There are plenty of clues that tell even casual viewers that the Warrior is a special machine. If the imposing size of the blacked-out cylinders and the giant muffler aren’t obvious enough, more subtle touches such as the attractive instruments and lovely handlebar clamps will.
Harley’s quest for jaw-dropping visual appeal has also sacrificed ergonomic satisfaction. A rider’s right pant leg polishes the rear cylinder’s hot exhaust header (whether standing or sitting), his left knee rubs against the chrome engine cover and small hands barely fit around the large-diameter handlebars. Moreover, the raked-out front end gives a sort of tippie-toe feeling that feels ungainly at low speeds. We can’t wait to see what kind of bike Harley will stuff that great new motor in next.
A note also needs to be made about pillion accommodations. While the Warrior’s rear seat is no picnic for your cruising buddy, the V-Rod’s passenger seat is a joke. It has a tiny seating area with an awkward and near-dangerous downward slope. After giving my stepdaughter a ride home from school on it, she became so terrified at the prospect of sliding off the back that she wouldn’t even consider going back out to get dinner at her favorite cuisine, Taco Bell. It’s almost more comfy sitting on the rear fender!
Perhaps the ugliest part of the V-Rod is its $17,995 asking price. That’s some $5000 more than the Warrior if you were one of the lucky few to persuade your H-D dealer to sell it at retail. Asking prices of $25,000 or even $35,000 were seen in advertisements when the bikes were first released, but that seems to have diminished as time went by. The 100th anniversary 2003 models jumped an extra 100 bucks for the aluminum-colored version, but our local dealer informs us they can be had at the retail price because demand isn’t as high as the first-year V-Rods.
The Bottom Line
Well, this was a tougher call than it seemed at first glance. There is no doubt the V-Rod is one of the most stunning pieces of moto-sculpture ever to roll off a production line, and its level of straight-line performance surpasses any factory-produced cruiser. For some, that’s all that matters.
The Warrior’s strong visual appeal is no match for the over-the-top V-Rod. The V-Rod delivers more thrills and attention than any other cruiser.
But the silver streak does have its foibles, such as the previously mentioned ergonomic quirks. And doing a multi-gear, full-throttle blast might have you convinced there’s more power in the engine room than the stretched out chassis can handle. Remember, it’s a Revolution motor, not a revolution in chassis design. Fans of Japanese machinery would also point out that oil seeping out of its sidecover and the headlight bulb surround that had fallen out (something that we hear isn’t too unusual) are signs that Harley hasn’t worked all the bugs out of its super-cruiser.
The Warrior, meanwhile, plays the role of a more typical cruiser. The engine is a bit of a paint-shaker at idle, but one that seems set at ultra-low speed and submerged in 90-weight oil. Power is readily available, as a rider can lope along at just 1500 rpm and still have decent response when twist is summoned from the engine bay.
The Yamaha also has the edge in functional terms, being better handling, more comfortable and easier to ride. Add in the price differential, and the Yamaha barely edges the stupendous Harley-Davidson.
But if money is no object, the V-Rod delivers more thrills and attention than any other cruiser. And if that’s paramount in your buying decision, you owe it to yourself to ride this paradigm-shifting, scene-stealing, knock-your-socks-off new-age Harley.
Check out the “Specs.” of the 2002 Harley V-Rod vs. Yamaha Warrior.