2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750: From highways to streets
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The pros: Big comfortable seat, powerful 749cc engine, mindblowing acceleration, very light clutch, stable and provides excellent handling.
The cons: Plastics on the switchgear feel cheap and fragile, small rear seat is uncomfortable. Tyres fail to provide sufficient grip on wet surface.
The crux: Overall, the Street 750 turned out to be a wonderful machine. It will gather more riders who want to chase their passion, but held back because of cost restrictions.
Harley-Davidson, the American bastion for freedom, has been more a famous character image than just motorcycles. It is a magnificent setup of you, your motorcycle, the open road and the wind in your helmet. As intriguing as this picture may be, there was always a massive price restriction stuck with it, especially for Indian motorcycle enthusiasts. To own a Harley-Davidson was more a matter of deep pockets than high spirits. But when in the midst of a huge crowd at the Auto Expo 2014, Anoop Prakash, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson India, announced the price of the new Street 750, he gave more to the Indian youth than a product. He gave them hope, a hope to be actually complete their perfect portrait of riding nirvana!
The Street 750 is not just a lesser sized and priced Harley-Davidson motorcycle, it is actually an idea. Where you had to shell out more than Rs 7 lakh for an 883, the Street 750 is priced at just Rs 4.10 lakh. While the rest of the Harley-Davidson aficionados and motorcyclist journalists might comment that this motorcycle is not pure, I partly agree and disagree with them. There might be a few issues with it, but at this price point I am compelled to overlook all of them. This is a fantastic machine for all the discerning motorcyclists who dreamt of one but could not afford a Harley-Davidson in their stable.
The company had a mammoth challenge preserving the DNA of a Harley-Davidson in a smaller, compact package. We have to say that the product turned out to be brilliant. Styling has been kept in line with the V-rod and the Sportster. From the long front forks, the magnificent V-Twin engine, to the low seat and the sloping low rear-end, it emanates a Harley-Davidson.
More so, Harley Davidson Street 750 looks even better when you see it in flesh than pictures. The version here had a matte black finish, which makes it an absolute stunner everywhere it goes. But that comes with a price, as matte finish has to be cleaned regularly subject to its property of attracting dust. Personally the ‘fire red’ is a much nicer colour when it comes to appeal. Atop this the black colour hides away most of the motorcycle’s lines anyway.
The classic teardrop shaped tank sits on top of the new Revolution X V-Twin engine. This new engine has been designed on the basis of the V-rod platform, which was in fact developed with Porsche. The round head-lamp and the tiny windscreen further add to the styling quotient. The only part that looks out of place are the saree-guards on both sides of the machine, they just do not belong. Apart from the compact size, the Street 750 is an absolute stunner.
The Street 750 was designed for the people, by the people. The company took a lot of feedback from existing and prospective customers and spent a lot of time on the drawing board to create this motorcycle. The handle bars have been set for street use, not thrown back too much for highway cruising. However, because they are not swept back, riders below the height of 5 feet 7 inches might find the handlebars hard to reach. The plastic quality is decent, if not good, on the body panels and instrument cluster. However, the plastics on the switchgear feel cheap and fragile. The rear view mirrors blend well with the styling of the motorcycle, but fall short when it comes to usability. The big comfortable seat has lots of cushioning to keep your behind comfortable on long trips.
The instrument cluster is minimalistic with the speedometer and a tiny LCD, which doubles up for Trip and ODO. There is a lack of fuel gauge I agree, but a tiny considerate light comes up on the gauge when the fuel level goes too low, notifying you to refuel. The seat height has been set fairly low on the new Street 750, so much so that I being 5 feet 11 inches found it uncomfortable spending hours on the saddle. But considering the average height in the country is lower than that, this is actually a big plus for majority of the riders. The only area where the Street 750 lacks is the rear seat, which is small and not very comfortable. The rear passenger has to snuggle up due to lack of space, and the problem doubles if you are carrying backpacks. Hence the road to freedom is mostly for the rider alone.
Engine and performance
At the heart of this machine sits a 749cc, liquid cooled, Revolution X V-Twin engine that develops a massive 60Nm peak torque. Harley-Davidson never release power figures, but I reckon it develops around 52-53bhp of maximum power. Add these numbers to a kerb weight of 222 kilograms and what you get is a quick street motorcycle. The Street 750 hit 100kmph from a standstill in about 4.8seconds and we saw a top whack of 175kmph with a pillion on board. Power is transferred via a toothed belt-drive, which reduces any frictional losses and is also maintenance free. The clutch is very light and easy and gearbox is very smooth. But be advised, any speeds above 120kmph and the wind blast will make it uncomfortable to sustain that speed. Yes the Street 750 can go up to ridiculous speed, but it is advised not to take it there.
The best bit about this engine is its absolutely flexible nature. Despite the quick revving nature of the engine, you have bucket loads of torque available across the rev band. Choose to cruise in sixth gear at a steady 45kmph, or play along the gearbox above 80kmph. Any choice you make and the Street 750 responds. The mid-range is where the Street 750 is the happiest to work. Then is the exhaust sound where the Street 750 lacks again. It sounds fantastic when you start the engine, a low and powerful bass line, which is sustained at slow cruising speeds. But push it bit hard and the bass line dies away in a racket. Mind you, this is a genuine V-Twin thrum, but does not sound right on this motorcycle. This might actually turn-off customers, but again at this price point, it is granted. And you can always replace them with what Harley-Davidson offers as aftermarkets.
Ride and handling
The Street 750 handles like no other Harley-Davidson. It actually has the perfect setup for carving corners. The stiff chassis and the firm suspension provide stability while flicking the motorcycle from one side to another. But this is not what it was built to do. The low set foot pegs scratch the ground on more than medium lean, which could get risky through corners. The Street 750 comes with 2-piston floating disc brakes both at the front and the rear. The braking performance is adequate unless you push it to the limit. For normal use the front brake has fair bite but does tend to fade away with use. Sudden stops require you to pull the entire lever, with the maximum use of the rear brake. Every day riders shall face no problem under normal speeds.
Street 750 comes fitted with 100/80 R17 tyres up front and 150/70 R15 tyres at the rear from MRF. These cost effective tyres perform fair when it comes to everyday use, but grip gets deteriorated on wet and slippery surfaces. So if you are looking for more feedback from the tyres, you need to invest into better Pirelli or Michelin rubber. The ride height is set at 145mm (ground clearance) which is enough for tackling every day speed humps and broken patches of roads. But be careful while on bigger speed breakers, the 145mm is enough for normal use but some huge speed humps need attention. The suspension is set on the firmer side, but the ride is comfortable on uneven roads.
Overall the Street 750 turned out to be a wonderful motorcycle. It is powerful, comfortable and comes with a lot of brand heritage with itself. The competition is either more expensive than the Street 750, or if cheaper, lacks the lustre in front of Harley-Davidson. The Triumph Bonneville and the Kawasaki Ninja 650R might be better motorcycles, but then they cost a lot of money over the Street 750. On the other end of the scale, the KTM 390 Duke and the Kawasaki Ninja 300 might provide similar performance figures and cost lesser, but they lack the styling and charm of a Harley-Davidson.
There are a few issues with quality and finish, but then Harley-Davidson is offering a glorious V-Twin engine and the feel of a premium product at a mouth-watering price point. For the first time, motorcycling enthusiasts can paint their dream picture with an affordable Harley-Davidson. And it is not just the young men and women we are talking about here, but quite elderly folks with a bit of spare cash can actually think of owning a Harley-Davidson for their weekend rides. This is a completely new segment for Harley-Davidson, and we must applaud them for this. I am sure the American brand will soon iron out any issues with quality and further polish the Street 750 as a product. Anoop Prakash stated, “We want more rides for riders”, and he stands true to his word. The Street 750 will garner more riders who wanted to chase their passion, but held back because of cost restrictions. Well gentlemen, your ride is here!!