Har­ley-David­son Street Rod

Har­ley-David­son seem to have granted the en­thu­si­asts’ wish with the launch of the Street Rod. We went to Sin­ga­pore for a first ride. Here’s what went down


H-D’s highly po­tent Street 750 gets even bet­ter than be­fore

IHAVE A VIVID REC­OL­LEC­TION OF the oc­ca­sion when Anoop Prakash, MD, Har­ley-David­son, launched the Street 750 at the Auto Expo. I was at an H-D com­peti­tor’s stand with the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of that com­pany. When Anoop an­nounced the price of the Street 750 — Rs 4,10,000 (ex-show­room) — the re­ac­tion from the MD stand­ing next to me was, ‘Oh, my god!’ The Street 750 makes for a per­fect plat­form to cre­ate dif­fer­ent bikes such as the race replica that I built here at Bike In­dia. Fol­low­ing con­sid­er­able cus­tomer feed­back and de­mand now Har­ley-David­son have made a Street Rod and raised the game. We were in­vited to Sin­ga­pore to ride the Street Rod.

At least, it cer­tainly seems that way as I’m pow­er­ing the new Street Rod out of yet an­other bend on the twisty roads around Sin­ga­pore Is­land. I had just braked hard and flicked the Har­ley into the turn with a screech of the right foot-peg. Now it was feel­ing taut and sta­ble as its liq­uid-cooled V-twin en­gine revved harder to fire the bike out of the turn with a re­spectably strong surge of ac­cel­er­a­tion.

This is the sort of spir­ited per­for­mance that many of the Har­ley en­thu­si­asts had in mind a cou­ple of years ago when the Street 750 was launched to mark the be­gin­ning of the Mil­wau­kee firm’s en­try-level fam­ily of liq­uid-cooled V-twins. The Street, which it­self was partly the out­come of fo­cus groups, was re­ceived well in most coun­tries. It gar­nered more than 35,000 by way of global

sales and has been the best-sell­ing bike in its seg­ment in sev­eral key mar­kets. How­ever, a num­ber of Street buy­ers and oth­ers wanted more. Many were im­pressed by a trio of con­cept bikes that Har­ley dis­played at the new model’s launch, no­tably a hot­ted-up de­riv­a­tive, called the RDX800. Cre­ated by a team from Har­ley’s Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre, led by In­dian-born Chetan Shed­jale, this fea­tured a bikini fair­ing, drag bars, humped seat, uprated sus­pen­sion, and a racy air-fil­ter jut­ting out on the right of its V-twin en­gine.

Two years and plenty of en­thu­si­as­tic feed­back later, here is the pro­duc­tion Street Rod hav­ing those fea­tures — and a few more be­sides, in­clud­ing a tuned 749-cc pow­er­plant and twin-disc front brake set-up. In Har­ley speak it’s “badass” and “hooli­gan”. It’s also very much de­signed to re­main part of the Street’s en­try-level fam­ily so as to re­main rider-friendly and rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive. De­spite that the Street Rod is more than just a warmed-up Street. The liq­uid-cooled, SOHC eight-valve Rev­o­lu­tion X en­gine is tuned with new cylin­der-heads, higher-lift cams and in­creased com­pres­sion, up from 11:1 to 12:1. Dual 42-mm throt­tle bod­ies re­place the sin­gle 38-mm units, the air-box is en­larged and the new ex­haust sys­tem is more free-flow­ing de­spite Euro4 re­quire­ments.

Har­ley don’t of­fi­cially re­veal power out­puts but say the Rod revs to 9,000 rpm in­stead of 8,000 rpm and pro­duces 20 per cent more peak power and 10 per cent more torque. Given that the Street made close to 60 PS, it takes the new bike to about 70 PS at 8,750 rpm and 65 Nm at an un­changed 4,000 rpm.

The chas­sis has also been sub­stan­tially uprated, com­bin­ing a re­vised tubu­lar steel frame and longer swingarm with new sus­pen­sion. Forks are 43-mm up­side-down (USD) units, re­plac­ing the Street’s gaitered 37-mm legs. New shocks fea­ture a re­mote damp­ing reser­voir, although their preload col­lar is still the only ad­just­ment op­tion at ei­ther end.

Ro­tat­ing bits are also uprated, with 17-inch wheels at both ends in­stead of the Street’s 17/15-inch com­bi­na­tion, and wider Miche­lin Scorcher tyres in 120/70 and 160/60 sizes. The wheel change con­trib­utes to steeper steer­ing ge­om­e­try: rake and trail are 27 de­grees and 99 mm, from 32 de­grees and 115 mm. And front brake spec is lit­er­ally dou­bled, thanks to a sec­ond 300-mm disc and twin-pis­ton caliper, com­plete with ABS as stan­dard.

Things look good from the rider’s view, although ba­sic switchgear and non-ad­justable brake and clutch levers echo the slightly down­mar­ket feel. At least, the near-flat, black-fin­ished drag bar gives a suit­ably ag­gres­sive look. The Rod’s sin­gle, chrome-rimmed ana­logue speedome­ter is at­trac­tive.

The rid­ing po­si­tion is dis­tinctly strange, the low seat com­bin­ing with quite high foot-rests to give a vague feel­ing of knees be­ing in your armpits. A more se­ri­ous flaw for some was that the right foot-rest is im­me­di­ately above the ex­haust pipe, putting the rider’s foot in a slightly un­nat­u­ral po­si­tion, rest­ing on a heel-pad that Har­ley have bolted to the pipe. This is not ex­actly el­e­gant de­sign, but I didn’t find it as an­noy­ing as some rid­ers seemed to.

By then the chas­sis had done a pretty good job, too, af­ter we’d headed north­wards into the hills on the flow­ing and in­creas­ingly twisty A-355. At 238 kg in “run­ning or­der” the Rod is five ki­los heav­ier than the Street, and far from be­ing light­weight. But its steeper ge­om­e­try helped make it feel lighter, de­spite that and the fat­ter tyres. It could be tipped into curves with a gen­tle nudge of that wide han­dle­bar and steered with a pleas­antly neu­tral feel.

Its sus­pen­sion also seemed bet­ter bal­anced than that of the ba­sic Street, as well as firmer and bet­ter con­trolled. This bike has 132 mm of travel up front and 117 mm at the rear, com­pared to the Street’s 140 mm and 89.5 mm. The more even front/rear move­ment pre­sum­ably helped it stay rel­a­tively sta­ble, even when be­ing cranked through smooth turns with its foot-rest tips scrap­ing, and the whole bike feel­ing pos­i­tively sporty and un-Har­ley-like.

Maybe, the next model based on the Street 750 plat­form would be a café racer.

Gearcheck Rider: Aspi Bha­thena Hel­met: Uvex Jacket: Spidi Gloves: Dainese Boots: Dainese

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