Night Rod Special - cream of the 2012 Harley-Davidsons
Harley-Davidson is an American success story. The company has been manufacturing its iconic machines since 1903 but its values were forged by association with the post-war "rebel" motorcycle clubs and paradoxically with the highway patrol police they were so often in conflict with. Like so much of US manufacturing Harley-Davidson took a hit from the rise of the Far East in the 1980s but the boom years of 90's excess saw Harley-Davidson successfully consolidate its brand into the global symbol of 'the American Dream' that it is today. Harley-Davidson understands its place in the world and the 2012 model line up contains variations on all the traditional designs that people expect, some of them going back to the 1920's. It would be wrong however to imagine that the company rejects technological advancement - far from it, and there can be no more beautiful expression of that than the Night Rod Special.
The Night Rod Special is a custom variation of the V-Rod series that brought a more modern and aggressive street style plus a number of technological advances to the brand. The famous V-Twin engine has been "breathed" on by the engineers at Porsche to bring increased RPM and power - 125bhp - with fuel injection, double overhead cams and water cooling. The unique feature of the V-Rod series though is the "exo-frame" which wraps around the tank and engine like no other Harley. To manufacture the sensuous curves that the designers wanted Harley-Davidson turned to the use of hydroforming where the frame tubes are created in a mould using 60,000 psi of pressure. They are the only bike manufacturer using this technique at present.
To ensure the iconic engine and unique frame are seen without distraction all cabling is invisible, either passing through the frame or mounted in plastic mouldings under the fuel tank. Of the all the electronics on the bike Harley-Davidson is most proud of their self-cancelling turn indicators that use accelerometers to detect lean angle, direction and speed to calculate when to cancel the signal.
But enough of the technology, Harley-Davidsons are all about cruising and looks, and the visuals of the Night Rod Special couldn't be stronger - fully blacked out tank, engine, wheels, forks, tail and exhaust - apart from the stainless steel mufflers. A black low-rise bar, some contrasting red lining, a fat rear tyre and lowered suspension complete the look. If you're not particularly interested in going around corners and want to pretend to be keeping a low profile whilst gaining really rather a lot of attention, it's yours for around US$16,000.
Please keep comments to less than 150 words. No abusive material or spam will be published.
(the photographer sure likes just right side photos)
It would be nice to see one in ABB (Anything But Black) engine/wheel wise.
The engine, frame and seating layout also looks great.
However, the head angle seems kinda scary for cornering around town.
(just gotta try it.. looks can be deceiving )
1. Porsche did not design this bike; it was designed in house. Porsche lent technical assistance and engine refinement. The bulk of the work was actually done by the team in Milwaukee.
2. Some of your readers need a history lesson; the V-Rod family\'s been around since 2002, long before the ill-fated (and ill-advised, in my opinion) acquisition of MV Agusta.
3. Comparing a power cruiser like this to a sportbike (R1, GSXR, etc.) is like comparing apples hand grenades; both useful, but hardly interchangeable. Comparing it to something it directly competes with (Victory\'s Hammer S, Yamaha\'s Warrior, Yamaha VMax) makes a lot more sense; against most of these bikes, it compares fairly well, both in price and performance.
4. Have any of you guys ever ridden a V-Rod? If not, you should. I went to a demo a few years ago, and I\'ve gotta tell you, these bikes are a lot of fun. I found their \'V-Rod Muscle\' edition particularly well-designed. I\'d have to replace the too-far forward controls with mid-mounts if I was in the market, but otherwise, this was an exceptionally refined, exciting bike, with build quality and attention to detail to rival the best in the world. Keep in mind this is from a guy who\'s owned hondas, yamahas, ducatis, and has ridden bmw\'s, suzukis, etc., and has never owned a Harley.