From en­try-level cruiser to sport stan­dard

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Brian Hatano

har­ley-david­son thrives in a com­fort zone that spans two large seg­ments in Amer­i­can mo­tor­cy­cling: cruis­ers and tour­ing bikes. But deep within the in­ner work­ings of the com­pany, busi­ness has seen a shift to­ward meet­ing the global de­mand for smaller and lighter ma­chines. While the Street Glide con­tin­ues to reign as its top seller in the US, the Street 500 and Street 750 have made H-D an in­ter­na­tional player, at­tract­ing first-time rid­ers who couldn’t find what they were look­ing for in the Sport­ster, Dyna, or Sof­tail lines.

Tech­ni­cally, the Street Rod is a re­vised Street 750, but the re­al­ity is that there’s more new than not. Still, shift­ing the im­age and goal of a bike that’s al­ready an out­sider means chang­ing the per­cep­tion of a highly pas­sion­ate and loyal cus­tomer, and that’s never go­ing to be a to­tal win no mat­ter how suc­cess­ful a project ap­pears on pa­per. What mat­ters is pro­duc­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle that is in line with the com­pe­ti­tion while stay­ing true to the her­itage of the brand. Har­ley aims to do that with a new sport stan­dard that puts the Bar and Shield com­pany in a space where they don’t nor­mally play.

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