What do you associate a Harley-Davidson with? Strong brand identity, potato-potato sound, heavyweight motorcycles that have the ability to cruise endlessly, and high sticker price. Anything other than that and, in all probability, it is not a Harley! But soon you will have to get used to a Harley that is small, doesn’t sound like one, and is ‘affordable’. Is that good news?
It’s not that ‘small’ Harleys don’t exist. The Iron 883 is a sub-1,000cc Harley but even that motorcycle can be intimidating for a less experienced rider; in India, it costs over Rs 6 lakh. So as to attract a new group of buyers who don’t have deep pockets, the iconic American motorcycle company has developed cheaper and relatively more urban motorcycles. The result is the Street series with two engine options—a 500cc and a 750cc. The larger of these—the Street 750—has been launched in India. It is also the first Harley-Davidson to be made in India.
The Street 750 is well build and the quality of switches is first-rate. Large tear-dropped fuel tank attracts attention, as does the headlamp cowl—but the cowl has a love-me-or-hate-me look. The fuel-lid is lockable, something that isn’t found on most other Harleys. A low seat height of 25.4 inches ensures you have both the feet flat on the road while waiting at the traffic junction. The frame is narrow, which makes getting on and off the motorcycle easy. The instrument panel is simple—there is a speedometer, an odometer and a fuel indicator.
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However, there is no tachometer or a clock. The rear seat is small and this means your companion will have to stick to you—necessary too, because there are no grab-rails for the pillion rider. Like all Harleys, the Street 750 too gets daytime running lights. Two things riders may find fault with are small rear-view mirrors and the fact that there is some visible loose wiring, and these should be immediately sorted out. Overall, the Street 750 is a compact attention-grabber.
The Street 750 is 2,225 mm long and has a wheelbase of 1,535 mm. Its tall ground clearance (145 mm) ensures it doesn’t scrape most Indian speed-breakers. At 222 kg, it is a relatively light Harley. The front tyre size is 100/80 (17-inch) and the rear is 150/70 (15-inch).
Both the wheels are equipped with disc brakes, but there is no ABS, not even as an option.
The Street 750 is powered by the newly-developed 749cc V-Twin called the Revolution X. Harley, as a policy, doesn’t divulge power figures but since the engine generates a torque of 60Nm@4,000rpm, we expect maximum power to be about 55-60 bhp. Mated to a six-speed gearbox, the engine is liquid cooled. The power is transferred to the rear tyre via a toothed belt, not a drive-chain.
When fired, the Street 750 produces a docile whirr, unlike most Harleys that are famous for their potato-potato sound. If you find the sound unimpressive, you can buy the Screaming Eagle muffler. The engine doesn’t really scream, but it does scream refinement. The ride is surprisingly good and ample torque is available at low rpm to shoot the motorcycle ahead. Because it is pocked-sized, the Street 750 is easy to manoeuvre even on narrow city streets—something not all Harleys can do. On an open road too, the Street 750 doesn’t disappoint. We took it on a highway outside Delhi and found that this pocket-sized Harley is, in fact, a pocket Hercules. It goes from 0-100 kmph in six seconds and even then it doesn’t feel powerless. So willingly it reaches 150 kmph that you feel you are riding any of its big brothers. Brakes are good, but a motorcycle this fast needs ABS. Kudos to MRF for developing a unique set of tyres for the Street 750 which provide ample grip during braking, cornering and on bad roads. We couldn’t check how frugal it is, but we believe that, ridden sensibly, the Street 750 can deliver 25 kmpl.
There is one concern, though. You sit too close to the engine and feel its heat on your legs. Because the Street 750 would mostly be ridden in city traffic, there isn’t much of a wind gust to take away that heat. The summers have begun India, and it remains to be seen how riders respond to this.
Barring a few issues such as lack of ABS and small rear-view mirrors, the Street 750 is a competent bike. It is quick, light, has a tall ground clearance, and is the easiest way to enter the Harley family. For Rs 4.1 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), this pocket Hercules is pocket-friendly as well. Honestly, at this price, I would have bought this motorcycle even if it were not a Harley-Davidson. But because it is a Harley, I am confident that, very soon, the Street 750 will become the largest selling big bike in India.
– Vikram Chaudhary | Financial Express