Motorcycle: Racers - VR1000, 1994 - Present
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 15:32:20 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
VR1000, 1994 - Present
The VR1000, which has been flying Milwaukee's road-racing flag through the latter half of the 1990s is a Harley even the faithful scarcely believe. It's a V-twin, true, but with twin overhead camshafts, and its cylinders are liquid-cooled and splayed at a sacrilegious 60 degrees. True, its four valves per cylinder have been done by Milwaukee before — but not for 70-odd years.
Clearly the VR is not your typical Hog. It's built in the United States, says "Harley-Davidson" on the side, and is decked out in classic black and orange racing livery. But it probably doesn't share a single part with any other Milwaukee model.
The machine uses Harley's own purpose-built powerplant, which looks for all the world like one quarter of a V8 car engine in its design and construction. Almost everything else is bought-in from quality suppliers, such as Swedish Ohiins suspension and Italian Marchesini magnesium-alloy cast wheels. The whole is tied together, not by American steel, but by a massively stiff twin-beam aluminium chassis. Erik Buell was one of the original development engineers on the project, while the race team is run by Steve Shybee.
In its early years, ridden by the mercurial Miguel du Hamel, the VR proved surprisingly potent, pumping out more than 120bhp at 10,800rpm. Yet it did not make the progress for which Harley fans might have hoped. This was not for the want of talented riders. Among others, the twin has been ridden by AMA Number 1 Chris Carr, Thomas Wilson, Doug Chandler and former World Superbike champion Scott Russell. The bike continued to improve, but not quickly enough. Observers were often surprised at the lack of all-out effort the factory appeared to put into the project. As a racer, it had one fatal and embarrassing flaw: it didn't win. No wonder onlookers — Harley devotees and not - struggled to comprehend quite what the VR1000 was for.
Even the VR's noted tractability could not overcome this sort of deficit. Although it could be competitive in wet conditions, it lacked at least 30bhp compared to similar Ducati twins. During 1998—9, however, an intensive programme of development work began to show startling results. Peak power soared to more than 170bhp, giving a measured top speed of 179mph (288kph) around the Daytona banking. Rider Pascal Picotte, in particular, posted some impressive results during 1999, although he could manage no better than twelfth place in the American MBNA Superbike championship. Team mate Scott Russell placed twentieth. Some VRs have been sold to private teams, with an odd route to racing legality. To qualify for competition, these must be street-legal - not necessarily in the USA, but somewhere. The United States is a very expensive place to make any motorcycle legal, so a limited-edition run of 50 "roadster" VRs flew a flag of convenience. No, not Liberia, but the truth is almost as absurd. The VR1000 met the relevant standards for road-going motorcycles - in Poland. Nonetheless, this high-tech device -the only racer in the world, for instance, to run a carbon multi-plate clutch -remains a puzzle. What is the purpose of the VR1000? Is it a rolling test-bed for hardware that might appear on future roadsters? Or is it the basis for a future roadster model? Racing people close to the factory team have suggested that a road-going liquid-cooled sports bike may be a genuine possibility. Some even believe that such a device could blow away even a Ducati V-twin; traditional Harley die-hards must throw up their hands in horror at the very thought. Wherever you stand, like the rest of us, you'll just have to wait and see.
Engine: dohc V-twin
Capacity: 60.8cu in (996cc)
Weight: 3731bs (169kg)
Wheelbase: 55.1in (1,400mm)
Top speed: 179mph (288kph)
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