The 2016 Harley Davidson Dark Custom Street 750 is here. But is it the same bike in a fresh set of leathers, or does it actually have the substance to justify a new name? We ride one to find out.
Thanks to cable TV, most of us became familiar with Harley Davidson motorcycles much before we ever saw one in the flesh. So when we first heard that Harley was thinking of heading to India, we all knew that our secret dream of riding a Harley wearing a pair of black Ray-Bans, a leather jacket, and sporting a shotgun as an accessory – just the way Arnold Schwatzennngererr (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to spell that correctly) did in Terminator 2: Judgement Day – could now be realised.
Well, the American bike maker finally made it to our shores, but couldn’t really encash on its brand value in a price-sensitive market like India. This led to the development of a motorcycle that would be more affordable and easy to maintain. And so the Street 750 was born, but the bike got mixed reviews from all over the world. Where the worshippers of the brand called it a sacrilege, there were many who believed that this was the bike that could turn the tables for Harley Davidson – at least in India. And that’s exactly what it did.
Soon after its launch in 2014, the Harley Davidson Street 750 began accounting for almost 60% of Harley’s sales in India. So, when we got the chance to ride the Dark Custom Street 750 – the new Street 750 for 2016 – from Mumbai to Aamby Valley, we gladly accepted the offer to find out how much better the new HD Street is from its predecessor.
Like the previous generation, the new Dark Custom Street 750 is very agile and manoeuvrable around corners and extremely usable in the city. But there was certainly scope for improvement in terms of build quality, and this is exactly what Harley’s paid attention to with the Dark Custom. Harley has also been emphasising the improvement in braking ability with a new set of brakes at both corners. The previous generation, you see, was widely criticized for poor braking. And so the new braking system boasts of two 300mm discs at both ends that have been developed by Brembo. The braking performance is now very confident and the levers also appear to be better placed – so you remain calm even on corners that decide to tighten mid-way. Of course, the addition of ABS would have been nice. The fit-and-finish, meanwhile, has been improved – this is clearly visible when you scan the bike looking for the finer details.
The bike handled exceptionally well around the corners, thanks to a very balanced frame. And the very useful power coming straight from the 749cc engine, with a peak torque of 59Nm, is available relatively early at 4,000rpm via a six-speed transmission. This comes in handy while touring, or on highways, and also allows you to shoot forward by just pulling the throttle a little bit. The bike weighs just a little over 220kgs, making it very agile and easy to play with.
Personally, I expected a bit more from the new Harley Davidson Dark Custom Street 750 – for instance, anything that could have justified the words ‘new’ or ‘Dark Custom.’ Practically, though, I still think this is the best Harley for Indian roads. Take it out every day to work, scrape that footrest while taking that corner, and possibly have some fun in traffic, and still return unharmed – this is where the Street 750 excels, and will continue to do so.
- Harley Davidson Street 750 Dark Custom
Engine: 749cc / Liquid Cooled / V-Twin
Torque: 59Nm @ 4,000rpm
Price: RS.4.52 lakhs (Ex-Showroom, Delhi)