The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod is the latest member of Harley-Davidson’s Street family. Internationally, the Street has had two models – the H-D Street 500 and the H-D Street 750, but in India, we have only had the Harley-Davidson Street 750. It’s the most successful Harley-Davidson motorcycle model, not only in India, but across the world. Now, customers apparently are seeking a newer, better, and more urban-centric motorcycle in the Harley-Davidson line-up and so, enter the Harley- Davidson Street Rod. H-D has a lot of hopes from the Street Rod, and expects it to be even more successful than its best-selling Street 750. But what does it have to make it more attractive than an already established and highly successful motorcycle? We are in Singapore to see what the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod has to offer.
The Street Rod will be exclusively made in India and the US. The US-made bikes will cater to markets in the Americas and Canada, while the made in India bikes will be exported to the rest of the world, including Europe and the entire Asia Pacific region. But that’s not all, the lead designer on the Street Rod project is an Indian, Chetan Shedjale. And it’s his concept of the RDX 800, a custom concept of the Street 750, which became the base for the Street Rod’s production design. The Street Rod then was developed from scratch with that concept design in mind, but with some practical modifications and inputs from the design team under Chetan as well as from Milwaukee. And the result is what appears to be a sleeker version of the Street 750.
Looks can be subjective, and if you ask me, the new Harley-Davidson Street Rod is a fine looking motorcycle. In fact, to me, it looks sportier and more proportionate than its sibling, the Street 750. The tail end gets a chopped off café racer-type design and the front gets what has been described as a bulldog-style persona with straight handlebars, bar-end mirrors and an aggressive upright riding position. Quality seems to have been taken a notch higher; the exposed wiring on the Street 750 has been neatly tucked in, the footpegs are new and look better, and the overall fit and finish has improved to a great extent.
It’s a sort of shrunken version of what Harley-Davidson bikes are traditionally visualised as – big, bulky, muscular cruisers. But the decision to make a smaller street-oriented Harley has more to do with market demands than a conscious product strategy. Peter Michael Keppler, Director of Motorcycle Product Portfolio at Harley-Davidson says the Street Rod is more the result of market research, than pure experimentation on a concept idea. Apparently there is a customer base which wanted an urban, sporty, entry-level Harley-Davidson. And the result is commendable – it’s a handsome bike from all quarters, and that is reason enough for the aspiring Harley owner to take a second, third, and closer look at the Street Rod.
Performance and Handling
(The Harley-Davidson Street Rod has decent road manners)
The Harley-Davidson Street Rod is based on the Harley-Davidson Street 750, the engine is the same 749 cc v-twin, which has been retuned to make more power and more torque. The engine is now called the High Output Revolution X, and makes 62 Nm of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. Harley-Davidson doesn’t publish power figures but says the Street Rod makes more power than the Street 750. And the results are evident, soon as we hit the roads of Singapore.
The bike pulls cleanly and with urgency through the gears, and acceleration from the V-twin is smooth and refined, as long as you don’t try to red-line through each cog. In any case, this isn’t a bike designed for hard acceleration and high revs, but a bike which filters through traffic with ease and speed without the need for too many gear changes. Keep the engine spooled between 2500 and 4500 rpm and it makes for a smooth, purry and refined performance. It’s more than enough really for the first time buyer who would be looking to upgrade to a higher-displacement motorcycle. And for someone who wants to experience the ownership of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the Harley lifestyle with an entry-level model, the Street Rod fits the bill perfectly.
Should you consider it?
That depends really, on what you are looking for. The new Harley-Davidson Street Rod has improved road manners and feels more eager to dip into corners than probably any other bike in the Harley line-up. With its entry-level pricing, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod has a lot going for it – well-proportioned looks, smooth engine, agile handling and the Bar & Shield brand to back it, at a price, which is certainly very, very attractive. At Rs 5.86 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Street Rod offers a whole lot of motorcycle, not just for Harley fans, but for anyone who’s looking to get into or get back into motorcycling.
Yes, there are some things we don’t like. The ergonomics may be sporty, but could have been better. The high footpeg position takes some getting used to and waiting at stop lights, the engine heat gets to you and your right calf touches the exhaust if you’re not careful. Although the smooth road surfaces of Singapore weren’t quite the right test of ride quality, the suspension is on the stiffer side and may not be as comfortable in Indian road conditions, particularly if you intend to take your significant other on a ride every now and then. And although the Street Rod cruises on triple digits speeds with ease, rapid acceleration isn’t something which you would enjoy, with the vibrations from the engine setting in after 4500 rpm.
But then, this is an urban motorcycle after all; you don’t wring open the throttle on a bike like this and it’s illogical to expect sportbike-like performance as well. Play it on the torque and power band, and a ride on the Harley-Davidson Street Rod can light up your dullest day. It may not be perfect, but it’s an enjoyable, fun to ride motorcycle after all. So, go, take a test ride, you may just end up becoming the newest H.O.G. member in your local chapter.