Harley-Davidson Street Rod sound to some people like an oxymoron. The idea we all have of these bikes is that they are muscular choppers and racetrack-ready classics. This model came to shake the market and our own belief of what these bikes are. It is a definite statement from the company to take on the street market and be a name you would think of before buying. Truth be told, it is one of the most competitive segments for manufacturers. Every year new models from every brand try to be the go-to choice for motorcycle enthusiasts around the world.
Harley-Davidson, thus, has to struggle to build a new name next to established brands and legendary models. Although this first approach is an amazing bike, we are about to go deep into it and tell you everything we didn't like as well. Yes, you guessed it right, this lucky rider reporter got to be on one and will tell you the detailed feel. Together with the bike test, I'm going to tell you about a couple of accessories that changed my riding life forever.
Ready? Helmet! Gloves! Go!
The introduction of the Street division for Harley-Davidson marked a historical moment. Up to that moment of 2013, the brand stayed fully loyal to their mid-to-large road-oriented bikes. The brand presenting this bike line in the 2013 EICMA show in Milan was very important due to two reasons:
The Harley-Davidson Street Rod was quite a revolution. Brands like that do not commercialize entry-level models and rely on their years of heritage to sell tried-and-true classics. It was a very bold step by Harley-Davidson that, coupled with its success, paved a new path. Fans around the world that were not able to afford an $11,500 Roadster, could see their dream come closer with the Street Rod.
All the units to be sold in the USA internal market, Canada and Mexico came out of the company´s Kansas City facilities. The production destined for the rest of the world came out of the company´s plant in Bawal, India. This brought, as a side effect, a huge controversy for Harley-Davidson that received all kinds of accusations.
Among this intense criticism, Harley-Davidson received the accusation of not understanding emerging markets. This was due to the fact that the brand did not offer any smaller displacement vehicles than 500cc. The company did not respond to criticism and continued producing not changing its manufacturing practices. As they say, the rest is two-wheel history and the whole world is grateful that they are designing and manufacturing affordable bikes too.
If I was doing a 2019 Harley-Davidson street rod review, a 2018 Harley-Davidson street rod review or even a 2017 Harley-Davidson street rod review, the result would have been very similar. In fact, the bike received few changes in its short time on the market. This is due to it being a good package with some design flaws that need to be addressed but haven´t yet.
It is a powerful bike with great cornering that detaches itself from the base model with some great additions. You do get that beautiful high-end bike feeling when you sit on it, but at the same time, it is very light-weight. This is like hopping on a Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki street model, very different from a Harley. I mean, I am a chopper lover and hence I’ve ridden many big Harleys in my life and none feel like this one.
The six-gears and the liquid-cooled engine, as well as the handlebar, are very rare on a Harley. Most people are giving a lot of hatred to this model for the wrong reasons. When a company like this tries to gain a new segment it comes out with different motorcycles. In fact, if you want the true and classic Harley-Davidson look and feel, there are many models to choose from. Bear in mind that, in addition to trying to get into a new segment, Harley still offers all the classics.
The dual-disc brakes, the inverted front fork, and the piggyback suspension are all very welcome. This bike can take corners like no other Harley can and at the same time give you some fun high-rev times. The one flaw that everybody talks about is really ergonomics. There is a lot of room for improvement in that department. The riding position is aggressive because it is an aggressive bike but it lacks some design hacks to be comfortable too. There is something about the legs position and the pegs that just doesn´t make any sense. In the same vein, the position of the rearview mirrors imitating the Ducati Scrambler is not very handy. All the car-swerving capabilities of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod are immediately lost.
I did take it for a spin, so let me tell you what I felt.
This lucky rider and writer took this bad boy for a spin in order to make my own conclusions about it. I have to say, to begin with, that it looks awesome. I walked towards it as it was waiting for me at the door of the dealership and it looked fabulous under the sun. Yay! I was lucky enough to get a test ride bike in Performance Orange and was flabbergasting.
The engine does require a key which, by 2020, is a little obsolete. The start is smooth but the bike does not sound like a Harley. There are many things we can forgive the brand when going to a different territory, but not having that low growl is not one of them.
I sat down on it, put on my helmet and my gloves and right away the sitting position is awkward. Never in all my years of riding have I seen footpegs on an exhaust. This is clearly one of the things that Harley needs to work on to make the Harley-Davidson Street Rod the amazing bike it can be. However, the gas tank is nice, but it makes you open your legs in such a way that makes space a little tight. Coupling that with the straight handlebar, this bike is far from comfortable for big guys like me.
That being said, I put on first gear and let the clutch loose to roll it gently into the pavement. The sun was slowly going away and the reflection on the reddish gas tank was just movie-worthy. The position of the turning-light switches is not what you would expect from a Harley. If you´ve been on one or several, you´ll know that they have one on each side. If you are to turn right, you use the one on the right and the same thing for the left. Moreover, having a sliding switch is more likely a Honda/Suzuki kind of deal. That is what Harley wants to debunk with the Harley-Davidson Street Rod so, I thought it was ok.
The torque and feel of the engine are a complete blast. You can be at 55mph and your bike won´t even notice. The revs will be up to like 4000 and the engine will be smooth as a feather. The traffic on a Wednesday afternoon can get kind of hectic where I live. I tried to make this bike live up to its name and be a cool street bike. Let me tell you that braking and turning are just amazing. In fact, it is so light and manoeuvrable, that it doesn´t feel like a Harley at all. The single speedometer with a digital tachometer is a minimalistic yet effective approach. In fact, it is basically all you need in the city.
Going from one red light to the next was quite an experience. If you are not in control of what you do, you have to be careful because willie is something this bike loves. This is to say that it is not a beginner´s bike by any means. The footpegs are way below expectations and the overall feel of the bike is quite far from comfortable. That being said, the riding position is nice to be seen from the outside. You feel like you are an aggressive rider cruising around town. Moreover, if you happen to like leather jackets and black helmets, it is worthy of a picture.
The rearview mirrors are quite a bothering thing. With this bike having a completely flat handlebar you could go car-swerving with no problems. Actually, that is quite what you do in this case scenario but with this motorcycle, it was completely impossible. You end up being wider in addition to the position of your knees due to the high footpegs.
The comfort zone of this motorcycle is around 6000 rpm. Right were other models of Harley get the shaky feel, this bike gets even more fun. You can be going at 70 mph in 4th gear at 5000 rpm and you have the feeling that the engine is not even trying. It is also really torquey in any gear in addition to having a sixth speed to rest on. The only reason why this is not a great bike for the highway is that the riding position is not comfortable enough. To be honest, it is not what it was built or designed for. In fact, it is called Harley-Davidson Street Rod and the brand manufactures tons of comfortable tourers you can choose from.
Back in the dealership, I can say I had some mixed feelings about this motorcycle. On one hand, it is terrific, super fun and beautiful street ride to use on a daily basis. On the other hand, the ergonomics department really needs some help.
With that in mind, I walked away and asked myself the same question I always do and the answer was a straight yes. Would I spend that money and buy a Harley-Davidson Street Rod? To sum it up, the answer was “definitely”.
Although there are many accessories and apparel you can get from Harley-Davidson for this bike they are all diverse options of baggage. Moreover, you can get from little tank bags and phone pouches to classy, premium luggage systems. This is not a tourer, but a commuter, so I decided to take a different route. Let me tell you all about two accessories I found in the market recently and blew my mind.
This is an easy to install accessory that will add tremendous safety to any of your rides. If you are like me, a big-bike rider, you love doing smooth transitions with only your clutch and gears. The engine roaring as you take it to a lower gear is a beautiful sound regardless of the bike. By doing that you don´t engage the braking light. You don´t tell others that you are lowering speed for a manoeuvre and hence, can cause an accident. This little gadget engages that light when it senses you are losing speed. That can definitely save your life and that of others.
Are you interested in the SBM? Fill in the form and find out if it’s compatible with your bike 😉
The same company also manufactures one of the few bike trackers in the market that actually works. It is very simple to install and it doesn´t drain your bike´s battery when idle. I do have a couple of irreplaceable collector pieces at home and with this, I can check where they are 24/7. You get this free app that uses GPS to give you the exact location at all times. Also, it has a scoring system to make you a better rider, it records exactly where you´ve been and has an automatic SOS notification system, in case you’d have an accident. I had been looking for something like this for ages, so if you are in the same quest give this one a try.
My verdict on this bike is that it is at a transition moment. The brand is beginning to understand what it takes to make an amazing street motorcycle. The fans are trying to comprehend what they are doing and dealerships are doing their best to find the target consumers.
The Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750 is a medium-size street-friendly bike and an awkward machine for many people. On the other hand, if you have never been on a real Harley and want a fun bike it works amazing. It is torquey, fast, light-weight, takes corners great and looks amazing; the 24-year-old me would buy it in a heartbeat (with a loan from my dad, of course).
I think we are going to see further incarnations of it with some major revamps in the future. Brands like Harley don´t plan short term and 20 years from now we will see plenty of these flooding the streets.
What did you think about my take on this beautiful machine? Have you been on one already? Share with us your experiences and opinions and feel free to share this review with fellow riders.