From a business perspective, the all new Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750 couldn’t make better sense.
Off the back of selling 35,000 units of the first Street 500 and 750 globally, and being the number one seller in its class here in Australia, it was an intelligent decision to take the platform to the next level.
On a consumer level, the Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750 also makes sense. It’s approachable, affordable, well built and appeals to an entirely new audience based on both age, and design language.
The Street Rod 750 is not your typical Harley-Davidson, and that’s how the brand wants to keep it. It’s more upright, ergonomic and focused towards performance riding. It’s also more modern in appearance, aided by the colour matched speed screen up the front. Viewing the bike the front, it almost takes on the form of a naked sports bike rather than a Harley- Davidson. In fact, it looks great from every angle, except the one with you riding it.
The tank just isn’t for me. I understand how it applies to the overall design; I just can’t stand the wide, flat shape of it from above.
Outside of my opinion of the tank, I love how aggressive the Street Rod 750 appears. The upside down forks, wide drag bar, bar end mirrors, speed screen, chopped tail and forward facing lines of the bike give the Street Rod 750 a bullish stance. And the Olive Gold colour is something special.
With a focus on chassis set up and suspension, Harley-Davidson says the Street Rod 750 is built for urban performance, “for experienced city riders”. They also say the bike will be a natural progression for Street 500 owners, which doesn’t particularly match the experienced rider profile. One thing is for sure; it’s built for a style conscious consumer who wants to make a statement.
To me I see the Street Rod 750 appealing to Harley-Davidson consumers who aren’t as focused on modification. It feels like every aspect has been refined and thoughtfully conceived to stay on the bike. Of course, some will modify it, but I see the customer buying a Forty-Eight and the customer buying the Street Rod 750 with very different customisation goals.
Our scheduled 9 am ride was delayed due to monsoonal rain. It was so heavy I couldn’t even stand outside to photograph the bike. Once I’d returned from my room at midday the group was anxious to get started. We geared up, climbed aboard and pulled out of Hotel Fort Canning straight into a Singapore steam oven.
Encased in my jacket and foggy helmet with beads of sweat sliding down every millimetre of my body, it took me a good half hour to get my head around the Street Rod 750 setup, specifically the foot position.
The mid-mounted controls on the ride hand side sit over the exhaust, and you intentionally rest your heel on the exhaust (there’s an inbuilt foot rest). Initially, it feels unnatural, and probably more so with the heel of my R.M. Williams boot making my foot sit higher than I thought it should have been. The brake peddle also curves over the exhaust, and I found myself applying pressure to the arm due to the position of my foot, rather than the peddle itself. If you were going to test ride this bike you’d need a solid session on it to find your feet (literally).
Once you’ve got your head around what’s going on, the Street Rod 750 is a treat to ride. The tank sits further forward on the bike, which, combined with a new ergonomically designed seat, delivers a confident riding position. The width of the bars complements the riding position, allowing for increased control and manoeuvrability in the traffic with the reversible bar end mirrors offering ample vision and style.
It’s great off the line but most enjoyable in the mid rev range, where it wants to be ridden. I found it to be more willing the harder it was ridden. Tipping it into tight corners is perhaps the most fun you can have on a Harley Davidson – it’s agile, responsive and direct. It’s also adept cruising at highway speeds, perfect for navigating arterial roads or short weekend trips.
There are some shortfalls, however. My bike was belligerent when trying to find neutral, which is interesting because I don’t recall having such issues with the Sportster, Forty-Eight or Ultra Limited. And while the new tank and seat position benefits rideability, it also means you’re sitting with the angled V-Twin right between your legs and wow does it get hot. Sure it was 33 degrees and 90 odd percent humidity (I’d never ride my motorbike on such a day), and I had sweat pouring down the inside of my helmet, but the heat coming off the engine was almost unbearable after running an hour or so. This issue was agreed on by every member of the group I discussed it with, and neither the neutral or heat issue I’ve described bode well for an urban bike prone to sitting in traffic.
By all accounts, the Street Rod 750 has improved on the Street 500 in leaps and bounds. It’s a great looking, accomplished, agile and well-built machine which will suit city riders of all ability levels. At $12,995 ride-away, it’s going to attract a lot of folks to the brand, and most likely a few within it, looking for a daily solution to go with their bigger weekend tourer.