Sunday, January 11, 2015

Harley Davidson Street750 bike review

This post is my detailed review of the bike, based on my rented usage for 2 days, about 325kms. 
Street 750 is Harley’s cheapest offering in India and hence it does miss out on several aspects found in more expensive variants of Harley line up. I am told Street 750 is assembled in India with close to 70% localized components- with TVS motors supplying most of the components. Cost cutting is very apparent with several features given a miss, including fuel gauge. 

Very inconvenient rear passenger seating position in HD Street 750
Inconvenient rear passenger seating: Before booking I had a slight doubt if I will be able to handle it. But once I looked at the pictures, I felt reasonably sure that it is manageable. Once I saw it in flesh, I was fully confident that this beast can be tamed. It was not huge in size- Prithvi from WickedRide arrived little late so we waited looking at the street 750 and the continental GT. With paperwork complete (which involved signing several pages, giving security documents etc – details here) we were ready to set off. Next topic was fuel- Prithvi opened the tank and showed me that there’s “this much fuel”… but it was not possible to measure, so he offered to fuel up the tank before handing over. [Street 750 has no fuel gauge, even Superlow, bullet and few other bikes have same issue- they only have a low fuel indicator]. I sat in the rear seat and it was very inconvenient. The legs had to be positioned in an ugly angle (see pic on the left- rear passenger’s knees are to be maintained at an elevated level compared to thighs and this is not very convenient. Short ride is fine, but long rides will be pretty painful.
Once fuel up is done, trip meter was reset and bike was handed to me. I took my seat and we set off. The ignition switch is not vertical like other bikes but sort of straight facing the rider. The engine grunt is not at all attention grabbing. No one will spare a second look when they hear a street 750 starting. It wasn’t difficult to maneuver the bike in city traffic. 

Instrument cluster is bare minimum. A speedometer, a small LCD that shows odo and two trip meters, and lights for turn indicator, low fuel warning, neutral, high beam and oil/service indicators. No tachometer, no time, no side stand warning.

Always ON headlight: There is no pass lever to quickly flash your headlight (headlight will always be on, so only way to grab attention is by changing into high beam using high beam switch. Almost everyone on the road would flick their fingers to tell me that my headlight is ON. But unfortunately there's no signal to tell them "I-know-dude-that-headlight-is-ON-but-there's-no-way-to-turn-it-off". It is a rule in US, Japan and few European countries that two wheelers should always have their headlight ON. This is probably because two-wheelers are not that common and car drivers won't be expecting a bike around them. Headlights help grab attention and ensure safety, mostly in foggy situations. Because of this rule, HD, Kawasaki and few manufacturers haven't bothered to keep a Headlight ON/OFF switch. If Engine is ON, headlight is ON. This is irrelevant in India. Apart from the nuiances of having to face hand signals of everyone on the road, this also increases intervals at which headlight bulb has to be replaced. More maintenance expense. A simple switch could have helped a lot.
Bike starts even when side stand is engaged. Most of the modern bikes have sensors that prevent vehicle from starting if side stand is engaged. This is a safety feature which Harley Davidson has chosen to ignore.

Mirrors are a bit small and positioned short of handlebar. Mirrors should extend at par with handlebar length to give clear view of traffic behind. But street 750’s mirrors were a bit short and I had to adjust by body or viewing angle to get clear and full picture of the traffic behind.

 We did some riding around Bannerghatta road to get familiar with the bike and then hit NICE road. Here I could open the throttle. Street's acceleration is amazing (Royal Enfield folks should experience it and try to adapt a bit of it into their slow paced bullets). As you open the throttle, Bike's 750 cc engine tries to take off right away, but wind resistance forces your body back. Your body, on the other hand feels confused- should it hang on to the bike and move along or give in to wind resistance and get thrown off the bike?

Harley Davidson doesn't reveal power numbers in their bike's technical spec. (Triumph was in trouble recently as they had detuned engines heavily for India customers, while website still showed Eurpoean numbers). The engine in Street 750 is called Revolution-X V twin, which is a V shaped twin cylinder engine not commonly seen on any other motorbike. Though it is liquid cooled, engines also seem to have fins to dissipate more heat quickly. The problem is, they dissipate heat right into the thighs of the rider. Early in the morning on a winter day, this feels nice, as thighs feel warm in an otherwise cold surrounding. But as the day gets hot or in a summer, this could cause problems. Unless rider wears thick jeans, the heat could get too hot to handle.

Street 750 accelerates really well. First two gears are tall, so it is possible to reach good speed in second gear itself. Even if you're couple of gears high or low, engine doesn't really complain. Before my fellow riders batted an eyelid, I was miles ahead. I couldn't max out the Harley, but I guess it can touch 150-160 kmph with lots of ease. Cruising is peace of cake, handling is good, no problems with high speed stability. This despite having a belt transmission. If it had chain transmission, power delivery will probably be more effecient and bike could go faster.

Cornering is fine. Wide rear tyres grip reasonably and rider won't lose confidence.  but bike's ground clearance is not much.

Rear brakes are where the weak point lies. If you're planning some high speed maneuver and counting on your brakes to help, then don't. They won't react the way other modern bikes do. Harley is like that rowdy schoolboy in the class- strong but won't listen to class teacher's mild warnings and scoldings. Only severe punishment or escalation to principal will make him obey. Street 750 brakes work, but at their own convenience and will, not as hard as the rider might want them to.

Fuel economy: Number of people who asked about Harley's engine size, price etc are very few. But everyone were keen to know its fuel economy. I got 20.55kmpl during my ride, which is better than HD's official claim of 5.74 litre for 100km (17.42kmpl). The 13.1 litre tank gives a range of 250+kms, but not having a fuel gauge forces rider to tank up more often.  Fuel tank lid is slightly offset to right end, which is very thoughtful, as it prevents fuel from spilling out when the bike is on its side stand tilted to left.

Bike I rode had the engine kill switch taken off and circuit put in ON mode permanently. This I am told was because original engine got damaged as people try to start the engine with Engine Kill switch ON. Engine mechanical make an attempt to start when the self start is pressed, but without required electrical support, engine can't start. But in the process, engine damages itself. This was what told to me. I think HD should make their bike more fool proof, than letting untrained riders ruin the engine unknowingly. Also note that there's no handlebar balancers (extra piece of fixed extension at the end of handlebar)

  Some rust could be seen on brakes already. Indicators feel very cheap.
The rear backrest is very good idea, but I wish it was adjustable like in old Vespa Select II, so that main rider can use it. In its current design only pillion rider can use it, but this backrest is not good enough to negate the discomfort caused by an odd sitting position.

There is no storage whatsoever to keep toolkit, first aid kit, vehicle documents etc.

Should you buy a Harley Davidson Street 750?
If 5 lakhs is loose change to you and you don't mind 7k per year insurance & 10-15 service bill, then by all means. But for the middle class folks like us, this feels like a little too extravagance to indulge. I would be happy to rent it once a while than spending my fortunes on it.

I enjoyed my 2 day ride in Harley. Rode around Bengaluru city limits only, as there wasn't much breakdown assistance should it fail in a far away town. Attention I got was memorable, experience was good overall.

Watch this video we made on Harley Davidson Street 750


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of anyone damaging an engine by just trying to crank it with the kill switch off. Everything that's moving when the engine is running will be moving when trying to crank it.

An engine kill switch is used for conveniently switching off the engine when you come to a stop. Without it, one would have to use their hand to turn the key off, which can be a problem if you are parking in an incline: if you use your right hand, you will have to release the front brake. If you want to use the left, you will have to shift the transmission to neutral, so you will end up balancing the bike on one leg only.

Had the bike had a side stand sensor, one could just stop and deploy it (transmission should be in gear) and the bike would turn off by itself.

That said, automotive engineers should be wiring up the kill switch to both the fuel supply and the starter motor relay. If the kill switch is in the off position, the starter shouldn't try to crank the engine at all. Some simple logic control circuit can help avoid "not starting" dilemmas and also prevent the starter from trying to crank a running engine. Even Pulsars and scooterettes have this "feature!"

Anyway, your battery/starter motor will be dead long before you try to "start" your engine to death.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for that detailed response.

R Niranjan Das said...

Nice to know more about street 750. A comprehensive post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Niranjan

Adolf Thomas said...

Nice review.
harley davidson starters

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Adolf

Anonymous said...

Informative and helpful review.

Shrinidhi Hande said...


Owaiz Ahmed said...

A perfect review, I am planning to buy in the near future, just waiting for the right time, also heard that street 750 2017 will be launched soon with ABS. This November . Don't know how true this is. Went to Tusker but didn't take a test drive. Thought after booking one lets do it . Till then control my cravings . ;)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Owaiz - best wishes for your dream purchase

Owaiz Ahmed said...

Thank you so much 😊 👍

Sanjoy Singha Roy said...

Very good review dude. I am also in a dilemma whether to buy one or not. Your review makes my thought clear.