Harley-Davidson Street Rod review road test

Harley was once upon a time the only superbike maker in India. For a very long time that stayed and then came the Triumphs, Kawasakis and Ducatis. However, I believe that the brand didn’t really capitalise on this. The products we received still had an old world charm and given Harley’s strict retro cruiser brief to the designers, Not after 2015. In comes the relatively affordable Harley-Davidson Street 750. The initial buzz though died quickly due to the not so premium perceived quality of the product. Harley quickly fixed this with the Street Rod. Based on the Street 750, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod offered everything that the 750 didn’t. Here is my take on the new Street Rod.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod design and features

Ohh, its a familiar silhouette to the Street 750, alright. However, there are differences. The bikini fairing is a bit bigger, the tyres are wider and more grippier, the upside forks are a new addition, there are dual discs at the front and there are red gas piggy banking reservoir shocks at the rear. This Harley though will not have an identity crisis. The company has made sure that it has got its branding everywhere including the halogen headlight enclosure. You will also see Harley logos on the foot rests, the sides and pretty much everywhere.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

The instrument cluster is a simple affair and is dominated by the analogue speedometer. A small rectangular space in the cluster pod is reserved for a digital readout. It houses the gear indicator, rpm, dual trip meters, odometer and time. There is also the small reset button which works even with the gloves on.  The mirrors are small units but they do provide for enough rear view vision. On the right side of the handle bar, you will find the engine kill switch as well as the thumb starter while on the left, there are the turn indicator switches, horn as well as upper-dipper switch. No mode business here or even a pass light switch for that matter.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Moving on, the well sculpted tank is devoid of any graphics and can hold 12 litres of petrol. The fuel cap here is of the unhinged types. Luckily it isn’t a freewheeling unit like on the Triumph Bobber. The seat is soft and nicely padded. We cannot say the same about the pillion unit though. It is hard and there is not enough room to move around too. Plus, there is nothing to hold on to. Harley is happy to offer you a pillion back rest and if you buy the Street Rod, please get this for sure.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod engine and transmission

You will not be crucified if you assume that the engine has been borrowed lock, stock and barrel from the Street 750. However, that is far from the truth. It has the same capacity for sure but the engine has been reworked and its compression increased. This has resulted in a bump in power (Harley doesn’t like stating power numbers) and torque (62Nm from the earlier 58Nm). The transmission is still a 6-speed manual unit and is decently sleek in operation. There is no slip and assist clutch and this becomes a bit tiring especially in traffic.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Heat management is something which Harley could definitely work on. The Harley-Davidson Street Rod heats up quite a lot and at one point of time, it becomes kind of unbearable. I wonder how the chappal and chaddi clan ride this motorcycle. The situation becomes a bit better when you’re riding on the highway. Speaking of which, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod delivered 13kmpl in the confines of the city and 18.7kmpl on the highway. With a tank capacity of 12 litres, you can do around 150km comfortably before needing a refill.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod ride and handling

This being said, I found the riding posture to be really awkward. It seems Harley was trying to making the Street Rod a sporty motorcycle. So the riding position becomes a mix and match of sporty, cruiser and commuter. The foot pegs are set like a commuter while the riding posture resembles more of a cruiser. This combined with the aforementioned heat management issues makes riding long distances a pain. Especially if you are someone who is as tall as me. Shorter riders should have less issues – their knees will not come above the fuel tank.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

This being said, the Street Rod is a willing partner when it comes to cornering. It is not as poised as, the Street Twin for example. The talking point has to be the 205mm ground clearance. Even with a bulky pillion on board, the Street Rod clears the worst our roads have to throw at it. The ride quality in the same vein could have been a tad softer. It is set on the stiffer side. However, when you load up the bike, the suspension becomes a tad absorbent.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

I have been told that the brakes on the Street 750 lack bite and feedback. The ones on the Street Rod are said to have been upgraded. The discs at both ends, and now an additional disc at the front work just fine. However, during repeated braking attempts, it was noted that the front brake lever needs an extra squeeze for the motorcycle to halt. Dual channel ABS, which is non switchable, is standard and helps assuage fears a lot.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod final words

Service aspect of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod includes an oil change every 10,000km. The approximate service cost with just the oil replacement costs around Rs 7,000-8,000, similar to what you pay for a Maruti Baleno. Harley says that using a belt drive helps in keeping maintenance costs very low as compared to others.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Honestly speaking, the Street Rod experience left me wanting for more. The Harley-Davidson Street Rod price in India is Rs 6.62 lakh, ex-Mumbai. If you factor in the taxes, the on-road price jumps to nearly a lakh more. Whilst earlier, the Harley Street Rod didn’t have much competition, the entry of the RE twins have upset many a cart. Not only this, Kawasaki rejigging its pricing strategy means the Ninja 400, Z650 and Ninja 650 have all become much more affordable than before. Buy the Harley if you love the brand. Otherwise, there are few other more capable motorcycles within and outside the Harley fold.

Things we love about the Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Styling still is unique, power on tap, widest sales and service network amongst premium bikes

Things we don’t love about the Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Heats up pretty quickly, confused riding position, not value for money

 

Trivia: The Harley-Davidson Street Rod currently outsells the Street 750. Bookings over time though have dwindled and other Harley models have taken precedence over the Street twins.

Images by Donald Dsouza

 

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