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Harley-Davidson V-Rod

V-Rod Discontinued or is it?

H-D puts it’s baby to bed, bye bye V-Rod

In a surprise announcement this August at a dealer meeting, Harley-Davidson had a few twists up it’s sleeve. The V-Rod discontinued was a huge surprise, but was tempered by the unveiling of the Milwaukee 8. The V-Rod took over 5yrs of development as a secret project before it was released in 2001, and has sold roughly 10,000 units per year since. Those are pretty respectable numbers, one that warrants the question….why?

When I first wrote about the V-Rod in an article in 2001 titled Harley’s V-Rod Starts A Revolution I referred to it’s nickname “the showerhead” and scoffed at the market H-D seemed to be aiming for. Inside I thought to myself that I would no longer write about new developments with the company and instead would focus on it’s history. In fact, as this website changed software platforms I kept bringing the article back and updated it when Willie G retired, it was his baby after all. Something about the V-Rod discontinued now just seems so wrong…even when I lamented inside so long ago that a production water cooled hybrid sports bike was the wrong move. The bike proved me wrong and did quite well for the company….but why?

ENTER THE BUELL

Erik Buell was a Harley-Davidson engineer who left the company and formed The Buell Motorcycle Company in 1983 two years after Harley-Davidson was sold by AMF to a group of investors including Willie G. The Buell was wildly popular and incorporated Harley-Davidson engines. Erik Buell filled a niche with his bike and H-D took notice, especially of the market they didn’t really have a handle on, sports bikes. After an initial investment that garnered 49% ownership, Harley-Davidson later acquired Buell in it’s entirety. The driving force was to elmininate having an outside name associated with the Harley-Davidson brand. But in the end, it was always a Buell, and always Erik’s, and not Harley-Davidson’s. In 2009 H-D ended the Buell product line after 136, 000 bikes were built and sold. Through all the capital expenditure to acquire the company and to integrate it into the Harley-Davidson line, the company broke even when it called it quits. In the meantime, a lot was learned about sports bikes and the people who loved them and passed on to the V-Rod.

The V-Rod benefited from huge amounts of capital and research and development, and H-D’s long standing success with their liquid cooled racing engines. It was no Buell, but it was all Harley-Davidson, and that was what mattered most in the end. The fact that it changed little in 15yrs is testament to it’s near perfection. It found it’s niche with the H-D enthusiast who liked a little zing with their potato-potato.

Harley-Davidson got it wrong though, the market wasn’t young riders who could hang with their YamaHondaZuki pals, instead it was 30 something and up professionals or folks who wanted an American sport bike. It was hard to develop marketing for, and suffered because of it. Still, 10,000 units a year was nothing to sneeze at. What exactly the reason is, is still unknown at this time, and what will become of the technology is another. Many speculated that the platform could be morphed into a new version of the Sportster, or could have been used as research and development for something else…..or maybe it has already? The V-Rod discontinued…..maybe not.

The V-Rod discontinued, production halts in October 2016. Remaining 2016 models are still at some dealerships and whatever branded as a 2017 will be available next year and then they’re gone. Prices on used V-Rods are extremely affordable and if you’re the type that has to have one of everything or just wanted one all along, now is the time to buy them, end of story.

Introducing The Milwaukee 8

Not much to say at this time, but here’s a video shot at the unveiling. Riders that have now experienced them at Harley-Davidson test rides consider it a tamer engine although still quite capable. It’s new…give it time.

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Comments

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8 comments

  1. Wow, no comments. I think I’ll by a VROD and trade in my FLTRX .

  2. v rod was a breath of fresh air to the Harley brand, introduced many new buyers who would have never brought a “traditional ” Harley. I guess sales must have dropped and ultimately it was an expensive bike to make and wasn’t making big profits. Shame and its hard to see what could replace it with the same impact the v rod had. Harley promises many new models and whose to say they won’t deliver. The whole bike industry is changing fast electric bikes are the future weather you like it or not. one day guys will look back and find it amusing we rode on huge oil burning heavy slow polluting motorcycles. But for now the v rod legacy has many years to run, plenty of used low milage ones about, get one now if it’s your flavour of bike cuz there going to go up in value no question!

  3. No interest whatsoever in this counterbalanced, M-8 4-valve motor. No more new H-D’s for me!

    • After 10 years of buying, supping up and riding the $hit out of the latest, greatest Japanese, German and even Italian sport bikes, I found myself holding a very thin, if not at times suspended drivers license, and admiring for the first time an ever so very unlikely (Harley Davidson ? !). The V-Rod of course as HD had no other model that even remotly interested me. I would have never even entertained the idea of purchasing any other HD model aside from possibly one of their unavailable factory VR 1000 race bikes which even if somehow made available to me, I’d probably have been unwilling if not unable to cough up the exorbitant collectors cost pricing tied to such a machine. In late 2013 after a brief test drive on a Night Rod which left me unimpressed yet somehow mildly spellbound with the idea of owning something somewhat similar, I broke down and bought a shiny new 2014 Black V-Rod Muscle and went to work on it adding the needed bits and pieces to make it suite my personal style. This is by no means a complete list but just a for eg. Flat Black Powder Coated Vance and Hanes exhaust (as the exhaust I wanted was only available in chrome and I simply wasn’t having that), some overpriced fiberglass German made headlight cowl which to my eye gave it the right lines and fixed the unfinished look left around the headlight, a pair of Ohlins piggy back reservoir twin rear shocks, a set of Michelin Power Pilot III tires (stock spec sized) which vastly improved the handling and my confidence in the heavy machines ability to hold a line without feeling like either end (the FRONT end) might wash out in an aggressive turn, Complete Screamin Eagle Super Tuner EFI Kit, High Flo Air-box Mod and Element Air Filter VRSC, 3 hours DYNO and 2.5 hours EXH/SNIFF and EFI Tune to appropriately make use of the bikes new found breathability and more free flowing exhaust setup, A sissy bar and rear rack as requested by my beautiful wife, Some sweet HD made aftermarket grips and at least ten other things I’m not able to recall at this time. Anyway, I have to express my disappointment in hearing the news about the V-Rod being dropped from HD’s line of otherwise, in my opinion, un-stimulating motorcycles. My V-Rod has become my favorite ‘round the city daily rider which I immensely enjoy riding even at or somewhere somewhat near those suggested speeds written on those silly signs all along the road sides. My V-Rod has been a tool of the utmost usefulness in comfortably getting me to where I need to go at either a miserly pace or warp speed depending on what the situation calls for, my current mood, and my current gauge of my personal daily luck, will continue to and has helped me to avoid many a speeding ticket as well as markedly reducing the stress associated everyday city riding. I’d def recommend anyone I’d deem worthy to acquire a V-Rod for themselves if Ain any way possible. I promise it’ll be worth it.

  4. The V rod was the only reason I bought a Harley.
    It was the only bike that had a reasonable amount of power and even then it isn’t enough. Discontinueing the V rod is a huge mistake on their part. They never really put themselves wholeheartedly into the bike from the beginning with accessories and engine mods. It was always a half assed attempt because they were afraid it would fail and they would lose money. Selling 10,000 units a year should have woken them up, but someone fell asleep at the wheel. I won’t buy another HD. Sad they lost this niche.

  5. I guess we have to buy a M8, tear it down, remover the counter balancer, then retrue/-balance the engine then you’ll have something to be proud of. A V Rod it won’t be, but as close as we’ll get!

  6. I am a aging sport bike guy, and a drag racer, the V-Rod is the only Harley Davidson that has ever caught my eye. With the announcement of the discontinuation of these ultra cool bikes, I have located what I believe is the last remaining brand new V-Rod Muscle in western Canada ( possibly all of Canada ) and I am in the process of buying it right now.
    By next week I’ll be a new customer for Harley Davidson. At least once, anyway.

  7. Good riddance… they were an insult to the Harley name

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