2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod - Urban Bulldog
Straight after taking the Street 500 back to Harley-Davidson we get handed the keys to the big brother in the new Street range - the Street Rod.
Before even swinging a leg over it’s apparent this is a more aggressive machine than the LAMS-approved 500 or the outgoing Street 750. The bars are lower and wider, finished with a set of bar-end mirrors, the subframe is shorter and the redesigned seat and tail look meaner than before. A pair of front disks highlights the Rod’s performance leanings, as do the visibly performance-oriented rear shocks, and that’s just the beginning.
In fact, Harley is saying that they redesigned this bike so much that it is essentially all-new. Replaced and revised are the aforementioned bars, mirrors, subframe, seat and tail section, as well as the headlight, fairing, swingarm and better quality footpegs.
The work to create the Street Rod began with styling lead Chetan Shedjale’s Street 750-based design concept, the RDX 800. His goal was to make the humble Street 750 into an “urban bulldog.” From there, Harley completely stripped and rebuilt the 750. The riding position was changed from being laid back in the classic cruiser style to more lean forward. Other parts of the design pay homage to classic US-of-A roots and you’ll find elements of flat-track heritage, streetfighters and American muscle. To behold, it’s quite something, and on that front, Harley has done well.
However, the new riding position won't suit everyone. Moving the footpegs backwards to create a sportier stance only partially works, as the end result has the rider bunched up. Combine this with the wide bars and it all feels a little awkward at times. Those new pegs are also slightly too small, and can make for awkward traffic lights moments if you’re unfamiliar with the bike. It feels odd but not intolerable.
The engine has been reworked as well, and given the name High Output X Revolution. New pistons boost compression to 12.0:1 and revised intake ports and higher lift cams give the power a bit of a bump. A larger drag racing-inspired airbox feeds air to the dual 42mm throttle bodies (over single 38mm units on the old 750) and everything gets fired out the back via a new, shorter muffler. The rev limit is raised from 8000 to 9000rpm. Let’s just absorb that for a second - 9000rpm? On a Harley?! The times really are a-changing.
All of that results in a cool 51kW at 8750 rpm and 63.9Nm at 4000 rpm. With a measured weight of 239kg fully fuelled, that’s enough power to get you to cruising speed and a bit north should you feel sprightly.
The work done on the chassis is thorough. Rake has been steepened to 27 degrees from the 750’s 32 degrees. Trail drops to 100mm and the wheelbase shrinks to 1508mm. Non-adjustable 43mm inverted forks take care of the front end and a pair of shocks with external reservoirs control the rear. Braking is also improved with two 300mm floating discs, bitten by two-piston calipers at the front, and a single disc at the rear. Travel has been equalised to 116mm at both ends, compared with 88.9mm at the rear and 139mm on the cruiser 750. Finally, the wheels get buffed from 17/15-inch items on the 750 to 17s for both on the Rod, and these accept wider 120/70 and 160/60 tyres. All of which helps improve the handling to make the Rod a proper backroad carver.
The revised engine is really nice to wind open through the curves of greater Auckland, with a super wide powerband and revs to burn. The exhaust revision is said to have improved the sound quality over that of the 750, and while we haven’t ridden the older Street, the ‘Rod still has an overly muffled sound. We imagine a good chunk of owners will be quick to substitute an aftermarket slip-on, if not replace the entire system, so possibly it’s a null point, but one worth mentioning anyway. The standard pipe looks good though and it lets a few pops and crackles through on the overrun which is fun.
We found the fuelling nervy on occasion, particularly when the engine is still warming up. So takeoffs require some fine throttle work as the revs have a tendency to jump from two to four thousand without much wrist movement, and when moving at slower speeds the bike can lurch some.
In a nutshell, the Street Rod is a great start towards something truly brilliant. The looks are right and the engine is willing but cramped ergos and iffy fuelling let the package down. Given that the ‘Rod is squaring off against the likes of Yamaha’s MT-07 and Triumph’s Street Twin, the rough edges need ironing. However, we have no doubt that the bar-and-shield brand will get it right. And for the faithful these minor concerns might not even matter.
Model Harley Davidson Street Rod Price $13,995
Engine 749cc, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, V2, 51kW / 64Nm
Transmission 6-speed, belt final drive Vitals 4.3s 0-100km/h
3.8s (m) 80-120km/h, 43m 100-0km/h, 239kg