Harley Davidson vs. Yamaha

  • By reComparison Contributor
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Difference between Harley Davidson and Yamaha

For a long time, it seemed as if Harley Davidson was the untouchable leader of the motorcycle pack…at least as far as the U.S. market was concerned. Over the years however, a number of contenders have come up over the horizon, all of which have attempted to grab at least a potion of the motorcycle market away from the venerable Harley Davidson to varying degrees of success. One of the companies that have gone head to head against Harley’s V-Max is Yamaha, and with its new V-Muscle model, it seems to provide enough competition to warrant a closer look…

Harley Davidson


While a comparison between the sheer brute power of both the V-Max and the V-Muscle may seem a bit unfair, you may be surprised to know that the Yamaha offers some pretty serious competition against what would seem to be the obvious Harley choice. It is true that the V-Max does boast of a powerful 1,697cc V4 engine that is capable of 200 horsepower and 167Nm of torque. At least on paper, the Yamaha’s 1,250cc V-twin engine which puts out 122 horsepower and 110Nm of torque seems severely under-classed. In application however, the V-Muscle does show impressive power that belies its less impressive specs.

Size and Position

While the Yamaha V-Muscle isn't exactly small, it does have a much smaller stance than the imposing Harley, which is interesting given that both bikes actually have a 1,700mm wheelbase, although the V-Max rides noticeably higher as soon as you get on. The V-Max’s has a seat height of 775mm versus the V-Muscle’s more manageable 640mm.

The two also requires you to adopt different seating positions. Again, it is interesting to note that the Harley places you in a more relaxed upright position, while the Yamaha with its foot pegs and handlebars places you into the more traditional Harley riding position.


In performances, the Yamaha is more akin to a sports bike as opposed to the Harley’s decidedly more cruiser-like bent. In any case, both provide more than enough power when pushed, with the V-Max going from zero to 100 in just 2.66 seconds, versus the V-Muscle’s 3.6 seconds. The V-Max also handles exceptionally well, in spite of its wider and taller stance.

Nevertheless, the Yamaha does present a strong showing in almost everything other than sheer accelerating power, with a better fuel efficiency rating to boot. The Yamaha also has a quieter engine and it offers an overall smoother ride.


Harley Davidson

  • Hard to beat in terms of sheer historical weight and legacy
  • A cultural icon
  • Powerful engine
  • Superior acceleration
  • Taller and wider stance
  • More ideally suited as a cruiser


  • Plenty of power on tap
  • More economical choice all around
  • Suitable for a wide variety of riding situations
  • Better at cornering than the Harley
  • Smoother running engine with a lot less noise
  • Forces you into the classic "Harley" riding position

Which motor bike is better?
  • Harley Davidson
  • Yamaha

Discuss It: comments 3

  • Guest
  • Kate wrote on April 2010

Seven bikes but only one choice. Well, I'll just lop off the four also-rans and settle on my three favorites. The Aero slides into third place here, and my choice is largely based on looks. The displacement deficit isn't as noticeable as you might expect. Next in line, the Volusia does almost nothing wrong. It's a big, huggable lump of a motorcycle with fabulous fit and finish. My heart goes out to the Kawasaki, though. The Vulcan simply reminds me how much I've loved this entire line of motorcycles throughout the years. The power is good, with a pleasant exhaust note. While the frame feels a little more flexy than the Volusia's in sweepers, it is a joy to ride in every situation we encountered.

  • Guest
  • sport bikes for sale wrote on February 2011

Harley Davidson is the best motorcycle industry in the world.No bike can or will ever beat it.The engines being used have no resemblence to any mast produced engine to begin with. Keep on rocking Harley Davidson.

  • Guest
  • Kevin wrote on September 2014

Before writing the article you guys should at least get the models right. Harley Davidson has the V-rod muscle and Yamaha (Star Motorcycles) has the V-Max. The V-Max (from Yamaha) is so far ahead of Harley Davidson they will never catch up.

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