Bike Reviews Reviews

Harley-Davidson Street 750: Ride Report

Harley-Davidson Street 750: Ride Report
Parichay Malvankar
Written by Parichay Malvankar

Harley-Davidson India is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harley-Davidson and is based in Gurgaon, Haryana. The company commenced Indian operations in August 2009 and appointed their first dealership in July 2010. Harley had first announced its plans to enter the Indian market in 2009, however, their plans were previously delayed by a couple of years due to high tariff and emission norms in India. Did you know, that in 2007, the Minister for Commerce and Industry of India, Kamal Nath, had agreed that Harley-Davidson motorcycles will be allowed to access the Indian market in exchange for the exports of Indian mangoes? Quite an interesting barter isn’t it? Traditionally an American company, Harley-Davidson went against all odds and set up a manufacturing facility here in India. India is the only country where the brand has set up a manufacturing facility outside of the U.S.A. Also, India is the 1st market where Harley-Davidson set up a subsidiary from day 1. However, for bulk requirements, the brand still depends on the US supply chain. So what is a better way to utilise a manufacturing facility apart from producing a motorcycle grounds up… This is when the Street range of bikes comes into action.

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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 range of bikes will be produces in India as well as in the U.S.A. While the Street 750 was first launched in India, the Street 500 will be launched in European markets first since it requires to meet some licensing requirements over there and later, head to India.

Styling:
The very first time a Harley-Davidson Street 750 was spotted, was in June 2013. The motorcycle was spotted testing with minimum camouflage and almost the production spec body panels, only without the Harley-Davidson badge to keep the suspense alive. Nobody expected it to be a Harley product and people started debating that it was a Yamaha, a Triumph, a new Hyosung and what not. But at the 2014 India Bike Week, Harley-Davidson put an end to all this speculation. The Street 750 was officially unveiled and so were a few customised variants of the Street 750, just for future modification reference.

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One look at the motorcycle and you will not mistake it for any other motorcycle but for a Harley-Davidson. It sports design elements typical of cruisers and is reasonably long for an entry level Harley. The Street 750 is also the lowest seating motorcycle Harley-Davidson has in the entry level segment. You can feel this every time you sit on the bike and get that side-stand up. This as a result will help suit riders of all heights.

At the front, you have a classic circular headlamps with a bikini fairing painted in gloss black, standard on all colours. Popping out of the fairing you have turn indicators with amber lens with a short stalk. Front mud guard isn’t too long and ends rather high up which will result in a lot of mud being thrown on the XL sized radiator grille. Suspension forks are painted in black and have a reflector placed on either side for lateral visibility at night. The suspension forks get a neat looking rubber cover. A single disc brake with dual piston caliper is mounted on a 17″, 7-spoke, black alloy wheel with a white rim stripe.

The Street 750 has almost everything in black, and so was the colour of our bike, but a matte black one. From the side profile, design elements are typical of cruisers. The bike has a nice and wide, contoured rider seat with the tank flowing in to match the lines. The matte black tank holds a metallic Harley-Davidson badge and a rather old-school fuel filler cap which comes out completely. Engine is also all-black but with polished metal finish on the cylinder fins to break the monotony. Twin-cylinder means two exhaust outlets, but on the Street 750, you have a 2 into 1 exhaust system which runs all the way till the rear wheel of the bike on the RHS. Exhaust pipe is also all-black with a black heat shield at the end and black cladding on the headers. For those who want to add some visible and audible funk, you always have the wide range of accessories to choose from. Between the twin-cylinders on the RHS sits the air-filter in a neat casing with ‘750’ written on it. The radiator is rather large and covers up the tube-type chassis, and also, adds a lot more muscle to the design.

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At the back, what you notice first is that the pillion seat is not quite a seat, but a joke really. It is too small and makes the bike look like it’s a single seater. Beyond the pillion seat though, the panel runs long and Harley could have easily accommodated a longer seat, but they chose to offer it as an option at a whopping Rs. 20,000+. The bike has a saree guard on either side and frankly, unlike on most bikes where it is an eyesore, due to the all-black colour scheme on the Street 750, this looks in sync with the overall design. There is a set of reflector strips at the back as well, just under the pillion section. The rear adjustable suspension is seen in chrome. The drive belt cover is huge and is very prominent when looking at the LHS profile of the bike. LED tail lamps are mounted on a separate plastic panel which extends down as the rear mud guard and is not a part of the body panel where the seat bolts on. Below the number plate is a small reflector strip and on either side on top you have the same amber lens turn indicators as seen at the front. Rear wheel is a 15″, 7-spoke black alloy wheel with a white rim stripe and houses the single disc brake.

Not that it is a big problem, but our job is to find faults and put it in front of you. But mind it, if this is your first motorcycle or has been your dream, you will let this go unnoticed. At almost Rs. 5 lakh on-road, there are just a couple of things which might irritate those who love 100% attention to detail. A lot of wiring is seen exposed to dust and dirt and does not suit a bike in this price bracket. It would have taken very little for Harley to iron out this flaw. If you look at the bikini fairing from where the instrument cluster bolts on, you can see light allowed inside which means that it does not fit 100%. Switch gear lacks a high-beam pass button and you don’t have adjustable levers either. Even when you look at the fuel tank from the top, the spine is clearly visible, and not very pleasing to the eye.

Overall, if you aren’t too finicky about the points mentioned above, you will love the bike for the way it looks. Minimalistic design and no flashy decals will offend none.

Instrumentation and ergonomics:
The Street 750 has a rather simple looking instrument cluster. 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. Turn the key to the ignition mode and the instrument cluster does a full check. What’s good is that it is backlit in red and looks fantastic at night. Talking about the key, it is rather simple and we have no qualms about it. What’s the issue is that it is placed at a rather inconvenient location under the triple-clamp. Most people complained about the switch gear, which we think is par for the course. We wonder what motorcycle they ride. It has a rough touch to it though which will work well in terms of grip when you use a riding glove. What we missed was a pass switch which should have been there on a motorcycle costing ~ half a million rupees. A small annoyance was from the angle at which the switch gear was mounted, the horn button for example should have been a few millimeters below to be ideal. Grips are flat and have no groves or cuts for added grip, the plastic is a little rough but groves would work perfect on a rainy ride. Handle bar is a conventional one mounted on a triple clamp and does not get bar-end weights. Rear view mirrors are also painted in black and offer decent coverage of the action behind; not the best though. Horn was loud and we found the tone acceptable unlike a few meak sounding horns on high end bikes.

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Sit on the bike and you realise how low the riding position is. It is the lowest on an entry-level Harley-Davidson as well. 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 mid-mounted and not all the way upto the radiator. This makes it easy for the shorter riders since it is not too much of a stretch. Handlebar is also at a reasonable height and the rider sits pretty upright.

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For the pillion, things are a little less than ideal. The available seat room when looked at, will first make you think twice if you should hop on. If your passenger is of the skinny types, great. But if they are on the heavier side, the rear panel will be seen fading away due to the pillion bottom brushing over there. This will leave you with no option but to go for the expensive seat option; or may be, some other aftermarket route. The pillion rider also has no other option but to hold the rider. There is a small grab-strap on the seat, but the seat itself is so small, that you will rather want to accommodate yourself comfortably than to reach out for that strap. Footpegs for both the pillion and the rider are rubberised and round units.

Engine, performance and 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 other bikes in the Harley range which get liquid-cooling are from the VRSC family (V-Rod, Nightrod). Engine is mated to a 6-speed gearbox and the company claims a fuel efficiency of 17.42 kmpl combined. Typical of Harleys, 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. But even with so much torque on offer, slotting in to first gear does not make too much of an audible clunk.

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Once you start up the motor, you will be surprised to notice the levels of refinement. There is no shiver whatsoever on idle and neither do the rear view mirrors show any kind of vibration. Even when on the seat and in position, you do not feel the vibrations at the bottom or on your hands via the handlebar. Slot it in first and wring the throttle, the first thing you will notice before the exhaust growling higher up, is that there is a very electric kind of sound on start off. More to do with the belt drive may be. Harley-Davidson has made enough efforts to make sure that this new-generation Revolution X engine doesn’t compromise on the exhaust note. Of course, it does not match the typical ‘po ta to po ta to’  exhaust note of the bigger boys, but has a throaty note when you revv higher. Also, you can always opt for the Screaming Eagle air filter and the custom exhausts if you like to move around louder. The exhaust although looks flush with the overall all-black design, Harley could have played around a little bit to make it look more with the times.

Acceleration from 0 kmph is quick and the bike can achieve 100 kmph in under 5 seconds. For a bike which weighs well over 200 kg, this is a very respectable performance figure. Not only is the fast acceleration noteworthy, but 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 and the bike can match the extreme end of the speedometer, however, the true speed will be a little less than it appears. The engine is smooth and refined at all times, be it inside the city or on the highway. For the price, we think the engine more than makes up for any other flaw which one might notice. It is also very easy to get to terms with and newbie riders will not struggle too long. Throttle response is crisp and if you spend more time on the highways, you will not be disappointed with the purchase. Overtaking is a breeze, but the wind blast while doing so is very prominent.

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222 kg doesn’t make it the lightest of motorcycles currently on sale, however, it is not meant to be flicked around corners anyway. The bike is manageable in city traffic. Wide handlebars allow you to sit comfortably and maneuver the motorcycle. You can maintain decent speeds when going into the corner thanks to the suspension setup which is not overly soft. But yes, it does have more travel range than any other Harley currently available in India. The bike rides on a steel tubular chassis and gets telescopic front forks and dual adjustable rear shock absorbers mounted on a rectangle section steel swingarm. Ride quality for the rider is good and the bike can tackle moderate-height speed breakers with one up. 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. Not that they lack grip, MRF has worked with Harley-Davidson to develop a suitable rubber compound to match the performance of tap. But the Michelins’ would have been nice, right? Harley might have easily knocked down a couple of thousands with this tyre choice off the ex-showroom price.

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Braking power comes from a single disc brake at the front and back. While the front end offers good bite, the rear pedal feels very spongy. Also, the rear bite is lacking and hitting it hard will result in a lock-up. The overall braking feel is not confidence inspiring and you have to be careful in panic situations. If only ABS was offered, things would have been a little less troublesome.

Positioning it as the Urban motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has hit almost all the sweet spots with the Street 750; the major one being the price. At a price tag of Rs. 4.3 lakh (ex-showroom), it gives you enough performance of tap with the entry in the Harley Owners Group (HOG) for your weekend leisure rides. The all-black Dark Custom look will be received well with the younger motorcyclists to whom the bike is being targeted at. Road presence is massive and at every red-light, you will find heads turning. The bike offers good value for money along with the Harley halo while riding it. It is known that when you buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, you not only get the bike, but also the complete lifestyle package with customisation options, riding events and other activities. So if you want to munch miles on the highway and not go knee down, that Harley-Davidson Street 750 at the given price is a brilliant well-rounded package. Not that it is ground breaking, but rather mainstream. If you’ve owned any of the bigger Harley-Davidsons or even ridden them, this one will be the opposite of intimidating.

Click here to check out the Harley-Davidson Street 750 photo gallery.