Harley kills off its sportiest motorcycles for 2018 as V-Rod production ends

Harley-Davidson doesn't just specialize in cruisers, it practically owns the segment. An argument could be made that the Honda Shadow, Kawasaki Vulcan, Suzuki Boulevard, and Yamaha Star motorcycles wouldn't exist in their current forms at all if it weren't for the mass appeal proven by Harley-Davidson's original brand of street-biased bikes. And for 2018, long, low, and comparatively slow are descriptors that apply to every single motorcycle H-D will offer, because 2018 marks the death of the V-Rod.

We don't mean to disparage Harley-Davidson or its riders. We've enjoyed thousands of miles on the company's Sportsters, Dynas, Softails, and Tourers. But our favorites have long been the VRSC line, which offered so much more performance and such a different look from the rest of H-D's lineup that they never really seemed to belong. And, apparently, that's the problem. For 2018, the Dyna line (exposed rear suspension) was merged with the Softail line (hidden rear suspension), which, while probably a smart move financially, means nearly all of the company's Big Twin bikes look extremely similar.

While Harley purists are lamenting the loss of the Dyna, it's the V-Rod that we're bummed about. With a liquid-cooled engine co-developed with Porsche, the VRSC lineup changed the way we thought of Harley-Davidson. And we mean that in a good way. It never sold enough to make much of a dent in the brand's profit margin, but it proved that the company was willing to take risks and to offer genuine performance options with equal doses of horsepower and style. It will be missed.

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Many of the powertrain components, like the 6.6-kilowatt onboard charger and the DC-DC inverter, are all mounted on a big bracket that is sub-assembled and then lifted into place when building the van. The new Pacifica Hybrid will be made on the same.

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