2007 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special Review

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2007 Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special Review

Post by ganahsokmo on Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:19 am

Harley-Davidson continues to develop its
V-rod Revolution range and the latest addition is the VRSCDX Night Rod
Special. It’s longer, lower and meaner looking than anything else out
there. It’s the closest thing to a road legal drag bike without the
wheelie bar fitted.


Night Rod was launched in 2006 and the new Special is all dragged-out
with a mega-wide 240mm rear tire, drag handlebars and forward-mounted
foot pegs. This doesn’t happen very often, but as soon as I first saw it
in the flesh it was love at first sight. Both the Street Rod and Night
Rod had to grow on me, but the Special is truly special. Some of the
feelings from when I first set my eyes on the original V-rod came
flooding back. Night Rod Special is just more of everything in a single
minded, very black way.

I attended one of the many Euro launches, which turned out to be the
best, as it included a rideout with Bill Davidson himself and partying
in the Harley village at the European Bike Week in Austria. This
involved plenty of picturesque alpine roads in Austria, Slovenia and
Italy. Not exactly the ideal environment for the low and long Night Rod
Special.

Despite
its flaws, the Night Rod Special is a joy to ride and treat to look at.



I savoured my first ride on the Night Rod Special until the latter
half of the day, and I made the right choice as it rained the first few
hours we were out riding. Also, I got to sample the turbo-like
acceleration above 6.000 rpm on the motorway just at the end of the long
day.
Riding the brutal VRSCDX is neither easy nor difficult, but it
certainly isn’t neutral. It is easy enough to have a sit and ride
straight on as the jumbo rear tire and mile-long wheelbase makes sure
the Special is stable as a mountain in a straight line. The trouble
comes in the corners as there’s no ground clearance - Harley did not
intend there to be. However, since we were in the Alps, the Night Rod
Special felt a bit like a fish out of water, and I knew in advance to be
cautious. So corner speed is sacrificed for fast ‘ish entries and early
throttle openings.


The double four pot Brembo brakes are reassuringly strong, but I had
to remind myself that the 240mm rear tire kept pushing the front so I
could not go that fast entering the corners. What I could do however was
to give it all it had as soon as I was halfway ‘round the corners. It
does not matter what sort of lean you have, there is still a massive
patch of black rubber touching the tarmac at all times. The rubber is
Dunlop’s and there is not much to say apart from the fact there’s plenty
of it. The rear is a D240 240/40R-18 and the front a comparatively tiny
D208 120/70ZR-19. Feels like a bit of a mismatch, but then again this
bike was never designed to corner like the Street Rod or even the Night
Rod. Night Rod Special is pure evil in the Alps and I like it!

Starting a
burnout is no trouble, but that enormous rear tire really likes to grip
the road.



Cruising down from the mountain passes and onto the highway finally
gave me the chance to let the Revolution engine breath freely. The
Special features the most powerful version of the 1130cc Revolution
engine and Harley claims 121hp and 108Nm. Above 6000rpm the
liquid-cooled engine revs in a delightful fast and powerful way. This is
what all that rubber is there for and I played with on/off sharp
throttle openings to get that acceleration again and again. From
standstill the initial few thousand rpms fail to impress, but then again
you can just dump the clutch with literally full throttle opening as
there is some drag-bike heritage on the Special. If you do the same, but
grab the front brake lever, you have a nice and scary burnout
happening. Scary because there is no way you can stand comfortably on
the forward pegs doing one and because the 240mm rear tire really does
grip.






Slow speed manoeuvres are a bit scary too because if you don’t allow
enough space at the right angle when turning you might get stuck waiting
for someone to push you out. I saw it happen to a journo colleague and I
could understand why. Some of the facts that make the Special such a
beast to handle at low speed are: 240mm rear tire, 1715mm wheelbase,
36-degree fork angle and the lowered rear suspension.


The suspension on the Night Rod Special does not feel particularly
soft. Up front is a fork with 49mm stanction legs that feels good under
braking. As mentioned earlier, I could not challenge the handling
capabilities more than I did due to health and safety issues tattooed to
my brain. Common sense I believe it’s called.

All VRSC
models got a new instrument panel for 2007.



The seat height is a low 640mm combined with the drag style handlebar
and forward foot peg position. This sort of squeezes your abdomen
together and stretches your back forwards so that you turn into a human
clamshell. I would have loved to get Gordon Ramsey’s comment on the
clamshell position. I believe it would involve the F and W word.


All the 2007 VRSC models now get a five-gallon fuel tank and new
instruments that now include a clock and second trip-counter.


Conclusion
After riding the Night Rod Special I didn’t really want to ride any
of the other Harleys. It is as special, peculiar and attractive to a
motorcycle journalist as a honey pot to a hungry bear. I loved it and
could not bring myself to hate it for its downsides. There are downsides
to ownership, though, as you have to be very careful the first few days
not to make mistakes. The dark evil Night Rod Special will not forgive
any mistake so you better watch out...



ganahsokmo

Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 35

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