Street Rod 750
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Review: Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750
Driven April 2017
New iterations of a motorcycle is something that Harley-Davidson does really well. Apart from the vast reserve of parts that you can use to customise your motorcycle, they also do appealing versions of their popular motorcycles. Till this point, these versions for the Street had existed only in their design studios. However, given the success of the Street and the fact that the 749cc, V-twin motor is capable of some impressive performance Harley-Davidson has decided to give it a bit of a spin. Enter the Street Rod 750, a motorcycle based on the Street but with several changes and upgrades to strengthen improve its appeal and, hopefully for H-D, set the cash registers ringing.
Although the Street Rod carries forward a similar form, there are sweeping changes that have been made. The front cowl that surrounds the headlamp catches your eye instantly with its integrated visor. Forks have changed too, they are 43mm thick and have an upside down orientation now. However, glance over to the rear of the motorcycle and it looks completely different. The rear shock absorbers are adjustable and of gas charged variety, the rear wheel is now a 17-inch rim and the tail section has been completely redesigned, including the tail lamp. Not to be missed is the dual-disc set up at the front of the motorcycle for better stopping power and, in case you are wondering, it is equipped with ABS.
Under the skin, the Street Rod has undergone more changes. The steering angle has been pulled in to make for a shorter wheelbase, the chassis has been strengthened and the motor makes more power and torque compared to the version that powered the Street. Moreover, the rev limiter has been extended as well to allow for 9000 revs now. Add to that better air-flow at the intake and exhaust ends and better ground clearance and it seems like Harley-Davidson has managed to iron out most issues that the Street had presented.
Swing a leg over though and the Street Rod comes across as a completely new feeling. The ergonomics are unlike any other motorcycle I have sat on and not the most comfortable from the get-go. The flat handlebars seem a bit too far forward and the foot-pegs set too high and forward, especially on the right side. While it gains better clearance for improved cornering ability, it doesn’t feel too comfortable. With a cramped lower half and a stretched upper half, the riding posture gets a bit of getting used to. I moved around a fair bit on the saddle, but wasn’t quite able to find a sweet spot. Moving the foot-pegs further back and the handlebar higher may improve things a bit. However, I am slightly larger than their target customer, which may have a thing or two to do with it.
On the move though, the 749cc, V-twin impresses all over again. Peak torque is now up to 62Nm (India-specific) and we are told it makes eleven per cent more power too. After trundling around for a bit to get a hang for the Street Rod we conveniently landed up at the front of a traffic signal. Whack the throttle open and the 238-kilo machine makes short work of 100kph. The motor is smooth and runs till the redline with no complain whatsoever. There are no potatoes escaping this exhaust pipe, just clean progressive build up of power with a motor that is happy to rev, almost unlike a H-D. Exhaust note does get throaty as you wring your right wrist, but it has a nice note to it as is the gratifying series of pops as you get off the throttle. Moreover, the dual 300mm front discs make sure you have adequate stopping power too as they scrub off speed in good time.
As much fun as it is to open the throttle between traffic lights, it was time to we turned off toward a bit of a twisty section on the outskirts of the city. A section that used to be a part of the old Singapore GP. The tight corners came up as a bit of a surprise after the open streets of the city, but made for an interesting ride. The shorter wheelbase makes the Street Rod easy to turn into corners and it even manages to hold a clean line if you are gentle with it. Sweeping curves work well too, although there is fair chance that you may still ground your foot-pegs.
The problem though is when the corners get tight or bumpy. It doesn’t hold its line quite as well and despite the fairly firm suspension set up, the Street Rod tends to move about. Back off the pace a little and it settles in again. This is slightly disappointing given the fact that the chassis and motor seem to have more. But then again, Harley-Davidson is pretty clear about their intentions for this being an urban cruiser that is capable of some straight line shenanigans above everything else.
There is no denying the fact that the motor makes the Street Rod special. There are a couple of niggles that need to be sorted out, but then customisation has always been a H-D trademark and I’m sure there are plenty of bits that are ready to go on to the motorcycle already. Add to that the sharper handling through most conditions, better brakes and improved styling and the Street Rod makes a compelling alternative. Especially when you consider the Rs 5.86 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) price tag. There is of course a barrage of green motorcycles that hit exactly the same spot, albeit with a different set of characteristics.
Pros: Better brakes, smoother motor, refreshed styling
Cons: Cramped ergonomics, stiff ride
Verdict: It is a motorcycle that you need to get used to and most likely alter to your needs. Great motor and better brakes makes a compelling alternative at the price.
749cc, V-twin, liquid-cooled, 62Nm@4000rpm, 6M
Tyres: 120/70 R17 (fr), 160/60 R17 (rr),
Ground clearance: 205mm, Fuel tank: 13.1 litres, Seat height: 765mm, Weight: 238kg