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Lil Emery to the Rescue: Grille-ing the V-Rod

Radiator Protection and Styling

Story and Photos by G.P. Garson
6/11/2010 6:00:41 AM

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Mike DuFresne was tired of eating rocks. They tended to clog up the breathing apparatus. And he didn’t want to sprint for the expensive transplant so he decided to throw something on the grille, something tasty but also functional. We’re not talking his lungs but the very expensive radiator cooling off his Harley V-Rod. The intake design feeding the $700+ component while allowing in the necessary air flow also sucks up road debris that can puncture or otherwise damage the radiator. Mike wanted to add some protection but also dress up the radiator in keeping with the svelte V-Rod looks. Four years and lots of determination later, he had his solution…Lil Emery V-Rod Grilles…and in three flavors…black, chrome and “naked” so you can color match them to your bike’s color scheme.

By the way, the high quality aluminum dress-ups are 100% American made. For the weight conscious, the grilles, sold as a pair, weigh only 1.3 oz. each. An R&R effort that was labor intensive utilized a 9-step fabrication process that guarantees perfect fit and requires only hand tools to accomplish as we shall soon see.


The Lil Emery Grilles are now available through J&P Cycles via their Internet catalog at, Click Here For Their Website. Under Brand Guide go to Lil Emery. Prices: Chrome - $99.95 (#434-117); Black - $79.99 (#434-118); Raw - $79.99 (#434- 119). According to J&P the price includes free replacement guarantee for the life of the motorcycle. Now that’s hard to beat plus your expensive V-Rod radiator will no longer get beat up by damaging projectiles. Bottom line, Emery Grilles are the only protection you will ever need for your very-expensive-to- replace radiator. You can also check them out at For Dealer Inquiries Only information, contact Mike “Lil Emery” DuFresne via

The Lil Emery Grilles are now being sold worldwide as the word goes out about their high level of quality, seamless construction and ease of installation and the simple fact that they offer both form and function…a safety and appearance upgrade all in one. Bottom line these grilles can save you open-road downtime, expense and the pain of replacing your V-Rods radiator, plus saving the shop bill for parts and labor totaling somewhere over $1,000. Call the Grilles a couple ounces of protection, actually 2.6 oz. total for the pair.


Looking for a high profile venue to demonstrate the installation process Mike chose the occasion of the annual L.A. Calendar Bike Show held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. As it turned out several V-Rods were in attendance in addition to Mike’s own bike including a very tricked out one from Metalsports, Inc. as well as a surprise appearance, and a first look, at the new ’09 V-Rod.


First off, a little background about the V-Rod aka “Harley’s Bastard Child” as Mike describes his favorite bike and which he believes the factory and dealers are giving less than adequate attention. Meeting mixed reviews when introduced in 2001, the VRSC aka V-Rod line-up was a first for Milwaukee. They went after the Japanese musclebikes and also joined up with the Porsche car people to develop a whole new engine. …water- cooled, overhead cams and fuel-injected. The chassis (rubber- mount hydroformed steel perimeter frame) was based around Harley’s VR-1000 racing motorcycle as also used for their drag- racing competition machines. By the 2008 model, the V-Rod acquired anti-lock braking systems while the standard engine’s displacement was bumped from 1130cc (69ci) to 1250cc (73.6ci), which had only been previously available from Screamin' Eagle, and added a slipper clutch as standard equipment.


As for the bike seen here taking on the new grilles, it belongs to a company called Metalsport, Inc. out of Southgate, CA headed up by Doug McGoon, head of Metalsport Wheels ( or call 562-776-9594.)

crew done

The advanced machine shop manufactures a variety of V- Rod aftermarket products as well as custom wheels, custom exhausts, forward controls and a host of other custom parts several companies including CFR (Cary Faas Racing) and Ghostriders ( The bike seen here is a first year 2001 V-Rod, literally the first one sold in California from Fullerton Harley. No longer stock it features a number of tasty upgrades including the billet swingarm which is actually much lighter than it looks since it’s honey-combed and features hidden pivots and adjusters. Metalsport also fabricated the handlebars, rotors and wheels. Now they’re about to add another cool piece, the Lil Emery Radiators Grilles, in this case, the chromed versions.

J&P logo

Installation of Lil Emery Grilles

It always helps to have a bike-lift so you can have some comfort level while working on a bike. But when push comes to shove (and you won’t need to do that with these hi-tech configured radiator Lil Emery Grilles), working with the bike on the sidestand in the grass is very do-able with just simple hand tools. And that’s how it was accomplished in this case situated smack in the middle of the L.A. Calendar Queen Mary bike show. Since it was hot enough to melt your tattoos, we added a few cold bottles of water to the tool box then got started, actually timing the bolt-on process just to see how “easy” was easy.


Tool List:

1. T-25 torks wrench
2. 2. 4mm Allen wrench
3. Phillips screw driver
4. 10mm 6-point socket or wrench
5. towel to cover front fender as protection
6. tube of thread locking compound


Installation Process:

1.Cover the front fender with the towel to prevent any oops! Dropped the tool scratches. Take a swig of water.


2. Remove sidecovers by removing two tork screws found underneath the radiator housing. Pull out the bottom and lift on top, then repeat for the other side of the radiator, removing that cover. Place screws in safe container.


3.Next move the brake reservoir out of the way by removing the two Allen bolts on both sides of the radiator housing. Carefully slide down the metal clip and pop the brake reservoir wire from the cover and separate from the radiator.


4. Now remove the bezels from the radiator cover by removing the three 10mm nuts. Then remove the two Phillips screws. Repeat this process for the other side. (Time out for more water.)


5. Remove radiator cover.


6. Install the Grilles between the chromed inlet bezels and the radiator cover. The fit is exactly correct so will slip in easily.


7. Install the radiator cover assembly. The cover sits atop the cross member. Now slide the cover back in place. Next, re-install the bolts and use thread locking compound for security sake.


8. Re-install the side covers basically following the disassembly steps in reverse. Again, using thread locking compound. Then re-attach the wires to the left side cover and slide brake reservoir back into place.

9. You’re done. You’ve been Grilled. Took us about 20 minutes lying in the grass. With a lift, maybe 15 minutes. Now no more worries about damaging your delicate and expensive radiator plus you’re styling with the Lil Emery Grille upgrades. Okay, take another hit of the water and give yourself a toast… V-Rods Rule!


SIDEBAR: New V-Rod 2009 “Muscle”

While the V-Rod line-up will continue with the previous models, Harley Davidson describes the look of its new V-Rod family member, called the V-Rod “Muscle” as featuring a “somewhat angular bodywork and exhaust pipes that exit on both sides of the bike... sculpted bodywork stretched taut over a powerful new physique…broad shouldered.” Factory PR goes on to add: “Gaping air scoops, sweeping side-pipe exhaust and a huge rear tire spinning under a clean, clipped fender speak to a contemporary, urban sense of style and performance.” Then there’s the new “sidepipe” dual exhausts with fat, turn-out mufflers.” The operative word is “fat.”

The public’s reactions to the new V-Rod at the Queen Mary event were a bit more pointed…more than one observer after taking a first look at the new “Muscle” exclaimed or should we say flexed, “What were they thinking!” In any case the V-Rod has since its introduction generated a love it/hate it response. Traditional H-D riders gave it the two-thumbs down/it-looks-like-a-Japanese-bike -with-a-big radiator vote. Sport bike riders kinda liked the cool Porsche design influence, but weren’t big on the forward controls and seating position, wondering what niche it really occupied while H-D places it in the Power Cruiser category.

Muscleand guy

A very few builders tried to customize them to various levels of success. It seems the Europeans are more gung-ho about V-Rods than U.S. bikers. And what’s not to like about the new 1250cc Revolution engine. Maybe it just takes time for something revolutionary to seep into the main water supply and gain acceptance. After all it first appeared fairly recently back in 2001. Now here’s a new variation circa 2009, the VRSCF V-Rod Muscle rated at 125 HP and 85 ft. /lb of torque with a 240 rear tire to match and gunboat “shoulders.” Is bigger better? Time will tell.

hd black n white logo

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Reader Comments

Where can I get a set of these grille covers for my 2002 v rod?

Fairborn, OH
Monday, June 19, 2023
Editor Response Is the company still around? I will check. Try Ebay.
Buongiorno, vorrei chiedere l'acquisto Grille-ing the V-Rod anno 2011.
saluti! Giuseppe

giuseppe de angelis
Collegno, Torino, Italy
Friday, January 5, 2018
Editor Response Wish I could help.
Hi, great product, is there any place to buy this in Canada?? Thanks

Toronto, ON, Canada
Monday, June 19, 2017
Editor Response I'm not sure these guys are still around. Check with you local Biker's Choice dealer.
Hi will the grills effect cooling,cheers

Kambah, NSW, Australia
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Editor Response I believe they enhance cooling.
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