By Thomas Voehringer
Trucks and bikes are like former girlfriends. Just when you think you know everything about them, they change--sometimes for the better. It may be too late to kiss up to your ex, but both Ford's H-D SuperCrew and Harley-Davidson's V-Rod are making an effort to reestablish a relationship with you.
For the V-Rod, gone are the trappings of tradition that buttressed its usual core of supporters. No loping "po-TAH-to, po-TAH-to, po-TAH-to" burping from the exhaust. It's been replaced by a slick, water-cooled rumble that suggests a more anxious demeanor--one born more from H-D's racing VR 1000s than its society bikes.
In all manner and intent, this new V-twin really is a new V-twin. It's no secret that Porsche engineers helped breathe life into Harley's new huffer, dubbed "Revolution." A nine-grand redline; silky, throbbing idle; roll-on 'til you cry, and probably, reliability not previously known to H-D powerplants tell the exciting story.
It's difficult to slam the V-Rod. Oh, the pegs may be too far forward and the pipes uncomfortably close to vulnerable extremities, and those contrarian BMW-like turn switches, but it's power is so awesome and the ride so confidence-inspiring, the sum total pushes it far into the plus side.
The V-Rod isn't just a performer either. It's a looker. That tight new 1130cc 60* V sits in a stealthy package that sets a benchmark for domestic design. The long rake of the forks lead the eye like ribbons of smoke in a wind tunnel over the curves that form the bike's backbone. The long 67.5-in. wheelbase, swept-back instrument cluster, clear-coated aluminum body panels, and solid, cast wheels offer no apologies. They exude an immediate love-me-or-leave-me attitude--a vicious combination of power and style.
And that brings us full cycle back to Ford. These two vehicles are not inextricably tied to one another in any way other than what they represent: the latest effort to blend style and high performance. Dropping the supercharged 5.4L into a SuperCrew seems natural. SVT wasn't going to do it, however. They said as much. But that's okay. This combination is a perfect match for the H-D-endorsed lineup--especially now.
Twenty years ago these two vehicle types could've been considered base and unsophisticated. Now they're standards for both performance and styling in their class. Well done. Both of you.