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Rants & Raves Index
The opinions expressed in this editorial are 100% my own. If you don't like 'em...build your own damn website and tell everyone I'm a jerk. If I'm violating any trademark or copyright stuff, just email me here and I'll make it right.
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Betrayal of Friendship
Gear and Loathing at The Motor Factory

Ok, now pay close attention here, this isn’t anything like fact – this is and editorial which means it’s purely my opinion and you can take it or leave it. But I gotta tell ya, I feel compelled to address the situation at the motor company and this new thing they call the V-Rod. What’s the verdict you say? Well, the first thing I wanna know is what the hell does this motorcycle have to do with ME? Call me self-centered if ya wanna, but I just can’t figure this one out.

Here’s the deal, when I was a young guy I bought sportsters and rode the hell out of them, as I got older I bought big twins and rode the hell out of those. Now I’m forty plus, fifteen pounds too heavy and have a cute bald spot in the back that (when surrounded by white hair) makes me look like a lab rat when it gets sunburnt. I have only known a few things that have been constant in life, and one of those was that HD built air-cooled V-Twins. Now, in light of this new V-Rod thing – even that most basic of principles seems to be shattered. Is this a bad thing? Not really I guess. It’s just that all my life I have thought that if ya wanna buy a liquid-cooled v-twin…trot your ass down to the Honda dealer and pick up a Shadow or something. Better yet, just open the newspaper because there are lots of them for sale.

Now one of the truly great things about HDs is that they have followed the same physical characteristics for so long that the parts are damn near interchangeable for that last 40 or 50 years. Ok, well, they’re not bolt on, but enough grinding, welding and swearing and you can wedge a knuckle into a sportster frame with a six-speed transmission. Or something close to that – I mean, that’s why choppers have traditionally been Harleys. You can make it fit, brother. And if you can’t, you can find six other guys who have been down this road and know how to make it fit. There’s been a rich tradition of motor building and tweaking that has resulted in things like the Pan-Shovel and the generator evo and all kinds of other Frankenstein kludges that seem to keep motoring down the road. In fact, HD motors that have been discontinued never actually die out – many companies just continue their manufacture and people keep buying them.

If ya wanna brand new knuckle, you can find one at KnuckleHeadPower USA, or perhaps you’d like one of Panzers new Panheads. Dig Evo technology? Wow, between S&S, RevTech and Merch (and a host of others), there’s an almost unlimited number of high-powered Evo style motors. Hey, even the relatively cranky shovel can be bought brand new from Nostalgia Motors or you can put one together yourself from aftermarket parts found in the ChoppersRule.com Parts Box (shameless plug). The message here is that these products were so good, that even when the main manufacturer quit making them – the riding public wouldn’t let them die. That’s one hell of a legacy, and that’s what HD threw out the window with the V-Rod.

You know, maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing. They’ve done some pretty bonehead things in the past (ummm, like those Italian 250s and the “sportster sportbike” from the early 80s) but most recently they seemed to be looking to the past for inspiration with bikes like the Road King and Heritage Softails. The question is, will the V-Rod just be another limited production wonder or is it truly the direction the company is taking?

If this bike turns out to be a short life-span curiosity – well, that’s just fine by me. I’m not gonna buy one. What for? I need neck-snapping acceleration like I need a snapped neck, what I really need it for my trans seal to stop leaking. But I can fix that. Why? Because I know where that is on my bike. Maybe the folks who are gonna buy V-Rods don’t care where that is on their new silver crotch rocket, cause they’re the kinda guys who are just gonna take it back to the dealer for oil changes and pay for them with a Gold American Express. Somehow, I doubt we’re ever gonna see the V-Rod Chopper.

If this bike turns out to be a long term kinda thing, well, lemme tell you about the sexiest motor I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the new Indian V-Twin and the damn thing looks like an updated Panhead. This I would buy. I’m wondering (considering the first couple years of Indians used S&S motors) if the mounts for this new motor will allow it to be mounted directly into Harley frames? This could be a cool deal – and the beginning of a resurgence of the Indian Chopper, something you don’t see too many of puttin’ around these days. I guess it really doesn’t matter if it “bolts right in”, I’ve never seen a bolt-on part that didn’t require grinding, welding and swearing. But somehow, that’s what it’s all about – and then the long cool ride after.

So what’s the final score? The V-Rod looks like some kinda mish-mash of technologies and brands that doesn’t say Harley to me. If it says Harley to you – by all means, run out and buy one. It’s a free country – but I’m free to buy and build bikes that adhere to some sort of time-honored mechanical tradition. Maybe there’s more to this than first, fastest and “best”, maybe it’s more about who we’ve become over the years. Maybe it's that these machines have somehow shaped us as we’ve shaped them – and that’s something you just don’t screw with.


Warren Fuller
http://www.choppersrule.com
http://www.echopper.com

Readers Write Back:


Warren, i've been reading your stuff for a couple of years, and sometimes i disagree with you, but i'm with you own this. I don't like the V-bastard, it looks like and over priced jap bike,in a bad sci-fi movie. I want nothing to do with it but it could be a good thing, what with all that awesome power and the excellent riding abilities of these yuppies they should thin themselves out pretty quick.
Being one of the younger riders where i work, and the only harley rider in that bunch i take hell about my "slow @ss bike", fahq'em it may be slow but theirs will always be ugly and so will the V-bastard

Andy

dmccutc2@bellsouth.net


Warren, I'm not sure if anyone in our age bracket (read ancient!!) could
really argue with your opinion about Harley's "V-Rot". (Did I say that?)
Realistically though, take a look at what we used to call 4X4's. Today's
Y.U.P.'s have a need to change EVERYTHING to their own tastes. (Billet,
chrome, what have you.) In my opinion, the V-Whatever is their way of trying
to mold the Motor Company into the (dare I say it??) future. Does the
motorcycling public REALLY need another type of crotch rocket, or is this
just some sort of hype by H-D?? (More to the point, are old-timers such as
ourselves just babbling?) I look forward to your next op-ed piece on YOUR
web site, (pardon all the sh**, but I am computer illiterate, my daughter's
typing all this for me) Choppers DO rule, cuz their riders are TOOOOO cool.
Thanks for listening to an old man gripe. Cadaver

kynasmith@hotmail.com

Hey Warren, First off YOUR SITE IS REAL!!! It is the first biker site I've seen. I mean the real goods! Keep up the great work, but enuf sonshine up your ass I really need to pull up the soap box 1) Your opinion on the new v-rod..I disagree...see the motor company should keep going with these concepts cause one by one the f**n yuppies will send their cubic billet dollars to these machines and slowly our air cooled twins will fall out of vogue and return to being the machines of the real riders NOT A F**KING FASHION STATEMENT! 2)Some of your readers and their f**ked up opinions on evos .I ride an evo a very early production'84softail and yes it has a kicker....seems to me I can remember a time when a shovelhead was s**t because it was the New motor..Anyway twincams are the new kid now My bike is almost 20 years old. And finally To the f**khead with the v45..You just don't get it YOUR BIKE HAS NO SOUL.It is just another throw away....Like a bic lighter enuf said Great site and if you like I'll send you a pic of my ride

Dean

easyryder3d@netscape.net

Warren, i've been reading your stuff for a couple of years, and sometimes i disagree with you, but i'm with you own this. I don't like the V-bastard, it looks like and over priced jap bike,in a bad sci-fi movie. I want nothing to do with it but it could be a good thing, what with all that awesome power and the excellent riding abilities of these yuppies they should thin themselves out pretty quick.

Being one of the younger riders where i work, and the only harley rider in that bunch i take hell about my "slow @ss bike", fahq'em it may be slow but theirs will always be ugly and so will the V-bastard

Andy

dmccutc2@bellsouth.net

Hey Warren,

I dig your site and have for a while. I wanted to throw in a different perspective on your V-Rod editorial. I think the V-Rod motor is Harley's hedge against the day when air-cooled motors are either (a) legislated out of existence or (b) begin to die of natural causes, which may well happen within 10 or 15 years. Let's handle these one at a time.

(a) Oxides of nitrogen are proportional to temperature, and it is getting harder & harder to get an air-cooled motor to pass EPA standards, which are continuously tightening.

(b) We're reaching the limit of the amount of horsepower that can be
(reliably) gotten from this technology. "But who needs more power?" you ask. Not me, that's for damn sure, but once you get used to having something, you want to keep it. Would you go back to a flathead and give up half your horsepower? Didn't think so. I have a feeling that the new motor may win a lot of converts once they get one under their ass and feel what it can do.

Although I don't like the V-Rod either (at least at first glance--I've never ridden one) I don't think making it was either stupid or a mistake. I think it's a shrewd move which H-D has made to insure its own future viability as a motor company. As for the Bourget/Ness/Rocketship look, maybe Willie G. figured that The Faithful were going to hate it no matter what, so he might as well go all-out?

Well, that's it--I'll stop playing devil's advocate now & climb down off my soap box. Keep up the good work, & keep the shiny side up.

Peace,
Jon

jjuniman@nni.com