SIN­GA­PORE SLING

Tony Halpin FINDS THE DARKLY STYLISH NEW HARLEYDAVIDSON STREET ROD IS UP FOR THE CHAL­LENGE WHETHER IN TRAF­FIC OR IN THE HILLS ON THE SLICK, WET STREETS OF SIN­GA­PORE.

Men's Style (Australia) - - Priority Male -

Imight have been brought up bash­ing dirt bikes around the back coun­try of north­ern NSW, but that didn’t stop my heart skip­ping a few beats when I was wo­ken up by tor­ren­tial rain ahead of a test ride of Har­ley-david­son’s slick look­ing new Street Rod around the streets of Sin­ga­pore.

The thought of han­dling a ma­chine promis­ing 18 per cent more horse­power and eight per cent more torque than the Street 750 on which it is based – in Sin­ga­pore’s fa­mous hu­mid­ity and af­ter a storm – made my palms sweatier than they al­ready were.

Once I was on it, though, weav­ing through the heavy city traf­fic as we headed for the Old Up­per Thomp­son Road – part of Sin­ga­pore’s for­mer Grand Prix Cir­cuit – I re­alised there were few bet­ter places to show­case what this bike was de­signed to do.

In the shape of the Street Rod Har­ley-david­son is at­tempt­ing to create a bike that’s a lit­tle bit city and a lit­tle bit coun­try, or as the com­pany it­self puts it, “per­fect for ur­ban cut-and-thrust and canyon carv­ing”. You can surge through traf­fic, split-lan­ing, and then open her up on the free­way for an au­then­ti­cally Har­ley ex­pe­ri­ence, in other words.

Does it achieve this bal­anc­ing act? The main de­sign cues of the Street Rod – ‘Dark Cus­tom’ styling (or the “café racer-meets-hooli­gan” look, as I’d de­scribe it), an ag­gres­sive ride po­si­tion, 17-inch front and rear open spoke alu­minium wheels, thick, blacked out forks and triple camps, and new tail sec­tion – are all de­signed to catch the eye of the style-con­scious city rider.

When city boys want to go coun­try, how­ever, the High Out­put Revo­lu­tion x 750 en­gine de­liv­ers peak power at 8,750rpm and peak torque at 4,000rpm. The midrange be­tween 4,000 and 5,000rpm is where the Street Rod truly sings, while a larger vol­ume air box, dual 42mm throt­tle bod­ies, four-valve cylin­der heads, high-lift camshafts and higher vol­ume ex­haust muf­fler all de­liver in­creased air­flow and ef­fi­ciency for the longer rides. The red­line on the Street Rod goes from 8,000rpm to 9,000rpm, 1,000 bet­ter than the Street 750.

So how’s the ride? In traf­fic the Street Rod punched nicely off the bot­tom at lights, moved beau­ti­fully into that meaty midrange and revved right through. Once the traf­fic dis­si­pated on the hill roads, my dirt bike back­ground ap­pre­ci­ated the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the el­e­vated seat po­si­tion, the rearset foot­pegs, and the wider, drag-style han­dle­bars in creating a per­fect tri­an­gle stance for op­ti­mal han­dling.

That im­pres­sion of sharper han­dling was en­hanced by the bike’s up­graded sus­pen­sion – 43mm USD forks with re­mote reser­voir rear shocks – and brak­ing, con­sist­ing of dual 300mm front discs and ABS brak­ing as stan­dard.

There are three colour op­tions – Vivid Black, Char­coal Denim and Olive Gold – as part of the Dark Cus­tom style of­fer­ing.

The Street Rod is the in­evitable re­sult of Har­ley-david­son’s global suc­cess with the smaller ca­pac­ity Street 500 and Street 750 bikes – a sportier, more styled up ma­chine with el­e­vated lev­els of per­for­mance for the ur­ban type who nev­er­the­less wants some grunt when the open road calls. On that ba­sis, when mar­ried to a $12,995 ride-away price, you’d ex­pect Street Rod is des­tined for great suc­cess.

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