Tony Halpin finds the darkly stylish new Harley-Davidson Street Rod is up for the challenge whether in traffic or in the hills on the slick, wet streets of Singapore.
I might have been brought up bashing dirt bikes around the back country of northern NSW, but that didn’t stop my heart skipping a few beats when I was woken up by torrential rain ahead of a test ride of Harley-Davidson’s slick looking new Street Rod around the streets of Singapore.
The thought of handling a machine promising 18 per cent more horsepower and eight per cent more torque than the Street 750 on which it is based – in Singapore’s famous humidity and after a storm – made my palms sweatier than they already were.
Once I was on it, though, weaving through the heavy city traffic as we headed for the Old Upper Thompson Road – part of Singapore’s former Grand Prix Circuit – I realised there were few better places to showcase what this bike was designed to do.
In the shape of the Street Rod Harley-Davidson is attempting to create a bike that’s a little bit city and a little bit country, or as the company itself puts it, “perfect for urban cut-and-thrust and canyon carving”. You can surge through traffic, split-laning, and then open her up on the freeway for an authentically Harley experience, in other words.
Does it achieve this balancing act? The main design cues of the Street Rod – ‘Dark Custom’ styling (or the “café racer-meets-hooligan” look, as I’d describe it), an aggressive ride position, 17-inch front and rear open spoke aluminium wheels, thick, blacked out forks and triple camps, and new tail section – are all designed to catch the eye of the style-conscious city rider.
When city boys want to go country, however, the High Output Revolution x 750 engine delivers peak power at 8,750rpm and peak torque at 4,000rpm. The midrange between 4,000 and 5,000rpm is where the Street Rod truly sings, while a larger volume air box, dual 42mm throttle bodies, four-valve cylinder heads, high-lift camshafts and higher volume exhaust muffler all deliver increased airflow and efficiency for the longer rides. The redline on the Street Rod goes from 8,000rpm to 9,000rpm, 1,000 better than the Street 750.
So how’s the ride? In traffic the Street Rod punched nicely off the bottom at lights, moved beautifully into that meaty midrange and revved right through. Once the traffic dissipated on the hill roads, my dirt bike background appreciated the configuration of the elevated seat position, the rearset footpegs, and the wider, drag-style handlebars in creating a perfect triangle stance for optimal handling.
That impression of sharper handling was enhanced by the bike’s upgraded suspension – 43mm USD forks with remote reservoir rear shocks – and braking, consisting of dual 300mm front discs and ABS braking as standard. There are three colour options – Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim and Olive Gold – as part of the Dark Custom style offering.
The Street Rod is the inevitable result of Harley-Davidson’s global success with the smaller capacity Street 500 and Street 750 bikes – a sportier, more styled up machine with elevated levels of performance for the urban type who nevertheless wants some grunt when the open road calls. On that basis, when married to a $12,995 ride-away price, you’d expect Street Rod is destined for great success.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of Men’s Style Australia.