In 1995 Willy.G the Vice president of styling of Harley took up one of the greatest tasks of making a motorcycle that everyone would love. So they started work from scratch. The team also took up the tips of a drag racing bike. Initially they came up with a nick name for the motorcycle called Digger. Styling and design is the most important aspect for a motorcycle. Harley set up another team that made the design into a running vehicle. Pat Keller the program Director took up the job of keeping the time up and the cost down for the manufacturing of the motorcycle. Harley made sure that the designing if the motorcycle was kept a secret, in such a way that the members working also were not allowed to tell their family members about the motorcycle.
Harley took up the VR1000’s engine and put it into a traditional cruising Harley’s frame. But the traditional frame wasn’t able to take up the power, because it was not very sturdy. So the design engineers wanted to re-create a frame that can be sturdy enough to take up the engine’s power. Harley wanted to build a frame that was simple and something that was a piece of art. A traditional Harley has a single rail running under the tank, so they decided to run two rails under the tank that could accommodate the engine and take up the humongous amount of power. The first prototype was equipped with the VR1000’s engine and a welded frame the angle between the steering head and the front fork was offset to make it a good dragster and a daily machine. But there was a problem, there was no place for a fuel tank, and it was highly impossible to place it under the seat. The other issue was the use of a radiator, since the other motorcycles where air cooled.
The prototype wasn’t a refined machine, but was really fast. Harley wanted to make the machine economical and easy to build so they approached Porsche. Harley decided to put up fins for the engine. The next issue that arose was the placement of the water hose, it was highly impossible for the hose to cross the cylinders of the engine. So they made the hose stand vertical. They made out a clay model; it looked really beautiful with a big exhaust.
Harley came up with the method called hydro forming that uses pressurized water to bend metals; this method reduced the number of welds from 17 to 7. The next important task was the radiator, they set up the prototype in the wind tunnel experiment, but the radiator failed to perform well. An engineer came up with a clever idea of fixing this issue with a fed-ex box, so with this solution they decided to put up a vortex generator, where they created more vanes, that allowed more air to enter in to the system by creating turbulence and improving the performance. The engine was set to run in a dynamo meter for nearly 500 hours, and was fully monitored. Various engines were put to test, finally in 2000 an engine passed the test, cranking over 115bhp at 9000 rpm and had a top speed of 140Mph, becoming the fastest Harley. They let the vehicle run under idle under the hot sun under multiple conditions, Harley were surprised that the engine had run for 8 hours without overheating. The final motorcycles were put on to multiple tests, for suspensions, comfort, durability and more for 1000’s of miles under various road and track conditions. Various electronic interference tests were conducted by using waves like radio wave, microwave and more.
The next day the motorcycle was put into a 24 hour nonstop wash, the bike surprisingly turned on without any hassle. The parts were individually put into a torture test to see how long they can last. The exhaust sounded phenomenal too. The final and the hardest task was naming the bike, which took them over a year. They came up with the name V-rod, V for the V twin engine and Rod for the dragster character.
After 1000’s of hours of hard work including success and failure and millions of dollars of investments, the V-Rod was finally a reality. Harley Davidson reveled the V-rod a motorcycle that was unlike any other Harley and something that took 6 whole years to build. The V-Rod came with 115bhp engine out of the box. On the launch as the cover was taken off, the crowd went thunderous for its elegance and a design that was breathtaking.
By: Rishath Suresh