Several months ago, Harley-Davidson announced plans to reduce its model lineup by 30% as part of its Rewire and Hardwire business strategies. More recently, the company revealed it will announce its 2021 models online in a “ virtual launch experience” on Jan. 19. The question, then, is what current models are on the chopping block, and which models will return?
There are a variety of options to choose from when you think of beginner bikes, many of them centered around sport-type models or standards. This is often because manufacturers spend more of their marketing dollars hyping their beginner sportbikes or standards. But fear not, cruiser rider – there are great entry-level models for those craving the feet-forward stance. Here, we’ve gathered eight of those great choices for your viewing pleasure.
Alas, the poor Harley-Davidson Street 750 continues to get little love from MO, finishing third of three in our recent Gaiternational Shootout against Triumph’s excellent new Street Twin and Moto Guzzi’s still very good V7 Stone II. No doubt a few Triumph tuners and a handful of Guzzi specialists will get to work on those bikes, but few if any will reach the level of the Cherry’s Company turbocharged H-D Street 750 in our lead image.
Laaadeeeeez and Gennntlemennnn, standing before you are the three of the newest middleweight roadsters of the 2016 model year. All have family names steeped in motorcycling history, though only one can be said to use a truly historic design. The second is a ground-up remake with the classic lines of its family heritage, which is, in fact, almost visually identical but in a thoroughly modern package. The third, a sophomore model-year tweak to a new category of bikes begun just last year, seeking to indoctrinate a new generation of riders into its world-dominating marque. These three motorcycles share two other similarities: all are Twins – though all different – and all feature hipster-compatible fork gaiters.
As Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Harley-Davidson, Mark-Hans Richer, has, as they say, a lot on his plate. A new platform in the shape of the two Street models, 750 and 500, the Project LiveWire Experience Tour currently underway, an updated model lineup for 2016 in the pipeline, and certainly goings-on that only the need-to-know know, is enough to keep ten people busy. Nonetheless, Mr. Richer kindly set a little time aside to speak with MO and confirm that everything for the Motor Company is going swimmingly.
As this article goes live, Harley-Davidson is utilizing social media to reveal its 2016 model line up via a choreographed round-the-world event, taking place live in seven cities across the globe. This 30-minute global event will be simulcast on Periscope, Twitter’s new live-streaming app, and then uploaded later to the Harley-Davidson YouTube feed. Beginning with coverage in Portland, OR, where MO staffer, Evans Brasfield, is one of the moto-press attending the event, the live-stream will jump around the continents to Sydney, Tokyo, Barcelona, Toronto, Mexico City, and Las Vegas before returning to Portland to wrap up the event.
Midsize Post-Modern Cruiser Shootout: Harley-Davidson Street 750 V. Honda CTX700N V. Kawasaki Vulcan S + Video
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.
It was a good summer, all in all, made better by hanging out with the friendly, fun-to-be-around Harley-Davidson Street 750. We were only supposed to have the little hog for a couple weeks, starting in mid-June, but it wound up being a puppy that wanders into your yard you hope nobody comes looking for, so we asked to keep it around a little longer. It’s supposed to be an entry-level/beginner bike, and my 20-year old son liked it so much he went and got his motorcycle license, something no other bike at the compound had gotten him to do. The Street even got him to do a little work for MO, which nobody and no other thing has ever been able to accomplish.
We don’t always agree on everything at MO, but we do all agree that the new Harley-Davidson Street 750 could use a better front brake. Its revvable and lovable little 60-degree V-Twin engine is one of the best things Harley’s done in the 21st century and the rest of the bike’s not far behind for the money, but the response from its front brake let us down. In our recent Millennial Hep Cat Shootout, mean Tom Roderick said, “Where the Street 750 really fails in its performance package is with its lame front brake. Whether it’s the brake pad material or air in the line, the twin-piston single-caliper front disc brake is glaringly weak.”
Well, some people are always going to be opposed to it aren’t they? Progress that is. No matter what motorcycle you’re writing about, you can count on there being at least one guy who’ll pop up with: How is this thing any better than my ’84 Sabre (Nighthawk, Vulcan, Magna, Midnight Maxim, et al), which cost half as much (in 1984 dollars) and is twice as fast and has never let me down in 86 years of ad nauseum …