That Harley-Davidson is a cult brand is not something that you need to know. The iconic American brand enjoys an unparalleled fan following across the world, including India – and, of course, owing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a dream for many bikers.
Keeping the aspirations of its aficionados in mind, Harley-Davidson launched the Street 500 and Street 750 at very affordable prices around the globe a couple of years ago. In India, we only got the bigger 750 derivative. Nevertheless, this entry-level Harley sold really well here.
As good as it is, though, the Street 750 now feels a little dated. Plus, there are a few things about it that reveal it’s been built to a price. In addition, most prospective customers today – which are a younger lot – want a motorcycle that’s sporty to look at as well as to ride. And the Street 750 doesn’t quite cut the mustard in that regard.
Thankfully, Harley-Davidson addressed that with the launch of the Street Rod earlier this year. On the face of it, the Street Rod is based on the same architecture as the Street 750, but from what we can tell it’s an all-new motorcycle that betters the Street 750 in every aspect. Sure, it’s priced a little higher – but then if offers a lot more goodies in return.
To start off, the Street Rod has an aggressive and beefy design that’s inspired by flat-track racing. Next up is its fit-and-finish – Harley has really worked in this area, and the Street Rod’s quality levels are much, much better than the Street 750. The powertrain here is the same 749cc V-Twin engine that does duty in the Street 750, but it now gets some significant revisions – a larger airbox, new Mikuni dual-port injection with bigger 42mm throttle bodies, new cylinder-head with high-lift cams and a higher-volume exhaust muffler. All of this results in a power bump of 11%, while peak torque increases from 59Nm to 62Nm. The torque comes gushing in from as low as 4,000rpm, meaning that the bike has a really strong mid-range. According to Sarath, the engine felt smooth with very little vibration even when he revved the motor hard at the racetrack – something that, thus far, has been uncharacteristic of a Harley.
As for its ride-and-handling, the Street Rod really excels in this department thanks to the chassis improvements that have been carried out over the Street 750. This is a Harley with which you can stitch corners together without scraping the foot-pegs at every turn. Sarath also felt the brakes on the motorcycle were really sharp and strong. However, according to him, the foot-pegs are set too high and the brake and gear lever jut out too far – resulting in an awkward riding posture. This means that you can’t change direction as quickly on the racetrack. The aggressive riding position is something you need to get used to, but once you’ve spent some time on the bike you get accustomed to it quite quickly. But, yes, while riding in traffic the heat from the engine can be troublesome.
Despite these niggles however, what really makes the Street Rod one of our ‘Best of 2017’ is its impressive quality, powerful and refined motor – which makes it the most sporty Harley you can buy – and it comes with an extremely tempting ex-showroom price tag of Rs. 6.06 lakh. And, best of all, the cult of the Harley brand is still intact despite the fact that the Street Rod is hugely affordable!