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2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod: Urban bullet

By Robert Filla

Daytona Beach, Fla.—While mid-year new model bike reveals are not unusual these days, the location that The Motor Company selected was—Daytona Beach, smack dab in the middle of Speed Week. Only after Harley released a news bulletin announcing the new Street Rod 750 would be debuting alongside its race-bred cousin, the XG750R, during the revitalized flat-track series (beginning with the Daytona TT National) did the location for this press launch begin to make sense. Perfect sense.

I test rode the original XG750 Street in Austin, Texas, during a H-D press launch back in 2014. It was touted as an entry-level machine, one geared to win over a new generation of novice (and young) urban riders. My review was mixed, loving the nimbleness and power-to-weight ratio while bitching about the cramped riding position and lack of attention in addressing atrocious wiring. This is not that bike. No, this bike, the Street Rod XG750A, this is the bike Harley meant to build in the first place. Sure, it still has a few quirks, a cramped riding position still being one, but this is a fun machine. And if the original Street 750 caught your eye but you failed to bite, this one may well be your undoing.

The Street Rod easily gobbled up what little twisties there are surrounding Daytona Beach

 

The details

The revised liquid-cooled High Output Revolution X engine delivers a reported 18-percent increase in power and 8 percent more torque than the standard Revolution X 750 engine. Tipping the scales at 516 lbs. wet, the Street Rod weighs within 30 pounds of the original Street making that bump in horsepower quite noticeable. That increase is achieved via higher-lift cams, a larger airbox, a new dual-throat throttle body with separate intake manifolds (compared to the Street’s single), revised 4-valve heads, a jump in compression from 11.0:1 to a whopping 12.0:1 and a higher redline, going from 8000 to 9000 rpm. All that innovation is fed to the tarmac through a 6-speed gearbox. These upgrades culminate to deliver superb mid-range performance, which is perfect in stop-and-go urban conditions (the market this bike was designed for).

Behind that racy air cleaner is the High Output Revolution X engine producing 18 percent more ponies than its predecessor

An LED taillight is capped with a space age glass-filled nylon tailpiece that supports the turn signals and license plate

Revisions to the chassis are also significant. The front end is a 43mm inverted fork with the rake angle tightened from a lazy 32 to a quick 27 degrees making for some fast steering. The entire bike sits taller than the original Street so a longer swingarm was designed to accommodate this taller ride height. Along with a seat height of 30” (4” taller than the Street) and ground clearance at 8” comes a huge increase in lean angle when compared to the Street model, from 28.5 degrees left and right to 37.3 degrees right and 40.2 degrees left. New coil-over rear shocks have an external reservoir for increased fluid capacity. Front and rear the Street Rods rolls on 17” Split 7 Spoke cast wheels wrapped in Michelin Scorcher 21 radials, 120 up front and a 160mm out back. Dual 300mm disc brakes are now standard up front with an optional ABS upgrade ($750) working seamlessly.

The look

Taking its styling cues from European superbikes, the Street Rod is the sportiest thing to ever roll out of the Milwaukee factory. With a fast-back tail section, a drop-dead beautiful air cleaner, an abbreviated windscreen nacelle, flat (almost drag) bars and bar-end mirrors, the Street Rod is a handsome bike even for someone accustomed to choppers and baggers. (And surprisingly, those mirrors are exceptional and actually make more sense than any standard motorcycle mirror configuration.)

Broomstick drag bars capped with bar-end mirrors give the Street Rod an aggressive appearance

The ride

A strong power band coupled with a great suspension package, the Street Rod was a hot-rod treasure both in town and out along some twisties in the Florida swamps. But (you knew there’d be a “but,” right?)… in keeping with the bike’s racing image, someone decided to move the rider foot pegs about 3” to the rear. Yes, it is a sporty look but for this rider coming in at six feet tall, it was as cramped as the original Street 750 I rode three years earlier. But then, I’m three years older, not one pound skinnier and with torn ACLs in both knees, I may not be the best critic when it comes to judging comfort on anything other than a sofa.

Coil-over rear shocks have an external reservoir for added fluid capacity and provide 4.6-inches of bounce

During my earlier ride review of the Street 750, everyone on the press launch agreed on one thing: the position of the rear brake pedal sucked. It was too low and had too much travel before solid brake activation. Well, I guess Harley was reading our reviews because they fixed it. Actually they fixed it too much. Now the dang pedal is too high and I found myself constantly searching for a position to place my right foot without engaging the rear brake. Apparently someone had already pointed this problem out to The Motor Company who had conveniently provided a small, insulated pad on the exhaust heat shield just aft of the right foot peg to rest your boot on.

Carrying 3 1/2 gallons of petrol, the gas tank’s range is right at 200 miles

Chetan Shedjale is the senior industrial designer who led the design effort on the Street Rod. A quiet and reserved individual, his passion for this project was never in doubt. Shedjale had customized some of the first Streets after the initial launch and used that impetus in defining the character of the Street Rod, also dubbed “a Street on steroids.” Shedjale has stated that American racing was inspirational in the design of the Street Rod and that everything was considered to keep the bike performance oriented and street-fighter inspired while retaining the “Harley image and Americana.”

A 43mm inverted fork, dual disc brakes and 17″ Split 7 Spoke Wheels complete the package

The history

Which brings us back to the American Flat Track series that began in Daytona at the International Speedway. Formerly the AMA Grand National and then the AMA Pro Flat Track, this newly-created version shows great promise in revitalizing the sport and, on March 16, a larger-than-anticipated evening crowd at the Speedway proved that folks will still come out to watch the historic feud, as Harley and Indian bang heads and wage war on the dirt circle. While there the press core saw the latest weapon Harley plans to use in establishing themselves as the dominant leader on the flat track, a highly-modified Street Rod, the XG750R. And while the first few skirmishes against their biggest competitor have seen Indian Motorcycle taking the initial lead, hard work and dedication have a way of leveling the playing field—time will tell. We wish them the best since we all love heated competition.

At the Daytona International Speedway the press core were introduced to the Street Rod’s edgier cousin, the flat track ready XG750R

The Street Rod carries a MSRP of $8,699 in Vivid Black and $8,994 if you opt for one of only two paint options, Charcoal Denim or Olive Gold. Plus there is a security system option that runs $395. Numerous accessories from Harley and the aftermarket are already popping up in anticipation of robust sales. Let’s hope so. 

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