HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET ROD
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