Flex the Harley-Davidson V-Rod Muscle

Right through the build, Chris managed to have his V-Rod back on the road every Saturday, even if it meant putting the old stuff back on Friday night.

I WAS GOING to buy a Night Rod Special when I saw the Muscle. There were a few things I didn’t like about it, but it came standard with upside down forks, mag wheels and braided lines, and I thought, “That’s good value; way better value than the Night Rod Special, something a bit more modern.”

One thing I didn’t like about it with was the headlight so that was the first thing I changed. I just put on an aftermarket chopper style headlight.

The seat was the same. It was pretty square so I modified it. I scooped it out to make it a little bit lower, got rid of the back pad and rounded it off, then covered it in crocodile.

I was going to go for the Air Ride Suspension that you can raise and lower, but a couple of guys I was riding with had a leak, and when it leaked, they had no suspension. So I went for a manual pump-up one which is still a shocker; even if all the air comes out of it you’ve still got suspension. It doesn’t look as good because it doesn’t sit as low but it’s a good ride and works really well.

I didn’t want to pull all the wiring out of the handlebars so I painted them and the mirrors instead. Painted the fork legs for the same reason; didn’t want to pull them apart. Powder-coated the triple trees, front and rear wheels and the swingarm. A lot of the stuff that was polished, I powder-coated or painted.

The swingarm is American Suspension to suit a 300 wide tyre. There was a lot of mucking around to get that to work. There’s a Dragway rear wheel that’s 10.5 inches wide. Dragway Performance Engineering made everything with a cush-drive hub; that’s standard on this model. A lot of guys with the earlier models got aftermarket pulleys and discs and just bolted them up solid, where this has got the cush-drive. The ABS brakes are all working, so yes, there was a bit of mucking around. In out, in out, just trying to get it in the right spot. I had to get the hub machined down after I got it made, to make everything clear. Then I dummied it all up, got it powder-coated, put it all back together, then I had to change one wheel bearing for the ABS sensor. It worked out it was 3 mm wider than the standard sensor so I had to do some more modifications to get it all to fit. There’s not a lot of room, but it all fits in there and it all works.

The offset pulley came with the swingarm; it bolts on exactly the same but it’s set right out. It looked funny when I first put the swingarm in—it sticks out further on the left-hand side than the right—so I pulled it all out, put the standard one back in, the wheel back in and measured it all up and got the centre where the standard wheel was, marked all that and put it back in so the new wheel would be in the same spot. But without the wheel, it just looked wrong because it was so far over one way.

Every weekend, I had it rideable. I’d want to ride it on Saturday, so every Friday, I put everything back on that was unfinished and I rode it just to make sure everything was right. ABS didn’t work one weekend but I sorted it all out.

Rino at Wild Rhino helped out by getting me all the parts, but I’ve done the work myself. I’ve always had bikes and always done my own work. I’m a motor mechanic by trade, got my own business with cars, but all through the ’80s I worked on bikes for a Yamaha dealer.

It’s great to ride. I reckon the power’s great. It all depends which dyno you put it on. Peter Stevens had 120-plus at the back wheel. Rino had his done somewhere else when he had the Power Commander on, and that came in at 131, but mine would just zap past him. They’re basically identical when they’re on the same dyno, but on the road mine’ll just leave him, go past him. He’s put the same pipes on, put the Power Commander on with the same programme. The only advantage he’s got is he weighs about 30 kg more than me, but I’ve got more rubber on the road.

It is a little different now, especially at high-speed big sweepers. It doesn’t fall in like it used to; you have to give her a bit of a push. We went on a poker run down the Great Ocean Road and a few guys from Melbourne with V-Rods were saying, “It looks good but it won’t go ’round corners.” I waited on the side of the road until I’d seen them go past and then waited for the twisties so I could go around the outside of them and underneath them just to show them it does go around corners: you’ve just got to ride it.

pics by Chris Randells; words by Chris Kelly

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