Is the Street Rod just an­other cos­metic job or does it de­serve the ‘all-new’ tag?


More than just a new face to the Street 750

CAR AND BIKE MAN­U­FAC­TUR­ERS spew a lot of mar­ket­ing spiel. They proudly claim they’ve cre­ated an ‘all­new’ prod­uct when more of­ten than not they’ve sim­ply given it a nip here and a tuck there. To be hon­est, it’s mildly ir­ri­tat­ing. An in­sult to our in­tel­li­gence. When I first got wind of the Har­ley-David­son Street Rod, I ex­pected it to be just that — a cos­metic up­grade for some­one who found the stan­dard Street 750 too dry. When I heard Har­ley were claim­ing it was a ‘new’ mo­tor­cy­cle, and noth­ing like the Street 750, I passed it off as more mar­ket­ing hog­wash to be ig­nored. But then I ac­tu­ally got down to read­ing the specs, and it made sense. Har­ley-David­son had a vi­sion for the Street Rod — a bike for the ur­ban out­law who wanted a Har­ley, but didn’t res­onate with the laid back at­ti­tude of the Street 750 and wanted some­thing sportier. And to that end, they’ve gone a step fur­ther than sim­ply re­design­ing the way the mo­tor­cy­cle looks. They’ve ac­tu­ally tried to make it sportier.

A lot of the tech­ni­cal changes are in that di­rec­tion — en­hanc­ing the ag­gres­sive­ness of the mo­tor­cy­cle and mak­ing it more dy­namic. The Street Rod gets the same 749cc Revo­lu­tion X en­gine that is found in the Street 750, but here in its ‘High Power’ guise, power and torque fig­ures have been bumped up slightly. Har­ley doesn’t dis­close power fig­ures for its mo­tor­cy­cles but claims it is bumped up; torque is up by 3Nm to 62Nm. This is cour­tesy a big­ger in­take, a shorter ex­haust and in­creased camshaft lift. It also gets new 42mm dual throt­tle bod­ies, higher com­pres­sion ra­tio and a red­line that’s been bumped up by 1000rpm.

And while en­gine up­dates are great, Har­leyDavid­son has also tweaked the Street to han­dle bet­ter by giv­ing the chas­sis sig­nif­i­cant up­dates. It gets USD forks up front, and the rake an­gle is now sharper at 27 de­grees (it is 32 de­grees on the Street

750) short­en­ing the wheel­base and the trail. The ground clear­ance is higher and this trans­lates into higher lean an­gle be­fore the pegs start scrap­ing. The Street Rod also comes with dual 300mm discs up front and a sin­gle 300mm disc at the rear, with ABS as stan­dard. While the Street 750 has a 17-inch front wheel and 15-inch rear, the Street Rod gets 17-inch­ers front and back. They’ve sig­nif­i­cantly up­dated the Street plat­form so that it matched the vi­sion they had.

Then there’s the de­sign it­self. Where the Street 750 was mun­dane, the Street Rod is full of char­ac­ter. In­ter­est­ingly, the Street Rod has been de­signed by an In­dian, Chetaan Shed­jale, and he’s done a real nice job of mak­ing the Street 750 look good. The cowl is new, the stance is more hun­kered down. The pegs have been moved up and fur­ther back, while the bars are wide and for­ward mak­ing for an ag­gres­sive rid­ing po­si­tion. The rear of the bike has been sig­nif­i­cantly up­dated, it is chunkier and the split seat makes it look more pur­pose­ful. Chetaan’s whole idea was to make the bike more bullish, to ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence. A lot of the in­spi­ra­tion comes from flat track rac­ing and drag rac­ing, and it shows — from the han­dle­bar, to the rear set pegs and the over­all stance of the mo­tor­cy­cle.

But do all these changes ac­tu­ally en­hance the rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence or is it as good as a sticker job? I’m go­ing to say it’s the former. The changes in its ge­om­e­try make it far more flick­able — some­thing quite un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of cruis­ers of this na­ture. The Street Rod is far eas­ier to fil­ter through traf­fic in and that’s what Har­ley is go­ing for — the com­pany show­cased the bike in Sin­ga­pore (the en­tire is­land is a city) be­cause it’s meant to de­liver thrills pri­mar­ily in the ur­ban­scape. The bikes we rode came shod with Miche­lin rub­ber, though the In­dian bikes come with MRFs as stan­dard and Miche­lins only as an op­tion. We did ride the Street Rod on some twisties on the out­skirts of the city and there the bike felt very com­fort­able around bends. Grip from the tyres was good around cor­ners and they work well with the re­vised ge­om­e­try to re­ally in­spire con­fi­dence while push­ing it. The dif­fer­ent

seat­ing po­si­tion also has a role to play in this.

Speak­ing about this new rid­ing po­si­tion, it takes a while to get used to. The first time you sit on the bike, you’re con­stantly shift­ing around try­ing to find a com­fort­able po­si­tion. The pegs are set rather high and it is slightly un­nat­u­ral to be po­si­tioned like this. How­ever, spend some time on the mo­tor­cy­cle and things start to fall in to place and be­come more com­fort­able. Rather un­com­fort­able at first, the seat­ing po­si­tion grew on me and by the end of the ride I didn’t find this both­er­ing me.

The sus­pen­sion felt firm but not overly stiff. Sin­ga­pore’s roads don’t have a sin­gle pot­hole but on the smooth tar­mac it felt great. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how the sus­pen­sion holds up on the ter­ri­ble roads in In­dia.

The en­gine is a fa­mil­iar one and in its cur­rent form has got tremen­dous reserves of torque, and pulls strongly when you get on the throt­tle as low as 2000rpm. This is ac­tu­ally the sweet spot — be­tween 2000 and 4500rpm, af­ter that vi­bra­tions start to creep in through the han­dle­bars and foot­pegs. It is most com­fort­able when you short­shift and ride the wave of torque avail­able low down to get the speedo up to where you want it. We hit about 110kmph on Sin­ga­pore’s speed re­stricted roads, but the Street Rod is ca­pa­ble of so much more and should make the oc­ca­sional tour­ing trip a breeze. The gear­box is car­ried over from the Street 750 with the ex­act same ra­tios as well, and is a real nice ’box to use. It is rather slick, and not hefty and clunky, again quite un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of Har­leys.

Safe to con­clude then, that the Street Rod is far more than just a Street 750 draped in a fancy out­fit. And at a pre­mium of just a lit­tle less than a lakh over the stan­dard mo­tor­cy­cle, it makes for quite an ap­peal­ing propo­si­tion. This erm… ‘new’ mo­tor­cy­cle will keep you more en­ter­tained, and will make you look far cooler while do­ing so. The Street 750 brought a whole new set of buy­ers in to the Har­ley-David­son fold, and I see the Street Rod do­ing noth­ing but build­ing on that legacy. ⌧

Fac­ing page top: USD forks, and twin 300mm discs with ABS are new. Top: The rear has been chopped and given a chunkier look. Above: The ‘su­per­charger in­spired’ air-in­take is big­ger

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