2005 V-Rod versus 2006 Street Rod
A Harley Family Feud
Evo Don rates the Revo rides
By: Evo Don
Sometimes it feels like the only function of a moto journalist is to nit pick and tearing apart years of brilliant design and quality manufacturing. So let me start by stating that both the V-Rod and the Street Rod are great motorcycles, Well above the rabble of common bikes. Theses are unique purpose-driven machines. They speak to individual riders. They are not universal. In short they are the kind of bikes that real enthusiasts live for. The exact kind of motorcycle that the world has been wishing Harley-Davidson would build. That being said, on to the nit picking....
When the V-Rod was introduced in 2002 the moto-world rejoiced. Finally the big boys from Milwaukee had made a thoroughly modern motorcycle. Fast. Water-cooled. Reliable. Not to mention wickedly cool looking. And it was decidedly not a "me too" bike. It was like no bike made anywhere. Once the euphoria wore off, the list of needed changes was quickly nailed to the front door of the Juneau Avenue offices.
In no particular order they were:
- Better riding position.
- Bigger Gas Tank
- Better handling.
- Better brakes.
- No solid disc wheels.
So what is the answer three years on? A new bike with:
- 5 gallons of low octane gasoline on board.
- Well placed, mid-mounted foot pegs and a well positioned handlebar.
- Rake of 30°. Fork angle of 32°. Just fine for what this bike will be used for.
- Holy crap! Brembos on a Harley! And these things work beautifully. The world can now one finger stop a 650 lbs Hog.
- Staggered 10-spoke cast aluminum wheels.
Also added for good measure:
- A nice, fat, 43 mm upside down fork.
- The most gorgeous triple clamp ever mass produced.
- Smaller hand grips. A small but noticeable improvement.
- Frame-mounted passenger footpegs. Unlike the swingarm-mounted V-Rod pegs.
- Non-locking seat.
"The world can now one-finger stop a 650 lbs Hog."
Not bad answers. Not bad answers at all. So how does the StreetRod function? To find out we asked our friends in Milwaukee for a V-Rod and a Street Rod to compare head to head.
What we got were a 2005 VRSCA and a 2006 VRSCR. The StreetRod was bone stock and arrived in an appalling orange trim. The V-Rod was black and came with saddlebags and a windshield.
I spent my time on the StreetRod decked out in all the latest from Buell. The traditional MotorClothes line just doesn't seem appropriate for this machine. Instead I opted for Buell's Asphalt Helmet (p/n 99429-05BX), Asphalt Gloves (p/n 99428-05BX), and the XRTP Sportrider Pants (p/n BU34).
The Vanson-made pants are quite easily the best riding pants I've even slid into. Thick leather, body armor, expansion panels, no "Made in Korea" tag, and best of all, the macho equivalent of spandex (called "Keprotec") covers the inner thigh and behind the knees. No need to deal with the bulk of leather where it's not needed for protection.
These are not made for Harley-Davidson cruiser riders. They are tight and designed for aggressive riding.
Perfect for the StreetRod, but I couldn't get them off fast enough when cruising on the V-Rod.
The Asphalt Helmet is comfortable enough, but not very quiet. Crash protection being equal, sound deadening is my number one concern with helmets. However what really kills this helmet for me is the placement of the temple padding. The padding touches your temples right where the bows from your sunglasses need to be. So either you go without glasses or you deal with your glasses being pushed up awkwardly. One would think that sunglass fitment would be on the list of things to check for when laying out helmet padding. I wear this one at night only.
The Asphalt Gloves are technical marvels. Carbon fiber knuckle armor, individual finger air scoops for cooling, and sticky pads for the tips of your index and middle fingers. I was lucky enough not to ever test the knuckle armor, but the air scoops do a great job cooling on a hot ride. If you take a good look at the gloves you'll notice there must be a dozen different pieces of leather sewn together to produce one glove. To my engineering mind more stitching and seams equals more points of weakness, i.e. more places for the gloves to tear part. I am a simple, old school rider I guess. All these features are impressive, but I'm not sure if I need most of them. I find myself reaching for my boring old Churchill deerskin gloves on most mornings.