India has had a profound liking for heavy motorcycles with large displacement engines, a liking that is clearly evident in the love for Royal Enfield. In that sense, Harley-Davidson motorcycles have come to be quite the pinnacle of motorcycling to a certain crop of people in the country. To some, Harley is a name they relate with massive power, an imposing character and the big price tags. It is quite a cult following. A Harley-Davidson enthusiast will not be bothered about the competition being faster or lighter, if s/he wants a Harley – they want a Harley, there are no arguments possible to make them change their minds. So far, HD motorcycles had been restricted to the elite in India. Whenever we saw one, we thought ‘there goes a rich fella who can afford a Harley’. The American brand attempted to fix this issue with the Street 750, but it lacked on a few aspects like braking and fit and finish quality. However, the Street Rod seems to have overcome those and has proven itself to be a worthy successor to the Street 750.
The design and look of the Street 750 did not feel very Harley-ish. It looked lighter and smaller, but the Street Rod though has that authentic Harley-Davidson appeal. You know you are on one, along with the others in the traffic who turn around to look at you. In fact, I had moments when a driver would slow down to give me space just to be able to gawp at the motorcycle. The front end is completely new, with the 43mm upside down forks and dual discs on the Street Rod, and is quite the reason how the Street gained the robust and sturdy look.
Speaking of the front forks, the rear suspension is new too and is on the stiffer side and has been tuned more for sports riding. The Street Rod isn’t exactly a regular Harley cruiser, a fact that you will note the very first day you have a seat on it. It has wide handlebars and the footpegs are rear set, which together provides for an aggressive riding stance.
The aggression on the seating, however, is complimented by how the throttle responds. The engine on the Street Rod is the same 750cc V-Twin, but the High Output Revolution X has been tuned to produce 11% more power and the torque too has been increased by 10 Nm in comparison to the Street 750. The boost in power (somehow Harley does not like to put a number on it) and 62 Nm of torque reflects on how it accelerates, but without crossing into the boundaries of being unfriendly. The exhaust note, from the shorter and wider pipe, is also instantly recognisable as a Harley. You’ll know it before you see it.
Braking has been greatly improved with the dual discs and dual piston callipers up front. The bite from the brakes is better than the Street 750, but not the scary kind of better. It too, like the previous Street, comes with ABS.
While there are several additions on the Street Rod that render it a better motorcycle to pick between the two, there were a couple of niggling things about the bigger and more powerful sibling. The footpegs have been set slightly at the rear, which does a great job in bringing the sports appeal in, but when you’re crawling in slow traffic or are pulling the motorcycle out of the parking, they tend to hinder the leg movement. Also, the engine gets really hot. Not like this is an unfamiliar problem with big engines, but the design of the Street Rod is such that the rider’s legs are dangerously close to the engine.
The engine heating can be a problem in city traffic, especially in the relentless Indian summer. The motorcycle does not instill confidence for long distance riding as well since the riding stance gets slightly uncomfortable after some time. But, if you are up for it, you could take it touring as it is great fun on straights and fairs well in corners despite the weight of about 240 kg.
So, if you do go teary-eyed about Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the Street Rod is quite the way of bringing one into your life. Street 750 was meant to serve this purpose, however, its elder sibling has come out as a better option even if some extra cash has to be fished out. The Street Rod really is a head turner, people pause to take a look at it and they are drawn to its noise. It carries a long line of heritage and character in its brand name – Harley-Davidson, the oldest American motorcycle manufacturer. It will bring you authentic Harley feels, without poking a hole in your pocket as big as a Forty-Eight or a Street Bob would.