Harley-Davidson has given birth to a new bike, their first since 2001. While classic Harleys appeal to highway warriors, the new Street 750 (and 500), an “urban cruiser”, is a lot less Steppenwolf and a lot more Run-D.M.C.
Going downtown: The Street 750 was made for the city
So what is it?
It’s the answer to the prayers of many younger, poorer Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. The Milwaukee company calls it an “urban cruiser” which should “shred” through traffic in the concrete jungle with the greatest of ease.
Even thought it’s a value-for-money buy, the baby Harley packs a formidable punch. With a 750 cc liquid-cooled V-twin, it is more than capable of handling the bustling streets as well as the open road. The Street 750 even received a nomination for South African bike of the year.
A low centre of gravity and torquey engine make for effortless city riding. Mind the pegs, though
The Street 750 is a real looker. As it’s part of Harley-Davidson’s “black range”, the chrome and tassels were left at home and, like the Stones, Harley painted it black. All of it. Only the dual shocks and the top crown of the fork sport a little silver.
The café-racer styled headlamp rounds off the urban look and prompts the rider to don a leather jacket and cruise between coffee shops. The very low seat (700mm) and wide handlebars provide the Peter Fonda look that young bikers are after.
Aftermarket parts and extras are in abundance for this piglet, leaving ample room for personalising and pimping.
Harley has also shown that the Street 750, while made to conquer the concrete jungle, can also be used in motorsport, as seen in the US, where a few flat-track variations were on display at the 2015 X-Games. We’ve all seen or heard the April fool’s jokes, but could this be the start of a proper Harley-Davidson motorsport division?
With the Street 750, Harley-Davidson introduced a brand new liquid-cooled 749 cc four-stroke, 60-degree, V-twin engine and dubbed it the “Revolution X”.
The unorthodox 60-degree mount was chosen over the traditional 45 degrees to make room for the sump and lower the seat height, which provides a low centre of gravity for nipping around traffic.
We like the unorthodox thinking and can only commend Harley, as they have produced an excellent engine. At full tilt the responsive “Revolution X” engine makes 60 Nm of torque for swift acceleration and effortless city riding.
The six speed gearbox shifts easily, which makes it perfect for city riding. On the open road the gears felt a bit short and the Street reached its max speed fairly quickly. The salesman at Harley-Davidson Tyger Valley claimed that he has pushed the Street 750 above 160 km/h, but the bike seemed to struggle around the 140 mark with me on board. But then I am 50 kg or so over the salesman.
Unlike the air-cooled Harley engines, the Street 750 does not have the notable grumble and epic put-put-put sound of its bigger brothers. Good for them too. The Street 750 in its own unique way, puts on a humble façade that befits the baby of the family.
As a member of the “Black Range” the Street 750 resembles a scaled-down Harley Night Rod
Ride and handling
As its name implies, the Street 750 is not made for grand tours and can become uncomfortable after hours in the saddle. In town, smaller bumps on the road surface are easily soaked up, but larger obstacles such as raised kerbs, manhole covers and driveway entries can cause the bike to bottom out every so often.
The low seat position and the short wheelbase (2.25 m) provide adequate agility for weaving between cars and other city obstacles. The position of the footpegs and gear shifter are in a more central position, making the rider sit more upright than the traditional (riding on your coccyx) cruiser style.
The torquey engine often led me to believe that I could thrash the bike through corners. Some footpeg scrapes and a change of underwear later, I (eventually) remembered to take it easy. Even thinking of leaning too hard would lead to a scrape.
Likes and dislikes
While Harley-Davidson has come up with a really solid bike, it’s not without its faults.
The side mirrors might as well have been vanity mirrors as they are a bloody nuisance to adjust and when adjusted display almost nothing of what is going on behind you. The brakes became a bit spongy as the test period wore on. The most notable hassle however, are some of the cheaper workings on the facia and trimmings. But, for a mass produced motorcycle made in India and sold at an affordable price, one could possibly forgive them.
I especially liked how the Street 750 lived up to the “urban cruiser” tag that it has been dubbed with as it proved to be a perfect city bike. The punchy engine runs as sweet as a nut, making both cruising and commuting effortless.
For a brand new Street 750 you’ll pay R95 000. Harley-Davidson have a finance scheme with a monthly instalment of R750 for the first two years. After the two years, however, the instalment rises to R1 800 and you can expect a balloon payment of R30 000.
Engine – 749 cc
Gearbox – 6-speed, belt drive
Max torque – 59 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Weight – 223 kg (dry)
Seat height– 710 mm
Fuel capacity – 13,1 litres
Tank range – 250 km
Warranty and servicing – 2 years, first service at 1 600 km and then every 8000 km
Price – R 95 000
Review by Simon Sonnekus