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Motorcycle magazine was given an exclusive sneak preview of Harley-Davidson’s new Street 750 last week, and our first ride on this international model, which is also available in the US, was rather revealing. First, we should point out that our ride was aboard a special preproduction model, so developmental changes are still in the works at this point, and what will ultimately be offered in showrooms could differ a bit from what we rode.
The Street will be offered with a choice of engines (what Harley terms the new Revolution X engine) — the 750 and the smaller 500 for Harley’s Riding Academy rider-training program that select dealers host. Our guess is that the 750 will find favor with actual customers on these shores because both models share the same chassis platform, the only difference being in engine size. Bigger is better. It’s the American way.
And the 749cc engine that’s nestled in the Street’s steel-tube frame offers smooth power delivery practically from the moment you twist the throttle to open the Mikuni electronic fuel injection’s single 38mm throttle body. Power is seamless, and Harley claims 44.3 ft-lbs. torque at 4000 rpm. Roll-on power is good, even in sixth (top) gear, but the Street especially rewards its rider with robust acceleration in the lower gears, which is to be expected since Harley bills the model as a bike “for an urban environment.”
To that end, Harley designers gave the Street a well-padded seat that’s 27.9″ off the deck, narrow handlebars for filtering through traffic during those in-town stoplight crawls, and minimal trail (4-1/2″) for snappy steering response. The front and rear two-piston disc brakes offer a vague, wooden feel during hard-braking situations. Sources at Harley tell us that engineers are still working with suppliers concerning specific brake pad material that will be on the final models when sales begin later this spring, so hopefully the problem will be resolved by then.
The Street’s suspension felt adequate for urban riding, delivering a rather smooth ride over most road conditions we encountered. The urban jungle is teeming with potholes and other irregularities in the road surface, so good spring and damping rates were paramount in the bike’s development.
Overall, the fit and finish is impressive, although some of the control switches are made of plastic, necessary for keeping a low MSRP. Count on the production models to live up to Harley’s standards.
Finally, let’s get back to the Street’s 749cc engine. Even though the Street is intended for life in the city, we took our test bike out to a country road to stretch its legs. Without effort — and with me sitting bolt upright in the saddle, a comfortable place, I might add — our preproduction bike easily registered 100 mph on its round, analog speedometer. An abbreviated fuel mileage run netted 47 mpg (Harley claims 41 mpg), and that figure included the WFO 100-mph run.
The Street should be in showrooms soon. Our guess is that this bike could lead to various subcultures embracing the Harley family. In particular, look for youthful café racer and street tracker hot rods to evolve from this new Dark Custom. More importantly, though, look for a lot of new riders to use the Street to embark on their own journey into the world of two-wheel fun.
Review By Dain Gingerelli • Photos by Alfonse Palaima