HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET ROD | Bike Tests | Latest Tests
Wherever we parked, the Street Rod got the attention. Low, black and solid, it contrasted in every way with the other seven motorcycles. Its dark countenance – and of course its badge – drew crowds rather than scaring them off. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Harley-Davidson’s Street Rod makes a big impact, and if this isn’t part of the design brief, we’ve been misunderstanding the allure of Hogs all this time.
The Street Rod also smashes down the barriers to Harley-Davidson ownership. Like the smaller Street 500, this 750cc version comes with a very modest price tag. It is 2.5K less than the SuperLow Sportster, half the price of a typical Softail and a third of the price of some of the other models from Milwaukee’s finest. It’s also cheap in this MoTY line-up – less even than the Z900 when you take on-road costs into account.
There aren’t many seats slung above two wheels that go much lower than the Street Rod’s 765mm, either. There you go – nailed another part of the design brief.
If big attitude, low altitude, price and impact aren’t enough to get young riders, women and other minorities of motorcycling onto Harleys, nothing will.
“This is a strong engine both by H-D standards and by any 750 V-twin standards,” Groff pointed out, and Stef agreed about the “bottom-end power and pull off the turns [being] a bit of fun”.
“The handling is pretty sweet on this bike,” Matt said. “It tips into corners nicely thanks to the wheel size.” Its steering is very nice, in fact.
“Initially, I didn’t like this Harley at all, and I am a Harley fan,” Matt added, “but I have to admit it grew on me.”
He wasn’t the only one in that position, but for everything the Street Rod does well, there’s a flip side. None of us could deal with the unusual riding position, primarily due to the placement of the footpegs.
“I am short and even for me the Street Rod’s seating position felt cramped and the controls hard to reach,” Stef said.
Quality issues seemed to have turned the alarm system into an instrument of public shame; it chirped and beeped and went off constantly. Our testers wanted more stopping power from the front brakes. And they marked the American bike down on handling and ride comfort too.
Interestingly, though, the standard of the handling brought contrasting scores about whether or not it inspired confidence to push the limits: the limits are easy to reach and therefore easy to push, but then again you’re not exactly inspired by confidence when trying to go hard.
The Harley’s lack of modern technological features (there’s ABS and that’s about it) inevitably lowered its scores further.
Overall, the Street Rod probably suffers most for being underdone, as if there were too many compromises made in trying to hit disparate objectives, with a committee overseeing the process and a deadline looming. It might get the attention at the café stops, but it doesn’t get the accolades in the voting sheets.
The design brief for the Street Rod was always going to be a big ask: entry-level pricing, low seat height, H-D aura, lots of cornering clearance, and competitive performance.
The seat height is just 765mm. That’s a full 20mm shorter than BMW’s tiny G310R.But to provide cornering clearance as well, the ’pegs have been moved to a position so unnatural that none of the riders could find them when they first rode the bike.
H-D is attempting to break new ground with bikes like the Street 500 and the Street Rod 750 and many new riders will be pleasantly surprised by the pricing. Yes, you can afford a Harley. It’s not like the ones you’ve read about and dreamed of before you got your licence but it’s undoubtedly still a H-D and the Force is with it.
Want proof? Every time we stopped, the general public gravitated to the Street Rod. It doesn’t seem to matter what H-D does with ergonomics, it still stamps its authority on any gathering. Lots of potential buyers will like that.
Dyno Dave Says
Stands out in this group. The engine has cam chains, no pushrods, and revs to 9000rpm. It also has 17-inch wheels for a wider range of tyres. The engine and gearbox make me feel like I’m riding VT750. Should be a good economical cruiser, but I’m not sure who it will appeal to.