Turbocharge Your Hot Rod V-Rod

Harley-Davidson’s V-Rod not fast enough for you? Want more excitement in your life? Obviously, you need a Turbocharger.

OUT ARMADALE way, in Wild Western Australia, there’s a V-Rod you don’t want to pick in a streetfight. A casual glance at Uky’s blacker than black Night Rod may not immediately pick out what’s different, but then it hits you: there’s a turbocharger plumbed neatly into the powerplant.

“I must admit, I like the look of the Night Rod,” said Uky. “I’ve got a FXES Fat Bob I’ve owned for the last 25 years. It’s the first of the Evos and the last of the four-speeds. I’ve rebuilt it three times since I’ve owned it and I love it. That’s why it’s a bit strange that I fell in love with the Night Rod; both my bikes are completely different to one another.

As it is, I ride with a bunch of mates I’ve known for a long time, and we do some big miles around the West. The most recent one was quite a few thousand km and I took the Night Rod, but the same trip six months earlier, I went on the Fat Bob. I enjoyed the trip as much on either bike, but I have to tell you, that Turbo V-Rod has a shitload of Mumbo. It accelerates so hard in the first three gears you wouldn’t believe it. The tacho rips around the dial so fast, but the funny thing is, from a three-grand roll-on, the speedo needle follows the tacho needle very close behind.”

Uky’s mate, Shane Watson, of Westside Custom Cycles, was the original owner, and fitted the turbo after being mightily impressed by the quality set-up.

“It started when a mate bought a V-Rod and stumbled across the very neat Trask Turbocharger kit,” explained Shane. “After bagging him out for buying a V-Rod in the first place, I fitted the turbo for him and I must say it was very complete—even the necessary drills and taps were included in the kit. It took about 12 hours to fit the turbo and then many more just playing around getting the fuel maps right, but then we put it in a Dyno Competition and it produced 167 horsepower at the back wheel!

Harley-Davidson V-Rod

“After riding the bike around for a few days (just to, you know, make sure everything was okay) I was converted—I ordered my own brand new Night Rod and a Trask Turbocharger kit.

“It’s a neat design, as turbo set-ups for V-Twin engines can end up very messy, with tubes and pipes everywhere, but this one is so well designed, a lot of people don’t even notice there’s a turbocharger bolted on. The original air cleaner and housing are removed and replaced by a custom plenum bolted to the throttle body; fuel pressure regulator mods, oil gallery mods and pressure dump valves are included as part of the kit. The air cleaner moves down onto the front of the Garrett ceramic ball bearing turbo, which sits very nicely in beside the front pot and does not interfere with leg room at all.

“The 160-odd hp is achieved without even cracking the engine open, other than a clutch upgrade, which is also included in the kit. I’ve fitted about 15 or so turbo kits to bikes so far, and they’ve all worked out well. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend just anyone have a go at fitting these kits, you should have a qualified mechanic do it for you.”

So what’s a turbocharged V-Rod like to ride; how does it handle the long, straight roads of Western Australia?

“It’s a bloody fast bike, and a lot of fun to ride,” admits Shane. “Fitting a turbo is a great alternative to big cubes and big cams on any V-Twin. We only run it at about 8 pounds boost so there is potential for a lot more horsepower with the right modifications, but in all honesty, not really necessary. There is more than enough power as is.”

“Yeah,” Uky adds. “It’s nice how it can just cruise around at small throttle openings with no drama, but have that much power on tap when you open it up. It’s a real rocketship.”

Uky runs an earthmoving business, working all over the state and naturally needs to head out to places far and wide to quote on jobs.

“If it’s a couple of hundred kays away,” Uky reckons. “I’ll jump on the Night Rod and blast up—it doesn’t take long.

“This model normally has forward controls but it works heaps better for me with the mid-mounted footpegs. Those pegs and the flat bars make it easier for me to ride, see, I’m not one of those lanky pricks and forward controls don’t really suit me. The mid-mounts are comfy as, but it was a real head-root to fit them. Shane fitted them up, but I’ve got to tell you, it was a big job. They’ve definitely made it easier to hang on.”

So there you go; if you’re in Western Australia, sitting at some traffic lights when a black Night Rod with some extra plumbing pulls alongside: you have been warned.

Harley-Davidson V-Rod

Pics by Brian White; words by Kelly Ashton

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