Harley’s Hot Little Urban Commuter

Traffic-carving performance wasn’t the first thing I thought of when hearing the name Harley-Davidson, but the MoCo started changing that perception with the new-in-2017 Street Rod 750. While it is, in fact, based on the Street 750, multiple changes in the setup and equipment turn it into another animal entirely. Shorter steering geometry, a more aggressive rider triangle and a more powerful engine come together in H-D’s decisive push into the sport-standard market.

  • 2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
  • Year:
    2017- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V-Twin
  • Displacement:
    46 cubic inches
  • Top Speed:
    105 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    8699
  • Price:

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Design

  • Drag-style bars
  • Bar-end mirrors
  • Café styling
  • Relatively tall seat height
2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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The Street Rod was a bold move to be sure, and as Harley entered territory traditionally dominated by the Asian and European manufacturers, it didn’t enjoy the same name power that it did in the cruising and touring sector. With all that in mind I want to take a look at this ambitious ride to see what’s new and how well it stacks up to its entrenched competition. I think it’s safe to take it as a given that the MoCo has its work cut out for it, to say the very least.

Generally speaking, the Street Rod looks much like the standard Street 750. We’ve got the same fuel tank, frame, and engine geometry, but the devil is in the details, and there are plenty of those to choose from. We start out with a cut-down front fender over dual front brake discs for twice as much braking power as the regular Street 750. Harley flipped the forks upside down, and threw blackout treatment on the stems as well as the tripletree. A redesigned flyscreen tops the whole rig with a single clock instrument cluster tucked away behind.

The standard, 3.5-gallon Street fuel tank comes with a special tank graphic that I gotta say, doesn’t really do anything for me. Back from there we have a redesigned seat that, along with the rear wheel diameter increase to 17 inches, puts the rider’s butt at 29.4 inches off the ground. The factory says this is meant to allow for greater forward visibility through the traffic ahead of you and a safer commute, but this stance, along with the almost jockey-position rider footpegs and drag bars, really encourages a relatively aggressive riding position for a Harley.

One detail here that never gets old is the bar end-mount mirrors, so there’s none of the big, tall mirror standoffs waving around in the air, and that makes for clean lines to be sure. Many of these changes make for a marked improvement in handling, and is part of the overall strategy to draw in younger buyers.

It’s safe to call this an entry-level bike, even if the engine size pushes that envelope a bit, and could serve as a good starting point for any rider who plans on moving up into a power cruiser such as a V-Rod, Ducati Diavel or any of a number of other sport-cruiser types. All the blackout treatment in the front end, engine, side covers, and exhaust lends it a custom vibe and understated style that is a lot less “look at me” than much of the rest of Harley’s lineup.

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Chassis

  • Suspension tuned for a sporty ride
  • Over 37° lean angle
  • Optional non-switchable ABS
  • Two-up seating and passenger footpegs
2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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A double-downtube/double-cradle frame cups and protects the engine on the Street Rod, and provides the mount for the radiator and its minimal cowl. Tubular steel members make up the frame as well as the subframe, and a yoke-style, steel swingarm with a rectangular cross-section finishes off the structure. The revised swingarm was lengthened to accommodate the two-inch tire-size increase as well as the increased rear suspension travel of 4.6 inches at the axle. Coil-over piggyback shocks support the rear end with adjustable spring preload.

Beefy, blackout, 43 mm forks look really cool but come with no adjustment. This isn’t uncommon in entry-level rides, so I won’t gig Harley any more than I do everyone else, but don’t you guys think it’s time to start giving us some options here? The technology is available. Just sayin’.

We’ve got cast, 17-inch wheels front and rear with a 120/70 up front and 160/60 on back, and the hoops themselves are Michelin Scorcher 21 radials that carry the tread nice and high to facilitate the 37.3-degree lean angle to the right and 40.2-degree lean to the left. Twin-pot calipers bite the dual, 300 mm front brake discs for plenty of stopping power where you need it most. ABS protection is available as optional equipment, so no matter what school of thought you have on that, Harley has you covered. If there’s a downside to the ABS it’s in the fact that it is non-switchable, so you can’t change your mind later if you’d rather ride without it. Oh well, it is an entry-level bike well under $10 grand after all.

Probably the most notable detail in the chassis has to be the short, 27-degree steering angle and 3.9-inch trail. These are numbers that make the bike track well, but give it a decidedly eager nature in the curves. Does it handle like a sportbike? No, but if you are considering a Ninja or an MT-07, then this isn’t your kind of bike to begin with.

Rake (steering head): 27°
Trail: 3.9 in.
Lean Angle, Right/Left: 37.3°/ 40.2°
Brakes, Caliper Type: 2-piston floated front and rear
Wheel, Front: Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum
Wheel, Rear: Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum
Tires, Front: 120/70 R17 V
Tire, Rear: 160/60 R17 V

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Drivetrain

  • High Output Revolution X 60-degree V-twin
  • Water-cooled 749 cc engine
  • Torqued boosted by eight percent
  • Manageable power
2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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Harley’s entire Street family runs the relatively new Revolution X powerplant — an iron-sleeved, water-cooled, 60-degree V-twin — and the Street Rod comes with a high-output version that boosts torque by 8-percent to a total of 47.2 pound-feet. Granted, the curb weight tops a quarter-ton by 16 pounds, so we aren’t looking at a stoplight burner here, just manageable power.

The aluminum jugs house sleeve inserts punched out to 85 mm, while the 66 mm stroke leaves the mill significantly oversquare in a departure from the norm for Harley, usually the engines run a 45-degree V with a long-stroke configuration. In another departure, a SOHC replaces the old pushrod system to time the four-valve heads. A 42 mm Mikuni throttle body manages the engine, and riders can expect an average of 54 mpg. They can also expect to pull up to the premium pump as the compression ratio also got bumped up to a fairly hot 12-to-1, no doubt to wring every ounce out of this next-to-smallest engine.

As for the water cooling, what can I say? I hate the way it looks, but it’s hard to beat the merits of the water jacket if you have to deal with congested traffic, especially in warm weather. Considering that the MoCo bills this bike as an entry-level urban commuter, I gotta’ say it was a good move, and the radiator kind of disappears into the black hole of the engine area so aesthetics aren’t a problem at the end of the day.

Engine: High Output Revolution X™ V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 3.4 in. x 2.6 in.
Displacement: 46 cu in (749 cc)
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 47.2 ft-lb @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel System: Mikuni Twin Port Fuel Injection, 42 mm bore
Primary Drive: Gear, 36/68 ratio
Exhaust: Black two-into-one exhaust

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Price

2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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The base-model Street Rod will run you $8,699 in Vivid Black, and the paint department color choices on tap for $8,994. ABS will set you back $750, and the security option is another $395. Sorry California, as usual you get stuck with a $50 emissions package on top of it all.

Model ID: XG750A
Colors:
└ 2017: Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold
└ 2018: Vivid Black, Olive Gold, Red Iron Denim, Electric Blue, Bonneville Salt Denim
└ 2019: Vivid Black, Industrial Gray Denim, Twisted Cherry, Rugged Gold Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim
└ 2020: Vivid Black, River Rock Gray Denim, Stone Washed White Pearl, Performance Orange
Price: Vivid Black: $8,699, Color $8,994

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Competitor

2019 - 2020 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
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2017 - 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Rod
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Harley veered further into the café lane with the design of its Street Rod, so I figured I should grab another café-tastic machine and I think Ducati’s Café Racer from its Scrambler lineup fits the bill quite nicely.

Ducati Scrambler Café Racer

2019 - 2020 Ducati Scrambler Café Racer
- image 875387

The aesthetics are there on the Scrambler Café Racer. The Ducati hits many of the same design points as Harley even though the overall panache is quite different. The speed tail and bullet fairings are constant across the board, same with the teardrop tank, but Ducati really sells the racetrack look with numbered sideplates.

Frame construction is markedly different as the Duc uses an exposed Trellis structure while the Street Rod has a more traditional downtube-and-cradle skeleton, and the impact it has on the overall look is marked. The Ducati looks much more modern with its stressed-engine design, that’s for sure, but there’s a reason the downtube frames persist; they get the job done. The Street Rod rolls with a Mustang-style saddle that sports very little padding for your passenger, but Ducati blessed its entry with a fullish pillion pad that can be hidden beneath a small tail fairing for that solo look.

An 803 cc L-twin engine powers the Scrambler, so it’s a trifle larger than the H-D Street Rod. In spite of that, the power figures are close with Ducati on top at 49 pound-feet of grunt versus 47 pound-feet from the Street. In other words, if you were counting on a power difference to make up your mind between these two, you’re going to have to pick another metric. Price might just do it for ya’ though since the $8,699 Street Rod slides in well under the $11,995 starting price on the Scrambler.

Read our full review of the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer.

He Said

“Cool enough I guess. I’m not exactly a fan of the Street family of bikes, and feel like Eric Buell tested the market (at his peril) and discovered that the market really has no room for a Harley-powered sportbike, even with a redesigned engine similar to other small sportbikes out there. I wish Harley well, but can’t help but wonder if the MoCo is pushing in the wrong direction. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all works out in the long run.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "Harley-Davidson was born into bike racing, so stepping up performance is in their wheelhouse. In 1921, it was a Harley motorcycle that, for the first time in history, won a race with an average speed of more than 100 mph. Old news? Yeah, but it is their roots. As recent as the turn of this century, Harley had podium finishes in the AMA Superbike races with the VR 1000. The King of Paint has dominated the cruiser and tourer genres for so long that a lot of folks forget that they can make bikes that go fast. AMA Pro Flat Track, anyone? Yeah, Indian clobbered them on the flat track with their Scout, but that doesn’t erase Harley from contention. Is the Street Rod going to lure buyers away from the sportbike market? No, but it’s sportier than anything Harley had put on the street prior and it makes tackling the urban pavement a whole lot more fun."

Harley-Davidson Street Rod Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: High Output Revolution X™ V-Twin
Bore x Stroke: 3.4 in. x 2.6 in.
Displacement: 46 cu in (749 cc)
Compression Ratio: 12.0:1
Engine Torque (J1349): 47.2 ft-lb @ 4,000 rpm
Fuel System: Mikuni Twin Port Fuel Injection, 42 mm bore
Primary Drive: Gear, 36/68 ratio
Gear Ratios: 1st: 14.272, 2nd: 10.074, 3rd: 7.446, 4th: 6.006, 5th: 5.037, 6th: 4.533
Exhaust: Black two-into-one exhaust
Chassis:
Rake (steering head): 27°
Trail: 3.9 in.
Lean Angle, Right/Left: 37.3°/ 40.2°
Brakes, Caliper Type: 2-piston floated front and rear
Wheel, Front: Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum
Wheel, Rear: Black, 7-Split Open Spoke Cast Aluminum
Tires, Front: 120/70 R17 V
Tire, Rear: 160/60 R17 V
Electrics:
Lights (as per country regulation), Indicator Lamps: High beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning
Gauges: 3.5 inch electronic speedometer with high beam, neutral, low oil pressure, turn signals, engine diagnostics, low fuel warning, blade key ignition and fork lock, and locking gas cap
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 83.9 in.
Seat Height, Laden: 29.4 in.
Seat Height, Unladen: 30.1 in.
Ground Clearance: 8.1 in.
Wheelbase: 59.9 in.
Weight, As Shipped: 497 lb.
Weight, In Running Order: 516 lb.
Fuel Capacity: 3.5 gal.
Oil Capacity (w/filter): 3.3 qt.
Fuel Economy: Combined City/Hwy: 54 mpg
Details:
Model ID: XG750A
Colors:
└ 2017: Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold
└ 2018: Vivid Black, Olive Gold, Red Iron Denim, Electric Blue, Bonneville Salt Denim
└ 2019: Vivid Black, Industrial Gray Denim, Twisted Cherry, Rugged Gold Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim
└ 2020: Vivid Black, River Rock Gray Denim, Stone Washed White Pearl, Performance Orange
Price: Vivid Black: $8,699, Color $8,994

Further Reading

Harley-Davidson

50 New Harley-Davidson Models In Five Years?
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Read more Harley-Davidson news.

TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: harley-davidson.com, ducati.com

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