Harley meets Ducati - the Roehr American superbike takes shape

Harley meets Ducati - the Roehr American superbike takes shape
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April 14, 2007 The Harley-Davidson Revolution Engine Erik Buell dismissed as too large and heavy for a sportsbike may get its chance to fly after all. Roehr is seeking investors to capitalise its first production run of its flag-waving American RV1000 sportsbike.

The project is the brainchild of Walter Roehrich, previously known for his 2-stroke street racer of 1995, the RV500. That bike was torpedoed by the prohibitive cost of Direct Fuel Injection technology required in order to meet tightening emissions regulations.

Not to be disheartened, Roehrich set out to recreate the light weight, high power, fine handling characteristics of the RV500 using a large capacity 4-stroke engine. After initial testing using an ultra-light Highland v-twin capable of around 120bhp, it was decided that only an all-American concept would fly with buyers (this doesn't extend to the chassis, where the best of Ohlins, Brembo and Marchesini have been called in).

From there, the Porsche-designed 1130cc H-D Revolution engine was an easy choice. "There was never any other engine seriously considered," said Roehrich, "It has huge power potential and benefits from a whole industry of aftermarket high performance parts being available. It is also extremely reliable and overbuilt to withstand years of use and capable of withstanding a significant power increase without sacrificing reliability adversely."

In standard trim, the Revolution engine produces around 120bhp - enough for streetbike thrills but nowhere near competitive with current hypersports bikes. Roehr claims a real-world potential of up to 180bhp from the engine, and it is anticipated that the first release model will produce more than 150bhp to put it more in the ballpark.

The heavy engine makes some compromises necessary; despite dripping with aerospace-quality carbon-fiber bodywork, featherweight Marchesini wheels and a lightweight frame, the bike will still come in at 425lb (193kg) dry. Furthermore, the 3.8 gallon (13.2 litre) tank, mounted between the underseat R1 exhausts and the seat unit, will struggle to provide a decent range - particularly given the thirsty nature of the Revo engine.

The most striking issue facing potential customers might be the bike's appearance. Personally, if I shelled out US$40,000 for a mega-exclusive American superbike, and somebody complimented me on my nice Ducati, I'd burst into tears. C'mon Roehr, at least move the logo... Or better still, get some stars and stripes into the paintwork!

Styling aside, this is an exciting motorcycle. Will we one day see a Roehr lining up beside the world's best in WSBK if the v-twin engine capacity is raised to 1200cc? It's about time an American manufacturer stepped up to the plate with a serious sportsbike challenger.

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This sounds promising, a real shot at an American Superbike