Motomiu Katanga Uno: Test Ride Review

Money can’t buy happiness, arguably. But money can surely buy you some exclusivity. When Harley-Davidson first launched the Street 750 in India at a stellar price, it was assumed that the bike would become too common a sight on the Indian streets. To counter this, as is the case with other Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the American brand offered a host of accessories which would help you customize the Street 750 to suit your taste. However, some greedy souls desire for more. The Street 750 is quite a canvas for all you modification fanboys out there. To show these custom lovers what can be done to the Street 750, Motomiu, a subsidiary of Seven Islands Harley-Davidson dealership in Mumbai built this one of a kind Street 750. It is called the Katanga Uno!

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Initial research work for the Street range of bikes began as early as 2008. It is the 1st all-new platform from Harley-Davidson in the last 14 years with all-new components such as chassis, engine etc. The Street 500 and 750 motorcycles have 0 part sharing from the higher end Harley-Davidson line-up. The initial research for the Street motorcycles included a survey between 3,000 motorcyclists from 10 different countries, which included 500 entries from India. From day 1, this was a customer led project. The Street 500 and Street 750 motorcycles will be almost identical except for the engines. The Street 500 is still a mystery when for the Indian market, but the Street 750 has taken-off well.

The Katanga Uno is based on the Street 750 and is not just a cosmetic makeover. The bike has seen plenty of mechanical changes as well. Pricing for such a project depends on the custom parts you request for. But with this model costing almost twice the cost of the stock motorcycle, we sure think one can buy a bigger Harley which will surely offer you some exclusivity, and also, peace of mind in the ownership department. The Katanga is Motomiu’s first creation, and hence gets ‘Uno’ as a suffix. So, down to the big question. Is this custom Katanga Uno good enough? Does it satisfy the poser as well as the rider in you? We took the bike for a 3-day long spin & a collective 300+ kilometres to find out.

Styling:
The only thing that tells you that the Katanga Uno is based on the Street 750 is the engine bay & the brochure. Almost everything else on the bike has changed to look different. Park the Street 750 & the Katanga Uno side-by-side and you will understand what we mean. Both the bikes look worlds apart. Of course, there’s almost 100% price difference for the custom job.

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Front end has been completely revamped. The bike drops the bikini fairing & the stock headlamp for a new & smaller LED unit. It not only looks cool, but illuminates the road well at night. Motomiu has changed the front end mechanicals as well by replacing the stock suspension setup with a Night Rod spec, upside-down suspension mounted on custom triple-clamps. This resulted in a lower front end ride height but Motomiu compensated this with a larger 19″ front wheel with a higher profile tyre. Alloy wheels have also been changed and they now house dual front disc brakes instead of the single setup on the stock bike. This makes the bike look front heavy and the presence is much higher compared to the Street 750. The clip-on mounts however are a little too big to look at, and almost odd. The handlebar grips are not rubberised, but dotted aluminium ones. With sweaty palms, wringing the throttle will be quite a task. The Katanga gets bar end mirrors, which are the same units used by the Royal Enfield Continental GT; but painted to suit this custom job. Luckily, the instrument cluster remains the same.

Look at the bike from the side, and although the overall height looks similar, the stance has now been changed. The fuel tank remains the same but is painted in dual-tone with a Motomiu decal on either side. When we say the tank is unchanged, we mean it. The tank spine seen on the Street 750 is visible on this custom mod as well. Biggest change when looked at from the side is the seat. The Katanga Uno is for riding solo, with no pillion seat and a cowl instead. The size of the seat is generous and will easily accommodate the heavy. Engine bay remains 70% the same with no mechanical differences except for the new exhaust pipe. We assume the headers remain the same and just the end can has been replaced by a shorter & lighter unit. Headers / bend pipes however get a silver / white heat wrap. Foot pegs are now rear-set, and mounted on machined mini-frames.

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Come to the rear and the bike is has been literally cut short. Almost 4 inches have been shredded to get this look at the back. The fat rear tyre now sits almost flush with the rear panel. Tail lamp is an LED unit, and a very familiar one. Well, it is a copy-pasted from the KTM Duke. On top, the pillion seat is a No! The Katanga Uno instead uses this spot for decals. Turn indicators all around are LED units, again, lifted from the KTM Duke. On either ends, there is no provision to mount the number plate, which will surely attract some Khaki attention.

If on a scale of 1-10 we had to rate this custom mod, we would surely give it a 8.5. Points cut for a few rough edges and also, a little over-the-top in some areas. But if you just desire street cred, this is the right way to go.

Instrumentation & ergonomics:
The Street 750 has a rather simple looking instrument cluster, and the Katanga Uno continues with the same. It is a round unit with a chrome ring on top and only a speedometer. A small digital display shows you the dual trip meters and an odometer. Rest of the tell-tale lights are housed inside the speedo console which includes a low fuel indicator. There is no fuel level indicator apart from the low fuel warning. What’s good is that it is backlit in red and looks fantastic at night. Keyhole has now been repositioned to the RHS, next to the radiator. The placement is almost impossible to the unaware. Also, with this repositioning, you cannot really lock the handle-bar. Turn the key to the ignition mode and the instrument cluster does a full check. Most people complained about the switch gear, so the Katanga Uno goes over-the-top to replace it. The new unit used although of good quality plastic, is super weird with XL sized buttons and an ergonomic disaster. Even after 3 days of riding, we did not get really used to the placement of these switches. However, the missing pass switch on the Street 750 makes way on the Katanga Uno. The custom-clip ons offer a nice forward leaning riding stance. This does add to a sporty feel on a cruiser platform. Quite some mix-n-match. The aluminium grips however are a bit too large in size, and not really ideal for long runs. You palms are not happy when riding longer than an hour or so. Sourced from the Continental GT, the rear view mirrors offer decent coverage of the action behind; not the best though due to its size. Horn was acceptable, but we opted to blast that exhaust instead of honking when need be.

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Sit on the bike and you realise how different riding position is compared to the Street 750. What used to be an upright, typical cruiser riding position is now of the committed types. The rider leans forward a fair bit. The rider seat is nice and wide and the medium compound seat is just about perfect for those long rides. It is accommodating and even those on the heavier side will find enough support when on the move. Foot-pegs are now rear-set to add to the sporty stance. The placement however was not spot on and we found the gear lever was a bit of a stretch. This has completely changed the dynamics of the Street 750.

Engine, performance & handling:
The Harley-Davidson Street 750 is powered by a 749cc, liquid-cooled, Revolution X, V-Twin, fuel-injected petrol engine which produces power in the range of 55-60 BHP and 59 Nm of torque @ 4,000 RPM. The Motomiu Katanga Uno has decided not to play with the engine, and keeps it untouched. Thank god! Engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox & typical of Harley’s, the Street 750 is also belt driven. The company claims that the belt drive demands less maintenance as compared to a conventional chain, and is relatively less noisy during gearshifts. Gear pattern is the almost universal 1-down, 5-up. Riding is made easy with the help of a light clutch, however the gearshifts aren’t butter smooth. Add to that, the new levers on the Katanga Uno aren’t really ergonomic.

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Once you start up the motor, the engine is calm and composed as the Street 750, but the new exhaust end can is LOUD! There is no missing this motorcycle when it is fired-up. NVH levels on the Street 750 were well contained, and this continues on the Katanga as well. Slot it in first and wring the throttle, and unlike electric kind of sound on start off that the belt makes; the exhaust on the Katanga is more than happy to attract all the attention possible.

Acceleration from 0 kmph is decent and the bike can achieve 100 kmph in under 5 seconds (stock). Motomiu claims that the Katanga Uno is 20 kg lighter than the stock bike, but we did not feels so while moving it around in the parking lot. The 750cc motor is fast and accelerates well to justify all those looks. And now, all this is done with a extra-audible exhaust as well. The torque availability low down in the RPM range means you can scoot around in higher gears at lower speeds within the city without any problems. With slight slipping of the clutch, you can even start off in the 2nd gear. In 6th, we could manage to move around at about 55-60 kmph without any sign of knocking from the engine. Achieving triple digit speeds is a breeze. The engine is smooth and refined at all times, be it inside the city or on the highway. Throttle response is crisp to satisfy your highway needs.

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Even after this weight loss & appeal gaining surgery, it is not meant to be flicked around corners anyway. The bike is manageable in city traffic. Handling however is now messed up. One can ride in a straight-line as long as he / she wants with the throttle wide open, but enter a corner and you will not be very happy. The new & heavy front end has messed up the balance of the motorcycle. This is what we dislike about custom motorcycles. They give you everything that you are ‘LOOKING’ for, but compromise on the dynamics. With a sporty seating position, if you try to attack corners, the bike simply wants to touch the ground. And by that, we mean it wants to fall flat. Cornering abilities are 0, and one needs to be very, very cautious. Well, it is based on a cruiser anyway and we recommend a sedate riding style on the twisties. Suspension setup is stiff, and ride quality has also gone for a toss. If you take a speed bump or a pothole hard, the bike ensures your spine feels it too. A rather dissapointing move made by Harley-Davidson was that they opted out of the Michelin tyre setup and got the plain Jane looking MRF Zappers on the stock Street 750. But on this custom piece, we had moderately grippy Shinko tyres. Not that they lack grip, but the dynamics of the bike are so messed up, that a better rubber can do very little to hold ground.

Braking power comes from custom double disc brake at the front and a single disc brake at the back. Braking performance – POOR! Brake bite on both ends is far from confidence inspiring and you have to plan your braking point well in advance. Brake bite is very spongy.

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With a few flaws which we think posers would easily neglect, the Motomiu Katanga Uno is definitely an eyeball magnet. There was not even a single red-light where we halted and people did not give us a second look. Road presence is massive and the bike would make the stock Street 750 look very, very ordinary. If you have money in the bank, and want to be seen every time you hit the streets, the Katanga Uno will definitely deliver more than you would expect.

Click here to check out the Motomiu Katanga Uno photo gallery.

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Parichay Malvankar

Parichay Malvankar

Founder, owner and editor-in-chief of www.shifting-gears.com; a born gearhead, nothing apart from a set of wheels gets his pulse racing.

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