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Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod endurance test

American Express

Harley’s newly designed Revolution engine torpedoed the V-Rod over 50,000 miles in two years. Now it reveals itself completely dismantled to the technicians.

The rumor was so incredible that no one believed it. In May 1999 it made the rounds and caused worldwide amusement.

Harley-Davidson, a company that embodies tradition, rakes in millions with pre-war technology and gathers what is probably the most die-hard fan base in the world, wants to break all conventions. These are quickly outlined: V-engine, two valves per cylinder, air-cooled, 45 degree cylinder angle. Even when the first Erlkönig photos in MOTORRAD 1/2000 showed a misshapen, black camouflaged something that had as much in common with a Harley as a campfire with an oil central heating, most of them still thought of a carnival gag.
The malicious grin faded. In fact, the project started back in 1996. In July 2001, Willie G. Davidson presented the V-Rod to the astonished world in California. Ducked lines, frame design apparently taken from the manual for shipping hubs, disc wheels, tons of chrome and polished aluminum ?? a sculpture as if milled from solid. The highlight is undoubtedly the so-called Revolution engine: short-stroke, 117 HP, speeds up to 9000 / min, water-cooled, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts each, which are driven by hydraulically tensioned chains, and above all : 60 degrees cylinder angle ?? for the Harley world comparable to the landing of a UFO.
On May 16, 2002 the time had come: The American sculpture enriched the MOTORRAD endurance test fleet from then on. Goal: unwind 50,000 kilometers. And was circled by a horde of skeptics. 9000 revolutions we have Harley. Ha! Each of the 100 millimeter thick pistons covers around 1.3 kilometers per minute in its cylinder liner with a 72 millimeter stroke. The mean piston speed is 21.6 m / s or 77.8 km / h, calculated a number freak. The 103 hp liter output are also new territory in America. Die-hard Harley disciples have had to be content with 47 HP liter output for decades. Tea V-Rod was not a David, but rather a Goliathson. Could that work out in the long run?
Even the first entry in the logbook betrayed extreme skepticism: Extreme heat radiation, fan runs permanently, outside temperature only 28 degrees ?? we’ll have a lot of fun this summer. The man was a seer. The summer is hot. In fact, the fan underwent an unwanted endurance test over the entire distance. And regardless of the season. As soon as you were in stop-and-go traffic or slipped through a 30 km / h zone, it ran constantly. Goal persevered. There were no serious thermal problems. But twelve entries due to the fan. Also the stylistically attrakti-
ven cast aluminum disc wheels were worth several entries ?? some complained about the enormous maintenance effort, others attested that the V-Rod was more sensitive to crosswinds.
Cross wind ?? what the heck, some Harley-Feak will say to themselves, I never ride in rain or storm anyway. Thought
maybe the designers of the V-Rod too. So it happens that the sealing of various components is only half-hearted
is executed. Fatal in the case of the front brake. Due to inadequate protection
water and dirt particles can block the master cylinder piston. Result: shifting pressure point until the front brake fails completely. Between mileage 12270 and 15970 the pressure point went happily on its way, repeatedly bleeding the front brake system did not bring any improvement. The problem was only resolved with a master cylinder repair kit. However, occurred again briefly at mileage 48607.
The steering lock also succumbed to the spray devil. Moisture penetrated through a borehole and cultivated an ideal breeding ground for rust. At 29185 kilometers, it was replaced under warranty. Another water damage concerned the maintenance-free nylon bushings, in which the shift and brake linkage is stored, according to Harley. Both shift and brake levers locked involuntarily. At kilometer 41546, the sockets were together with the
Rear wheel bearings replaced on guarantee. Strangely enough, the gear get up bushings had to be replaced again three months later, odometer reading 45882. Again the gear lever blocked involuntarily, choosing the right gear turned into a game of poker.
An annoyance of a completely different kind-
rode the hypochondriac fuel gauge. According to the manufacturer, the tank positioned in the triangular frame under the seat has a capacity of 15.1 liters. With the average country road consumption of 5.6 liters per 100 kilometers determined by MOTORRAD, or the average consumption of 6.1 liters over the entire test distance, ranges between around 245 and 270 kilometers would be possible. However, after 150 kilometers at the latest, the fuel gauge’s indicator pointer in the deep red area sent its driver to the petrol pump. Hardly anyone who then refilled more than ten liters. The unwanted record was 14.07 liters. Conclusion: According to the Harley control unit, around 100 kilometers are planned on reserve.
Of course, many of the co-drivers made frequent refueling stops. The flat seat cushion and the leg angle are a full-blown disaster. But the drivers were also happy about the breaks. Due to the stretched sitting position and the emergency of nowhere to be able to support yourself against the wind pressure, driving a V-Rod above a speed of 130 turns out to be extremely strenuous and tiring. What a shame, the American Express swings casually to a top speed of 220 km / h. If you let it pop, you break the 100 barrier after 3.7 seconds, around 15 seconds pass up to 200 km / h. This engine belongs in a different chassis and was often noted in the logbook. Many were pleasantly surprised at how loosely and flaky 285 cruiser kilos can be folded around the corner. At least until the lower of the two side pipes regulates the sloping one is.
Yes, the engine. The revolution engine. A direct descendant of the VR 1000 superbike racing engine. Together ?? and the experts were amazed? developed with Porsche. And reliable from the first to the last day. No matter if 38 degrees in
Shade or snowed in and bound by the clutches of the cold? a push of the button was always enough and he bubbled away. Equipped with a balance shaft and screwed to the frame via silent blocks, the V2 purrs up to 5000 rpm like a cuddly cat and then tenses steely muscles. A sheer miracle of sinewy power development and velvety smooth running over the entire speed range. Driving a V-Rod, as someone once said, is like enjoying creamy ice cream or wrapping yourself in a particularly fluffy towel: a feast for the senses. Let’s agree with him.
In the end, however, the festival of the senses is over. During the final measurement, the machine oscillates above 180 km / h like a trout in the current. A look in the logbook reveals two indications of a defective steering head bearing over the last 10,000 kilometers. This is confirmed after dismantling the chassis. Together with the jammed swing arm bearings, it can be understood where the once praised driving stability came to an end. And this despite the fact that the maintenance plan provides for both components to be checked at 48,000 kilometers.
More about the slaughter festival. Porsche swing gold Harley image are forgotten. Facts are what count. And the
sober. Keyword corrosion. The paint quality leaves a lot to be desired everywhere. Almost all of the screws are in a visually miserable condition, and rust is breaking out of many welds on the frame. The aluminum-
Disk wheels look like they have been sprayed with hydrochloric acid. The friendly Harley dealer charges 20,665 euros for the American style icon. But don’t tell you that you should only drive in sunshine if possible.
At least the engine is worth every penny. Two slight leaks were fixed under warranty: at mileage 27669 the engine ventilation required an unscheduled seal, at 39882 the inlet hose for the oil cooler was replaced. Almost as fresh as a dew, as if they had just been assembled,
the innards present themselves. Apart from a worn clutch? extremely stressed by various measurements at MOTORRAD (editor’s note) ?? most parts are within the wear limit and can
can be used again. However, the outlet valve guides are flared, their wear limit is it-
enough. The seats of the exhaust valves are
scarred by scorch marks. And also the
Connecting rod and main bearing shells testify to the mileage.
After replacing the parts including the new clutch linings and grinding in the valves, it’s time to assemble and drive on. The American Express is ready for the next 50,000 kilometers. Fans who love it in proper style have it
Inferior screws have long been exchanged and your loved one with all sorts of ornaments from the 757 pages of bulging accessories-
catalog embellished. Or actually only drive in V-Rod weather: 22 degrees. No wind. Probability of rain: zero percent.

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Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod endurance test
American Express

Condition after 50,000 km

Cylinder head: all valves tight, exhaust valves with scorch marks, exhaust valve guides slightly conical and at the wear limit, cam surfaces and camshaft bearings in very good condition.
Cylinder, piston, crank drive: both the main and connecting rod bearing shells (clear tracks) should be replaced. Pistons, piston rings, piston pins and connecting rod eyes with minor traces of wear.
Coupling: basket and hub are in very good condition. The friction disks are, however, worn out, the steel disks warped and turned blue. They need to be replaced.
Gearbox: Slight tracks on an aluminum shift fork. Gear wheels with very good running pattern. Shift drum as well as steel shift forks in good condition.
Chassis: corrosion on welds, flaking paint on the footrest holders. Screws almost all corroded. The steering head bearing shows clear tracks (detent marks) and must be replaced. Both swing arm bearings are fixed and can be replaced. The aluminum disc wheels are badly corroded from winter operation. The hard chrome layer on all teeth of the toothed belt pulley comes off.

Harley takes a stand

…to the fuel gauge, which shows a reserve when the tank is still half full.
The fuel gauge is designed for a safe reserve. The driver should be made aware in good time that they will be approaching a refueling facility soon. The fuel gauge is not load-dependent. That means that with a higher consumption, below
Full load the driver less mileage
would be available. That is with a-
has been calculated.
…to the fan, which often starts.
The V-Rod does not show any abnormalities in terms of liquid cooling and related thermal problems
…to the defective steering lock.
According to our information, this is an exceptional defect for this type of vehicle.
…to poor workmanship.
In this regard, we would like to refer to the operating instructions for the vehicle and specifically to the care instructions. Basically, the screw connections are very high quality galvanized. Towards the others ?? chromed or painted ?? Assemblies represent the "less noble" material that
in the case of environmental impact, it is usually attacked first.
…to the moving pressure point of the front brake.
With regard to the pressure point of the front brake system, this is an unusual defect for this type of vehicle.
We are no more in this regard
Known problems.
…to the worn shift and foot brake lever bushings.
Regarding the sockets of switching-
lever or foot brake lever
we have no information about
an extraordinary, early one
Wear before.
…to the stuck wings-
store and the worn steering head bearing.
Regarding the steering head bearing where
we correct, based on factory specifications
Assuming a based setting, we consider defects in the steering head bearing area
not yet known. At
the swing arm bearings are not suitable for us
more information about a
Defective. A check of the swing arm bearings in connection with the dismantling is carried out with a mileage of 48,000
Mandatory miles from Harley-Davidson as part of the inspection schedule.

Reading experiences

10,000 kilometers, zero problems, 100 percent fun. Tea
V-Rod is my eighth Harley and by far the greatest thing
HD has ever put on two wheels. The sloppy sitting position, the super duper cream engine, the razor-sharp look, the almost playful handling for a Harley ?? a unique mix. There are also disadvantages: You clean a wolf that too much
lütte tank ?? that’s it. Okay, it could also have an ABS. But: If someone asks Claudia Schiffer if she can cook?
Ernst Baader
I have a V-Rod from the first hour and covered 16,000 kilometers. Many mountain routes in the Swiss
Alps, two to five day tours through France and Tyrol. Tea sitting position is ideal for me (1.78 meters). The area of ​​the passenger seat is too small, the distance from the driver to the sissy bar is too narrow. In addition, the footrests are set too high. By adding a footrest extension, it has become a little better. The V-Rod has one of the best engines I’ve ever driven. With a respectable thrust from 3000 rpm and always enough steam for overtaking maneuvers. Except for a defective seal on the water pump, I had no problems. The build quality is good, I am thrilled with the V-Rod.
Urs Berger
I am 28 years old and belong to the group of people who have fulfilled a great dream with a motorcycle and who have saved a decade for it. Except for the lack of pillion suitability and the wobbly handling when cornering slowly, I am extremely satisfied with the V-Rod. However, the American art of welding and painting leaves a lot to be desired. After about four to five months, the brown sauce came out of ten to fifteen welds below the bench and below the air filter. The Harley dealer in Sittard, the Netherlands, stood up for me so that I got a new frame. As a precaution, this was given an elaborate powder coating. After four months I found that a fuse holder had come off in one place and the brown dirt was creeping out again. Regarding the bad workmanship, I have now written to Harley in the USA and am waiting for their comments. Otherwise, as I said, I’m very happy with the bike.
Christian Krämer
When I saw the first photo of the V-Rod (in MOTORRAD), I was thrilled. Until then, would have sworn never to buy me a Harley. In one year I have unwound 15,000 trouble-free kilometers and haven’t regretted the purchase for a second. In addition to the optics, I was particularly impressed by the engine characteristics, the great chassis and the top workmanship.
Absolutely suitable for long distances in solo operation ?? at least for
my height (1.70 meters). And very handy for the weight and long wheelbase. But there is also criticism: The tank could hold a few liters more. Well, the lean angle could easily be greater in terms of performance. Yes, and so am I
Become a Harley fan. By the way: Since the beautiful line of the V-Rod with side pockets will be destroyed, I ride long distances with the Speedpack from Bags-Connection. Great quality fits like a glove and is easy to attach.
Dieter Quast
I’ve been driving a Harley-Davidson V-Rod (12000
Kilometer). The powerful engine and the overall mo-
Modern technology is convincing throughout, as is the impeccable workmanship. Only the paint of the V-Rod 100th Edition tends to be unattractive. Tea stable chassis he-
also allows rides at top speed, with tempi
over 180 annoying in the long run without a wind deflector, provided you
does not hang up on the tank. With my 1.85 meters it is
Machine made for me; Persons from 1.70 to approx
1.90 meters also sit well on longer journeys. The high inspection and parts costs are disadvantageous. The V-Rod is expensive fun that is not worthwhile for everyone. In return, the bike proves to be a good-natured, loyal companion in every situation. Thanks to the wide handlebars and the narrow shape, the 280 kilograms
maneuvering through traffic jams even in narrow Tübingen (I’m still a student).
Falk W. Muller

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