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Harley-Davidson Street Bob Test Ride Review

Harley-Davidson Street Bob – Click above for high resolution image gallery

Harley Davidson Street Bob Review

Bike Tested: Harley Davidson Street Bob; Road Test No. 912; Test Location: Mumbai

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 14,64,460/-

The Street Bob is entry-level but the most rugged Softail of the Harley lineup

The whole year of 2017 I did not ride a Harley. The last ride was of the Katanga Uno and post that there was nothing from the cruisers department for me. However, the first cruiser of 2018 had to be a Harley-Davidson. So Harley-Davidson has its models classified into 5 categories for Asia – Street, Sportster, Softail, Touring and CVO. As the sequence follows, they get more badass and bulky. We got the entry-level Softail, the Street Bob for a few days. And boy, oh boy! I was excited as well as worried because this was something totally different.

Motor Quest: The word Softail refers to motorcycles with their rear suspension hidden inside the body. In 1984, Harley-Davidson got their first Softail in the market and the trend has expanded ever since. The 2018 Street Bob is an entry-level Softail by Harley-Davidson with a 107ci engine with a stiffer chassis and better suspension.

Sleek from the front to the rear, the engine makes up for the extra mass

Styling – The Harley-Davidson Street Bob gets all of its design cues of a naked rugged Harley from the past. Raised handlebars, tiny LED headlamp, a small fuel tank with the engine more than twice its size. The Street Bob has the least amount of bodywork which includes front and rear mudguards, that’s it! Hanging indicators from the handlebars to a single seat and twin long exhaust pipes. This Harley portrays what actual street going Harley’s on a slight diet should look like. Also, the Softail term means that the rear suspension is hidden or kept out of view and integrated into the body design.

The instrument cluster is tiny, just a 2.14 inch of LCD display

Instrument Cluster and Switchgear – The instrument cluster on the Street Bob is a very unique thing ever seen! It is one the smallest LCD digital unit ever seen on a motorcycle, at least by me. It’s so tiny that it barely grabs any attention but displays all the kind of information needed in a sequential manner. From fuel gauge, odometer, twin trip meters, tachometer; everything. There’s even an extra smaller LED cluster for the tell-tale lights. The switchgear is also classic and comes from the Harley family. Individual indicator lights on either side, engine kill switch, starter and hazard light on the right. While high-low beam switch, horn and toggle switches are on the left.

Typical cruiser design and that scooped seat is very comfortable

Ergonomics – The one reason I was worried to ride the Street Bob was the different ergonomics. You sit upright and the footpegs are front-set but not too front-set. The handlebar is raised and a little far from the rider. Little too raised as my hands were on the level of my face. However, you can find yourself a comfortable spot in this, as the seat is very well cushioned. The seat height is very low, at 675 mm, the Street Bob has the lowest seat height I’ve ever sat on. However, as a stock, there’s no option for a pillion seat. And you don’t really need one as with this kind of a Harley, you choose to arrive alone.

The Harley-Davidson Street Bob is a proper performer on tarmac

Performance – Powering the Street Bob is an all-new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. The 107 stands for 107 cubic-inch which for us in easy terms means 1745cc. This air-cooled V-twin produces 144 Nm of torque at an early 3000 RPM and revs all the way till 5600 RPM. The low-end is punchy and it becomes dramatic in the mid-range, as it pulls very fast to the top-end. Harley-Davidson never talks about power but it’s around 77 BHP coming quite late at 5500 RPM. But all the gameplay over here is the torque. Most Harley engines are air-cooled with an additional oil-cooler and the same one does the job on the Street Bob. As there’s no bodywork around the engine, the heat dissipation is good too. The Street Bob follows the heritage and hence is belt-driven which means there is a definite loss of power but a very smooth transition. There’s traction control also onboard to keep things in control if you start playing mad.

The Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine is built ground up for the Softail lineup

Harley engines define the V-twin rumble; also know as the potato-potato note

V-twin engines are known to vibrate a lot and don’t match the refinement of triples or inline-4s. But the Milwaukee-Eight 107 is built ground up and now comes with dual counter-balancers. This reduces the harshness throughout the rev range and the vibrations are very well contained too. At the redline, there’s some amount of vibrations felt on the footpegs and handlebar. But you would rather notice the V-twin rumble from the engine. The 6-speed gearbox has crisp shifts but it gets difficult to do clutchless while going all out. The clutch is slightly on the heavier side too but that’s fine as it handles the immediate torque coming from the V-twin.

The Street Bob provides great comfort for long distance touring

Riding Dynamics – At first, getting used to the riding posture of the Street Bob was a little difficult. But within a few hours, getting the hang of it became possible. Yes, all cruisers are different and if you don’t ride one, you need to understand the bike first then get a move on. The front-set footpegs and the scooped seat make sure the rider is on the motorcycle with utmost comfort at any possible speed. The Street Bob gets Showa telescopic forks at the front and a Showa monoshock at the rear. The suspension is set up in a way that feedback is just about adequate while not robbing away comfort. At 286 kgs, the Street Bob looks a lot heavy yet does not have any mass to showoff.

The Street Bob does ride like a Harley but in a refined manner

Street Bob has perfect weight distribution, maintains the line well but windblast robs away the fun

The modular platform which runs throughout the Softail lineup is very beneficial for the rider. Customising the handlebar, changing the seating posture and a lot more. It makes the Harleys unique as per every person. The 100 section front and the 150 section rubber at the rear grip the road well. While a single 300 mm front disc and a 292 mm disc at the rear do the job with ABS. The brakes offer good feedback but the overall confidence while braking isn’t the best. The Street Bob answers to the maneuvers very quickly but the chassis is set up in a manner that it holds the position much firmly.

Lays low with the design but definitely a head turner

Verdict – The Harley-Davidson Street Bob is the entry level Softail that comes at a very attractive price. At almost Rs. 15 lakhs it seems costly but offers a lot with the perfect modern touch while following its heritage. The Street Bob is a little different and getting used to it would take a little time. But once you make up for it, this American motorcycle outshines quite a few cruisers you would have considered otherwise. There are a few bits like the brakes that might go well with some improvement. But then there’s the engine, the dynamics and the customisable options with the modular platform. The Street Bob lives up to its tag – Two fists in the air attitude with no extra fat.

Tiny LED headlamp looks small but is very powerful and bright

What’s Cool

* Naked and simple design yet grabs quite some attention
* The power delivery is astonishing and the engine sounds good too
* Has a very low seat height, comfortable and a really h ride quality

What’s Not So Cool

* Due to the design there is an extreme amount of windblast
* Getting used to the ergonomics will take quite some time
* No pillion seat as standard, you will rather have to arrive alone

One is a power monster, the other is a torque beast

Harley-Davidson Street Bob Specifications

* Engine: 1745cc, Air-Cooled with Oil Cooler, V-Twin, Milwaukee-Eight
* Power: 77 BHP @ 5500 RPM
* Torque: 144 Nm @ 3000 RPM
* Transmission: 6-speed
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Frame: Tubular Frame (Modular Platform)
* Suspension: Telescopic Forks (Front), Monoshock (Rear), Adjustable by Showa
* Tyres: 100/90/19 (Front), 150/80/16 (Rear)
* Brakes: 300 mm Disc (Front), 298 mm Disc (Rear), ABS

Harley-Davidson Street Bob Dimensions

* Length x Width x Height: 2320 mm x 940 mm x 1285 mm
* Wheelbase: 1630 mm
* Ground Clearance: 125 mm
* Seat Height: 675 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.1-litres
* Kerb weight: 286 kgs

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