We've just traded in Harley's LAMS Street 500 for the Street Rod 750 and the differences couldn't be more stark! Test: Kris Hodgson, Images by Jeff Ware & Kris Hodgson
A question that the more researched may have asked when they saw the Street 500 becoming available in Australia, would have been, “Where’s the 750?” The Aussie market didn’t receive this version, however we’ve now received the Street Rod 750 – a High Output roadster that delivers so much more…
In Harley-Davidson parlance, as the name suggests, this is the off its chops version, with figures suggesting it delivers about 18 per cent more horsepower than the standard Street 750.
Having only tested the Street 500 though, I can say it feels like an entirely different motorcycle, despite sharing the same platform, and looking similar. I’ll also admit I was partial to the blue paint job on the 500, with the Street Rod’s more downstated matte paint not having quite the same impact. With that said I’ve never been a huge fan of matte paint, unless it’s satin matte… It is however available in Electric Blue, among a number of other options.
What’s most interesting is where these machines differ. Better supported 43mm USD forks adorn the front-end and ensure dual 300mm rotors with two-piston calipers don’t overpower the front on heavy braking. On the rear up-spec shocks also sharpen up handling, with external reservoirs helping suggest they mean business, while a larger 17in rear wheel is also fitted.
The liquid-cooled Revolution X V-twin powerplant is a larger 85 x 66mm item for 749cc overall capacity, while the compression ratio is boosted to 12.0:1, so you won’t be using 91 Octane like you could on the 500. A 42mm Mikuni twin-port EFI also ensures enough fuel is delivered, while a host of performance upgrades are also found, as the High Output tag would suggest. Check out the Tech Talk section for the full technical run down in our Video Review: 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod post.
Other changes include to the bodywork, with the tail and front headlight/instrument cowl, while the exhaust is funnily enough a little less sporty than that found on the Street 500, without the angled/slash cut end. This is no doubt due to being large volume as part of performance optimisation.
The most noticeable other changes are in the ergonomics, with wide, flat ‘bars capped off by cool ‘bar end mirrors, billet style footpegs in a more compact position and a taller seat height, but smaller overall ride triangle. Levers are also billet on the Street Rod, but non-adjustable.
The 765mm seat height compacts down about 20mm with a rider’s weight on the bike, while there’s also considerably more ground and cornering clearance on offer, with that 17in rear wheel offering a more typically round motorcycle profile, compared to the Street 500s relatively flat car-like rear rubber.
A nice touch is also the instrument’s digital readout offering a gear indicator and tachometer, while again you’ve got indicator controls that will be more familiar to non-Harley riders, with a single toggle on the left.
The immobiliser fob and siren are also featured, and I did occasionally have issues with the bike not registering the fob until I gave it a tap, which is a little annoying but not a deal breaker. Other small niggles is the lack of a side-stand kill switch, and that you do need to be careful with the stand and how you park the bike. Make sure it’s fully extended and be careful moving the bike with the stand down.
At the end of the day it’s easy to look at these two machines and see the resemblance, but honestly, the Street Rod would be a massive upgrade for anyone upgrading from the Street 500, while standing on its own merit without that direct comparison.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON STREET ROD – THE RIDE
My first thought riding off on the Street Rod was ‘whoa this thing has some mumbo’ with the Revolution X totally transformed in the Street Rod. Gone is the super smooth but restrained 500’s power delivery, with a rougher edge, as well as a more characterful and instantaneous punch of torque, that extends through the rev range.
The High Output Revolution X is lively, with more instant connection between the throttle and engine and that’s my overall lasting impression of the Street Rod – sporty. The six speed gearbox is smooth too, and while the clutch isn’t exactly light, I never suffered any strain, nor did it become a chore working that gearbox to get the most out of the powerplant.
The Street Rod was also still pulling at that point where you can kiss your license goodbye, while the journey from 0 to that point makes for plenty of fun, with a sporty, relatively smooth and vibration free characteristic that should appeal to a wide range of riders.
The USD forks and dual shocks offer a well damped and controlled ride for my 70kg, with excellent support on the front when you factor in the braking performance of the dual 300mm rotors and two-piston calipers. Where on the Street 500 it was all but impossible to lock the brakes except on loose surfaces, the Street Rod will do so happily when pushed over slick or unsealed terrain, with the ABS coming into play on these occasions, as well as over several sections with gravel spilt across the road. ABS activation was also what you’d expect of a modern system, you feel it happening, but not disruptively.
Considering the more sporty aim of the Street Rod I found those dual front brakes a welcome upgrade from the 500, and it really allows for a far more aggressive ride, when you’ve got that much additional braking power to pull you up in a hurry, but still in a controlled manner.
Whether I was hooning around the suburbs, on the highway, or exploring the open roads, from twisties to back roads, the suspension on the Rod was ideal, with just a little kick on the rear end over the biggest of bumps at speed. For undulating rough back roads it was super smooth and comfortable.
The 17in wheels front and rear as mentioned is also a change from the Street 500, while the rear tyre is a round profile, suiting the much greater ground clearance on offer as well as helping to offer the significantly sharper handling, with faster and more effortless turn in. This makes for a much more rewarding experience through the twisties when you’re having a fang.
The footpeg position took a bit of getting used to, especially with the span of movement on the gear shifter being too big and high for my size 12 boots, and I’d happily hazard a guess this setup will not suit all riders. My only recommendation would be to have a good test ride to get over that initial impression if it feels strange, as that quickly faded for me. As with most motorcycle peculiarities, as an owner you’ll quickly forget about them till someone else rides your bike and mentions it again!
Between the ‘bars and ‘pegs I could also easily lift my weight off the seat if I saw a particularly big bump ahead, which is not usually possible on more relaxed cruisers, so that was something I appreciate, while the bike still felt reasonable narrow between the knees.
There’s also a rubber heel rest on the right exhaust, as the exhausts and ground clearance limit foot control placement, and I found it most comfortable with my feet towards the far end of the ‘pegs, where I could use the brake or gear shifter with minimal movement, and not be covering either lever unnecessarily.
The throw of the headlight was also much improved from on the Street 500, and seemed to be tilted further up to attain that reach, with a little of that light spilling into the rear of the front cowl, which like the front guard is a sportier item.
The Street Rod is the natural next step on from the Street 500, if you’re looking for a sporty roadster from this iconic manufacturer and being currently available for $9,990 in Vivid Black, or for $10,290 in solid colours (both On-Road prices) makes for a killer deal in my mind. Normal pricing is $12,990, so if you get in before August 31 (2018) you’re getting a huge bargain.
My natural lean is towards sportier machines, and I’d happily add a Street Rod to the garage as my choice of cruiser, with the bike offering wide appeal. The footpeg positions for me was something I became used to, but the ergonomics will be a constricting factor for some riders.
I think it’s safe to say this motorcycle is aimed at a younger audience, but in saying that it’s also a great machine that stands out and has plenty to offer any rider, and would make for a great flat track inspired custom too. For those who may not have had the moolah for a Street 500 to get started, but are now moving onto their fulls, with a strict budget, and more performance orientated cruiser aspirations, this is the one to test ride.
There’s no doubt Harley-Davidson went out on a limb with the Street range, however it has proven a great success in our region of the world and the Street Rod further emphasises that potential.
2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750
Price: $12,995 On-Road
Was – $9,995/$10,290 On-Road special pricing at time of testing
Warranty: Two-year warranty, two-year roadside assistance,
12 months International HOG membership.
Colours: Vivid Black, Olive Gold, Red Iron Denim (tested), Electric Blue, Bonneville Salt Denim
Claimed power: N/A
Claimed torque: 65Nm@4000rpm
Wet weight: 238kg
Fuel capacity: 13.1L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, Revolution X V-Twin, 749cc, 85 x 66mm bore x stroke, 12:1 compression, SOHC, 42mm Mikuni Twin Port EFI, black two-into-one exhaust, belt final drive.
Clutch: Wet, Multi-disc
Suspension: 43mm USD forks, dual shocks with external reservoirs.
Brakes: ABS, Dual 300mm front rotors, single rear, dual-piston floating calipers.
Wheels & Tyres: Black seven-spoke cast aluminium wheels, 120/70 – 17, 160/60 – 17, Michelin Scorchers.
Seat height: 765mm
Overall length: 2130mm
Instruments: Single analogue speedo with digital multi-function display including gear indicator, tachometer
The Verdict | Review: 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750
The Harley-Davidson Street Rod 750 is a high output higher spec version of the Street 750 and a fair jump up from the Street 500. With strong power, sportier brakes and suspension and a seriously cheap price tag the Streed Rod 750 is worth a look. Kris spent a few weeks reviewing the bike and came away impressed…