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Motorbike review: Harley Davidsons all new Street 750 and Street 500 models

Harley Davidson’s much anticipated reveal of the Street 750 and Street 500 models took place recently. It is little wonder that it was a special moment in motorcycle history as it marks the company’s first new models in over 13 years. The cruisers will be built in Harley Davidson plants in the U.S. in Kansas City, Missouri as well as its Indian plants at Bawal, Haryana state. They will be exported around the world with various countries receiving ship dates as the rollout progresses.

The company expects the new models will fit well in emerging markets, as well as the US. They exude the Harley Davidson look with classic lines, a front fairing inspired by Harley’s XLCR café racer from the 1970s, and a small round headlamp. The fairings and gas tank are both made of metal. Front turn signals are proportionality placed for most markets and the handlebars are slightly pulled back to complete the look. The rear is fitted with LED tail lights and bullet signals.

The bikes can be customized, (as can Harley Davidson’s other models), and this will likely be a good selling point in Thailand where customization is very much sought after. If owners want a more classic sports look they can easily achieve it with a modified front fairing or without the front fairing at all, whilst still keeping the overall look of the bike intact. The tank is elongated and flows backwards to a distinct point. 

For power, the new bikes will be fitted with 60 degree V twin engines of 494cc and 749cc. Both offer fuel injection as standard. The engines are four-stroke and feature a single overhead chain-driven camshaft with liquid cooling. Output gasses flow through a two-into-one exhaust.

There are four valves per cylinder via screw adjusted roller rockers. The new power plant series is called the Revolution X and it features plain bearings and a vertically split crankcase.

The engines are built around separate aluminum cylinders that are fitted with pressed-in iron liners. The stroke on both models is 66 millimetres, with the bore making the difference between each of the engines’ capacity. The 500 has a bore of 69 millimetres providing for 494cc of displacement. The 750 features an 85 millimetre bore giving a displacement of 749cc. The unconfirmed peak power for the 750 is said to be 54 horsepower at 7,500 rpm with both engines redlining at 8,000 rpm. A single balance shaft perfectly offsets the V-twins natural movement and acts as a very effective dampener.

A six-speed transmission that actuates in the one-down rest-up configuration takes power to the rear wheel by way of a familiar toothed belt system that is quiet and responsive. Front suspension is by way of telescopic forks and the rear has dual gas charged shocks set into rectangular section steel swing arms. The suspension is tuned for the roughest roads and so will meet the needs of international owners well.

The new models come with seven-spoke alloy wheels, which look very much in keeping with the overall form of the motorcycle. Top speed is just over 150 km/h. For security there is a locking gas cap, locking forks and key based ignition. The cruisers have a low centre of gravity and a long wheelbase that stretches 59.5 inches.

The seating position is comfortable with feet-set-forward foot rests in place to ensure a back-upright riding position. The seat can comfortably seat two people with pegs in the right places for the rear passenger. The new motorbikes offer two inches more ground clearance than other models, but the seat height is still low. This is important since the Street 500 and Street 750 are expected to be first-time bikes for many buyers.

On the Street 500 and 750 the tyres are 140/75 x 15 inches at the rear and 100/80 x 17 inches size in front, following the different wheel sizes on the bikes. Braking is by way of single, ventilated disc brake units, both on the front and rear. Both models weigh in at around 480 pounds or 218kg.

The two models are aimed at younger riders across the world. The fact that some of the output is being built in India will allow Harley Davidson to tap into the Indian market without having to pay high tariffs. It will also be able to export Indian-made Streets to international markets, except Mexico where the US-made bikes will be made available.

Harley Davidson President and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Levatich, said, “Both the Street 750 and Street 500 were designed with thousands of hours of input from young adults in cities around the world. This input guided both the attitude and capabilities of these motorcycles. They are proof that being customer-led continues to be a core driver of our product development process.”

With regard to customization, Harley Davidsons’ marketing boss, Richer, said, “Personal freedom is not just an American ideal. It’s spreading around the world. People want to be who they want to be right now. We live in a world of personalized expression, right down to the ink on their skin.”