The Saga Begins
The first time I saw a Harley V-Rod was fifteen years ago. It was ’06, the summer after the great storm. It was an odd and unique year for South Louisiana, the struggle to return to normalcy that feels hauntingly familiar now. The only thing that felt even remotely normal around that time was we were starting to ride motorcycles again and getting back to the track.
It was a typical day at the local redneck ring, surrounded by sugar cane in the middle of nowhere Louisiana. Impossibly blue skies, giant clouds with both the threat of storms and the promise of shade. My buddies and I were acting like feral children on the track, jumping out our allotted group, ignoring pit lane speeds, all sorts of foolishness that eventually garnered the attention of the track organizer. Whatever we did, he was moving quickly to chew our dumbasses out.
The sound of his bike echoed through the park, roaring as it responded to his throttle before he came to an abrupt stop in front of us. Clad in shorts, t-shirt, tennis shoes, no helmet, no gloves, and pissed off. The way he was talking to us, you would think the incident was going on our permanent record, wherever that may be. While he put us through the ringer, all I could do was stare at the unusual motorcycle he rode. I was transfixed. I had always been a dedicated sport bike rider. I never paid much attention to Harleys, but that changed in an instant. I just stood there nodding my head, feigning apologies but my attention was on the details on this bike.
The tank was impossibly small for an engine that size. I was doing the math on fill ups. Later, I would learn more about that tiny “tank”, but that day, it was pure novelty. Meanwhile my buddies were telling him that we’d all been raising at a group home and that our parents had died, and that a couple of guys with long, full beards had actually been raised by wolves. None of us offered an apology for whatever we did wrong, and the guy finally tore off on the bike and left me standing there looking.
It was the first time I saw the Harley V-Rod and I thought I was the most impressive damn Harley I’d ever seen. Harleys never really made sense to me, especially at the local Coffee shop. I thought they had reverse for a long time, because whenever they backed into a parking space or next to the curb, they always seemed to be twisting the throttle and making a bunch of noise, so I assume that that was part of the reverse gear. Turns out it was just the normal sonic punishment that Harley riders always seem to enjoy.
I am more of a European bike guy and I couldn’t understand why someone would buy an 800 pound bike that makes a lot of noise but doesn’t seem to get anywhere fast. But when I saw the V Rod, my mind was changed. The bike was silver and had a trellis style frame. It had that unusual tank with futuristic Harley-Davidson lettering, and when that track official rode up and then away, you could see it was wickedly fast. The bike appeared Harley heavy, so there was no wheelie, and I remember the steam roller tire on the rear, coupled with an aggressive stance. It looked planted to the pavement. The bike stayed in my brain until I showed up in Germany to visit the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, sometime in 2017.
There, tucked in among some of the most iconic Porsches on the planet was the very same V-Rod that I saw at the track that day. I was surprised to see the bike there, but I came to find out that Porsche was very proud of their design. Yep, the engine was a collaboration between Porsche A.G. and Harley-Davidson. Below are some pictures I took of badass cars at the Porsche Museum. I’ll give more particulars on the development of this bike and how one eventually ended up in my garage in the next series of blogs…