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Harley-Davidson Street Rod First Ride Review

25 August 2017, 08:38 PM Ranjan R. Bhat

What is it?

Why I would buy the Harley-Davidson Street Rod
The Street Rod is like a supermodel who can compete in an athletic event with the same dexterity as walking on a ramp.
Why I would avoid the Harley-Davidson Street Rod
Because it is one sizzling supermodel which will set your pants on fire, quite literally. You cannot ride the Street Rod in traffic without wearing textile riding pants.
Over the years, Harley-Davidson has taken many swings at cracking urban buyers, the V-Rod being the most recent. However the response to these models was, at best, tepid. The dilemma has always been to attract new buyers looking for a sporty offering, without compromising on the traditional Harley-Davidson soul.
But this time, Harley-Davidson has taken a different approach. Instead of targeting the uber-rich clientele, the company has targeted buyers with a smaller purse. As such, the new Harley-Davidson is based on the brand’s most affordable offering – the Street 750. If the tag of the ‘cheapest’ Harley-Davidson might have discouraged some buyers from considering the Street 750, the Street Rod isn’t likely to face that problem. After all, it does cost Rs 1 lakh more than the Street 750.
For the extra money, a Street Rod buyer gets a radically different motorcycle, drawing inspiration from streetfighters and flat track racers. While the Street 750 is more about laid-back cruising, the Street Rod will strike a chord with the hooligan side of you.

How does it ride?

Let me start off by saying that if there was one Harley-Davidson that I had to take to a race track, the Street Rod would be my weapon of choice. The raked front end, wide handlebar and the raised foot pegs give you the leverage to flick the bike around with ease. You sit tall with a hunch over the tank, offering a sporty riding position. The foot pegs are slightly rear set and wide (to keep your feet away from the hot engine), although you do get a good grip on the fuel tank. It doesn’t feel like a natural like a streetfighter or a cruiser or a sport bike, but a hybrid of all three. Nevertheless, it puts you in good control of the bike.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod [2018-2019]

Harley-Davidson Street Rod [2018-2019]

  • Displacement749 cc
  • Mileage - Owner Reported20 kmpl
  • Max Power(bhp)70 bhp
  • Kerb Weight238 kg
  • ;

Last known Avg. Ex-showroom price

₹ 6,02,045

The 749cc liquid-cooled V-twin ‘Revolution X750’ engine might as well have been borrowed from a locomotive. There have been several upgrades for the engine - a larger air box, a new throttle body, revised cylinder heads and high-lift camshafts. The compression ratio has been bumped from 11.0:1 to 12.0:1, and the engine redline has been increased from 8,000rpm to 9,000rpm.In this guise, the engine delivers 70bhp and 62Nm of torque, up from 47bhp and 59Nm in the Street 750.

The torque flows in from the word go, and keeps building right until you hit the limiter. If you are in the mood for riding sanely, stick between 1700rpm and 3000rpm, the engine feels most refined in this band. Once you cross 3000rpm however, the engine undergoes a change in personality. Rev the engine hard and you could be hitting an indicated 140kmph in the third gear! One thing I disliked about the power delivery was the throttle on-off transition - it felt like a kick to the back no matter how careful I was with the wrist. This can get annoying in slow moving traffic.  Also, once you go above 3000rpm, be ready to deal with vibrations, quite a lot of it, in fact.

The Street Rod gets a 43mm inverted front fork setup, tuned to offer a stiff ride. While this makes it a brilliant corner carving machine, the ride quality is an aspect I couldn’t play along with - it takes a toll on your back. To be fair to the Street Rod, the roads in Mumbai aren’t in their best shape right now; a lunar rover would struggle going through some of the potholes. Nevertheless, I took a short spin on the Street 750 through a patch of broken roads and it felt a lot more comfortable and composed, whereas the Street Rod kept tossing me around.

Harley-Davidson has also given the Street Rod an upgrade for the braking hardware to match the grunt. The Street Rod gets dual 300mm discs up front and a single 300mm disc in the rear. While braking was the Achilles heel of the Street 750, the setup on the Street Rod, on the other hand, offers a fantastic mix of initial bite, feel and stopping power. Even the MRF Revz FH tyres offer good grip in dry as well as wet conditions.

Anything else I should know?

The moment you lay your eyes on the Street Rod, you know it is going to be a special experience riding this bike. The straight drag handlebars, bar-end mirrors, headlamp cowl and the low-slung stance give it an exotic look. However, the fit and finish on the Street Rod could have been better. The headlamp cowl and the switchgear buttons felt loose and shaky on our test bike. The other thing that I disliked was absence of a pass flasher and a hazard lamp switch. Also, the dangling wires around the headstock stick out like a sore thumb.

Another problem with the Street Rod is that it heats up a lot, and the fact that you sit very close to the engine doesn’t help matters. There is a small plastic strip to prevent your left thigh from touching the engine head, though it is not of much use. While the airbox on your left prevents your thigh from touching the cylinder head, the exhaust can give you a burn every now and then. If you plan to use the Street Rod for commuting, you will have to invest in a good pair of riding pants.

Should I buy one?

There are a couple of other options to choose from if a ‘big bike’ is all you are looking for, although none of these get the coveted branding of a ‘Harley-Davidson’. However, branding is not the only excuse to buy a Street Rod. This is a bike which has struck the perfect balance between a cruiser and a streetfighter. Whether it be that long weekend ride on the highways or corner carving or daily commuting, the Street Rod will do all with equal ease. However, Harley-Davidson needs to do something about improving the heat dissipation.

Where does it fit in?

When you consider that the only other cruiser in this price range is the Hyosung Aquila GV650, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod seems like a really sweet deal. However, for a budget of around Rs 6.14 lakhs, there are also a few other options. There are sports tourers like the inline-four Benelli TNT 600GT and the parallel-twin Kawasaki Versys 650. If long suspension travel is not a priority, then you can go for either the Kawasaki Ninja 650 or the Benelli TNT 600i.

Photography by Kapil Angane

Gear Check

1. Icon Airmada helmet – 

Comfortable, aerodynamic, lightweight and a well-ventilated helmet with a wide peripheral vision. Oval headform fit might not suit everyone though. Price - Rs 15,000.

2. Joe Rocket Alter Ego 3.0 jacket – 

An extremely versatile all-weather jacket. In this guise, it is being used as a ventilated mesh jacket, though it ships with two more liners - waterproof and thermal. Price – Rs 20,000.

3. Ixon Moto HP gloves – 

High quality full gauntlet leather gloves suited for city riding, touring and track use. Offers good ventilation and a high level of protection. Expensive though. Price - Rs 9,500

4. AGV Sport Airtex pants – 

Riding pants with mesh in the crotch, calf, back of legs and thigh areas which is a real boon in our hot weather. Price -Rs 6,500.

5. Sidi B2 boots – 

All-round street and sportbike riding shoes also suitable for track days. Not ventilated, which can make it uncomfortable for everyday use. Price - Rs 17,000