In its 120-year history, Harley-Davidson has been responsible for some of the most popular, and most recognizable models to ever hit the road. You've got your old-school Sportsters, your Panheads, Dynas, Fat Boys, Road Kings, and Electra Glides just to name a few. But one particular model that has left Harley-Davidson fans divided... the V-Rod.

If you take an all-American icon like a Harley-Davidson, and combine it with German engineering marvels of Porsche, the V-Rod is the final result. While there were many riders that were thrilled about this chimera from two top-ranked auto brands, there were also many riders that were not convinced that this motorcycle was worth all the hype, leaving very little gray area in-between. So let's take a closer look at both points of view and see where you ultimately stand on this modern mix of American and German engineering.

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Why The Harley-Davidson V-Rod Is Underrated

2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD Muscle
Press photo of a 2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD Muscle

V-Rod haters need to try to understand that this model didn't earn a cult following from nothing. Only a handful of motorcycles are capable of turning heads just based on looks alone, and this bike is certainly not the most obvious Harley-looking Harley. One part performance, another part cruiser, the V-Rod went through multiple design changes between 2001 and 2017. Its larger, liquid-cooled 1250cc Porsche engine was able to produce 122 horsepower and 87 lb-ft of torque at its peak, which was certainly enough to separate it from the rest of Harley's lineup power-wise. But its very visual design made it exclusive only to the V-Rod. Having a fuel tank located directly underneath the seat, extra piping, and a big meaty rear tire definitely made it a top choice for riders looking to stand out from the crowd.

Displaying some inspiration from sport bikes, the V-Rod served as a bridge between all-American cruisers and Japanese street rockets. Its low-profile seat, forward controls, and elongated design made it a win for Harley fans looking for a one-of-a-kind, head-turning cruiser. And sport bike riders transitioning over to cruisers appreciated being welcomed into the Harley-Davidson world with a bike that offered them elements of the high performance bikes they were familiar with. That was until more powerful cruisers started making the lineup like the Fat Bob and Lowrider. Plus, the Porsche V-Twin engine was there to satisfy those throttle-cranking desires, especially on the straightaways. So it was understandable why so many fans of this bike were disappointed that this engine was retired, along with the bike itself instead of being implemented in future models.

Why The Harley-Davidson V-Rod Is Overrated

2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD
Press photo of the 2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD

While the V-Rod itself was impressively designed, the same cannot be said of its handling. While the 1250cc liquid-cooled Porsche engine gave the bike enough power to haul on the straight roads and stretches of highway, winding through the twisty roads was a different story. Because even though this bike is aesthetically pleasing to the eye with its unique features, on turns it steers like a tug boat. You can place the blame on its wide rear tire, or the limited turning range, or how its low seat and forward controls puts the legs some riders in an awkward stapler-like position. This served to be a bit of a red flag for incoming sport bike riders that wanted that level of performance they were once used to.

Another reason why many die-hard Harley fans believe that this bike wasn't what it was all cracked up to be was that it may have tried a little too hard to appeal to Japanese sport bike riders converting to Harley-Davidson. Having a liquid-cooled engine in their midst was a bit disconcerting to traditionalists at the time, even though many of Harley's newest engines are either liquid-cooled or air & oil-cooled. In an effort to become popular with sports bike riders and hardcore Harley fanatics, it burned itself out trying to appeal to both at once.

Related: Was The Harley-Davidson VRSC V-Rod Really The Disaster Everyone Says It Was?

The Final Verdict

2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD
2017 Harley-Davidson V-ROD

The infamous V-Rod is like strawberry jelly. People will either love it, or absolutely hate it. This motorcycle isn't meant for everybody, and it isn't required to be loved by all. Because one's take on the V-Rod is not that much different than any other model. Some stay loyal to one particular model for a lifetime, while others will jump around and try different flavors.

At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong motorcycle. It all boils down to your personal taste. If a lean, throttle-hungry, head-turning machine is what you look for in a bike that always stands out from the crowd, then the V-Rod is the right bike for you. This motorcycle successfully managed to create a strong following in its 16-year production run. But if you are put off by the V-Rod's "uniqueness," and prefer something more traditional, or at least an attention-grabber on your terms, then there are a lot more models out there that can meet those needs.