Kawasaki’s new Vulcan S forced us to ride these motorcycles again, and now we’re glad we did. Harley’s Street 750 and the new Vulcan are within 10 pounds, 1 horsepower and 400 dollars of each other. And the different-but-still-growing-on-us Honda CTX700N belongs in the mix as well. For the kind of riding most of us actually do most of the time, 700 or so cubic centimeters for around $7k seems like a pretty good place to be. Blatting around town, that is, in pursuit of one of MO’s secondary missions (keep Starbucks afloat), with the occasional blast out into the hinterlands to sniff the wildflowers – courtesy of the recent merciful rains here in SoCal – and ride like MOrons a little.

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For the Harley-Davidson Street 750 however, there is precious little mercy. Or is there? How nice that the bike here most in need of aftermarket support has the most available. Mainly, we’re still puzzled how even the great and powerful H-D could release a modern motorcycle with such a useless front brake. More than once I had to add a third finger to the front lever to keep myself from rolling downhill while stopped at the side of the road. Tom Roderick claims he almost ran into the back of a truck the first time he rode the Street; Troy Siahaan wants to know how he’s supposed to trail brake when there is no brake? There’s a lot of value in the switch to the SBS brake pads we tested on a Street 750 last year. Even better, probably, would be this four-piston Brembo kit from Italy. Cara mia!

There are two Starbucks at our favorite traffic circle; we like to pilfer sugar from both of them. T. Roderick worries about deep vein thrombosis riding around with his knees higher than his hipbones.

There are two Starbucks at our favorite traffic circle; we like to pilfer sugar from both of them. T. Roderick worries about deep vein thrombosis riding around with his knees higher than his hipbones.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to lock up the rear, so maybe H-D just sees the Street’s front/rear braking bias as a way to get people interested in flat-tracking again? (The Marketing Dept. really needs to get on board here: HBS, “Heritage Braking System.”)

We won’t go into the exposed wiring, crude welds and junk-drawer fasteners again. The Street is what it is. Many Harleys throughout the years have stressed owner involvement, and a little bit on the part of the proud new Street owner will go a long way. It’s a little sad, though, that the stylists didn’t just extend things like the bike’s plastic sidecovers to hide a few more of its privates (like Honda and Kawasaki did). Anyway, job one is that front brake.

The Michelin tires are nice, though.

The Michelin tires are nice, though.

Once that’s fixed, things are looking up. Even Troy S. likes its 750cc V-Twin: “The engine is the highlight of the bike; it likes to rev, makes decent torque and has that V-Twin character the others lack with their parallel-Twins.”

The Street’s V-Twin is 104cc bigger than the Kawasaki’s parallel unit, and likes to rev maybe even a bit more freely up to its 8000-rpm redline. The Kawi can rev on to 9500, but the Street uses its extra displacement to make its 43.5 lb-ft of torque (practically equal to the Kawi) lower in the powerband. In a drag race, there’s not much between them (except the Street’s clutch feels less abusable), which isn’t something we’ve ever been able to say vis a vis Harley vs. Kawasaki before. The six-speed gearbox isn’t the best or the worst (okay, on our ScoreCard it’s the worst of these three), but it gets the job done: Nobody complained about false neutrals, hard shifting or missed shifts.

052215-Mid-Sized-Cruiser-hp-torque-dyno

Engines go about their business in different ways. The Honda gets its work one early with a diesel-like powerband, which is diametrically opposed to the Vulcan’s revvy power unit. The Harley takes the middle ground, delivering greater low-end power than the Vulcan but coming up a bit short up top. Dynojet courtesy of MotoGPWerks, Anaheim, CA.

The Street also finished last in the Handling category, with both of my co-testers using the word truckish to describe its steering. Personally, I don’t feel it. The Street has right around 4.5 inches of trail just like the other two here, a shorter wheelbase than the Vulcan and skinnier tires than either of them, but it does have the laziest rake at 32.0 degrees. We wonder if the strange-profiled (kind of flat-looking) 140/75-15 rear Michelin Scorcher gives that hard-to-turn feeling? Maybe its handlebar is a bit narrower? To me, the Street feels nimbler and more light-footed than the other two bikes.

I’m the only one who likes to flog the Street, which goes around corners better than any Harley since the XR1200R. The Honda CTX has the most ground clearance.

I’m the only one who likes to flog the Street, which goes around corners better than any Harley since the XR1200R. The Honda CTX has the most ground clearance.

What we also don’t agree upon at all is comfort: Tom and Troy both rated the Street last in the Ergonomics/Comfort category, while yours truly rated it first. Its footpegs are kind of high for taller riders. Tom, who’s 5-foot, 11-inches, says its cockpit is cramped and “simply isn’t designed for anyone north of five-foot nine.” He’s probably correct, but for 5’8 me, the Street’s more-standard-than-cruiser ergonomic triangle is the other big thing it has going for it besides its engine. A compact cockpit with closer footpegs makes it feel more controllable to smaller riders, a subset that includes yours truly. (H-D offers a “Reduced Reach” seat and a Tallboy one, $201.95 each, along with Reduced Reach handlebars in black or chrome, for $69.95.) Thanks to its cush seat and surprisingly good suspension, the Street beat out the Vulcan in the Suspension category. It soaks up the bumps pretty damn well, and encourages maniacal riding like few other Hogs.

Harley-Davidson Street 750

+ Highs

  • Short people got no reason not to like it
  • This Harley makes as much power as the Kawasaki!
  • Looks great from a distance and/or in the dark
– Sighs

  • Worst production front brake in the modern world
  • Needs its owner to tidy up a little bit
  • Cramped ergos for big people.

Alas, the poor little Street’s egregious shortcomings outweigh its innate raw goodness. My upvotes could not outweigh the poopoos of my compadres, and so the Street finishes in a resounding last place. America loves its underdogs: Here’s to Harley for keeping on building them for us.

Three Bikes Go In, Two Come Out!

“The Harley has the most traditional profile, but if postmodern-cruiserism is what you’re after, the Vulcan S has an attractive profile, and I personally like the white with minimal green accents.” –T. Roderick. Note the big plastic cover (with genuine brushed aluminum insert) right below the shock that covers up all the ugly stuff that’s exposed on the Harley.

“The Harley has the most traditional profile, but if postmodern-cruiserism is what you’re after, the Vulcan S has an attractive profile, and I personally like the white with minimal green accents.” –T. Roderick. Note the big plastic cover (with genuine brushed aluminum insert) right below the shock that covers up all the ugly stuff that’s exposed on the Harley.

That leaves the new Vulcan S and the year-old Honda CTX700N to duke it out to the finish, sort of a battle between the Kawi’s old-school Japanese cruiser style vs. the Honda’s new-tech functionality with a nod toward tradition. The Kawasaki’s slightly smaller parallel-Twin makes substantially more power and a bit more torque than the Honda’s 21cc-bigger, low-revving 670cc inline-Twin, but the Honda gets more than 60 mpg most tanks and runs so smoooooth…

“I thought the Honda would finish last. All it took was the ride down from Burbank to Santa Ana to realize I was wrong. No one area stands out (except maybe fuel mileage), but it’s a very good motorcycle. If I could sum up the CTX in one word, it’d be “smooth.” It hardly vibrates and the ride is really comfortable.” –T. Siahaan

“I thought the Honda would finish last. All it took was the ride down from Burbank to Santa Ana to realize I was wrong. No one area stands out (except maybe fuel mileage), but it’s a very good motorcycle. If I could sum up the CTX in one word, it’d be “smooth.” It hardly vibrates and the ride is really comfortable.” –T. Siahaan

As Evans Brasstacks learned at the Vulcan’s coming-out party, Kawasaki bumped the Versys 650 Twin’s flywheel mass 28% to make it more cruiserish, and its intake funnels, throttle bodies, exhaust headers and ECU were also modified to improve bottom-end power. Where our last Versys 650 made 54.9 hp at 8200 rpm, the Vulcan pumps out 56.1 at 7300. Also 43.4 lb-ft. of torque at 5700 rpm, compared to the Versys’ 38.9 lb-ft. at 7100 rpm.

On the ScoreCard, the Vulc engine wins: “Like the Harley, the engine is the highlight of the Vulcan S,” says Troy. “It likes to rev and is equally as athletic as the Street 750, if not moreso.” Tom says: “Definitely the best engine in this group. It’s revvy and fun, and more powerful than the larger displacement V-Twin powering the Harley.” (Right, by 0.55 hp. The Harley makes 0.13 more ft-lbs of torque at only 3800 rpm.)

With the longest wheelbase, lowest seat and fattish tires, the Vulcan S makes a tough-guy statement it reinforces by kicking your butt with the worst rear suspension. It’s great on smooth pavement like this.

With the longest wheelbase, lowest seat and fattish tires, the Vulcan S makes a tough-guy statement it reinforces by kicking your butt with the worst rear suspension. It’s great on smooth pavement like this.

Meanwhile, the Honda’s low-revving half-a-car engine hangs in there with just 43 hp (at 6100 rpm). Its max torque of 41.5 lb-ft happens at 4700 rpm, but it’s making more than 40 at only 3200 rpm (just like the Harley), and doesn’t have any trouble keeping up with the group until the pace really heats up. Which it really doesn’t very often on these bikes. The Honda has the best gearbox of the group, with short positive throws and a light clutch. The Kawi’s gearbox is good too, but there’s a bit of slop in its linkage, introduced by its new “Ergo-fit” system, which lets you move the forward-mounted foot controls between three positions: “Long throws between gears makes for sloppy shifting,” says T Roderick. True that. The Vulcan does provide adjustable levers for both brake and clutch, though, and its rubber-mounted handlebar keeps the vibes at bay; 80 mph at 6000 rpm isn’t as serenely smooth as the Honda, but it’s close. The Street’s (solid-mounted) handlebar is quite a bit vibier at freeway speed. Also, the ABS brakes on our Kawi only add $400 to the Vulcan’s $6,999 bottom line. If you want ABS on the Honda, you’ll have to add $600 and take the auto gearbox too. And if you want it on the Harley, you are SOL, as they say in the vernacular.

The Vulcan’s Ergo-Fit system lets you order your bike with the mid-reach seat (this one), one with a thicker bolster on back for shorties, and one with less bolster for tall people. Handlebars are also swappable. Footpegs you can move between three positions.

The Vulcan’s Ergo-Fit system lets you order your bike with the mid-reach seat (this one), one with a thicker bolster on back for shorties, and one with less bolster for tall people. Handlebars are also swappable. Footpegs you can move between three positions.

The only place the Vulcan really comes up short is in the Suspension category, where it finishes last on our ScoreCard. It uses the same type lay-down shock on the right side as its sister-bikes Versys and Ninja 650, but unlike those two, the Vulcan works its shock through a linkage system. Kawasaki claims there’s 3.2 inches of rear-wheel travel, and they’re usually telling the truth, but over bumps that the Harley and Honda absorb nicely, the Vulcan feels almost like a hardtail, connecting with powerful gluteal uppercuts that put daylight between seat and rider. Which is sad, because sister Versys is so comfortably the opposite.

Kawasaki Vulcan S

+ Highs

  • Adjustable ergonomics is a great idea
  • Fun, revvable motor
  • Longest and lowest
– Sighs

  • Harsh rear suspension
  • Kawasaki still going for the gold in Ugly Exhaust Olympics
  • Are you sure you don’t want this engine in the Versys?
The Honda may have the least power, but it also has the least weight along with the best brakes and chassis, and that makes it the easiest to ride pretty quickly on backroads.

The Honda may have the least power, but it also has the least weight along with the best brakes and chassis, and that makes it the easiest to ride pretty quickly on backroads.

The CTX is the most polished, comfortable and easiest-riding package. Some say “appliance-like” as if it’s a bad thing. And even if you ordered up the Dual Clutch auto transmission/ABS option, MSRP $7,599, it’s still a little cheaper than the Harley.

The CTX is the most polished, comfortable and easiest-riding package. Some say “appliance-like” as if it’s a bad thing. And even if you ordered up the Dual Clutch auto transmission/ABS option, MSRP $7,599, it’s still a little cheaper than the Harley.

If it’s homogenized semi-raw-edged Japanese cruiser you’re after, you want the Kawasaki. If it’s suave and sophisticated, it’s hard to beat the CTX, which we all agreed has the best suspension, the best seat – and would win the ergonomics sweepstakes if only its footpegs were in the same zip code as the rest of it. If you have giraffe legs and fused knees, the CTX is your bike, and in fact, for urban trawling, the footpegs are less of a problem than they are on the highway, where way-forward feet make it that much more difficult to brace against the wind.

There really aren’t any frills on the Honda, which keeps the price down, but everything that is there is elemental, well-lubricated and functional, from the easy-reading LCD instruments to the Pro-Link shock out back that serves up 4.3 inches of the best suspension here, and helps the Honda handily win the Handling portion of the competition. The only thing missing from it is the excellent storage compartment of its sister-ship NC700X, a thing I promised I wouldn’t point out again but failed. Every Honda used to come with a helmet lock. No more.

Honda CTX700N

+ Highs

  • So dialled it’s hard to believe it’s only two years old
  • Fuel mileage is hybrid-like
  • Is “low-key cruiser” an oxymoron?
– Sighs

  • The footpegs arrive two minutes before the rest of the motorcycle
  • Its “storage compartment” is a cruel joke next to the NC700X’s
  • Is “practical motorcycle” also an oxymoron?

The Winner Is…

052215-Mid-Sized Cruisers-kawasaki-vulcan-s-action-8828
And the winner, in a photo finish, is the new Kawasaki Vulcan S – edging out the Honda by less than a percentage point in both Objective and Subjective scoring to take the overall win by 0.34%. If you’re torn, find your nearest Honda/Kawasaki dealer and sit on both to decide. If you like it when the salesperson comes over to talk to you and you have hours to kill, you’re probably a Kawasaki guy. If you wish he’d go away so you can make up your own mind and get on with your life, the Honda is for you.

Say, this was fun. Tearing around like maniacs in the canyons is always good, but slowing down a little and taking in the sights is a whole other kind of soothing. Anybody need a latte?

Midsize Post-Modern Cruiser Shootout Scorecard
Category Harley-Davidson
Street 750
Honda
CTX700N
Kawasaki
Vulcan S
Price 93.3% 100% 94.6%
Weight 95.1% 100% 97.0%
lb/hp 96.7% 79.5% 100%
lb/lb-ft 98.3% 98.3% 100%
Engine 82.5% 82.5% 85.8%
Transmission/Clutch 73.3% 83.3% 75.0%
Handling 68.3% 80.0% 75.0%
Brakes 48.3% 76.7% 81.7%
Suspension 73.3% 83.3% 70.0%
Technologies 48.3% 60.0% 74.2%
Instruments 58.3% 78.3% 76.7%
Ergonomics/Comfort 66.7% 76.7% 78.3%
Quality, Fit & Finish 50.0% 81.7% 78.3%
Cool Factor 75.0% 68.3% 75.0%
Grin Factor 66.7% 71.7% 71.7%
Overall Score 72.0% 80.9% 81.3%
Midsize Post-Modern Cruiser Shootout Specs
Harley-Davidson Street 750 Honda CTX700N Kawasaki Vulcan S
MSRP $7,794
($7499 in basic black)
$6,999
(DCT ABS $7,599)
$7,399
(Vulcan S non-ABS $6,999)
Engine Type 753cc liquid-cooled 60-deg. V-Twin 670cc liquid-cooled parallel Twin 649cc liquid-cooled parallel Twin
Bore and Stroke 85.0 x 66.0mm 73.0 x 80.0mm 83.0 x 60.0mm
HP 55.5 hp @ 7900 rpm 43.4 hp @ 6100 rpm 56.1 hp @ 7300 rpm
Torque 43.5 @ 3800 rpm 41.5 lb-ft. @ 4700 rpm 43.4 lb-ft. @ 5700 rpm
Fuel System Mikuni single-port EFI, 38mm throttle body PGM-FI, 36mm throttle body EFI; two 38mm throttle bodies
Ignition Digital inductive Digital inductive Digital inductive
Compression Ratio 11.0:1 10.7:1 10.8:1
Valve Train SOHC; 4 valves/cyl. SOHC; 4 valves/cyl. DOHC; 4 valves/cyl.
Emissions Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter current EPA and CARB in California current EPA and CARB in California
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed
Final Drive Belt Chain Chain
Front Suspension 37mm fork; 5.5 in. travel 41mm fork; 4.2 in. travel 41mm fork; 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension Twin coil-over shocks, preload adjustable; 3.5 in wheel travel Pro-Link single shock; 4.3 in. travel Single shock; 3.2 in wheel travel; adjustable spring preload
Front Brake 292mm disc; 2-piston caliper 320mm disc; 2-piston caliper 300mm disc; 2-piston caliper; ABS
Rear Brake 260mm disc; 2-piston caliper 240mm disc; single-piston caliper 250mm disc; 2-piston caliper; ABS
Front Tire 100/80-17 120/70-17 120/70 – 18
Rear Tire 140/75-15 160/60-17 160/60-17
Rake/Trail 32°/4.5 in (115mm) 27.7°/4.4 in (114mm) 31°/4.7 in (119mm)
Wheelbase 60.4 in 60.2 in 62.0 in
Seat Height 27.9 in 28.3 in. 27.8 in
Curb Weight 509 lb 484 lb. 499 lb
Fuel Capacity 3.5 gal 3.17 gal. 3.7 gal
Observed fuel mileage 42 mpg 61 mpg 45 mpg
Storage Capacity none tiny glovebox zilch
Available colors Black, Maroon Black Green, White, Red
Warranty 24 months, unlimited miles One year, unlimited miles 24 months (Limited Factory Warranty)

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  • Goose

    I think the conversation between Burns on the Harley side and Troy and Tom on the Japanese side tells you about about who will buy these bikes. Harley (and Ducati, Moto Guzzi and maybe Triumph) people like to tinker, to make their bike unique. If the bike doesn’t need a little fixing how will you ever bond?

    Japanese bike people don’t understand that, why not just buy a Hondasaki and just ride? No right or wrong, just different approaches to motorcycling.

    Personally, all three are off my list. I don’t really get a cruiser without a big, torque monster motor. JMHO

    • dustysquito .

      The M109R would be my cruiser of choice if I were in the cruiser market, for sure. I get the desire to tinker, but it seems like their complaint against the HD was that you had to start “fixing” on it before you could start tinkering with it. If there’s a couple things you have to fix before you can start doing the custom work you really want to do, then the other bikes would be a better choice becuase you can start doing the fun stuff on day one.

      • Goose

        I haven’t ridden a Street but it does seem like the front brake is a pretty bad thing to leave to the owner to correct. Knowing Harley they will fix it, eventually. I just hope it doesn’t take 30 years (well, almost: 1981 to 2009) to correct like the FL chassis.

        • dustysquito .

          Yeah….if they made cars, it would be up to the first owner to make the seat belts work correctly.

        • John A. Stockman

          I rode a friend’s early 2000s Road King. I thought the front/rear wheels were out of alignment, and it was brand new. Turns out it was the frame. Riding a couple FL-chassis bikes after the upgraded frame offered a noticeably improved difference, but the rear suspension travel/performance was still pretty sub-par. At least it didn’t feel like it had a hinge between the tank and seat anymore.

          • Goose

            Did you set the air shocks for your weight? Was the bike(s) you rode one of the FLs (Sports is Harley’s weird naming system) with 1″ shorter shocks and proportionally less travel?

            When you criticize the suspension are you comparing the Harleys to other cruisers? For what they are FLs work well, expect them to be what they are not and you will be disappointed.

            I’m writing this from a hotel in Ely, Nevada. I’ve put 1,800 miles on my (modified, of course) 2006 FLT since last Saturday. I’ll put another 400 to 500 miles on before I get home. The bike has been comfortable, reliable, fun on twisting roads and dead stable when I’m forced on the Interstates. I’ll also point out the bikes I’ve seen on the road have been 60 to 75% Harleys.

          • http://www.BrocksPerformance.com/ Brock Davidson

            My brand new 2013 Road Glide was down right scary to ride on the interstate, in fact, anything over 55 MPH made me pucker… and I’m a 200 MPH club member. It was my first H-D, so I didn’t know if the bike simply sucked or ? After 500 miles of white knuckles and a chat with friends about how stable my 72″ bagger should be, I grabbed my tool kit (again) and looked for loose bolts and/or misaligned axles etc. This time I noticed that tightening front axle pinch bolts must be a factory option… the bike has been rock stable, dependable and fun to ride ever since. Although it is the first bike I have ever owned that ‘uses’ oil?

  • DickRuble

    The Honda Shadow is a 749cc V-twin, at $7450 MSRP. Why not include it?

  • Tim Quinn

    The HD Street 750 that I looked at a few months ago had some of the the worst welds I’ve ever seen on a modern production motorcycle.
    Compared to the other new Harleys on the showroom floor it looked like a Chinese clone of a Japanese clone of a Harley.
    The Street is built to a price…and it shows!!

    • john burns

      looks like a few Street owners having problems, as is the case with any new vehicle no? As for it being unlike any other Harley, I agree, which is why it’s one of my favorite ones to run around on: really small and nimble and fun–revvable even!

      • Tim Quinn

        John, I understand where you’re coming from.
        I would not purchase one, but if someone ever passes me on the street riding a Street, I’ll give then a wave.
        My whole point is that HD can, and hopefully will, do better in the future.

        • john burns

          Or in the past. I really want to like the Street and I do, but I also see its shortcomings. And then I remember the Buell XB9S, which was one of the best bikes of its decade, for not much more $$ than the Street. Futuristic even.

        • is4u2p

          Go try one… Harley gives free, no obligation, test rides on them and I think you’ll really like the bike once you give it a spin.

    • John A. Stockman

      HD corporate and their handling of issues over the years seems to have not changed much. I remember how they treated me, and how they treated 6 people I know that had the cam bearing problems. With all their positive involvement and marketing, you’d think they’d be a bit more friendly to obvious manufacturing issues. In my case, I was not only treated very poorly by the local dealer, but HD also, refusing to do repairs, even still under warranty. HD told the dealer not to do any more warranty work on the bike. It had been at the dealer more than it had been on the road, yet it was still my fault. I’ll ride any HD any chance I get and I have even after those experiences, but ownership is off the table for me.

    • is4u2p

      Oh you mean like Honda who refused to fix my brand new CB500F that had a malfunctioning gear box 3 years ago?

      • john burns

        hard to blame them since that bike didn’t come out till 2 years ago.

        • is4u2p

          Except for the fact that there are 2015 Honda CB500Fs and mine was a 2013 so, count back and you’ve got 3 years ago!

          Mine was literally the first CB500F that was sold at Performance Honda in Wesley Chapel Florida. Oh and my complaint has been on file with the Better Business Bureau that long… They ignore the BBB and pretty much ignore any customer that has a real issue with their bikes.

          So, smart ass, the bike was out! It was a POS, and Honda failed to rectify the situation.

  • Campisi

    I find the Street’s build quality offensive. If you want to buy a slow-ish motorcycle that effectively needs repair work from the word “go”, why not save a bundle and buy something used? At least then you can blame the exposed wiring and dysfunctional brakes on age and neglect.

  • Jose Luis

    Thanks for the review. I ride a 2012 Honda Shadow Phantom and I love it but I started getting interested in a more powerful and lighter motorcycle. When the Street 750 came out, I started reading all kinds of reviews. If it weren’t for the poor reviews of sub par welds and exposed wires I may have gone into a Harley-Davidson dealership and swapped my motorcycle. Now the Kawasaki Vulcan S is out and I am also paying close attention to all the reviews I can find. It seems to be a much better motorcycle than my Phantom but I still prefer the appearance of the Phantom by a lot. Never the less, I am playing close attention to the Vulcan S and I may (or not) decide to give it a go.

    Good Review.

  • MrBlenderson

    I really don’t need a cruiser, but I really want the new Vulcan.

  • Reid

    Vulcan S 1000. Make it happen.

    • Stuki

      With the roaring 4 from the Versys/Z/Ninja……. Now that would be a brawler of a bike….

      • RyYYZ

        Yeah, Kawi’s done it before (ZL900 Eliminator, ZL1000 Eliminator, ZL600 Eliminator). Leave in exactly the same tune as the Ninja 1000 (not ZX10). Is the world ready for a new I-4 power cruiser?

  • frankfan42

    Lack of decent brakes ruins the Harley for me. Why should anyone have to fix their brakes when the bike is new? Tinkering is one thing, it’s quite another to tinker in a bodycast.

    • John A. Stockman

      The link for the brake “upgrade” is about 400 Euros? The currency symbol doesn’t look like British Pounds. It’s a combination of the caliper, master cylinder and pads, so the actual “fix” would be more than just that caliper. I haven’t ridden the Street 750, but looking at a few and sitting on them, all have that crude, not-quite-finished look. I wouldn’t think HD would rush any bike into production, but the Street 750 and 500 both have that appearance. Personalizing/accessorizing is done with visual and performance bits, but a major flaw like the FRONT braking is not in the category of personalization or accessories. The ergo triangle on the 750 is quite uncomfortable and no way could I ride it any distance. Kawi has the right idea with the various configs like the pegs, seats, handlebars. I’ve always had to modify my own bikes to accommodate my unique ergo requirements, and now Kawasaki offers different set-ups as an OEM offering. Good move.

      • frankfan42

        I read in Motorcycle consumer news mag that the Street 750 was the worst braking bike tested. I very much agree with you that one should NOT have to overhaul the entire braking system for safety sake, and bad brakes, imho, are a major safety issue. Curious that Harley, which does have some great engineers, would release something that could seriously tarnish their carefully built image.
        Kawasaki really did a pretty intelligent thing with their adjustable ergos, and making a bike fit the person with mix and match parts is great. My first bike was a Kawi, and I have a soft spot for them.

    • is4u2p

      I don’t get it… I bought my wife the street 2 weeks ago and honestly, people are making a big deal out of nothing here!

      The brakes might not be sport bike quality but, they’re about on par with most cruisers I’ve tried.

      Anyway, I have always been a Metric bike guy but, I love the street, it is an absolute blast to rode around town or on the highway!

      • frankfan42

        Glad you and your wife are happy with the bike, wish you many happy miles of riding.

      • frankfan42

        The rider IS the crush zone on a motorcycle. I have no desire to test my crushability because some accountant decided to save 3 cents by getting brake pads that fail in emergency use.

        • is4u2p

          Thanks for the well wishes but, again I feel that some may have gotten a few bad samples because most have no issues with stopping in an emergency on the Street. Yes, many claim the Brakes could be better but, they all agree they’re adequate for the job.

          • frankfan42

            I don’t know, perhaps. Were I in charge of bikes at HD for the test fleet I surely would not hand out trashed bikes that shed their brake pads during braking tests though, unless that was all I had.

  • Old MOron

    Were I in the market for a middle-weight cruiser, this comparo would be an excellent resource.

    PS: bonus points for having the discussion at a Starschmucks-type coffee place.
    Ha ha ha!

    • john burns

      Gypsy Den. pretty nice really..

  • Stuki

    Man, the pegs on the Honda really is waaaaay up there. I don’t remember even the Fury having controls that far forward. Burns looks like he’s piloting a Jesse James sitting on that thing…..

    • john burns

      dunno what they were thinking? retired NBA players?

      • Ducati Kid

        JB,

        Concern addressed – a HONDA ‘City’ Concept motorcycle replete with Floorboards, 745cc Engine, ‘Stall Free’ [i.e. sans D.C.T.] operation, Hand Lever C-A.B.S., Beneath Tank and Side Pods Storage.

        A WINNER for Global cyclists!

        Not to except the KAWASAKI?

        A revised Vulcan 650 Concept addressing previous commentator concerns with Belt Final Drive and Dual Exhaust.

  • Lucke

    The street engine is a joke. Even with a ~10% higher displacement advantage over the Honda (750cc vs 670cc), it just matches the usable torque curve under 5500 rpm. On top of that the Honda gets 60mpg, while the street ekes out ~45mpg (as per their forum)

    Forget build quality, and brakes. The street does not even have abs as an option in 2015.

    • is4u2p

      And the Honda is ugly as shit!

      Believe me, people don’t buy the CTX and it is obvious because, you don’t buy a motorcycle for practical reasons.

      Meanwhile, the street has sold a ton of bikes.

      • Shanghai Dan

        I bought my CTX700 for practical reasons – comfortable to ride (the pegs are forward, but my legs – 32″ inseam – are at a 90 degree bend), great carrying capacity with the side cases and a top case, perfect torque for around town and canyons (I get the pleasure of riding 3 of them on my commute in Ventura County), and awesome fuel economy. Add in I don’t wake up the neighborhood when I leave at 7 AM in the morning (it’s really quiet) and doesn’t shake like a paint mixer, and was quite affordable, it’s a great practical cruiser.

        Maybe people who just want to buy a motorcycle for the image (you know, those weekend riders who, 90% of the time, ride a Harley) the CTX is a bad choice. For those who actually RIDE, it’s an easy choice over the Harley.

        • is4u2p

          That would be great if it weren’t for the fact that the Harley Street is anything but a traditional Harley! That thing is incredibly comfortable and I was amazed at how much I like that bike seeing that I’m all about the Metrics (My bike is a Ninja 650) but, let me tell you it is a daily commuter and an incredibly fun ride at that!

      • Lucke

        Street selling a lot of bikes, is like Coke selling a lot of cola. It’s a shiny can, but a lousy drink for your body. The street is a lousy bike, compared to the competition. At the heart is an inefficient engine, lousy build quality, and crappy brakes.

        I own a sportster, and an Nc700x and test rode both the Ctx and the street. Unfortunately Harley can’t make the street better for the same price point , or they lose sales of the sportsters and dyna’s. To upgrade the street costs enough, to get a better bike to begin with.

        • is4u2p

          We have a Street and the engine characteristics are very similar to that of the Ducati in this class of bikes. It is anything but inefficient.

          Crud, that little 750 Evolution out performs the Sportster 883 and the Bolt in 0 – 60 as well as Quarter mile times. It would beat the 883 period.

          As for upgrading it, for some people the bike is enough and there is no upgrade for the engine as it is so, yes you would have to buy a new bike but… With the exception of the 883 none of these bikes have reasonably priced big bore kits.

          Oh and the build quality, you guys are high. For the price this thing is actually more solid than most of the competitors.

  • Bruce Steever

    The Street’s front brake was so bad that it’s one of the only modern motorcycles that deserves the title “dangerous.”

    • is4u2p

      I’ve had this bike at 85 MPH, I stopped just fine with the stock brakes and think people should really try them for themselves.

      • Bruce Steever

        Congrats on taking a bike up to highway speeds successfully – have a cookie. Did you need help to get it going that fast?

        Meanwhile, I’ve tested the Street 750 in front of a radar gun, to top speed, thru quarter-mile, and for maximum braking.

        Normally, i’d agree that folks need to test ride a machine themselves and make their own decision – but in this case, the bike is beyond flawed. It will cook its front brake in normal downhill street riding, and during maximum braking stops, it lost front brake power in the first run, with the lever hitting the bar almost immediately and providing almost zero decel.

        Not good…

        • is4u2p

          Did you ever consider you might have had a flawed unit? Absolutely nobody else has made the claim that the brakes don’t work… They say they’re soft!

          Of course the fact that we own one and I had it up to 85 (if you need help getting there you’re not the expert you are in your mind) and had no issues braking tells me that the Bike isn’t as flawed as the one you claim to have tested.

          Of course, given the fact that there aren’t any riders on the street forums claiming the bikes brakes failed either I would have to dismiss your test as flawed.

          • Bruce Steever

            Maybe you’re right? Maybe the bike that was given to us by Harley-Davidson’s Press Fleet center – a bike that was assembled specifically for the purposes of impressing the media guys that test them for magazines – was sent out with bad brakes?

            Maybe the other folks in the motojournalist field were lying when they said things like they wrote in this EXACT article, such as requiring three fingers to hold the bike still at a stop?

            Flawed bike is flawed. Most Harley customers don’t know any better to say for certain. Stop defending a poor product.

            And again – stopping from any speed is easy enough even with weak brakes. Stopping for maximum performance is another thing entirely. Go run a radar- or GPS-certified negative one-plus G stop for us, and let me know when you do.

          • Brian Raige Macpherson

            Looking at this wall I’m fairly positive is4u2p works for Harley or is a gigantic Harley fanboy throwing out mentions of other bikes he’s “owned” by comparison. Probably only ever rode the Made in India mobile in question. lol

  • Bmwclay

    I would just buy a 2005-10 Sporty 1200 and be very happy. To hell with these crappers.
    Even better, an 85 R750 BMW

    • TonyCarlos

      BMW didn’t make a 750 cc R bike in 1985.

  • RyYYZ

    When I first saw the Vulcan in pictures, I thought it was, frankly, hideous. Having seen it in person I don’t find it so bad. Not really my style of bikes, though.

    The low-revving nature of the Honda’s engine is probably not a bad fit with the cruiser style. On anything else that low redline would drive me nuts when the road gets twisty and I want to have some fun.

  • Mark

    I bought the vulcan for my wife with the short option and its a really fun bike to ride. I rode all the above among others and it was definitely the best of the bunch. Great lil bike.

  • azi

    Hi John and team. Just wanted to say that I enjoy your review videos – the production quality has improved in leaps and bounds, compared to the first efforts uploaded 5-6 years ago! Good editing and audio balance. May I ask how you’re getting the drone footage without it flying out of range (such as the follow shots along the road), or causing legal regulation problems in populated areas?

    Keep up the great work.

  • TonyCarlos

    Maybe Harley is just trying to infuse some of their vintage qualities into the Street. Front brakes that don’t work used to be Harley’s signature.

  • Tavares

    Honda is ugly as sin. A very cheap, “vanilla” looking bike. I would never buy this bike, even if it was cheaper…

  • Brian Raige Macpherson

    I went from a 2014 Yamaha Bolt R-spec to the 2015 Vulcan S and the bikes are completely two different rides. The Yamaha apparently gets pretty good scores for handling from most reviewers but the handling coming from the Vulcan S makes it feel like a tractor by comparison. I’ve been running my Vulcan S pretty heavy lately and still have yet to scrape the pegs, even while getting a knee halfway out. The bolt (and I’m assuming the street based on stance and build) seemed to grab the ground like clockwork whenever I wanted to push it.

    Back before I even bought my bolt I was looking at the street 750 but couldn’t bring myself to trust in the outsourced revolution X. Probably not a huge deal but it’s more of a moral judgement on my end. Glad I made the choice I did seeing this talk.

    BTW, hunkered down, the S whines up to 110MPH like silk, although I’ve3 stayed in it once and tapped 117MPH, IMO, max speed should be somewhere around 120MPH, Although after 100-110 it’s like a gradual crawl.