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2010 Harley-Davidson V-Rod First Impressions


by Pascal Bastien ,

The V-Rod, with liquid cooling, a different sound from a modern engine, fat rear tire and a somewhat squat look, does not share the iconic sound and looks of the more traditional air cooled Harleys. I have always liked the basic V-Rod, and got an opportunity to spend a long day riding it at Bike Week 2010. Interestingly enough, the V-Rod struck out from the sea of air cooled models, eliciting compliments from most non-Harley riders.

This looker has a distinct role to play in the H-D product line, and it does it well. (Photo: Philippe Champoux/

V-Rod converts love the look and performance of the machine, setting the bike well apart from mainstream models and thus causing a feeling of exclusion from the air-cooled aficionados, or as they say so eloquently: “ … not a effing Harley!”. The 2010 V-Rod does feature the prerequisite flowing looks and chromed everything, polished aluminium bits and sexy wheels, but its radiator, inverted fork, bunched up looks and superior performance set it apart from the brand’s mainstream.

A “Revolution” engine and drivetrain  
Originally planned as a replacement for the air cooled 96 engine, the so-called Revolution engine in the V-Rod is opened up to 60 degrees (45 on the air cooled one) to provide room for a suitable air box and intake system that will deliver modern levels of power and torque, with the large bore – short stroke combination that makes life easy for the bike at higher rpm.

Over the years, the Revolution engine has grown from 1130 to 1250cc, and now delivers all of 121 hp at around 8,000 rpm, and peak torque of 86 lb-ft at 6,750 rpm. Low down torque does not match the air cooled 96 or 103 air cooled units, but overall performance and drivability exceed both the 103 and even the 110 CVO engines in everyday use.

This modern efficiency comes from industry standards such as double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, electronic fuel injection and engine management. The drivetrain also includes a wide-ratio and easy-shiftin’ 5-speed box, an efficient one-way clutch and a light pull on the lever, as well as a bullet-proof final belt drive.

The V-Rod delivers 121 hp at around 8,000 rpm, and peak torque of 86 lb-ft at 6,750 rpm. (Photo: Philippe Champoux/
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