Jay Chou, as Kato, rides a custom V-Rod Muscle in the movie “The Green Hornet”.
Introduced for the 2002 model year, the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod marked a number of firsts for Harley. It signaled the launch of the VRSC (V-twin, racing, street, custom) family. The V-Rod was the first motorcycle Harley-Davidson ever produced with a liquid-cooled engine, and it combined that with fuel injection and overhead cams. That first V-Rod became the most award-winning model in Harley-Davidson history.
The V-Rod traces its heritage to the VR-1000 Superbike Race Team. It was here that Harley-Davidson developed and refined the liquid-cooling and fuel-injection technologies that would ultimately find their way into the V-Rod. In 2002, Harley-Davidson introduced the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Pro Stock Motorcycle team, competing in the NHRA Drag Racing Series.
The team won three consecutive NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world championships beginning with the 2004 season. They finished seventh overall for the 2007 season, but won it all again in 2008. The team failed to repeat as champions in 2009 by a mere two points. (See References 4)
Harley-Davidson had partnered with Porsche on the development of the engine for the VR-1000, and they again turned to the automaker for collaboration on the new engine for the V-Rod. The engine was dubbed the Revolution. Through model year 2007 the Revolution engine was 1,130 cc with a compression ratio of 11.3-to-1. It produced a reported 115 horsepower at 8,500 rpm with a maximum torque of 74 foot-pounds at 7,000 rpm.
Beginning with the 2008 model year, Harley-Davidson beefed up the Revolution engine, taking it to 1,250 cc. The increase in displacement increased horsepower to a reported 125 at 8,250 rpm and maximum torque to 85 foot-pounds at 7,000 rpm. (See References 7)
The V-Rod remained pretty much the same for model years 2002 through 2005. For 2006, Harley-Davidson added high performance Brembo brakes. The 2007 model year V-Rod got a fatter rear tire — 240 mm, up from 180 mm — and more fuel capacity — 5 gallons, up from 3.7. The wider tire and bigger gas tank necessitated a new frame as well. And since the 2007 model V-Rod still had the original 1,130 cc Revolution engine, it was perhaps the slowest V-Rod. All the members of the VRSC family got the new 1,250 cc Revolution engine for the 2008 model year.
Other VRSC Models
Harley-Davidson has added several models to the VRSC family over the years. In 2006, both the Street Rod and the Night Rod joined the line. And for the 2009 model year the V-Rod got a major makeover as the VRSCF V-Rod Muscle. The Muscle featured a bobbed rear fender with a combination brake, tail and turn signal lights. The front turn signals were integrated into the rear-view mirrors. The air box featured mock air-rams and “sidepipe” dual exhaust.