It’s a Celebration
Another new model for this year is the 10th Anniversary V-Rod. In a nod to the ’02 V-Rod, the model that brought us the MOCO’s first production 60-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin Revolution engine, the 10th Anniversary V-Rod features Brilliant Silver Pearl bodywork reminiscent of the anodized aluminum bodywork of the original V-Rod. Available for only 2012, the Anniversary V-Rod features a color-matched frame and extra chrome and polished surfaces on the engine, exhaust, and speed screen. It also features new Straight Shot exhaust with dual chrome slash-cut mufflers, new split five-spoke cast aluminum wheels with diamond-cut highlights, new pullback handlebars, new inverted frontend, and a chrome powertrain with platinum crankcase and heads. Best of all, the Anniversary V-Rod (MSRP $15,999) is less expensive than the original model (MSRP $16,995) from 10 years ago.
Actually the 10th Anniversary V-Rod and the sinister, blacked-out Night Rod Special share some common new features such as the inverted frontend, wheels, a reduced reach seating position, and new tapered tail section with flush-mount LED taillight. It appears Harley is really trying to bring more mass appeal to the V-Rod line by working on the performance and comfort. Handling has been improved by reducing the rake by 2 degrees and the addition of the inverted frontend provides better damping. The new split, five-spoke cast aluminum wheel design is lighter than previous versions with the front shedding 4.8 pounds and the rear dropping 3.8 pounds. The yoga-inducing clam-shell riding position has been eased up a bit with pullback handlebars that put the controls 3 inches closer, while Reduced Reach foot controls will be a relief for those with short legs. Staring at the new Fastback Tail section you can almost see the resemblance to the back end of a specific bygone model of another iconic American motor company. H-D designers actually had to redesign the rear section of the chassis to get the fit and finish on the tail section they were after and to get the flush-mount LED taillight to nearly disappear into the fender. The end result is a sharp and sleek design where the rear frame angles flow right into the lines of the tail section for a more finished and seamless look.
During the presentation H-D informed us that the Night Rod Special has been the V-Rod family’s biggest success with the primary customers being young adults and the secondary customers being core competitive riders. Evidently the aggressive and racy looks and powerful performance of the V-Rod is very popular in foreign markets as H-D reps state that 50 percent of V-Rod sales are outside of the US.
Spending some seat time on both the anniversary model and the Night Rod Special we can attest that the new riding position is much more comfortable and conducive to longer rides without cramping or fatigue. We also liked how we felt more comfortable in the seat and how the repositioned foot controls were more accommodating to our short inseam. By not feeling so stretched out, this new riding position should fit a broader range of riders and help inspire confidence when sitting in the cockpit of the 125hp road rocket.
OK, so that covers the new models, now lets talk about more power. Since its debut back in 1999, the Harley-Davison Twin Cam engine has proven to be a strong and reliable powerplant. However, from the time the original 88ci engine came out in 1999, Harley enthusiasts have wanted more displacement out of the base models (non CVO). In 2007 Harley appeased those desires by bumping up the displacement to 96 ci, but yet fans still wanted more. Well, for 2012 almost all of the TC family has finally crested the century mark with triple-digit displacement. Will 103 ci be enough to satisfy power mongers? Probably not, and for those individuals there’s always the 110ci CVO models, oh and let’s not forget the “race application only” Screamin’ Eagle 120R crate engine.