Traffic-carving performance isn’t the first thing one thinks of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo is going about changing that perception with the new-for-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is in fact based on the current Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s most decisive push so far into the sport -standard market. A bold move to be sure, and as Harley enters territory traditionally dominated by the Asian and European manufacturers, it won’t enjoy the same name power that it does in the cruising and touring sector. With all that in mind I want to take a look at this ambitious ride today to see what’s new and how well it stacks up to its entrenched competition. I think it’s safe to take it as a given that the MoCo has its work cut out for it, to say the very least, so let’s get started.
Generally speaking, the Street Rod looks much like the standard Street 750. We’ve got the same fuel tank, frame and engine geometry, but the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of those to choose from. We start out with a cut-down front fender over dual front brake discs for twice as much braking power as the regular Street 750. Harley flipped the forks upside down, and threw blackout treatment on the stems as well as the tripletree. A redesigned flyscreen tops the whole rig with a single clock instrument cluster tucked away behind.
The standard, 3.5-gallon Street fuel tank comes with a special tank graphic that I gotta say, doesn’t really do anything for me. Back from there we have a redesigned seat that, along with the rear wheel diameter increase to 17 inches, puts the rider’s butt at 29.4 inches off the ground. The factory says this is meant to allow for greater forward visibility through the traffic ahead of you and a safer commute, but this stance, along with the almost jockey-position rider footpegs and drag bars, really encourages a relatively aggressive riding position for a Harley.
It’s safe to call this an entry-level bike, even if the engine size pushes that envelope a bit…
One detail here that never gets old is the bar end-mount mirrors, so there’s none of the big, tall mirror standoffs waving around in the air, and that makes for clean lines to be sure. Many of these changes make for a marked improvement in handling, and is part of the overall strategy to draw in younger buyers.
It’s safe to call this an entry-level bike, even if the engine size pushes that envelope a bit, and could serve as a good starting point for any rider who plans on moving up into a power cruiser such as an H-D V-Rod , Ducati Diavel or any of a number of other sport-cruiser types. All the blackout treatment in the front end, engine, side covers and exhaust lends it a custom vibe and understated style that is a lot less “look at me” than much of the rest of Harley’s lineup.
A double-downtube/double-cradle frame cups and protects the engine, and provides the mount for the radiator and its minimal cowl. Tubular steel members make up the frame as well as the subframe, and a yoke-style, steel swingarm with a rectangular cross-section finishes off the structure. The revised swingarm was lengthened to accommodate the two-inch tire-size increase as well as the increased rear suspension travel of 4.6 inches at the axle. Coil-over piggyback shocks support the rear end with adjustable spring preload.
Probably the most notable detail in the chassis has to be the short, 27-degree steering angle and 3.9-inch trail. These are numbers all but unheard of from H-D and they make the bike come alive.
The front end gets a set of beefy, blackout, 43 mm forks, which look really cool but come with no adjustment. This isn’t uncommon in entry-level rides, so I won’t gig Harley any more than I do everyone else, but don’t you guys think it’s time to start giving us some options here? The technology is available. Just sayin’.
We’ve got cast, 17-inch wheels front and rear with a 120/70 up front and 160/60 on back, and the hoops themselves are Michelin Scorcher 21 radials that carry the tread nice and high to facilitate the 37.3-degree lean angle to the right and 40.2-degree lean to the left. Twin-pot calipers bite the dual, 300 mm front brake discs for plenty of stopping power where you need it most. ABS protection is available as optional equipment, so no matter what school of thought you have on that, Harley has you covered. If there’s a downside to the ABS it’s in the fact that it is non-switchable, so you can’t change your mind later if you’d rather ride without it. Oh well, it is an entry-level bike well under 10 grand after all.
Probably the most notable detail in the chassis has to be the short, 27-degree steering angle and 3.9-inch trail. These are numbers all but unheard of from H-D, and they make the bike come alive. Does it handle like a sportbike? No, but if you are considering a Ninja or an FZ-07 then this isn’t your kind of bike to begin with.
Harley’s entire Street family runs the relatively new Revolution X powerplant — an iron-sleeved, water-cooled, 60-degree V-twin — and the Street Rod comes with a high-output version that boosts torque by 8-percent to a total of 47.2 pound-feet. Granted, the curb weight tops a quarter-ton by 16 pounds, so we aren’t looking at a stoplight burner here, just manageable power.
The aluminum jugs house sleeve inserts punched out to 85 mm, while the 66 mm stroke leaves the mill significantly oversquare in a departure from the norm for Harley, usually the engines run a 45-degree V with a long-stroke configuration. In another departure, a SOHC replaces the old pushrod system to time the four-valve heads. A 42 mm Mikuni throttle body manages the engine, and riders can expect an average of 54 mpg. They can also expect to pull up to the premium pump as the compression ratio also got bumped up to a fairly hot 12-to-1, no doubt to wring every ounce out of this next-to-smallest engine.
As for the water cooling, what can I say? I hate the way it looks, but it’s hard to beat the merits of the water jacket if you have to deal with congested traffic, especially in warm weather. Considering that the MoCo bills this bike as an entry-level urban commuter , I gotta’ say it was a good move, and the radiator kind of disappears into the black hole of the engine area so aesthetics aren’t a problem at the end of the day after all.
The base-model Street Rod will run you $8,699 in Vivid Black, and the paint department has Charcoal Denim and Olive Gold on tap for $8,994. ABS will set you back $750, and the security option is another $395. Sorry California, as usual you get stuck with a $50 emissions package on top of it all.
Harley-Davidson bumps heads with the Big Four right out of the gate. While there’s nothing exactly like the Street Rod on the market, I was able to find some bikes that might appeal to the same sort of buyer. I looked at a couple from the Tuning Fork Company, namely the FZ-07 and the XSR 900, but ultimately decided that neither was quite as appropriate for an entry-level rider. Next, I took a look at the Red Riders, and lo’ and behold, there I found the CTX 700N.
Sorta the same but kinda’ different, the CTX is more of a sportbike trying to be a cruiser than vice-versa. A sporty standard, the CTX carries the foot controls farther forward, placing the rider in the windsock position while the Street is much more aggressive. The Honda can be had with or without ABS, but the factory saved some money on the front brakes and went with a single disc instead of dual discs like the Harley. Honda also went with traditional, rwu forks, but much like Harley, offers no adjustments to the front suspension.
Both rides run a twin-cylinder mill, but Honda uses a smaller, 670 cc parallel-twin engine against Harley’s 60-degree V-twin. Water cooling is constant across the board, as is electronic fuel injection, but the CTX comes with a drivetrain option that Harley has no answer for: the auto-shifting DCT transmission. Not only does the fancy gearbox allow for effortless riding, it can enable persons who can’t manage the traditional clutch/shifter setup. Power output is similar between the two, with Harley on top at 47.2 pound-feet, and Honda clocking in just two pounds less.
Honda picks up a win at the checkout counter with a $6,999 sticker on its base-model CTX700N, over a grand less than the base Street Rod, so if the budget is extremely tight, the Honda might start to look pretty damned good.
“Cool enough I guess. I’m not exactly a fan of the Street family of bikes, and feel like Eric Buell tested the market (at his peril) and discovered that the market really has no room for a Harley-powered sportbike, even with a redesigned engine similar to other small sportbikes out there. I wish Harley well, but can’t help but wonder if the MoCo is pushing in the wrong direction. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out in the long run.”
My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is a departure for Harley, and I’m both excited and feeling a bit of trepidation at the same time. Keep in mind, however, that Harley-Davidson was born into bike racing. In 1921, it was a Harley motorcycle that, for the first time in history, won a race with an average speed of more than 100 mph. Old news? Yeah, but it was their roots. As recent as the turn of this century, Harley had podium finishes in the AMA Superbike races with the VR 1000. The King of Paint has dominated the cruiser and tourer genres for so long that a lot of folks forget that they can make bikes that go fast. AMA Pro Flat Track, anyone? Is the Street Rod going to lure buyers away from the sportbike market? No, but it’s sportier than anything Harley has put on the street and makes tackling the urban pavement a whole lot more fun.”
|Engine:||High Output Revolution X™ V-Twin|
|Displacement:||46 cu in|
|Engine Torque Testing Method:||J1349|
|Engine Torque:||2 47.2 ft-lb @ 4,000 rpm|
|Fuel System:||Mikuni Twin Port Fuel Injection, 42 mm bore|
|Primary Drive:||Gear, 36/68 ratio|
|Exhaust:||Black two-into-one exhaust|
|Rake (steering head) (deg):||27|
|Lean Angle, Right (deg.):||37.3|
|Lean Angle, Left (deg.):||40.2|
|Brakes, Caliper Type:||2-piston floated front and rear|
|Wheels, Front Type:||Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum|
|Wheels, Rear Type:||Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum|
|Tires, Front Specification:||120/70 R17 V|
|Tires, Rear Specification:||160/60 R17 V|
|Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps:||High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning|
|Gauges:||3.5 inch electronic speedometer with high beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, blade key ignition and fork lock, and locking gas cap|
|Seat Height, Laden:||29.4 in.|
|Seat Height, Unladen:||30.1 in.|
|Ground Clearance:||8.1 in.|
|Weight, As Shipped:||497 lb.|
|Weight, In Running Order:||516 lb.|
|Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy:||54 mpg|
|Fuel Capacity:||3.5 gal.|
|Oil Capacity (w/filter):||3.3 qt.|
|Colors:||Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold|
|Price:||Vivid Black: $8,699, Color $8,994|