When the two largest American V-Twin motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles launched their 2009 models, the brand new V-Rod Muscle from Harley and the Vegas Jackpot from Victory were definitely on top of the list of two-wheeled giants we wanted to throw a leg over. Immediately. It just so happened that they were both briefly in our possession around the same time.
When the first V-Rod was launched in the early part of the decade, V-Twin enthusiasts had mixed emotions, very mixed emotions. The reason? "Harley-Davidson" and "liquid-cooled" was incorporated in the same statement. It seemed oxymoronic; maybe even a sin to H-D traditionalists. But Harley held firm and a sub-culture of V-Rod enthusiasts was born and is now thriving and continues to grow. Fast-forward to 2008, the Motor Company yet again continues to break barriers with the launch of the new 2009 Muscle; not only making strides within the V-Rod platform, but bountiful leaps in the motorcycling industry as a whole.
Gear Jacket: Unik Leathers, Gloves: Icon, Helmet: Icon
Upon first glance of the Muscle's futuristic stance I was immediately reminded of one of the light cycles from the 1982 flick, Tron (Note: I've seen way too many movies). The Muscle is a great representation of the different avenues Harley-Davidson is exploring in order to maintain freshness within the V-Twin industry. From the angular design of the airbox cover, and the brand new five-spoke cast aluminum front and rear wheels, both are unique to this motorcycle. Aesthetically speaking, that chopped rear fender houses an all-in-one LED stop/tail/turn signal assembly, and cleans up the entire rear section of the bike, especially with the side-mount plate. The Muscle is not to be confused by any other model in the lineup. It stands apart and rightly so. It's different.
I took the Muscle for a spin, and when exiting the freeway and heading toward my casa, I noticed a similarly looking motorcycle up ahead, and sure enough, after pulling up next to the other motorcycle, I felt as though I was looking into a mirror. After a quick nod to the pilot aboard his brand new Muscle, I smiled, waved, and sped on. It seems that people have taken to the new design.
What better place to start then with the pewter powdercoated Revolution motor, a liquid-cooled, 60-degree, rubber-mounted 1250cc V-Twin engine that comes standard on all V-Rod models. It is deceptively fast. The MoCo boasts an output of 122 hp at 8250 rpm and 85 lb-ft of torque at 7000 rpm. The power band starts in the mid-range and comes on strong in the higher rpms and stays consistent until redline, never hiccupping. We definitely felt the triple-digit hp in the high rpm. Before I knew it, the speedo was reading numbers too high to print. It's safe to say that acceleration is quick when rolling back on the throttle, maybe because Mr. Muscle weighs 673 pounds when filled with fluids. And when combined with the internals-two overhead cams, and four-valve heads, and 11.5:1 compression ratio-this V-Rod accelerates like a bat out of hell (I love that clich), especially with the help of the new "sidepipe" dual exhausts in satin chrome featuring turn-out mufflers that shoot out, along with the fumes, behind the rear axle. However, all good things must end, and by end, I mean stop. The Brembo triple-disc braking system (also available with optional ABS) is second to none and accomplishes this stopping feat fantastically quick, which is essential when you have 122 horses to halt. The five-speed trans and race-bread "slipper" clutch transitions smoothly through the gears when shifting up and down.
I am 5 feet 10 inches tall with a 30-inch inseam. I weigh about 185 pounds and my stubby legs had to reach a bit toward the forwards. I've heard similar complaints from others with an even smaller frame; that they're too stretched out; however, I didn't feel as if the rest of me (upper torso) was stretching too far forward when riding. The back of where the rider's saddle meets the passenger seat is at almost a 90-degree angle, this is a good design because I felt secure and cupped into the bike. The saddle is wide due to its 240mm rear tire, but it's not too much of a stretch when resting your dogs on the asphalt at the stoplight because the Muscle stands pretty low at roughly 25 1/2 inches tall with someone close to my weight-a buck-eighty-five-on top. When on some of the bumpier terrain, the 43mm inverted front fork, and the rear shocks with black springs worked cohesively, especially on the ridiculous freeways in SoCal. They suck, but the suck factor went way down because of the Muscle's suspension system. The Muscle's been fitted with a brand new, internally-wired handlebar that measures 1 1/2 inches in diameter, is made from cast aluminum with tubular steel ends, and features an integrated riser. Sitting on top of the bars are mirror stems that feature LED turn signals built in.
I put my wife Ashley on the back to show her how good the suspension was and went for a half-day ride. The result: she didn't complain once (for once!). She said the bike was comfortable and of course she loved how fast it went. Great minds think alike.