2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Test
With the Austin X-Games used as a backdrop, Harley-Davidson – a sponsor of the event – launched its all-new Harley-Davidson Street 750.
This is the first new platform from The Motor Company since the the VRSC (V-Twin Racing Street Custom…think V-Rod) in 2001, and it’s directed towards a new demographic of entry-level riders from across the globe.
The water-cooled Street 750 – and its younger brother the Street 500 – is for newbies who don’t want the traditional styling or handling of an 883 Sportster, and seek hip styling. And after riding the Street 750 for 130 miles throughout Austin and Texas’ big hill country, respect evolved for Harley’s global push towards a new market of riders.
But note – for Harley-Davidson loyalist, the new and smooth fuel-injected Revolution X engine lacks the typical rumbling character of a H-D air-cooled V-twin.
It also (happily for most, we hope) lacks a clunky transmission. The smooth-shifting six speed arrives with a great ratio for both highway speeds and canyon blasts. We never missed a shift, and finding neutral was never an issue.
Once past these traditional differences, the Revolution X pleases – the 60-degree, 749cc liquid-cooled engine is the little rev-happy engine that could. Producing 44.5 ft/lbs of torque at 4000 rpm, the 750 has a beefy midrange that’s needed for an urban assault, but also revs happily towards the limiter for fun on the backroads while sipping fuel at a claimed 41 mpg.
As for when that rev limiter kicks in, we don’t know; the Street 750 only arrives with an analog speedometer that features an odometer and two trip meters. That’s it. And noise typical of a Harley? Nope; barely a bark emanates from the stock exhaust. Uncorked, this engine should scream.
For newbies, agility trumps power, and the Street 750 – built along with the Street 500 in Harley’s Kansas City plant – is by far the most agile Harley platform every produced. The bike simply does not intimidate, and it’s extremely easy to ride.
The nimbleness was immediately noticed when leaving the W Hotel in downtown Austin. Well, after taking some time to acquaint ourselves with the awkwardly low gas tank. While idling around the parking area, I was able to fully lock the bars while turning. And at a claimed wet weight of 489 lbs., the Street 750 managed such slow speeds with ease. For those worried about beginning challenges such as figure eights during a motorcycle license test at the DMV, the Street 750 should cause no issues.
To help achieve the agility, Harley designers spent time optimizing the Street 750’s low center of gravity. This makes the bike feel lighter than the claimed weight, and aids handling when the pace picks up. This is just what were about to do on some of Texas’ finest backroads, but first a 15-minute jaunt on the highway.
This allowed us to open up the bike, which remained stable even at speeds above the 80 mph speed limit. At 5′ 11″, the Street 750 felt a bit on the smaller side for me, so taller folks may have some cramping issues. Harley offers a Tallboy seat that likely would have addressed this issue; the seat brings the rider up 1.25 inches, and back 2.5 inches.
As for the gas tank, its low and flat design adds to the Street’s unique styling, but my knees were above the tank, providing an awkward feeling. Though after 30 miles – about the time I began a few aches set in on my rear – I was used to the tank.
The reach to the wide bars, which are more standard styled than cruiser, was comfortable. The bars didn’t tweak the wrists, and I never had any issue of numbness. The latter could also further be attributed to the smooth nature of the Revolution X platform. The non-adjustable clutch/brake levers were easy-to-reach, and should be optimal for those with smaller hands.
When riding at pace through the twisties, the handlebar’s comfort aids in confidence. Flicking the Street 750 into corners took no effort, and once planted, the tubular frame remained stable through the exit. Also aiding the quick handling is the wheel/tire setup; the Street 750 arrives with 17-inch front and 15-inch rear seven-spoke wheels donning Michelin Scorcher 11 rubber.
These tires quickly got up to temperature, and remained sticky throughout our ride, which was surely aided by the above 90-degree Texas temps. How sticky? Even when dumping the clutch it was hard to break rear traction, allowing for some equally fun, though short lived, wheelies. The stock suspension setup – a 37mm, non-adjustable front fork and externally-mounted, twin rear shocks with preload adjustment – was fine from the factory for my 175 lbs., but preload adjustment up front would be welcomed.
Though stable, the suspension provides a semi-cushy ride in town, not too harsh or soft. Um, sportier if you will. This is mostly due to 5.5 inches of wheel travel up front, and 3.5 inches out back. Another thing that shouldn’t give the average rider any issues is cornering clearance.
A few of us scraped the rubber pegs (sans curb feelers) a few times, but this was when really loading up the suspension and tossing the 750 into corners. There was some squaring off to the right exhaust shields just under the rear brake pedal.
Ah, the brakes. For the more-aggressive rider who likes to load up the front suspension for optimal traction, the front brakes are weak. The single-292mm front disc squeezed by a two-piston caliper takes much effort to get working. There is no initial bite, or latter bite for that matter, unless you’re putting in a mighty effort. The rear features a single-260mm disc also squeezed by a two-piston caliper; many will rely on this for stopping, or better yet, a combination of two. And nope…ABS is not an option.
Front brakes are futile for another use of the Street 750 platform – dirt track racing. During the Austin X-Games launch, the reigning AMA Pro Flat Track Champion Brad “The Bullet” Baker was at the controls of a modified Street 750 (Vance & Hines Exhaust, Ohlins suspension, to name a few goodies) during an exhibition race, showing just what the Street is capable of when overhauled for racing (Harley is allowing the fans to decide if Flat Track racing should be a future sport at Austin X-Games. For those who agree, use the #XGamesFlatTrack hash tag to make your voices heard.).
On to styling – it’s going to be a love it or hate it relationship. To offer such a low MSRP – $7,499 in Vivid Black, or $7,794 for Black Denim or Mysteriously Red Sunglo – some things were designed on the cheap. A few? The controls feel flimsy, the wires near the triple clamp look clumsy, a few models the paint on the handlebars had some bubbles, and don’t look at the welds on the rear part of the frame. Oh, and the left grip spins with little force.
But, as with most Harleys, the Street 750 arrives as a basic platform for customizing. And Harley already has a catalog of genuine H-D parts and accessories available for the Street 750 and 500, including custom painted tanks and fenders (yep, they are metal!), and the Tallboy seat that would have helped my cramping issues. Another very useful accessory is, get this, a center stand.
Harley has built a brand like no other, making it to be the number-one seller of new motorcycles in the USA since 2008. With the Street 750 and Street 500, H-D will extend its reach, allowing for further success.
Due to the price point and non-intimidating nature of the Street, Harley should have no problem reaching this new audience. This bike will attract newbies who don’t seek the Baby Boomer idea of noise and chrome, and also a few hipsters along the way – especially the hipsters with cash on hand.
Our idea for the new Street 750? Customize it with more powerful brakes, uncork the engine, and upgrade the suspension. Then when not enjoying some canyon carving or downtown scenes with the jeans cuffed thick, head to the nearest dirt track and slide your way into a new form of freedom – a freedom much different from the one achievable on all of Harley’s other platforms.
Photography by Riles & Nelson Riding Style:
- Helmet: HJC IS-17 Genesis
- Jacket: Roland Sands Designs Ronin
- Gloves: Eska Summer Mesh
- Jeans: Drayko Drift
- Boots: Icon Super Duty 4