Street Roddin' with new Harley
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The original Street Rod was a big, brash American bruiser of a bike, as you’d expect from something built in the mid-2000s and based on Harley’s first production water-cooled motorcycle, the V-Rod. In that same vein, the Street Rod returns for 2017 — albeit with major changes in both base bike and, importantly, aesthetics.
With the V-Rod no longer with us — its engine was far too dirty to pass Euro 4 — the water-cooled performance torch was passed to Harley’s entry-level Street range.
I know what you’re thinking, a performance Street? Well, obviously the wheezy little 500cc Revolution X wasn’t going to cut it, and Harley decided that even the 750 version wasn’t up to the job, so enter the new heart, the 750cc High Output version of the Revolution X.
Harley has pulled off a number of alterations, including a new intake, cams, and upping the compression ratio of the compact 60-degree V-twin to increase power by 18 per cent over the original 750 motor.
It might not sound like a huge increase but, in the saddle, the numerous changes that make up the High Output engine do make a vast improvement.
In real-world terms, torque has increased from 59Nm to 65Nm, with horsepower rumoured to be up around the 52kW mark. Going by the butt-dynamometer, I’d believe it.
In the styling department, Street Rod’s chief designer Chetan Shedjale went wild with the Street Rod in comparison with the restrained base that is the Street 500 and 750.
For a quiet designer, he has pulled off a big coup with the aggressive transformation of the Street chassis.
Gone are the reserved lines, along with the majority of the visual components, with only the fuel tank carried over to the Street Rod.
At first I was slightly disappointed that the big 13.2-litre fuel tank was carried over, but ergonomically it works fantastically, offering plenty of real estate for the rider to clamp on and hold on tight.
That’s a must with the near-on 40-degrees of lean angle the Street Rod possesses, far more than any other bike Harley offers.
This comes from the new upgraded suspension that now calls the Street Rod home. Gone are the entry-level 37mm forks found on the other Streets, and in comes big, inverted 43mm units up front, while out back the twin shocks are now longer, with remote reservoirs.
With the bigger suspension, the seat height has grown to 765mm, and, combined with a pair of 17-inch wheels the Street has transformed from a small cruiser to a muscular roadster with some serious handling ability.
I’ve said it before, but this is a Harley-Davidson that breaks with the idea that they don’t go around corners.
In fact, the Roadster is the closest bike in many ways to the Street Rod. Both enjoy copious amounts of lean angle, sporty ergonomics, and oddly, awkward footpegs.
This is mostly only the right-hand-side peg on the Street Rod mind you, which, due to the size of the catalytic converter in the exhaust requires a foot pad in addition to the peg on the exhaust itself to keep you from melting your boot.
It is awkward at first — and even once you get used to it, it is still weird. In August we’ll see the full accessories list for the Street Rod, which will hopefully see a smaller de-catted exhaust system as one of the performance upgrades.
But, like its name suggests, the Street Rod is an urban assault performance machine.
With Singapore as the world launch location, there was no better place to showcase the Street Rod and its powerful new engine. It’s the city where this bike truly shines.
We started our day-long ride late, after a typical Singapore thunderstorm turned the stairways at the nearby Fort Canning park into waterfalls. The sun finally came out and we hit the busy streets of Singapore to put this urban battler to the test.
Despite the wide, 870mm drag-style handlebar, the Street Rod is nimble and finds its way through heavy traffic with ease.
Lane-splitting for the first time since I moved from the busy streets of Auckland to quiet Cambridge was a breeze.
My only worry was for the reversible bar end mounted mirrors coming into contact with SUV mirrors.
Off the line at traffic lights and the Street Rod matches its cornering ability with straight line performance.
Even with a Singaporean spec bike that has a lower power output than what we will receive later this month, the Street Rod surprised with its on-road performance, roaring away from the lights with a glorious intake note from the new supercharger inspired intake.
And that’s the Street Rod in a nutshell.
Turn up your nose all you like to the Street DNA, the Street Rod is a new level of Harley-Davidson urban machinery.
It is quick off the line, corners well, and brings the Street platform up the a far more deserving level than the entry level bikes could hope to achieve.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET ROD
ENGINE: 749cc 60-degree V-twin
PRO: Fun factor, power, great handling
CON: Funky right footpeg placement lets off a lot of heat on to the rider
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