Pearl Black & Chrome V-Rod

Opinion was immediately polarised when Harley-Davidson released the V-Rod in 2001: love at first sight for some, outraged dismissal for others. Al’s one of the people who loves ’em…

I’VE HAD numerous dirt bikes, other than that, my bike before this was a Ducati 916. I couldn’t handle the position of the Ducati anymore and a few of my mates got killed so it was time to get out of that side of things.

This is an VRSCA I bought from a Harley dealer in Melbourne. It was dead stock; nothing done to it. I bought it and then just started customising it. It still goes quite hard but you don’t tend to want to ride it as flat out as you do the sports bikes.

When I started, I just wanted lots of chrome. Originally it only came with a 180 tyre and I wanted to add a 240 to it and change the rims. When I bought the original guard it had a tailight, so I just continued that theme and changed it a little. The rear guard was custom made, something I came up with and made with another guy.

I’ve been thinking about a different front guard on it—that’s another thing, that front guard is the original one, turned around backwards to drop it down further—just a bit of a different look to it, but I’ve been thinking about changing it to a different one altogether.

The tank’s from America. It’s only a box really, but you call it a tank because that’s where they normally go.

The exhaust is a standard top muffler. Normally there’s a twin system but I just used that top muffler then made a collector and made a two-into-one exhaust. I did all that myself, then put a Power Commander on it so it was all running right. 

The bars are Burleigh T-Bars, 1 3/4”; the mirrors are from eBay so I wouldn’t have a clue what brand or whatever.

I did all the work except the paint; that was done in the original Pearl Black by Max Fry in Belmont.

The chrome was done by Classic Chrome in Lambert Avenue—all the front forks, fork sliders, all the hand controls, foot controls and numerous other little bits I can’t think of just off the top of my head.

The engine and gearbox are standard. 

It’s got Arnott Air Ride rear suspension and the front’s lowered an inch. I love the Air Ride; it’s absolutely awesome. You can raise it up nice and high. I’ve actually taken it down the coast and you can get on it and ride quick, so that’s a good thing. It’ll go up to 13 inches—that’s the standard height of the shocks—and it drops to about 10 inches, so there’s a fair bit of play. The only way to describe the ride is awesome. It’s just comfortable as to ride with lots of power.

Harley-Davidson shouldn’t have put the original handlebars on—they’re totally ugly and set way too far back.

For taller guys, the standard seat’s too cramped: this seat’s actually a Saddleman Profile from the States that’s been changed at the back to suit the rear guard, but it does sit you back about an inch further. I didn’t have to modify it, it fitted all right with the guard but it sat too high with the thickness of the foam so I cut the fibreglass out, redid it and shaved the foam down to suit, to get the flowing look of the back guard.

Anyone who’s customising a V-Rod, I’d highly recommend they look up on the net, it’s a forum over in America. The guys have gone nuts on them over there so you get plenty of information, and if there’s anything you need to know they’ll help you out. That’s been a big saviour to me, getting on there and looking it up. Even if something goes wrong like the wiring, or you blow a fuse, you can get on and you can just tap into someone over there. There’s that many people over there have got them and they’ll all give you ideas and chase things up and sort things out.

That’s where I originally saw the idea to do the 240 from the 180 original ‘cos you can still use the standard swingarm, you just have to slightly modify it; it’s a 10 minute modification then you can whack the 240 straight in. The wheels now are Renegade Newport, 8 ½ rear with 240 tyre and the front’s 19”.

Someone with an Electra Glide with Hallam heads saw this and said, “I’ve never liked V-Rods, I’ve always hated them, but this is the first one I’ve ever liked and now I’m actually thinking of buying one after seeing this.”

I’ll probably do more to it but I don’t know what. I dunno, it depends if the wife will let me, I’ve probably spent too much already.

pics by Chris Randells; words by Al

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