About a year ago, I rode the VRSCAW V-Rod and imagined the Night Rod Special to behave somewhat the same as the V-Rod. Both look fairly similar and have the same power plant, so what’s the difference?
The Night Rod looks intimidating. It makes me think of a wild animal. Unpredictable and dangerous, yet, incredibly alluring, you cannot walk away. You have to play with it.
Honestly, it’s not a pretty motorcycle. Like a red wine, it is somewhat of an acquired taste. I have to admit I was hooked on the Night Rod within 10 minutes of hitting the starter switch, but have yet to start enjoying Cabernet Sauvignon. What it lacks in the aesthetics department it certainly makes up for in build quality, which is no surprise. You have decent instrumentation sporting a fuel gauge, in plain sight, then your standard items like a speedometer and a tachometer (rev counter for us normal folk) all of which are analogue, the only digital part is the odometer.
There is no wind protection, but you do not really need any. The seating position is ideally suited to a taller person. Your legs are stretched out forward and the handlebars are nice and wide enough to easily manoeuvre the motorcycle, yet narrow enough to squeeze your way through the cars to the front of the line at a traffic light. You do not have too much ground clearance, so be sure to take care going around a bend, I found myself misjudging the maximum lean anlge a few times whilst making very short turns in town. Another thing you should watch out for is having your right leg to close to the exhaust header. Whilst riding I suddenly felt a warm sensation on my right calf, my right leg was pressing against the exhaust header, luckily this only happened once.
Out of town, on a long stretch of road, the beast is at home. The rear rim sports a 240/40 R18 which helps in keeping the motorcycle stable while you lay down the power. The engine which is a 1250cc liquid cooled v-twin, is very responsive and has ample power to make sure you do not have to gear down for any uphill, even with a pillion at the back. At 120km/h the rev counter indicates 4500rpm. There is power throughout the entire rev-range with no flat spots that I could find. Maximum torque, 115Nm, is available at 7000rpm, but anything above the 3000rpm mark ensures a smile on your face. Brembo brakes provide really good stopping power and it even has ABS. I tried locking the rear wheel but didn’t succeed.
Though this isn’t a motorcycle you would use to quickly go to the shop to buy bread and milk, it has decent handling at low speed in town with frequent stops. I really appreciated the smooth and easy operation of the clutch. Your hand won’t go numb after three red traffic lights, as is the case with some other motorcycles I have ridden in the past.
I came to the conclusion, the difference between the V-Rod and the Night Rod Special is in fact, you, the rider. The Night Rod Special made me feel like a hooligan and my riding pattern confessed of that, whilst the V-Rod demands respect and made me feel like a proper gentleman. I would describe the Night Rod Special as the ‘sportier’ of the two.
Whether you’re in the market for a Sunday morning toy or you want to make an impression whilst cruising down to the beach, the Harley-Davidson Night Rod Special, is a decent contender and worth every cent.