Showdown: Yamaha V-Max vs Harley-Davidson VRSCF V-Rod

Harley V-Max vs Yamaha V-Muscle. Doesn’t sound right? Umm… well…

V-Max vs V-Rod Muscle isn’t the first shootout most people would think of. And that’s probably because on paper, the Harley is comprehensively outgunned by the Yamaha. Mr Max is fitted with an almighty 1,697cc V4 that pumps out 200 horsepower at 9,000rpm and 167Nm of torque at 6,500 revs. The V-Rod Muscle pales in comparison, with its 1,250cc V-twin, which only makes 122bhp at 8,250rpm and 110Nm of torque at 7,000rpm.


So is it over before it’s started? Is there no match-up here at all? Toff magazine don’t think so and they’ve gone ahead and pitted the two bikes against each other. Here are some excerpts from what they have to say:


The V-Rod, which isn’t exactly dainty, is still a lot smaller than the V-Max, despite the two bikes having an identical wheelbase of 1,700mm. The Max is significantly taller and wider and the difference is immediately apparent as soon as you get on these bikes. The V-Max’s seat height is a challenging 775mm while the V-Rod’s is a rather more accessible 640mm.


Seat height apart, the two bikes have very different seating positions. The V-Max has a comfortable, upright seating position that’s ideal for cruising along at a fast clip. The V-Rod Muscle’s footpegs make you stretch your legs forward and its handlebars make you reach out much further ahead – it is, of course, the traditional Harley riding position.


Both bikes have an identical wheelbase and both weigh around 300kg, but the Yamaha behaves more like a naked sportsbike while the Harley is more of a cruiser


Both the bikes are formidable when it comes to orgies of acceleration. Indeed, ‘acceleration’ is what both these machines are all about. The V-Rod goes from zero to 100km/h in 3.6 seconds while Mr Max pulverises the Harley, taking just 2.66 seconds to get to the 100km/h mark.


That the Yamaha dominates everything else in straight-line acceleration isn’t surprising – its V4 engine is bigger and vastly more powerful than the Harley’s. The Harley engine is more fuel efficient though, using 8.34 litres of fuel over 100km, while the V-Max engine guzzles 9.6 litres. [Then again, if you’re buying either of these bikes for their fuel economy, you probably need to think again…]


When the traffic lights turn green, the Yamaha boosts ahead with a rare vehemence – the sheer brute force, which pumps you forward regardless of the speed or revs, is simply aphrodisiac. And yet, that V4 is also so smooth and provides such linear, progressive power that pottering along at lower speeds is easy.


The V-Rod Muscle’s engine also runs very well and unlike some other Harley engines, it never gets rough and doesn’t vibrate at higher speeds. And it sounds distinctive – a low, bass rumble compared to the higher-pitched scream of the Yamaha V4. Also, the Rod’s five-speed gearbox is quite precise, if a bit noisier than the Yamaha’s transmission.


On the move, the Muscle feels much more like a cruiser, the Yamaha like a naked sportsbike. Despite its heft, Mr Max is refreshing handy, responding to rider input promptly while cornering and yet remaining enormously stable in a straight line, at very high speeds. The Yamaha’s suspension feels nicely taut and isolates you from bumps quite well. No question, the V-Max is a masterpiece of engineering.


The V-Rod, as you would probably expect, is not as competent around corners as the V-Max, grinding out its footpegs much earlier. No, the Muscle definitely prefers a more leisurely pace though that’s not necessarily a criticism. Remember, the Harley does accelerate very hard from a standstill, looks sharp and can handle almost any kind of riding that you choose to throw at it. It’s just not as good as the V-Max, which has moved the bar up very high.


While the V-Max is definitely a more impressive motorcycle overall, it’s also significantly more expensive – about 30% more – compared to the Muscle, which is an important factor. But keeping the money factor aside, the V-Max, with its mind-numbing velocity, left an incomparable impression upon us


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