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Find my brake – Harley Davidson V-Rod

September 1, 2022 Tips & how-to guides
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We look at the Harley Davidson V-Rod range from 2001 onwards, and the brake pads Bendix supplies for these motorcycles.

The VRSC (an acronym for V-Twin Racing Street Custom) V-Rod family was launched in 2001 as Harley Davidson’s first completely new road model in 50 years. Powered by a liquid-cooled engine the V-Rod marked a hugely significant point in the Milwaukee company’s 110-plus year history.

The V-Rod was a departure from everything traditionally Harley-Davidson and was primarily tasked with attracting non-Harley riders into the Harley-Davidson fold. It looked different, with a hydroformed tubular frame, an athletic stance, an underseat fuel tank, and a round-topped airbox cover up front, which looked like a conventional fuel tank. It looked sporty, for a cruiser, and more athletic than the traditional Harley-Davidson cruisers. More important, however, were the changes to the engine and its development.

While the V-Rod was well received by traditional American Harley owners, they were not quite as enthusiastic about the liquid-cooled engine, developed in conjunction with Porsche, as were the supporters Down Under. Following the launch of the cruiser, the Australian market quickly became one of the nameplate’s most significant sales regions. Appealing to a non-traditional sector of the market, the Night Rod Special and Muscle models were particularly popular with younger riders on the Gold Coast and Sydney.

The first of the V-Rod Harleys, the VRSCA, was long and low and cleanly styled, with what H-D called the ‘anodised’ look. Although the perimeter frame appeared to be alloy it was actually fabricated from hydro-formed steel tubing. Sitting on Fatboy-inspired disc wheels with a raked-out, 49mm fork at the front and a lovely cast-alloy swingarm supported by twin shocks at the rear, the V-Rod was Harley’s answer to the 21st Century.

In 2001 Harley-Davidson’s liquid-cooled and fuel-injected, 60º, DOHC, four-valve, 1130cc ‘Revolution’ engine producing 86 kW represented a giant step forward for Milwaukee’s revered Motorcycle Company - away from its signature air-cooled, 45º, two-valve, pushrod units. The innovation extended to the slick Getrag-developed gearbox driven through a primary gear instead of H-D’s trademark primary chain.

Aside from some cosmetic detailing the V-Rod remained pretty much the same until 2006, when the updated VRSCD Night Rod upped the power to 89 kW, thanks to a set of straight-shot mufflers. The Night Rod also benefitted from an upgrade to Brembo brakes, slotted aluminum disk wheels, and a color-matched fairing in 2007. In 2008 the VRSCD’s displacement was increased from 1,131 to 1,247 cc with a power gain of 4 kW. A slipper clutch was also added, as was an ABS option.

At the same time that the Night Rod was launched Harley unleashed "the Destroyer", a non-street legal eight-second drag bike with a longer-stroke and bigger bore, a lightened flywheel, high compression forged pistons, larger valves, larger throttle bodies, dyno-tuned velocity stacks, and high lift cams. Race-only drivetrain changes included a multi-stage lock-up clutch, pneumatic shifter, and a programmable shift light. The Destroyer also formed the basis for the four-time world champion Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines V-Rod NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle. This in turn led to Harley releasing the production VRSCX as a Screamin' Eagle Tribute bike to commemorate the V-Rod's second consecutive NHRA Championship in 2007.

Intended to capture the Europeans’ imagination, in 2006 Harley Davidson launched a Street Rod positioned as the “roadster-inspired” member of the VRSC lineup. In reaching out to the Europeans the Street Rod was the first VRSC to use upside-down forks and four-pot Brembo brakes clamping 292mm discs, with the Brembo brakes also appearing on the Night Rod in 2007.

And to fully exploit Harley owners’ passion for individuality, Harley-Davidson introduced the VRSCDX Night Rod Special in 2007 as the factory’s customised version of the standard Night Rod. Part of Harley-Davidson's "Dark Custom" series, the Special was shod with a 240 mm wide rear tyre, and received several cosmetic touch-ups. The Special was given a cosmetic makeover for the 2012 model year, with the launch of a tenth-anniversary version of the V-Rod. Whilst the updates were cosmetically quite extensive the chassis changes were, however, restricted to a set of inverted front forks and split five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels. The engine was left unchanged.

So even though several variants of the V-Rod – including the Night Rod Special and Muscle models that were so popular in Australia - were produced in its 16-year model run, the basic concept was deemed so successful that the V-Rod continued through to its runout in 2017 with only the relatively minor mechanical changes described above.

Weighing in at over 270kg the Harley Davidson V-Rod is not a light motorcycle and with a top speed of about 220 km/h, it is important that the cruiser can be brought to a safe stop in all conditions. For this reason, Bendix has developed the Bendix Moto line of brake pads that cover a wide range of bikes and riding applications.

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Bendix Brake Pads For The Harley Davidson V-Rod

As Australia’s largest automotive friction material manufacturer, Bendix has been at the leading edge of braking technology for close to 70 years and has now taken that expertise to the world of motorcycles with the Bendix Moto line of brake pads.

Bendix Moto currently offers two brake pad types – Ultimate+ and Street Road Track. Each pad type covers the needs of a range of motorcycles and how they’re used, from putting around on the daily commute to full-blown track use. Bendix Moto’s extensive catalogue also covers an enormous range of different motorcycle types including Harley Davidson’s V-Rod tourer.

Ideally suited to the V-Rod, Bendix Moto Ultimate+ Brake Pads have been developed to perform flawlessly when commuting in daily traffic but also for cruisers that require the stopping power of a premium brake pad when heavily laden, as is often the case with the V-Rod. They offer exceptional stopping power, low dust, and low noise, whilst offering high resistance to brake fade at higher temperatures thanks to a high friction ceramic formulation.

Whilst Bendix Moto Ultimate+ Brake Pads are made to handle the stresses of stop-start traffic they also offer high braking performance to safely slow the heavy V-Rod when negotiating twisty mountain passes.

For V-Rod owners that want to explore the motorcycle’s sprint capabilities over the quarter-mile at the dragstrip, Bendix has developed the Bendix Moto Street Road Track Brake Pads that are well suited to high-speed riding applications – normally closed street circuits, but also of value when slowing the heavy V-Rod at the end of the strip. Tested under the most extreme conditions, Bendix Moto Street Road Track Brake Pads are designed to deliver consistently high braking performance, no matter the conditions, whilst offering low fade, low wear, and high friction characteristics. Whether it be urban street riding, winding mountain roads, long stretches of open road, or at the end of the drag strip, Bendix Moto Street Road Track Brake Pads will continue to perform flawlessly. If your bike has high-performance braking demands, Bendix Moto Street Road Track is what you need.

Whether you spend your weekends cruising the back roads of Australia or need to bring the V-Rod to a stop at the end of the dragstrip, Bendix Moto brake pads have got you covered, under all riding conditions, whether the wet or dry.

Never get caught out by brakes that aren’t quite up to the job. Fitting a set of Bendix Moto Ultimate+ or Street Road Track Brake Pads to your Harley Davidson V-Rod means you can brake with confidence - anywhere, anytime, in all conditions.