As of this writing, Vance & Hines/Screamin’ Eagle Racing’s newest rider, Eddie Krawiec, just earned his second NHRA Pro-Stock motorcycle event “Wally” victory trophy. He was aboard the bike many consider to be the inspiration for the VRSCF V-Rod Muscle you see on these pages. Heck, we even have the color right. Eddie’s rise to fame started last year when he pulled off a seemingly impossible mission by winning the Pro-Stock Bike season championship without scoring a single event win. That takes consistency. He was right there, in the thick of things all year, but didn’t once stand atop the winner’s circle podium. But after all the points were tallied, he got the big trophy. That’s what really
matters. Now, with this year’s victories (so far) at Atlanta and St. Louis, Eddie has the single-event win monkey off his back. He’s proven that he can win on a weekend, or last the long haul.
While the Muscle has the visual stance and a healthy acceleration, this V-Rod’s not gonna keep up with Eddie’s quarter-mile pace of 6.90 seconds at over 192 mph. But slapping a holeshot on slower traffic during your daily commute “competition” will be no problem. The 76″ (1250cc) liquid-cooled Revolution engine is shared with both other V-Rod models this year, and churns out 86 ft-lbs. of torque. With sequential-port fuel injection and 11.5:1 compression, there’s plenty of power when the green light drops. One item that doesn’t exude muscle is the dual left and right, low, streetsweeper exhaust. I can’t even say it flexes the acoustics under heavy throttle. The Muscle is downright whisper-quiet … just ask my neighbors. One dirty little secret about the exhaust is in the smallish passenger footrest area. The pipes get hot enough to sizzle boot soles and the resulting dark marks are a black mark on a cool bike.
In the ergonomics department, this is no La-Z-Boy recliner. Forward controls differ from Eddie’s rearsets, and the cast-aluminum handlebar (with concealed wiring) creates a cool Pro-Street posture. In keeping with the “be like Eddie” theme, I tried riding with my feet perched on the passenger pegs. Low and behold, that’s where I was most comfortable, but it’s not the safest of foot placements, as you lose quick brake and shifter reaction. Making a fashion statement, megafox runway model Marisa Miller is shown in V-Rod Muscle ads straddling the bike and reaching far for the bars. While the bars are a bit forward, and my back had a nice stretch to reach, don’t worry, Marisa’s posture is exaggerated. (See more of Marisa at www.H-D.com/Muscle.)
Visual enhancement comes from new bodywork panels in the radiator shroud, dual-scooped steering neck covers, stubbed rear fender, and LED taillamp with integrated signals. The swingaway license bracket also uses LEDs to light your plate. The five-spoke, cast-aluminum wheels are new, and the mirror-stalk, front-LED signal lights are trick, if not a tad low. I banged knuckles more than once. Pilot information comes from a triple-gauge layout with speedo front and center, a smallish-but-readable tach, and an always welcome fuel gauge with an active needle. The inset LCD panel displays assorted mileage figures and low-fuel countdown.
I equate the handling characteristics of the Muscle to that of trying to grasp a 55-gallon drum of race fuel at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions on the lid, and trying to rock it over. Okay, so the drum isn’t full on VP juice, but it does take some effort. Thank the 673-pound curb weight, the 240-profile rear rubber, and the 5.6″ trail (which is great for that long straightaway), but ironically you’ll need to muscle this bike through the twisties. Up front, the Muscle sports a 43mm upside-down front end, and only preload is adjustable on the pair of rear shocks. Twin 11.8″ floating rotors up front, and an equal-size single disc out back, are clamped by a triple play of Brembo four-piston calipers. Our test unit was also equipped with H-D ABS. I found the engagement to be predictable and strong, with no chattering, just a deep thud when it becomes active.
With some bicep flexing required to maneuver the Muscle, you may want to try a new workout exercise. It’s called the wallet curl. You’ll be doing plenty of sets as you pay for the repeated fillings of the 5-gallon tank. Generally speaking, I was getting 28 mpg, but I was doing plenty of right-wrist twists while riding, to build my forearms. Your not-so-friendly banker will be saying “No pain, no gain” as you sign on the dotted line for the most expensive of the three VRSC models this year: $17,199 gets you basic black, but red, blue, or silver will cost you $17,504. And at $795, the ABS option is a downright bargain and a must-have in my book. But perhaps the hardest part of owning this bike will be the ribbing you take from your buddies about riding something called a Muscle. Better be secure in your manhood. AIM
–Steve Lita as published in American Iron Magazine, the world’s best selling Harley magazine.