifts up, when I romp on this thing the tire will actually break loose around 6500rpm. I don't know if its because I'm relatively light, or because its on the stock rubber (which sucked by the way) or because it was a bit chilly out, I'm sure it was a combination of the three, but I found myself while we were all cruising, just getting it up to 6500rpm in first, letting go of the throttle, then ripping it in order to break the rear tire loose, it was a whole new level of fun on a motorcycle I hadnt experienced yet, as my 600 always wanted to wheelie. Also I came out of a gas station a little too hot on a left hand turn, and the bike kicked out on me, I was suprised at how easy it was to control with the rear tire spinning, probably because its a 240 and the bike is pretty darn long.

Handling - yeah I pretty much peg dragged this thing all day long, I think it could use to be a bit higher, but other than that, it handled fairly well, was easy enough to get to turn, definately a heavier bike than I'm used to, but for what it was it handled really well, I like how rigid and planted the frame felt, and it wasnt much of a chore to get it to transition left-right quickly. The stock rubber did suck though, especially when I was using the edge of the tire, I would toss those tires aside and buy better ones if I got one of these. Did notice a slight shimmy in the front end at 45mph or lower; at first I thought it was just vibration from the twin, but when I let go of the bars to stretch my shoulders I thought it was going to death wobble on me (perhaps you've heard tank slap instead?).

Brakes - Amazing, just amazing.

Storage - worse than my 600, I couldnt believe how little storage there was, It was a chore to get my tail bag on this thing, and of course, I couldnt use my magnetic tank bag on it.

Fuel economy - Horrid; 30mpg was my average, my worst tank, of course, was the first one, I got a whopping 28mpg! my best tank was 32.5mpg, that was when I was taking it easy trying to get a control tank. the rest of them were in that range, mostly on the lower end. The rental guy at the dealer said he gets better than that on his night rod, he claimed 35 as a low figure and 40 as his average, he claimed he has seen 45 on his highway cruises. I kept the bike in the 3k-4k range when possible, usually closer to 3k as that was where it felt like a good cruising RPM, anything lower felt like I was lugging it along. I get 42 all day long when I flog on my crotch rocket.

Transmission - suprising. I couldnt believe how smooth the transmission was, and I never encountered a false neutral. I do have a few complaints though, 5th gear on the higway 75mph at 5000rpm, is to high, it needs a 6th gear, or a longer 5th gear, but I'd rather a 6th gear. The upside of this was that I didnt have to shift down to accelerate/pass on the highway.

Final thoughts:

Bike needs a 6th gear, or a longer 5th gear
It either needs to get better fuel economy or a larger gas tank
Low speed wobble in the front end was unnearving, guy at the dealership said that wasnt normal and he would have the bike looked at.

Even with these issues, I'd still consider buying one if the right deal came along, it was a freakin blast to ride. maybe use it for non-highway duty or something, since I don't see HD installing a 6 speed transmission any time soon.

I got a compliment every time I stopped, or went through a toll booth, and even some thumbs up on the highway from cagers. That was a different experiance, since when people see me on my crotch rocket they usually give me half of the peace sign or a few choice words.

If I got one, windshield, pipes & programmer would go on right away, tires soon to follow; oh and it would be a night rod, not a muscle. Maybe next season will bring along a good deal, or who knows, maybe the 2012 models will have 6-speed transmissions (heres to hoping).

I don't know if I can say this enough, it was a blast to ride, Harley made a good move building this bike, its somewhere in between a crotch rocket and a cruiser, the "Muscle Cruiser" name fits. This bike was fun at high speeds and slow speeds, and comfortable the whole time, where my crotch rocket is really only fun when ridden fast, or when I'm throwing it at corners, and I can really only go 400 miles on the crotch rocket in one day, any more than that and it gets too uncomfortable. Maybe if I don't own one next season, I'll at least rent one again, give it a second go around to see if any of my opinions change.

Oh one other thing, to try to escape the wind on the highway, I ended up putting my feet on the passenger pegs and laying on the tank; it was comfortable enough for a 20mile stretch, any more than that and my arms/shoulders got tired from being aped at such an odd angle.
The whole sixth gear thing comes up every year, with every set of newbies - new to a non-japper that is. 75 mph @ 5000 rpm's (which really sounds a bit high for the 1250 BTW) still leaves half of the rpm range. The BEST half. This is a V-Twin, a different animal altogether.
A sixth gear would garner you "maybe" 400-450 rpms at best @75 mph....worth it? No big deal. Stop looking at the gauges and just feel it man. You're comparing it to a bike built for a road track & twisties.
Also keep in mind it's a bonified "cruiser", not meant for storing your laundry or long trips or road racing. A street bike that is built with drag bike characteristics - long wheel base and raked front end, the weight is also beneficial at speeds.
Glad you did the time and miles because this bike can not be judged on short rides. You have to do 500-1000 miles and be in different situations before realizing it's charms. Maybe longer.

BTW - Fock gas mileage.:D
I never understood the mileage thing when purchasing an high performance vehicle.

Engineer: Put a 30 tooth sprocket on the tranny and you'll gain roughly 7% more top-end, less rpm's and better "gas mileage" on the freeway!
 

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Fah q 2
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BTW -
I never understood the mileage thing when purchasing an high performance vehicle.
what, and all the money i save using retreaded tires on my Ferrari
:)
 

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I rented a VRod in Las Vegas in February. Rode it for 350 miles. Flew home, bought one 2 weeks later. It's 5,500 miles later and I haven't regretted it. :) Once I adjusted my riding style to match what the bike was built for, I couldn't imagine riding anything else.
 

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durata membro
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All that thinking and talking...i saw the vrod in 2001 in a short demo clip on the internet and knew i would have one. None of the above mattered, i just knew.
:them:
Never even road tested mine til I owned it.
When I had a little money and clout,I would always impulse buy.Fancy S-10 was one,PT Cruiser was one,the new Mustang was another.I don't even dicker on price,if the sticker has the numbers on it I like,I go get the lot boy,point and grunt !
 

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Elephant Motors Rock
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Not sure which tires you had on that rental - if they were the Dunlops you were on the shittiest possible tire available, especially in cold weather. I hear the '11's Michelins are a lot better - but Avons, Metzelers and a few others (Conti's come to mind) will totally change the handling.

You are probably right about your 600 eventually walking away from the V-Rod, but I think it'd be a bit after first gear. The stability can fool you into thinking you're really not accelerating as fast as you are. Now the liter bikes will destroy us about 100 feet off the line but 600's are a better match than you think. Tune it up and toss in a few thousand dollars of performance mods (trust me, it's an addiction) and you can create your own personal monster.

Glad you enjoyed it, would love to have a new member cross over from rockets.
 

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this bike is tuned at the factory to satisfy the EPA. Adding a tuner will yield benefits in both performance and gas milage. Shedding the fifty or so pound of exhaust for a lighter and more free flowing unit will not hurt either.
 

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Registered Boozer
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great write up SPR-GRN. You are spot on with every point you made. I put the HD quick release windshield on mine and love it.
 

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_NoHighLikeMostHigh_
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this bike is tuned at the factory to satisfy the EPA. Adding a tuner will yield benefits in both performance and gas milage. Shedding the fifty or so pound of exhaust for a lighter and more free flowing unit will not hurt either.
Or exchange it for an exhaust that weighs the same but spins :).
 

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myvrodrocks
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myvrodrocks - There is no purchase I've ever made that I haven't thought out; my requirements for a bike are pretty high as I put a lot of miles on them (1500+ a month through the spring/summer/fall rain or shine). I pretty much stop driving my car once it gets warm enough out the ride the bike (somewhere in march), and dont drive my car again until its too cold to ride the bike (somwhere in october). On average i spend 7 months total on the bike and 5 months total in the car, so for those 7 months things like highway cruising & distance between fill ups really matter as I do a lot of distance riding. Maybe if I didn't already have a bike that got the job done, I would have been a little less nit-picky about the V-rod, but then again, I really don't think so, I'm a fairly particular person, I like my things to be a certain way, right now the crotch rocket is getting the job done, I want the Night rod, but I can't justify the purchase yet, because of the items I mentioned, if I got a great deal on one, then ok I can justify it; but I'd prefer to have one motorcycle to handle all of my riding needs, and that includes highway for me, so either a bigger gas tank or a 6th gear/taller 5th gear are must haves on this bike before I buy one. Oh and I should mention I'm an Engineer, we think a lot and talk a lot, and arent usually swayed by aestethics alone.
Yea? Well I do 10kmiles a year and have 5-6 months of weather to do it in. Just did my 55,000 mile oil change.

What I am saying is the bike is not comfortable, does not handle well and is heavy and needs lots of gas. None of which I care about because like I said, I knew I wanted it the second I saw it and have not been wrong yet.

I don't blame you for taking your time and weighing the pros and cons...no problem. Sometimes you think about it and sometimes you just know.
 

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Blowin' Smoke
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Excellent, SPR-GRN. Very thoughtful and detailed review of your ride. I have an '02 with the 30 tooth front sprocket that I believe would solve your issue with hiway engine revs. When I really want to get somewhere I run mine between 90 and 100 on the slab without issue from the engine. This thing loves to run! Of course, as you have already discovered, when you're flogging it mileage will suck. At speeds 70 and below (legal speeds) I routinely get around 45 mpg. That's even with an occasional 2nd or 3rd gear twist to red line. I find I get my best fuel mileage between 3500 and 4500; after 4500 wind resistance takes over.
 

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Shelby Stanga Rocks
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Well not apples to apples cause I have the smaller 1130, my DX gets 38-40. My best tank was with some airheads on a HOG chapter run and got 52mpg. I rode it 600 miles in one day to FL rode around FL for 3 days and then rode home. Put almost 1500 miles on it.
That trip on the hiway was around 38mpg. aprox 75mhp all the time Comfort was good for the first 450miles did push the last, a few more stops and longer on the fill ups.

If you ride the bike for what it is no other comapres, if you are trying to run sport bikes you will get you butt kicked. Maybe the XL1200 might be fun to ride with but unless the airhead is tuned up (big bore, cam, ect) your ride gets old kinda quick. That is unless your just crusing and out for a slow ride.

After 4 years of ownership, its still the best purchace i made. I have toyed with the idea of fuel tunner, pipes, even trask. In the end I dont see a need to change it.
Tires, the Dunlops have served me well and up to a little while ago they were much chaeper and that fit my budget. Still can find them 50 bucks chaeper for a set where as it used to be 100 or more. Not posiyive if they went up so much or the others came down.
 

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nice review - and a lot of the thoughts I share as well...

as for the 6th gear i feel ya, it would be nice to have another gear. However, it isn't an issue for this engine at all, at 50,000 miles my bike is routinely ridden (all day, 500 miles days) at or above 80mph and the engine just begs for more.
 

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Kaboom
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Tires, the Dunlops have served me well and up to a little while ago they were much chaeper and that fit my budget. Still can find them 50 bucks chaeper for a set where as it used to be 100 or more. Not posiyive if they went up so much or the others came down.
Glad to finally see there is someone besides me who is happy with their Dunlops. On my 2nd pair now........got 10K out of the originals
 

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1130cc is enuff 4 me
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Glad to finally see there is someone besides me who is happy with their Dunlops. On my 2nd pair now........got 10K out of the originals
My tires have 5300 miles on them. My rear looks brand new. My front is cupping & cracking in the grooves, its bad. Dunlops are :paper:.
 
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