About four months ago I acquired my motorcycle permit and until recently it sat folded up in a drawer in my dresser, alone and afraid. With school and my lack of employment a motorcycle didn’t seem like something that was going to happen to me unless somehow my dad were to find some turd of a bike in a dumpster and bring it home one day. Then something beautiful happened, summer began and my old man informed me Harley-Davidson was releasing a steezy dank ass dope motorcycle for the hip younger generation, something cheaper and easier to ride. I was all like “damn dad that’s pretty chill, now get out of my room, you’re ruining my life.” As I slammed the door and began to light up a marijuana cigarette, he also yelled, in a desperate attempt to connect with me, that I may be able to borrow one to test ride for some time. Schoolgirl levels of excitement began to set in.
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My only experience with Harleys is that they’re usually loud and ridden by the cast of Scared Straight, but the Street seems like any normal motorcycle to me. Pull in the clutch, twist the throttle and go. One down, five up. I really don’t venture far from home on the Street, sticking to the roughly 20-mile radius of people I know and places I visit around Costa Mesa, and for that this bike is awesome. It’s small and light, handles great in tight spaces. It has more than enough power for going around town and some highway travel, and once you remove the stupid Darth Vader-looking fairing off the light, looks pretty badass in my opinion, but also keep in mind it’s pretty small. Usually that’s one of the first things people comment on, “Oh right on this thing’s rad, but it’s smaller than I was expecting …” Phrases I’m used to at this point in my life.
All my friends agree it’s a cool-looking bike, but mostly they just couldn’t believe that I got one to ride for free; either way most of the feedback was very positive. The parental stigma against ladies riding on back of a 20-year-old dude’s Hog seems as strong as ever, though, which is maybe not a bad thing. So, I can’t give you any feedback re: the passenger seat. And I admit that I haven’t completely become a “biker” just for that reason. I still drive the trusty Ranger for social engagements often as not. If you’re considering this bike in the first place, looking like the classic American motorcyclist is a look you’re going for, I’m assuming, and this bike’s got that, for the most part. At the same time, I’m definitely a fan of the cafe racer look, and the Street almost gives me the poor and/or lazy man’s version of that. I definitely had the urge to strip this bike down as much as I could but my dad said that was a no go.
All in all, I like the Street a lot. The riding position is nice and comfy, in my opinion, though probably not too comfortable if you’re much over six feet. (I’m right around 5’11”.) It’s not all cruiser with the pegs way out in front, which I definitely appreciate – feels like you could have some real fun on it if you so desired in the curves. The only things about this bike that I can really say critically is that it really needs to warm up; often, if I don’t give it a good 45 seconds of idling after shes been sitting for sometime, there’s lots of chatter in the clutch and juddering as you take off. And the sound this bike makes is quite lame, like pixie farts.
JB: My turn to lecture the lad on the evils of big government. It’s not really H-D’s fault their bike has to meet sound regs, and I think it actually sounds pretty throaty compared to most new bikes once you get rolling. Also, H-D just let us know our Screamin’ Eagle pipe and Performance Air Cleaner kit have arrived; we’ll get them hooked up and dyno’d ASAP.
Suspension also seems kind of lame, not much in the back, super soft in the front, but I’m new to all this. So, I’m not sure how it is relative to other bikes, kind of Walmart I’m assuming. Also, some of the parts feel and look kind of cheap, the shifter flexes with pressure, is that weird or just me? The wiring is pretty ugly around the handlebar and near the rear brake, and some of the metal parts just look cheap.
JB: Peer pressure: None of this came to light until the poor kid spent a day hanging out with Tom Roderick and Chris Redpath, who commented on how much the Street compressed its fork when flogged on his dyno. She is a little soft in front, but serves up a beautiful ride because of it. (She made about 53 ponies. We’ll post the chart next week in conjunction with a four-bike comparo that’s in the works.)
My most important complaint is that my facial hair has not ramped up in growth or coverage, and PBR still tastes like piss.
JB: Good thing you’re not old enough to drink then. Who gave you a PBR?
If this is what being a Harley guy is all about, it doesn’t feel all that different from what I’m accustomed to: I don’t feel any more likely to commit a felony than I did before, to stick a flag on back or to travel slowly in large packs of other motorcycles.
JB: It’s tough to push the little bird out of the nest on a motorcycle, but I’m cheap enough that I’ll do it anyway: The Ranger goes about 15 miles on a gallon of my gas, the Street will do about 41 in urban use. But the kid always has a lot of stuff to transport: skateboard, electronic DJ jamming devices, computers, women … all things I don’t have or understand.
Seriously, though, for a first streetbike, I can’t think of anything better. All the Street’s controls work just as they should (though the clutch is indeed a bit juddery lately), and nothing about it requires you to remove your eyes from the road. It’s got enough power to have fun and stay ahead of traffic, not so much you’re going to experience unintended acceleration. The front brake’s not bad but it’s not good either; I don’t think you can lock it with two fingers. It encourages you to learn to also use the rear. And it’s really small, low, light – and therefore easy to be in command. All the manufacturers have been trying to build a bike to court the ladies, and the Street would seem to be the best one yet. Not that I’m calling it a chick bike. I hate to admit that I do occasionally ride motorcycles I’m embarrassed to be seen upon, ones that require a full-face helmet and dark shield. On the Street, I’m just as likely to wear an open-face and a big stupid grin, and to attempt maneuvers that push the envelope of my skill set. Yo, check out my Hog, luckless pedestrian. I have seen a few people do the classic double-take when they see the bar and shield on the tank.
Harley-Davidson, sniff, I know we don’t always get along, but please accept our sincere gratitude for the loan of the Street 750. We’ve got one week of summer left before the kid is back to the weighty responsibilities of being a frat boy, but being turned loose on a motorcycle for the first time was a nice little exposure to just how exciting and cruel the world can be.
Embrace the chaos, and keep your guard up at all times. Look both ways at intersections. Explore the road less travelled. Follow not behind dog-tracking overloaded gardening vehicles nor alongside 18-wheelers bearing loads of hot garbage. Beware the angry deniers in the big SUVs …
My dad and I have always had good times with motorcycles for as long as I can remember, but the Street sort of did open up a new world for me. After riding it around town for a month, I felt confident enough to ride all the way to Yosemite – which was the high point of a very good summer. Once I’m back on campus next week, he says I should think about a nice, practical scooter. He’s got to be kidding. Right? I, for one, do have certain standards to uphold in the public eye. Thank you, Harley and Davidson.