Brawler – A V-Rod Powered Sportster Alternative

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

It's no secret the V-Rod has not broken any sales records, but most everyone would agree the engine is a pretty nice piece of engineering. The Harley faithful keep pushing it away but everyone else keeps trying to fit it into a bike unlike the V-Rod Harley produced.

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

This concept called the Brawler, is the latest work of Travis Clark. We've seen more than a few attempts to frame the V-Rod engine into something a bit more sporty, but it looks like Travis did his homework here and things fit together better than some of the other concepts.

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

Brawler - V-Rod powered Sportster concept

The Brawler has leading link front suspension in the high end V-Rod powered model while the base model has inverted forks and an 88 cubic inch air cooled V-Twin, pretty interesting.

Brawler - leading link front suspension

Brawler - leading link front suspension

Travis' idea here is to appeal to younger riders with a Sportster appeal and V-Rod power. As noted recently, Harley is actually doing better with a young crowd by pushing the Sportster in several variations, maybe a high power option would fit. Would something like this work? Possibly. More importantly, would the Motor Company be willing to try it?

Link: Travis Clark

Brawler - tail section options

Brawler - tail section options


  1. weeknee says

    This has to be one of the better designs Ive seen, The lines are nice and flow well, not that my opinion matters. Unfortunatly, this wont be made on a company level. The suits seem to be so engulfed by thier own self styled myth that any idea that wont involve some kind of Sons of Anarchy plug will no doubt be shown the door. Thank you for playing, we will be in touch. Dont get me wrong, harleys are cool plain and simple. I miss my sportster like its nobodys bussiness. And the crotchrockets are awsome too altho ridin all hunched over just aint my thing. I just belive that for this bike to ever be built, it will be built by some knuckle buster in his garage in the wee hours of the mourn.

  2. fazer6 says

    One of the better ideas, but no way will HD ever build anything like it.
    I predict the V-Rod motor (and any notion of liquid-cooling) will be axed shortly.

  3. D. Speevak says

    The VRod motor, designed with Porsche engineering input, is one of the best motorcycle engines in the world. The compromise with the VRod motorcycle is the ergonomics which are less than ideal. A frame designed to exploit all the potential of this powerplant would result in a world class machine.

  4. Richard Gozinya says

    The V-Rod motor’s pretty good, still, it is quite heavy, and the efficiency of it is downright lousy. I suspect that’s the fault of the MoCo, instead of investing in things like lighter weight parts and materials, a more efficient fuel injection system, a lighter weight, six speed gear box etc. they’ve chosen to take the dress up route. Can’t blame them, that’s what’s sold for them. Though it’s hard to not wonder if the VRSC line up could’ve been more successful had they chosen to focus on performance instead of just style.

  5. aaron says

    awesome concept! I wonder if that swingarm would actually fit into the package without a really messy chain angle?

    (addressing some of the comments above)
    the v-rod once had a state of the art motor, but that was nearly 10 years ago. compromises were made to performance and weight in an effort to make it feel/look/sound acceptable to the retro (vintage? antique?) bikes harley made their name with. there’s probably a very good reason buell chose to develop the helicon motor from scratch over designing a bike around the v-rod lump. probably spent tens of millions of dollars, all because the v-rod motor wasn’t up to the job.

    my take: the race-only destroyer drag bike made a claimed 170hp at the crank from 1300cc. a ducati multistrada 1200 adventure tourer makes 150. that’s pretty close, espicially when you consider the extra 100cc the H-D has in hand. when a full on drag bike is producing similar power as a stock, road legal machine with touring capability, I have problems getting excited over it.

  6. Bjorn says

    Love it! A beautiful piece of design Travis.
    I was speaking to some patch wearers at our local who were all on V-Rods and they were talking about 120bhp stock. Judging by the amount of rubber they smeared on the road when they left; torque is not a problem. Because of the ocean liner styling I’d never paid attention to them, but I had started to think there might be some good in the idea after chatting to those blokes.
    Travis’ design looks as though it pulls the wheel base in enough that the bike would turn OK and the styling is spot on.

  7. Byrd says

    I think this is the precise opposite of what they should do. A lot of people don’t want a water-tanker, don’t really consider that a Harley, and I’m certainly one of them. What HD should do is buy that hot-rod Buell engine, and put it in a longer, lighter cruiser style bike, and design something that’s lighter and faster than the Softail, and make it look GOOD for once. Sportsters lost their looks after 1978 IMO. If they’d build a bike like a slightly raked Dyna, frisco-mount the traditional peanut tank, and use that Buell engine and drop some pounds, keep the price at 11k, they wouldn’t be able to make them fast enough. They need to kick Willie G. to the curb and bring in a designer with eyes. HD’s are bloated and clumsy looking and the Japanese put them to shame in terms of styling some of their better looking cruisers. Take that from a life-long HD rider/custom builder. I suppose I’m glad their bikes look so heavy-handed, makes it pretty easy to make mine stand out a mile.

    This is basically an HD Sport Bike and we already know how Buell faired in the market.

  8. Richard Gozinya says

    @Byrd, you’re talking about the Thunderstorm engine, right? The one that’s in the Lightning and Firebolt? I don’t think Harley would have to buy that one, since it’s just a heavily modified Sportster engine (Drastically better than the XR1200, but still a Sportster motor). If you’re talking about the Helicon, that one’s water-cooled, so I don’t think it would suit what you’re talking about.

    As for this bike, looks real good, except for that exhaust. That just looks painful.

  9. Tom says

    I won’t claim to know anything about the motors, or HP to weight ratios. But I will say this design kicks arse. :) Might mess with the handle bars a bit, but looks good to me.

  10. John says

    My gut is telling me that HD have already taken (or are very close to taking) the decision to axe the V-Rod line. The recession is brutalizing the motorcycle industry and HD management are going to have to significantly streamline the company if they want to survive. I fully expect them to shutter any part of the enterprise that isn’t highly profitable. OTOH, I think there’s room for a small company to produce a Brawler. I might buy one if it wasn’t too outrageouly expensive.

  11. Wave says

    Am I the only one thinking that the “leading link” suspension as shown in the diagrams wouldn’t work at all? As far as I can see, they have bolted the black “support structures” directly to the forks in two places, thus locking them together rigidly. They then have a short rigid link joining from the bottom of the telescopic forks to the supports at an acute angle. From the drawing, this seems to fix the suspension solid, unless one of the links bends out of the way. Even if the leading link arrangement does work it seems pretty pointless to me if they’re using essentially a regular pair of telescopic forks to spring it. All the leading link part is doing is adding weight and complexity whilst limiting travel.

    Also, as Aaron says, the rear swingarm/suspension design looks like the chain would snap if you went over a bump. An interesting design exercise though. I’d prefer it with a longer seat/tail unit which covers the rear wheel.

  12. Will13 says

    Great design. I like the fact that the chassis can accomodate both air and liquid-cooled power trains. It’s what the Motor Co. should be looking to roll out very soon, though I doubt anything like this is on their radar.

    This is a winner in my book, but they’d have to get the weight down to 425lbs or less to really get my attention.

  13. SteveD says

    I find it strange that they never put the Revolution engine in a touring frame. The guys that buy the touring bikes are willing to spend the money and have frequently complained about the heat given off by the twin cam.

  14. Richard Gozinya says

    SteveD, as the Revolution engine exists now, the fuel economy is far too poor to serve as an engine for a big tourer. I’m not really sure why it gets such bad fuel economy, other engines out there of equivalent displacement can put out the same kind of power, but get a lot better mileage.

    Another thought I had about the Brawler, it’d look way better with an underslung exhaust, similar to what Buell does (And now, years later, more and more are copying).

  15. says

    If Harley let Porsche finish the Revo motor (lighter weight & emphasize performance) then HD would have numerous options. Until then, they’re stuck with sales not reaching potential, meanwhile other twins are gone (e.g. Ducati mega monster & other manufacturers response to the Ducati)

    The Revo motor is fairly compact & it does perform but that motor hasn’t reached its potential.

    Don’t forget this project:

  16. John F says

    NOW THATS A REAL BIKE ! To bad HD hasn’t got the balls to build it though. If they did people like me may have to stop slinging crap at them for building trendy, GIRLY, accountant type guttless poorly made over weight SCOOTERS !

  17. says

    Years ago I made some concept drawings showing how the V-Rod could be revamped to appeal to Harley traditionalists without turning it into merely an overweight Japanese-styled sport bike (as if the stock version doesn’t already look Asian enough).

    Most of my designs require little to no changes to the frame or powertrain, meaning huge retooling savings for Harley.

  18. SteveD says


    The Concours 14 sport touring bike gets mileage of 35-40 from a review I read. The V-Rod lists 34-42. With a 6 gal tank that plenty of range for touring.

  19. todd says

    Seeing stuff like Todd8080’s pictures really makes you wonder what Harley is thinking by not expanding the V-Rod line a little. I definitely think these would steal sales from people after more power buying a Star or Kawasaki based bike. But then, it would also keep sales of Genuine Accessories a bit lower, wouldn’t it?


  20. bblix says

    While it may be possible that H-D is considering dropping the axe on the VRod, they are still continuing to develop new vehicles in the product line.

  21. Eaton says

    The thing about the Revo is that is not very efficient so I dont know how well it will do in a touring model. A tourer getting 27mpg is pretty lame. If they lower the Hp, then whats the point?

    All of these Muscle Cruisers get HORRIBLE fuel economy. The Vmax being the worst at 18mpg! 18mpg on a freaking motorcycle!

    Anyway the Revo has lots of merits but the efficiency needs to be addressed as much as any desire to put it into something else.

    To be honest I think both of those pictured bikes are horrid, but the one without the radiator looks better.

  22. SteveD says

    I did look further at the comaprision between the Concours 14 and a hypothetical Revo HD tourer. The problem as I see it is the weight of the Kawi (602 lbs) would be a really light bike for HD, almost like putting the Revo in a Sportster frame. Not the comfiest beast.

  23. Tinman says

    Eaton, I dont know where you get your info, but its not from the usual Gov. testing. The numbers you show do not compare with the sources available, Maybe your going from a Boy Racer Mag that took the bikes out and beat on them all day. Not real world numbers.

  24. matt g says

    Beautiful renders. If he put a leaky old Vincent motor in there instead I’m sure everyone would be high fiving each other instead of commenting on how terrible Harley is!

    Neat pipe- looks like an excellent way to burn your inner thigh :)

  25. dwdoerf says

    I thought somebody who actually owns a V-Rod should comment.

    I have a Street Rod set up for touring using HD’s sport saddle bags and a rack bag. Other than that, it’s all stock (i.e. runs good and quiet). I’ve logged about 15,000 miles of touring with it and I average 38 to 40 mpg at 70 to 80 mph speeds. With the 5 gallan tank, I need to find a gas station every 160 to 170 miles. Prior to the Street Rod I toured in an Electra Glide Standard with the 88 ci Twin Cam. I could get up to 190 to 200 miles between stops with it. So the Streed Rod is not too far off, but a lot more fun to ride. I agree with the comment that a 6 gallon tank would be nice to have.

    Those who are commenting that the VRSC motor is dated should try one before being too critical.

    As for all those commenting on what The Motor Company should build, remember the XLCR, the XR1000, and the Streed Rod. All great bikes but market flops, relatively. And the XR1200 isn’t helping either. They’re not idiots.

  26. SteveD says

    Thanks for the “experience”, dwdoerf. The Revolution is dated? By Harley standards it’s barely off the bandwagon. :-)

  27. says

    Maybe I have different images in my article but I find that to be one of the most hideous looking bikes I’ve seen in a long time. Enough so it makes me not even care what is powering it or anything else. Guess my taste is just a bit off.

  28. Jay Allen says

    H-D’s profit machines are the touring bikes. I hope they put a Revo in a Road Glide ( Rod Glide?? ) and get the public to accept the engine. I hope my next H-D can be a VRSC. A real XR lover would jump on this one

  29. Alfatango says

    The V Rod engine was an Erik Buell and Porsche engineering cooperation then HD added there 2 cents and made it too big. Erik went on to make the Helicon engine with Rotax BRP. This bike is just a Buell XB Lightning derivative stolen from Erik Buell’s plans. HD sucks and hope they go bankrupt. I will buy a Yamaha Vmax way before this rip off.

  30. Mick188 says

    Love the concept but it seems Ducati have beaten them to production with their new muscle bike out possibly as early as next year!
    Interesting comments made on air cooled v liquid cooled HD engines but I always thought the V-Rod engine had one eye on the future. Correct me if I am wrong but the current crop of MoCo engines are likely to fail future emission tests in Europe and the USA and HD need to come up with an alternative?

  31. Frank A says

    Looks like a WAKAN. Thats a good thing………..

    Love it hope they build it and don’t water down the design. Doesn’t need bags, windshields, or a touring wheelbase. Keep it minimal.

    Put the pipes underseat…theres room….

    Too many concepts get compromised to death by committee by the time they hit production. Let Travis keep it pure an uncompromised.

    Heres my order today !

  32. wade says

    that v-rod powered machine catches my eye for a split second. smooth, sleak, and after questioning an HD service manager, well O. K. lightened up like the one displayed, it probably is a joy to ride.

  33. Travis says

    Thanks for all the comments, it is nice to hear what people think about my designs, good or bad, it’s all helpful criticism. This project was intended to be a bike that could be produced in the next year or two in order to capture a younger market for Harley in addition to their typically older market.

  34. Douglas Choinski says

    I OWN a vrod04 that looks like a road glide. I’ve put in a custom 5.2 gal tank in, plus upgrades on front forks. To many upgrades to list. I like the concept bike for younger crowd. The people I’ve met say they wish this motor was put in other styles. You could change attain fuel economy. I just hope I can buy more parts.

  35. todd says

    Douglas, your Facebook settings are private. Try posting a public link of your photo here (the link is on the bottom of the photo page on Facebook).


    • says

      I’m sorry about the pics. I’m not computer savy. my bike has been thru many stages . I’m going to school to work on bikes, I can’t waite to tear into my bike for a rebuild. I’ve got over 50k on it going from coast to coast.

  36. AOW says

    1) VROD’s only have a 5 gear transmission
    2) HD couldn’t axe the liquid cooled engine if they wanted to, it’s an EPA thing
    3) when the VRSC engine was released, it was already nearly 10 year old technology. In typical HD fashion, they’ve done ZERO to keep that tech current

    Awesome bike though, I would have no issue putting one of those in the garage

  37. Scott says

    OK Peeps here is my thoughts as a Scotsman living in Texas and recently on 2 wheels.

    Right now, I have a 2008 Sportster 1200 the green matte paint one think its a limited edition but whatever.

    There are many things I like about it, the list would be long and is the typical list of HD owners. However, there are a few things I don’t one of the first annoyances was when I first got the courage to ride on the freeway, the bloody toe shift rattles off…. Anyhoo, first things first for HD, fix the bloody bolts! A Japanese bike at least has decent build quality…

    As for the V-rod, I sat on one at a dealership in Houston, loved it, even considered trading in my Sportster against it. The styling is more modern the lines are great etc etc.

    Now, water cooled motor, since I am new to motorcycles and America I don’t feel I carry the same baggage for tradition as many folk here. Whats the big beef with water cooled HD’s? Would you be happy with an aircooled V-8 sports car that over heated? Its really kind of dumb if you ask me, hell if there was a water cooled after market kit for my sportster I would install it in a hear-beat…. Is there one?????

    As for the design shown above, I love it, I would slightly lengthen the frame and add a little rake to it. Aside from that, when is it in production and can I get finance please…..

    This post is a bit of a ramble, everyone ride safe and have a Merry Christmas and a great 2011.