Review From the Archives, originally published: 4th April 2007
This was the picture that convinced me I had to have a Harley Davidson Night Rod Special. The black, lowered, stretched look combined with the Porsche designed Revolution V-Twin and the 10 inch wide back tire – I was smitten.
I picked up my 2007 Harley Davidson Night Rod Special from Robin Hood Harley Davidson on a Monday afternoon. Cheers to Alain for a smooth and easy buying experience☺ I had seen this actual bike 8 days previously and had managed to wait until the following Tuesday before ordering it. So, in great anticipation I arrived to do do the deal and pick up the keys.
What Keys. This bike just has a small circular plastic device that you keep in your pocket. As you approach the bike it disarms the alarm and immobiliser. You turn an ignition switch on and hit the ‘Start’ button. When you get off the bike, switch the engine and ignition off and walk away, the keyfob device works on proximity and will arm the alarm and immobiliser for you. No keys involved. A good start for a bike from Harley, a company many people dismiss as producing ‘agricultural’ bikes.
The first ten minutes of riding the bike were … interesting … the bike feels very alien, it’s long length and massive mismatch between the slim front tyre and giant rear type (the largest of any production bike) make for an interesting experience. It grows on you though as you re-learn how to go around corners, it then becomes incredibly stable in the bends and very confidence inspiring. It is however a nightmare on a backroad with lots of repairs and holes, the small front tyre tries to steer the massive rear through and around them which is a nerve racking experience. The bike is heavy, but never feels it when upright, unless maneuvering it backwards, the low centre of gravity helps enormously in giving the rider a user friendly experience.
The bike feels powerful but not scary. The superb fuelling and fuel injection setup means that you won’t ‘accidentally’ give it too much throttle and do anything dramatic. If you want to ride it quickly it is allegedly capable of keeping up with most litre sports bikes up to 100mph, when aerodynamics start to take their toll, and a low 11 second quarter mile, I say allegedly because I haven’t raced any sports bikes, or been down a drag strip ! The engine sounds and feels superb in the way that only a twin can, it is full of character and torque and I find it excellent. It has as much power (around 125bhp) as I will ever need.
The Riding Position
This also felt very alien for around ten minutes, however I find I prefer it. It is a slightly more aggressive forward leaning position than the standard VROD and with the feet forward controls it looks uncomfortable, but as I’ve said I now love it and find it very comfortable and natural.
The Build Quality
Superb. Beautiful. Thick paint, lovely machined parts. It reeks of quality. I have a Swedish car and another bike, Japanese. Neither of these is a patch on the quality of this bike. Update: It didn’t like Winter … having furry nuts is not nice ! My fault I guess I should have kept it cleaner 🙁
The Image … not sure … not the traditional Harley that’s for sure, but neither does it fit in any other traditional category. What I do know however is that people can’t stop looking at the bike and coming up to talk to me about it. From a little old woman with her shopping bags, to a Kawasaki sports bike rider who turned around, parked up and came over for a chat – it seems to be (almost) universally admired !
The Pillion Experience
On smooth roads both the rider and pillion have easy, comfortable experiences. On anything else the very low and very hard suspension can be painful. I may be able to adjust this to compensate in the future though. Update: Nope, not really 🙁
The bike holds around 5 gallons, the tank accessed by lifting the seat. A digital ‘miles remaining’ gauge is built into the speedometer. Being mainly black it is be relatively easy to keep clean, and there is space on the handlebars to easily fix my Garmin Zumo satnav system. So far, so good.
I love this bike. It needs to have my babies. I’ve just ridden 15 miles or so in the dark on some country roads and loved every minute, not pushing it, but not hanging around either as the guy in the car attempting to keep up will testify … it was comfy, stable, responsive and great fun. Judging by people’s reactions it’s the kind of bike that makes people want to ride. And that is a good thing.