Much like with the 2009-2012 Sportster XR1200, the new Street 750-based Street Rod’s existence is a result of feedback from the European market, where the MT-07 in particular has put pressure on Harley-Davidson in the market segment where Streets and Sportsters live. But even here, the US market equivalent FZ-07 has made inroads in the Sportster’s world. So a lighter weight sporting standard was needed, but one, of course, with a heavily American flavor.
“We are reaching a customer who maybe had a fondness for Harley-Davidson but may not have found the bike in our lineup to meet their needs,” said Jeff Strunk of product planning. “Primarily a younger crowd, frequently folks living in a more urban environment, looking for a way to get around in a more exciting way.”
Added Matt King of media relations, the model is built to “appeal to a specific to a demographic in a space where we don’t really have a product.”
Given the Street 750’s price point and world-bike status for Harley-Davidson, it was the natural place to start in the effort to build a sporting standard. And from a marketing perspective, it further makes sense due to the use of the XG750 platform for flat-track racing in America.
The changes are thorough. The frame and fuel tank are the only shared parts and even the tank is significantly repositioned. “It’s like a Street, but starting from the front it’s got a new tire, wheel, brake, fork, fender, triple clamp, headlight, fairing, etc., etc., etc.,” quipped engineer Brian Dondlinger.
The chassis changes move this Street from cruiser territory into the sporty zone. Rake is steepened to 27 degrees from a more relaxed 32. Longer travel suspension raises ride height to increase cornering clearance (10 degrees more in both directions) and allow room to run the cast-aluminum 17-inch wheels front and rear. A longer swingarm (again to accommodate the larger wheel) runs a pair of gas-charged, piggyback-reservoir shocks that allow for 4.6 inches of travel. The 43mm black-anodized inverted fork has a similar travel increase and contributes to the much beefier front end look. A pair of 300mm front discs increase braking power vs. the single disc on the Street.
“We moved the tank farther forward and the rider sits farther forward to bias center of gravity forward to improve handling,” added Dondlinger.
“Following chassis, we focused on the powertrain,” said Dondlinger of the new High Output Revolution X 750 engine. “We’ve got 8 percent more torque across the rev range. Cruise on this bike around 3,600-3,700 rpm and at 8 percent more torque than street starts at 3,500 and goes all the way to 7,500 rpm so you really feel the torque in the midrange where you’d like it.”
Redline is increased from 8,000 rpm to 9,000, with an attendant 18 percent power boost on the top end. Claimed output is 68.4 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and 47.2 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.
Standard hop-up efforts yield these results. A bigger, drag-racing inspired airbox assembly breathes more freely while remaining quiet enough to pass noise regs. Dual-throat throttle bodies and separate intake manifolds feed each of the heads, vs. the Street’s single throttle body. Intake ports are revised, and higher-lift cams allow these benefits to be taken advantage of. Compression is increased a full point to 12.0:1.
“Another significant difference from Street is that it has one configuration for NVH that is worldwide, whereas this one has multiple configurations depending on the market,” Dondlinger said. “So in each market we took the noise right up to the limit. Helps performance as well as the look, sound, and feel we like so much.”
Lead designer on the Street Rod was Chetan Shedjale. He had customized some of the first Streets upon that model’s launch, and one of those was the RDX800, a sporty-standard-looking machine that became, as Shedjale’s boss Frank Savage explained, “the visual impetus for the Street Rod. We definitely did get other customer inputs from our great consumer insights and analytics, but at the heart of it was a raw, authentic bad-ass Street Rod for the city. When we were doing the ideation for the model, we called it a Street on steroids.”
The visual inspiration that informed the rest of the design details? “American racing is something very inspirational to the world,” said Shedjale. “So this was a key factor in styling inspiration and resulted in substantial changes to the look. The bike as a ‘bulldog’ feel because of the front end changes. Thicker fork legs. Everything was looked at to be performance oriented, street-fighter inspired but with a Harley image and Americana.”
The new tailsection contains a new LED tail lamp that will surely find its way onto custom builds. Overall styling offers is mix of café racer and flat tracker and results in a vastly different looking motorcycle than the standard Street.
Taller suspension and larger diameter wheels result in a 30.1-inch seat height, which coupled with the flatter bars (with bar-end mirrors) and footpegs moved about 3 inches rearward, result in a “fist to the wind” riding posture you won’t find on any other current Harley-Davidson.
“The Street Rod is somewhat unique in its space but when we looked at things like MT-07 [FZ-07] being an all-around bike that pleases a lot of folks, but figured we could take it further from the standpoint of great overall looks and performance to match it’s definitely reaching folks on who might not have considered Harley before,” said Dondlinger.
So the Street Rod is mean to put an American stamp on the sporting standard and reach new customers for the brand that has so successfully relied on the cruiser profile.