HARLEY-DAVIDSON V-ROD (2001 - 2008) Review


  • Mighty Porsche-designed V-twin engine
  • Great straight line performance
  • Aggressive drag bike looks

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
Power: 115 bhp
Seat height: Low (26.0 in / 660 mm)
Weight: High (606 lbs / 275 kg)


New N/A
Used £6,800 - £15,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Harley-Davidson V-Rod may look to the uninitiated like every other chrome plated, low slung cruiser model from the American marque. But in fact, the V-Rod marked a real departure from the bikes we were used to seeing come out of Milwaukee.

Not only did Harley install a real wow factor in the way the bike rides that extends way above the chrome, it also managed to make it look aggressive enough to throw out any feelings of leather chaps and piss-pot helmets.

This bike is quick, like properly quick spinning its rear wheel away from the lights quick with an engine that keeps pulling right the way past where a normal Harley has nipped of for a cough and splutter. With even more power where you least expect it at the top-end.

Combine that with all-American hot-rod and dragster inspired styling (hence the V-Rod name) and you’ve got what Harley calls the start of their new VRSCA family. The A because the V-Rod is the first in a new line of performance customs in this vein and the rest for V-twin Racing Street Custom.

It’s like no other Harley you’ve ever looked at before. For a start it’s full of aluminium, it’s got a radiator and the styling is fresh but also fits somewhere around a V-Max and a Buell.

Though Harley claim they originally had the idea for this bike in 1995 so claim they’ve copied no-one but themselves. One thing’s for certain, just as you think every year they’re going to bring out a bike with new rubber engine mounts and a restyled seat and mudguard, they’ve still got it in them. 99 years old or not this is a bike for the modern age.

This bike was replaced by the 2009-2018 Harley-Davidson V-Rod.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The way you sit in the bike doesn’t make it feel like it’s built for speed, with the back of the seat resting against your lower back and your feet forward chopper style across the length of the narrow bike. Just be careful not to burn your legs on the right hand side pipes.

Above 70mph your legs start flapping around a bit but the bike is dead stable and pretty comfortable once you’ve got used to your feet sitting out front. And besides this is a performance cruiser not a sports bike or tourer.

Laid back, the bike doesn’t feel like it should be something that goes round corners but it copes with them quite well. Despite the relaxed steering and fork angle where the forks look like they’re a few feet in front of you when you’re riding, it turns beautifully.

Pitch it in to a corner, easy now as there’s still not tons of ground clearance, and despite its long wheelbase the bike’s dead easy to flick from left to right.

There’s plenty of engine braking to let you roll off between corners but the brakes are fine if you need them. Like a lot of custom bikes carrying this much weight the bike works well by using a fair bit of back brake as well as front.

The front calliper is more than up to it and there’s considerably less dive than on older Harleys. The forks are still soft but they seem to work and you actually have some idea of when it’s going to lock the front tyre rather than just doing it.


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The V-Rod uses an engine derived from the VR1000 superbike that raced in the AMA Superbike championship. And though it’s no lightweight fire-breather it is putting out a respectable 115bhp from its liquid-cooled 1130cc engine.

An engine that Porsche Engineering helped develop and Harley’s first liquid-cooled road bike motor.

At 70mph the bike’s barely registering on its rev-counter and it’s totally relaxing to ride. In fact if you really want to you can ride round town in top gear at 2000rpm and 20mph and it will chug a bit yet pull cleanly right the way up to its maximum top-speed.

For the record, 1st gear is good for 50mph, second for 80mph and it’s top speed is reckoned by Harley to be between 137mph and 140mph depending on different bikes.

The engine is the real reason for this bike’s existence and it’s an absolute classic. Forget all preconceptions you’ve got of this bike and let the engine do the talking. There’s really two ways to ride it.

One is to leave the revs down low and ride the 74ftlb of torque short shifting out of every corner and feeling it vibrate a bit as that classic big twin noise booms from the twin mufflers.

It’s surprisingly loud as standard but it all seems to be from the pipes, not the airbox. And because it’s a 60-degree V-twin it’s more jacket-potato than the traditional potato-potato noise.

But if short-shifting isn’t your thing you can ride it like a real bike and ring it for all its worth. The motor is dead smooth and quiet compared to a conventional Harley and it’s got a real kick in the top-end.

You can feel the engine pulling hard up to 5000rpm and if you didn’t have a rev-counter you’d swear that was all it had. But investigate a little more and twist the throttle harder and it feels like the bike has a supercharger. The last 4000rpm kick in so hard you could be on a TL1000S.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

Lots of time’s gone into designing the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod and there’s no serious glitches in terms of reliability.

The finish on the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod is better than the air cooled Harleys but if you do let it corrode, it’ll not do the second hand value any favours at all – but most Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rods are sunny weekend toys not winter sluggers anyway.

There was a recall on a limited number of UK bikes shortly after it was released due to overstressing the engine during checks at the factory. All the bikes affected had replacement engines fitted.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod is savagely pricey when new compared to similar Japanese capacity cruises – but none of them offer the same experience or such power.

Running costs aren’t cheap either but few owners do enormous mileages. Depreciation is low. Harley’s own Street Rod is a grand cheaper and arguably a better bike than the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod.

If you are considering buying a used Harley-Davidson V-Rod, look also at the Yamaha VMAX and Triumph Rocket III. You may also consider an original  Ducati Diavel.


2 out of 5 (2/5)

Find the key on the side of the bike turn it all the way forward and the needles of the speedo, tacho and fuel gauge all jump round the dial in a very Japanese way with the rev-counter needle glowing red when it hits the red-line. Why? Because as Harley says it shows all your instruments are working and it’s a cool thing to show your friends. And yes they really did say that.

Fancy clocks aside, there are few frills on the standard Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod and a small fuel tank. The riding position’s not like any other bike; the seat’s low, as are the bars, and the pegs extremely far forward. It’s not a comfy position for most people but at least you can dip into the enormous range of accessories, both official and unofficial get the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod's ergonomics closer to what you need.


Engine size 1131cc
Engine type 8v V-twin, 5 gears
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 660mm
Bike weight 275kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Twin 300mm discs
Rear brake 300mm disc
Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 18

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost £120
New price -
Used price £6,800 - £15,000
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 115 bhp
Max torque 77 ft-lb
Top speed 130 mph
1/4 mile acceleration 11.5 secs
Tank range 130 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

2001: Original Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod launched.
2006: Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod gets optional 240mm rear tyre.

Other versions

Harley-Davidson VRSCB V-Rod: launched in 2003 – black frame and rear shocks plus other minor colour changes about £1000 cheaper than the Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod.

Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON V-ROD (2001 - 2008)

8 owners have reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON V-ROD (2001 - 2008) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your HARLEY-DAVIDSON V-ROD (2001 - 2008)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.2 out of 5 (4.2/5)
Engine: 4.9 out of 5 (4.9/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.8 out of 5 (4.8/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Equipment: 3.6 out of 5 (3.6/5)
Annual servicing cost: £120
5 out of 5 brian@anthonyandpykett.co.uk
29 February 2024 by brian@anthonyandpykett.co.uk

Version: Vsca

Year: 2006

Annual servicing cost: £250

Great price for a slice of Harley history.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Suspension is ok most riders upgrade rears to better ones though stock shocks are ok.

Engine 5 out of 5

Superb engine what you would expect from Porsche!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Very good build quality no corrosion anywhere but all that chrome best avoid winter road salt Any bike will suffer in that.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Really only oil and filter changes major service every 15k

Equipment 4 out of 5

Basic instruments lack of temp gauge seems odd for a water cooled bike.

4 out of 5 Harley V-Rod 2005 .
06 November 2023 by Gus Hoult

Version: Vrsca

Year: 2005

I'm 6'2" and long legged the seat and pegs are perfect for me ...A Shorter rider may find they are stretching to reach the pegs

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5

Smooth engine ....Gear selection indication would have been a nice touch though ...

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Excellent build quality .Mine has 5k on clock ..chose lower mileage as valve adjustment req with higher mileage ..Big job and not sure how many workshops would be familiar with the task

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5

Buying experience: Purchased from Superbike factory Bradford ...price was correct for year and condition

5 out of 5 A great bike - fast and loud
17 July 2023 by tMoB70

Version: VRSCB

Year: 2005

Annual servicing cost: £200

Best for acceleration, sound and lack of maintenance requirements. It is comfortable to ride and good all round bike that turns everyone's head. I got lucky first time with this I guess. Some scary side winds and one occasion I gave it too much on the front brakes. It has been a fantastic bike to own and I would highly recommend this. It is a pure muscle bike that will surprise others and be admired by most.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

For me the ride is the best part. Anytime you want power give the throttle a twist and off you go...twist it further and you'll realise this has so much to give. Brakes are good, they will forgive most errors, but leaving it late and grabbing hard and there are no clever equipment to forgive you. I'll add that my bike has ape hangers, so I am not sure how this compares to the originally. But it is particularly horrible in high winds or if you are heading up past 70.

Engine 5 out of 5

Engine is probably the best Harley have ever made.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Literally have had nothing to do. Changed the oil, checked the fluids. Other than than a quick wipe down. Keeping the solid wheels shiny is tricky. Never had any problems with it and it is now 18 years old.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

So far I've changed the oil and filter, bought some chrome polish and one nut for the heat guard which came loose. Sold to me by HD with a half worn front tyre, after 3 or 4 years I needed a new back tyre and changed the pads at the same time. So over the years I have spent hardly anything on it and it still looks new.

Equipment 3 out of 5

If you are buying a second hand don't go for price. Go for the one that has all the looks and equipment you want in advance. There is very little choice to alter it and very few will stock or manufacture for V-Rods. When I had to replace a broken back indicator there were no alternatives, it had to be a second hand one. A local dealer has servicing prices, except V-Rods (POA). Harleys are known for being customised, this is a lot harder to get something different for. Even pillion seats are hard to come by. Add to that there's no plug & play storage so you will need to be inventive.

5 out of 5
04 July 2023 by Tony ( rigatoni)

Year: 2002

Annual servicing cost: £20

He'll yeah nicest riding harley out there

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I've owned mine since new in 2002 have replaced about 5 battery and changed the oil every year about a 50 dollar per year maintenance on average. 12k miles and rides excellent with lots of power when needed very torque on top end and definitely no dog off the line I'm 52 years old and took my sons R1 Yamaha 1000 cc from light to light 😀 so all in all great cruiser low maintenance timeless design. This bike gets so many looks where ever I go people stare at it . Best purchase v rod

Equipment 3 out of 5

Buying experience: Awesome buy you cannot go wrong

5 out of 5 Powerful, comfortable cruiser
14 November 2022 by Vrod Pete

Year: 2005

Annual servicing cost: £100

Powerful, comfortable, looks great it’s my 3rd V Rod.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Comfortable ride, with a front screen to block out the wind, your bum is the first think to ache after 70 - 100 miles. Brakes work really well, the twin discs up front give lots of feed back.

Engine 5 out of 5

Great engine, lots of smooth power right through the rev range.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

All good, chrome is still good, alloy still okay with regular buffing, not let me down.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

Original Parts can be very expensive, and the bike is not easy to work on, even simple service tasks are not straight forward.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The engine has to be the best feature of the V Rod

Buying experience: Bought from a used motorcycle dealer, price paid £7500.

4 out of 5 Best kept secret in the Harley range
03 November 2015 by AlanDub

Version: Night Rod

Year: 2006

Annual servicing cost: £100

Underrated bike - a lot better than most people think.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

4 out of 5 (rated as a cruiser/tourer). I can go for 1 full tank of fuel (c.120 miles!) before I need to get off and stretch the legs. Choice of switching between mid and highway pegs helps on longer runs too.

Engine 5 out of 5

Big flat torque curve, wonderful.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Some of the polished finishes need attention otherwise they will tarnish, but the overall build quality is good, and it has proved 100% reliable

Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

Oil, filters and break pads annually - easy for any competent DiY'er

Equipment 3 out of 5

Comes fairly spartan in standard form, but has everything you need (imho). Fit a decent set of panniers and discover one of the best kept Harley secrets - the water-cooled 60 degree V is perhaps the best fast touring bike in the whole HD range.

Buying experience: Bought privately

5 out of 5 Cool Cruiser with a Rush!
13 June 2015 by freemaxuk

Version: Muscle

Year: 2010

Annual servicing cost: £75

What a looker! it draws the crowd everywhere it goes. Sounds great with the V&H slip-ons, goes well too. It's quite nimble considering the big rubber its wearing. If you want cruising with a rush..this is your bike!

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Very little suspension travel, function follows form on this baby and with Brembo brakes you'd have thought they'd be better, but the rear weight distribution means you really need to use your right foot! The engine more than makes up for the brakes though and you really can control your speed off the throttle.

Engine 4 out of 5

The early Vrods had a real top end rush. This version has been tuned more to the low end. I preferred the original, but it's all good:-)

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Four years of use and no problems..it's always ready to run

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Very easy to do it yourself... so I do

Equipment 3 out of 5

I regularly ride with a pillion. With the optional backrest fitted she is very secure and loves it. Fuel gauge is a problem, miles to empty doesn't help. Thank god they put a bigger tank on this version, but even so I end up filling up too early. It's not a big issue really

Buying experience: Bought from a dealer. Actually it was their tech guy that sold it to me. Cool and a bit of speed too. Whats not to like?

4 out of 5 vrscb 04
27 June 2007 by fazers123

very quick for a cruiser,handles and stops well,strong engine not good value at £12000

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
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