Just a couple of years ago, Harley-Davidson introduced an interesting sub-set of bikes called the Street line. The “Street” offerings include both 500cc and 750cc “X-Twin” V-Twin-powered models, and they are squarely aimed at budget minded and entry-level riders.
The bikes are lower-key than H-D’s bigger, more stylish offerings, and feature liquid cooling, modern, economical styling and a standard riding position – pretty much what every beginner should have a checkbox for. And with their friendly power output, they are indeed a smart way to start riding if you want something that says Harley-Davidson on the tank but costs less – a lot less – than the previous beginner model, the 883 Iron (aka The Little Sportster).
And that was fine and dandy. But now, Harley has gone and done something rash by introducing a third Street model, the Street Rod.
The Street Rod is also a 750cc machine and looks much like its Street 750 brother, but it’s actually a very different animal in many important ways. And I would hesitate to recommend it to a beginner.
Many riding enthusiasts will recall Harley’s hotted-up XR1200R Sportster from almost a decade ago. That sleek machine had the right look and has now ascended to cult bike status, but it was hampered by two traditional Harley woes: weight and power (or the lack thereof).
The new Street Rod takes several cues from the venerable XR1200R, including a healthy dollop of good looks. But it departs from tradition – and the rest of the Street lineup – with some decidedly nice bonus features and a clean-ish sheet engine design that owes nothing to the limited-output air-cooled Sportster powerplant that hampered the XR1200R
The fuel-injected X-Twin engine has been hot-rodded to make nearly 70 horsepower, a nearly 20-percent bump over the standard Street 750. There’s also a solid boost in torque, along with much more ground clearance, triple-disc brakes (as opposed to just the two on the Street 750/500), a shorter wheelbase, wider tires, sharper steering geometry and a small bugscreen over the lone clock by the handlebars.
Additionally, the Street Rod comes with bar-end mounted mirrors as stock for that cafe-race look and better rearward vision. However, it still shares the belt drive and 6-speed tranny ratios of its Street siblings. Of course, the Street Rod can be tarted up even more with aftermarket goodies from Harley and beyond, giving buyers room to customize to their liking.
The Street Rod also doesn’t come with what I’ll call “that Harley Thing,” the built-in rebel/biker label (and perhaps expectations) that comes with saddling up a Low Rider or Street Glide. And at $8,700, it also doesn’t come with a big-bike price tag.
What to make of this interesting development in the Street line from typically bigger-is-better Harley? The Motor Company hasn’t really offered a higher-performance lightweight bike that could appeal to sport-minded riders and also riders looking to get back into the sport after a long layoff from their younger days. The new Street Rod may be the perfect choice for both groups. I know I’m working to get a test bike in for some seat time – and I’m really looking forward to it.
Images and Video courtesy Harley-Davidson
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