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2007 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special Road Test


by Pascal Bastien ,

Introduced in 2003 by Harley-Davidson, the V-Rod was not a mere evolution but rather an all-new breed of motorcycles. It also marked the arrival of the new Revolution engine, the brand's first liquid-cooled powerplant. The V-Rod is defined as a performance cruiser, combining cutting-edge muscle with a sportier riding position than what the Milwaukee-based manufacturer is used to offer.

The Night Rod Special displays a bold masculine look... for those who happen to like it.

Dracula's bike
For 2007, Harley-Davidson introduced an all-new variant of its modern thoroughbred. Joining a well-stocked lineup, the Night Rod Special left me marvelling at the work of Harley designers as soon as I laid my eyes on it. This machine is drop-dead sublime with its hellish looks. The all-black engine, black dual tailpipes with brushed-aluminum trim and gigantic 240-mm rear tire captivate onlookers like a powerful magnet.

Once you stop drooling over the bike's styling, you can take a closer look at its massive 60-degree V-twin. At idle, this liquid-cooled engine produces a steady, gruff howl. Despite the quiet operation and lack of vibrations, it remains extremely virile. True, the magic of Harley's pushrod engines is absent, but the powerband is still exemplary. This twin-cylinder delivers plenty of low- and mid-range torque. And beyond 5,000 rpm, it unleashes like hell. Under full acceleration, you'll get the impression of riding a 4-cylinder motorcycle. A real catapult!

Rigidity and precision
In normal riding conditions, the Night Rod Special offers average fuel economy, but as soon as you increase the pace, it burns up to 9 liters of liquid gold per 100 kilometers, which is considerable. Also, the engine becomes very hot when put to the test; performance is not affected but you will definitely feel the heat on your legs after a couple of minutes. The five speeds of the transmission seem well spaced and precise, although shifts are a bit on the rough side (but still much smoother than with other Harleys powered by the old V-twin). It's arguably the best transmission this company has ever built.

The stretched riding position is not suited for small body types.
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