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2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 First Ride

Monday, March 24, 2014

In recent years motorcycle manufacturers have really turned their attention to grabbing young riders with budget-friendly offerings that appeal to the wants and needs of this key demographic. It’s easier to hold onto a customer that has bonded with the brand early rather than pull a sale from a rider of another brand, so these entry-level
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2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 First Ride Video
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Watch the 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 First Ride video to see the smallest Dark Custom Harley-Davidson in action.
rides are important. Harley-Davidson’s 883 Sportster models may be small and reasonably priced in comparison to the rest of its line-up, but for a less experienced buyer they can still be intimidating. Enter the 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750, an all-new HD that is aimed at attracting and holding onto an entirely new group of riders.

A last-minute invite to ride a pre-production Street 750 for photos and a quick two-hour unsupervised ride around Orange County gave us the chance to find out if this addition to the Harley line will be a winner. While grabbing a riding impression, photos and video, MotoUSA also pushed the clock to the last second by also squeezing in a dyno test to get the first real world horsepower and torque numbers. It was a hectic couple of hours, but we learned plenty.

Looking at the Street 750, it is unmistakably a Harley-Davidson thanks to the Dark Custom treatment. The fork gators, round headlight, and mag wheels are familiar and look good. Moving further back towards the tank and things still look classic and tough; even the radiator and shroud doesn’t seem out of place. Where it gets a little less visually appealing is when you size it up from the rear. Whereas the front three-quarters of the bike is classically styled, the rear fender and taillight are modern and boxy, missing the mark visually. Overall, however, it is a good-looking bike, and it has a presence worthy of the HD badge on the tank.

Look closer at the details and you begin to see how the Street 750 can be offered for around $7500 (no official MSRP has been set as of yet.) The levers are skinny and feel less solid than the units we are accustomed to on other HD models. While the paint is good on body parts, the seam down the middle of the tank looks unrefined. Some of the fastening hardware and brackets are rough and less than pretty. The switchgear however is very clean and easy to use, although the turn signals are not self-canceling.

Sitting on the Street 750 reveals a compact rider’s area. The 27.9-inch high seat and close footpegs felt cramped for my 32-inch inseam. This brings your knees above the top of the flat, low tank giving a feeling that you are atop the Street rather than in it. The reach to the bars is easy and comfortable but also close. Simply stated, the Street 750 looks big but rides small. Taller riders will need to look elsewhere.

On the road the small rider’s triangle gives you plenty of leverage to move the 750 around. It feels much lighter in motion than the 489-pound curb weight would suggest. Turn in effort is very light, and changing direction happens in a snap. I was expecting the steering to be slightly sluggish with a skinny 110/80R17 front tire and flat profiled 140/75R15 rear, but it turns wonderfully. The handling is absolutely the highlight of the Street. Corning clearance is excellent thanks to the tall footpegs.

Suspension is slightly taut but not harsh or springy, handling the cracked pavement of Old Town Orange with a controlled, comfortable ride. Spring rates front to rear are spot on for balanced handling, even though the rear-end does sit high when static.

Braking performance is the low-point of the Street 750, hands down. A single front floating disc and twin piston front caliper combined with same set-up at the rear drags the blacked out machine down from speed with less-than-impressive power. Two fingers and a strong squeeze is required on the front lever and the feel is wooden and weak. At the back the feel is
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2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Dyno Video
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Watch the 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Dyno Video to find out how the Street 750 performed.
actually better from the foot-pedal and must be used to have any chance of stopping quickly. Beginners definitely won’t have to worry about tucking the skinny front tire on the brakes.

While the brakes are a disappointment, the 749cc liquid-cooled Revolution X 60-degree V-Twin is not. Engine response is crisp and acceleration is much better than I expected. Grabbing a handful of the right grip brings forth a torquey bottom-end that continues into the mid-range. On top, the power does flatten out just before the rev-limiter kicks in.

During our ride we stopped off at Two Brothers Racing to get some dyno numbers. The Street 750 produced a respectable 52.89 horsepower at 7900 rpm and 39.36 lb-ft of torque at 6400 rpm, however, the torque curve was nearly flat from all the way through the rev range. It is a very nice powerplant for a smaller cruiser without a doubt. The only part missing is the rumble that is Harley-Davidson. The stock two-into-one exhaust note is subdued and lacks any sort of nastiness that you would expect from a blacked out HD.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Dyno Chart
The all-new Harley-Davidson Street 750 is powered by the Revolution X, a 749cc 60-degree V-Twin. It turned the dyno at Two Brothers Racing up to a respectable 52.9 horsepower and 39.4 lb-ft of torque.
Shifts are quiet and smooth as you row through the Street’s six-speed transmission, and the gear ratios are perfectly spaced. The clutch pull is light, but the engagement point is near the end of the lever travel, which could be an issue for smaller hands.

After our short stint on the 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 750, I had to look at this machine from a new or young rider’s perspective to appreciate it. As a seasoned rider it fails to satisfy, but for someone looking to get into a cruiser, and most importantly a Harley, on the cheap the Street 750 is a very attractive motorcycle. It looks good for the most part, handles excellent and has a great engine. The Street 750 is a good first Harley-Davidson that will get many entry-level riders on the road and vault them to larger rides in the line as they gain experience.
2014 H-D Street 750 Photo Gallery
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AlienVan   June 4, 2014 05:17 PM
Its not so bad. Think the bank and Harley financing. Going to much easier for a newbie than on a small sport bike. Cheaper insurance under the cruiser banner. Most new riders will like the Harley Name and just want service with some name reference. Not all that enamored with overall Harley culture. Putting one in a flat track show will bring in a lot of interest. The X games is a good venue for this exposure. Many targeted new customers in attendance. Of course this is noting like the old days when we road our Gold-stars,Catalina's and Triumphs down to Ascot Park,took off the lights and tried to qualify against The Flying Fea,Romero,Shorty Seeborn,Aldana. They brought theirs in pickups and El Caminos. We did get free motorcycle parking though. And a pass to the bar across from the Cemetery. Joe Banana and the 7 Peels were the band. Only can hope the newbies don't think Baker is just taking off the lights??????? Okie
captbugaloo   April 13, 2014 05:19 PM
I don't get the whining and the negative comments. I think the looks are okay, and the performance sounds about on the par with all the other mid-size 750cc cruisers out there, plus it has the Harley name behind it. I don't think I'll buy one, but I suspect they will sell reasonably well. If you don't like 'em, don't buy one - I'm sure there's some other bike out there that you can buy instead.
Grommett2k   April 7, 2014 12:34 PM
I agree with Harleybro. I picked up my first Harley, an 07 Superglide, with less than 5k miles for $7900.00. The used market will sometimes give more bang for the buck.
harleybro   April 1, 2014 04:12 AM
I want every manufacturer to sell a ton of their products, and I want lots of new riders, as both can only help all of us. If, as Greg implies, a lot of these new riders are a bit more sensible than the stereotypical young rider; i.e., reckless, then that's a good thing too.
x2468   March 30, 2014 11:43 PM
I thought it would be making at least 70hp with liquid cooling. Ktm makes nearly that much with their single cylinder 690. Oh well, HD can sell it in Europe to A2 license holders without having to offer a detuned map.
gregsfc   March 30, 2014 06:30 AM
I own the Honda CTX700 (the one with the fairing, so it is a little different than this naked competitor). The Honda is a great bike, but I will admit this...I predict HD will sell ten times as many of these as Honda does of the CTX700N, and the reason is because HD has passion for building and selling bikes in the U.S., and Honda take great products and just throws them out here with little or no marketing to back them up. I hope they sell a bunch too, because the industry needs something to save itself. If these companies can draw in new riders, then there is a future. I reject the idea, however, that this is a beginner's bike. I've got a 670 cc, and it's as big as I ever want or need. Not all of us (especially the next generation rider) is not looking to graduate up to the biggest, baddest, and fastest bikes. Some of us want something that makes some practical sense. And these new, mid-sized cruisers fit the bill just fine for long term ownership. My Honda can go 100 mph and can achieve nearly 80 mpg. Why do I want to move up from that?
Poncho167   March 27, 2014 07:23 AM
Just curious, why would you hope they sell a bunch of them?
rkt88403   March 26, 2014 07:07 PM
Hope they sell a bunch of them.
NinthOption   March 25, 2014 06:53 PM
Really ih4x4? I see a CB500 with an extra 100lbs and missing some ground clearance and MPGs.
lh4x4   March 25, 2014 05:08 PM
I see the HD heritage. I see the little VRod Evolution motor and the rear resembles the XR1200. I have all of the HD families of bikes and will add the first 750 that my dealer gets in. It will go with the 11 HD's in my garage along with a Buell Ulysses and a Ural Patrol. I have a preference for midsize bikes even though I'm 6'3" and 220. Back in the day I even road the heck out of a CB160. Got it to 81 mph before the valve went through the piston. There is little merit in the negative posters comments. The bike will do well. I have watched the videos of the HD team ice racing them for an X Games promo. Most bike magazine writers have knocked the single disc on three of the HD families. However, all will lock up the front wheel. You don't need any more brake than that.
Poncho167   March 25, 2014 04:56 PM
I bet this will serve its purpose and will sell quite well.

I agree with the first comment that it may cheapen the brand like Mercedes and BMW are doing bringing in entry level models, but for new buyers this looks to be an inexpensive entry to a rebel lifestyle.
Mitch   March 25, 2014 01:30 PM
This bike and it's little sibling were designed primary with the Asian market in mind so the smaller ergos and displacement will serve them well in the growing India and Chinese markets. How well it does in The States is still to be seen but good on H-D for coming out with something new every decade or so, so their engineers don't die of boredom ;).
osbornk   March 25, 2014 12:08 PM
The only think this bike has that reminds me of Harley is the nameplate. It doesn't look, sound or remind me of a Harley. My little V-Star Midnight Custom looks more like a Harley than this bike. I don't think it will be accepted into the Harley family and it doesn't have the redeeming qualities as the V-Rod. The Japanese have done a much better job of copying Harley than Harley has done with this bike.
jeffnam69   March 25, 2014 09:19 AM
Every thread seems to have the same comments that HD has to change and build bikes that "young people want" and that usually means Japanese or Italian style bikes. Well, in those commenters' minds that may be true, but go into any Harley dealer and you'll see plenty of young people who want traditional HDs. Japanese cruisers do their level best to copy HD as slavishly as possible because that is what sells cruisers. And cruisers are what sells best. That may upset some people, but get over it. HD tried with Buell and all Buell got was derision from the same people who said they would buy an American sportbike if someone put out a "real" one. Well, the business seems to be learning their lessons. Products that they because of internet demand fail in the marketplace. This is true of a lot of markets, movies for example. HD will continue to follow it's own path, hopefully ignoring the advice of internet voices. I hope HD sells a pile of these.
ctrlfreak   March 25, 2014 06:20 AM
Not a fan of the back end either. The six speed is awesome and wish I had it on my 883N. Otherwise, decent attempt at hitting the smaller displacements without compromising their existing inventory.
boscoe   March 24, 2014 08:12 PM
Fer crin' out loud. This looks like a motorcycle that was left in the dryer too long. The dude riding it looks like a giant! What the hell was Harley thinking? I commend H-D for trying to open a new segment. But it used old school MoCo think. Result? Loser. Japan does it better. Sadly.
spyglass   March 24, 2014 06:13 PM
Well, per the comments on the brakes and fit/finish, let's remember H-D expects to profit exponentially on everything with the MoCo logo....ergo corners had to be cut. And it's likely the marketing dept wanted to be careful not to make it sound TOO much like a 2cam or evo, lest those with the "big" motors become incensed by this twerp bike possessing the "sacred sound" and not having to pay at least $12k for it. After all....., I mean, C'MON!!
DocNick   March 24, 2014 05:50 PM
Way better than a Sportster.
HDRoadKing   March 24, 2014 05:21 PM
Great bike for an entry level rider. I saw this article pointed out to me by the guys over on hdstreetforum.com and thought it looked pretty cool little bike. Nice article guys.
harleybro   March 24, 2014 04:06 PM
Pig, yes it does, style-wise, although the XLCR may have been a better machine, almost forty years ago. I think if HD wants to attract younger, different riders, it should take its proven Sporty platform and make a twin-cooled varient a la Project Rushmore, with better brakes and crisper handling. That would be a real HD with youth appeal.
harleybro   March 24, 2014 03:58 PM
Hexford, don't misunderstand me. I don't hate it. But, according to the review, the brakes are awful and the engine performance merely adequate. Would you, as the owner of two ZX-14's, want to ride this? Harley could have done this bike much better, with performance that would attract young riders looking for more than a name. As it is, it's a so-so 750 with a HD badge on it; folks would do better buying a Shadow Spirit. As an aside, I wave to every rider, whatever he or she is riding. I don't care about image or stereotypes. My other bike is a Yamaha FZ1, and I reach for that at least as often as I choose the Dyna.
Piglet2010   March 24, 2014 03:51 PM
Does the Street 750 remind anyone else of the XLCR? And will the Street 500 be sold to the public, or just to dealers to replace the Buell Blast in Rider's Edge classes? I recall reading elsewhere that the Street 500 was designed to meet MSF's criteria for acceptable bikes to use for BRC classes.
Hexford   March 24, 2014 02:46 PM
As expected, this bike drags out the haters. I love it! I own two ZX-14s and have owned Harleys in the past. This one is modern with non of the ancient baggage of the old Harleys. The valves aren't operated by chop-sticks, fuel injection, four valve per cylinder and a bore and stroke only 1mm difference than my ZX. There's a lot of potential for hop up with this engine.
IceMoney   March 24, 2014 12:45 PM
WTF is wrong with motorcycle companies as of late, Harley people will reject this and anyone who rides one. Isn't the primary focus of owning a Harley acceptance between fellow Harley riders? I had 2002 vt1100, it was shocking how many dirty looks and comments to step up to a real bike, hell one time a chick did the cycle wave and I thought the rest of her group were going to lay down a beating to the poor girl. Even before that at a local Harley shop test ride day 4 of us stopped, I was interested in the Buell Ulysses. I really found out about Harley people that day, when 75% of the people discovered helmets were required they threw a tantrum, the rest avoided the Buells like poison. Needless to say my buddies and I had a fantastic day riding every Buell model available, just freaking amazing, But I lost a tremendous amount of respect for the mentality of the Harley crowd. Sorry I got lost in this post, but anyone who buys this as a first Harley will be incredibly disappointed, if anyone is interested wait 1 years for the 50% off fire sale.
harleybro   March 24, 2014 12:23 PM
I'm 58 and ride a Dyna, so I'm not the guy HD is looking to sell this too. If it interests new young guys in the brand, great; although I suspect most youngsters wanting to buy an HD on the cheap could go used and do better than this.

I have a problem with how many iconic brands are cheapening down to grab new blood, when all anyone has to do, if they want to go that route, is buy used. Look at Mercedes and the new CLA model; I'm sorry that's not a Merc. Price is 29,900, but add a few options and you're in the mid 30's, where you can buy a year-old C-Class that is a real Merc.

My advice to young bucks looking for an HD - buy a used Sporty 883; if that's too much bike for you, maybe you should look elsewhere.

Just an old guy ranting.