Harley-Davidson has been implementing a myriad of drastic measures to secure market shares in present times. January 20, 2021, the world found out just how far the brand was willing to take things when the Motor Company released their official upcoming lineup. The digital event primarily focused on what new and exciting things customers could now find in Harley showrooms, but it also brought bad news. Bike lovers around the world would surely have heard the name “Harley-Davidson.” If you own Harley-Davidson Street, read this article.
As it turned out, Harley was discontinuing important members from the beloved lineup, Harley-Davidson Street. The Sportster lineup now consists of three models only: the Iron 883, Iron 1200, and the Forty-Eight. The beginner-friendly Harley-Davidson Street 750 and 500 are officially taken off the production line, marking the end of the brand’s small-and-medium displacement age.
The H-D Street 500 and 750 were introduced to the market in 2013. With a younger demographic as the target market, the brand looked into places where smaller displacements were popular. Those were the key indicators of what Harley should be doing to their new Streets.
History Of Harley-Davidson
Very few motorcycle brands have the prestige and glory that comes with the name, Harley-Davidson. This iconic American brand was established in the early 1900s and has since built a huge following globally, remaining one of the world’s biggest manufacturers in the sector.
Childhood buddies William Harley and Arthur Davidson were the brilliant minds behind the origin of Harley-Davidson. Both of them fostered a fascination with bicycles and dabbled in motorcycle prototype assembling in their spare time. This led to the inception of their first motorcycle in ‘03 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The two were projected into a world of new and exciting possibilities along with strenuous struggles.
The Harley-Davidson duo worked on the prototype of the brand’s first motorcycle in a small 10-by-15 foot shed. Although the model was completed in 1903, they started working on a newer, improved modern bike almost immediately. In 1904, they came up with a new prototype that was equipped with a larger engine. Later on, the model appeared at a motorcycle race in a local park.
The Harley-Davidson Model No. 1 which is the first production bike was released in 1905. It heavily resembled the previous two bikes made. The company was making finished bikes on a smaller scale, however. H-D’s first dealer was Carl H. Lang. The Chicago resident sold 3 of the 5 bikes that had been made and assembled in the backyard shed.
A year after the release of Model No. 1, the first Harley-Davidson factory was made in 1906 in Chestnut Street, Milwaukee. There, the company manufactured 50 bikes that year. A year later the company was incorporated. Two of Arthur’s brothers, William and Walter Davidson joined the initiative then.
Following up the 1905’s successful production bike, Harley-Davidson introduced their first V-twin powered motorcycle 4 years later. Production spiked almost instantly and as the decades went by, innovation never ceased for a second.
In 1917, the U.S. armed forces acquired about 50% of H-D’s sales for use in WWI. Three years later, Harley-Davidson got done with their facility on Juneau Avenue. The seven stories building still exists today and is used by the company as the corporate office center.
Between the years 1941 to 1945, H-D was telling dealers that, given their commitments with the U.S. army, dealers would get one new bike each model year for the length of World War II. Around 88,000 motorcycles were made for the military during this period, as well as a large supply of repair and replacement parts.
Different historical events pushed the brand towards its glory years. In 1983, Harley-Davidson and Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) formed a relationship that gave birth to a selection of different specialized elective programs that students could take up if they were interested in associating with the brand.
Introduction To Harley-Davidson Street
Harley-Davidson announced the Harley-Davidson Street motorcycle series at the 2013 EICMA show. Harley had introduced their first all-new models after a whole decade, including the brand’s first lightweight motorcycle: the 1974 Sprint. All units to be sold in the U.S. and Canada are produced at Harley-Davidson’s Kansas City facility while the rest of the world’s products are made at their Indian subsidiary in Bawal.
The Street Series bikes are Harley’s famous entry-level models and have gained love and appreciation internationally for their affordable prices and smooth performance. And although the Iron 883 is a stunning budget cruiser, that is not the cheapest model Harley makes. Up until 2021, the Iron 883 wasn’t even the most affordable motorcycle in the Street range. Enter the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 as well as the Street Rod.
Harley-Davidson Street 750 And 500
Equipped with a liquid-cooled V-twin 494cc engine, Street 500 features the smallest engine you will find in H-D’s 2020 lineup. Given its weight of 514-lb curb, this bike is definitely on the heavier spectrum of motorcycles of its capacity. However, with the attractive price tag of $7,000, a 28” tall seat, 6-speed transmission, optional ABS, and easy-to-maintain belt drive, it’s a decent introduction to the American legend.
The H-D Street 740 has a liquid-cooled V-twin too, but the capacity increased to 749cc. Interestingly enough, the weight is the same as its counterpart but it excels when it comes to torque. In comparison to some of its competitors, the Harley-Davidson Street 750 could benefit from a gear indicator.
Featuring a Revolution V-twin engine, the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 are high-quality, premium models that are geared toward the entry-level, budget-friendly crowd. The brand did not skimp on quality simply because the price is low. With steel teardrop fenders and tanks covered in a rich, deep color that gives the perfect, flawless finish, the Street duo established the benchmark for quality paint on bikes.
2. Base Structure
The base of the Harley-Davidson Street Rod has been derived from the Street 750. Apart from the 749cc liquid-cooled V-twin, the motorcycle comes with some model-specific customizations that raise torque and power. The Street Rod boasts a straighter riding position, enhanced cornering clearance, more rigid suspension with greater travel, and improved front brakes.
Compared to its rivals, however, such as the Yamaha MT-07/FZ-07, the H-D Street Rod isn’t as comfortable to ride and is pricier. The ergonomics aren’t the best but you may enjoy riding one.
We find the chrome tank badge to be the best part, though. It’s not a decal as you would expect from such an affordable buy, but rather a 3D tank medallion.
3. Harley-Davidson Street Glide
When the designers and engineers of Harley-Davidson started tinkering with the Street Glide model, their idea was to make a touring bike that was equal parts streamlined and unique – combine functionality the everyday consumer demands and the uniqueness of a Harley-Davidson.
The first Street Glide was introduced to the market in 2006. Equipped with air-adjustable rear suspension, traditional batwing fairing, and hard saddlebags, the Street Glide had a lower-profile suspension in comparison to most touring models. A full windshield was replaced by a short wind deflector.
The H-D Street Glide was also impressed with several upgrades – most of which its rival models did not have. Its audio system was able to connect with phones and other electronic devices. Bike enthusiasts and reviewers were not interested in the bells and whistles. Ultimately, it boiled down to the ride that won the hearts of everyone.
Reviewers were quick to note how comfy the Street Glide is – even after riding for hours. Whether you were going 90 mph down the highway or cruising the narrow lanes in your neighborhood, the Street Glide was consistent.
4. The Evolution Street Glide
After the first Street Glide got positive remarks, H-D wasted no time in making big changes to the bike, upgrading the things people adored about the original, and retuning everything that wasn’t the best.
In 2007, we saw the 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission being added which increased torque by 17%. Spring-type tensioners were replaced by hydraulic cam-chain ones that were in the original bike. Oxygen sensors and a set of new EFI injector nozzles made the engine more responsive. Additionally, the 2007 model was equipped with tuned mufflers which enhanced the performance more.
A year later a 6-gallon fuel tank was added to the bikes. Some new Brembo brakes sharply reduced the stopping distance.
Features Of Harley-Davidson Street 500 And Street 750
There is no reason to separate the discussion when it comes to these two but we had to! The Street 500 and 750 were the starting bikes of many riders worldwide. Here’s what makes them so special.
Harley-Davidson Street: Design
Back in the ‘90s, Harley-Davidson would offer the “49-95” Sportster – a no-frills, beginner-friendly bike priced at a tempting $4,995 – thus the clever nickname. Although they failed to cut in 2020, the Street 500 and 750 were the originators of that concept. The price is a bit more than the marginal $4,995. But hey! Anything in today’s market that is under $8,000 can still be considered an “affordable” find.
The Streets take the same no-nonsense, no-frills approach to a beginner-level bar-hopping motorcycle. How the rear and seat fenders combine plus the front fairings give them the appearance of an original café racer that was a result of the outlaw street custom culture which dates back to the ‘70s.
The Street siblings were the simplified models in the H-D Dark Custom lineup, so the keyword here is black. In addition to the black fork gators, the blacked-out front contains lowers and pullback handlebars. In the rear and mid-section, the air blacked-out air cleaner, engine, and exhaust keep the Dark Custom theme going, which runs like that from the simplistic front fender to the mini-bullet turn signals and LED tail light in the rear.
The factory claimed that this was the very first all-black exhaust Harley had done since 1970 when the special pipes could be spotted on the original Café Racer. Basic instrumentations were done. H-D mounted a 3.5” electronic speedometer on handlebars that would give the rider a trip meter, odometer, and LED indicators. A coolant temp warning light concluded everything in that department. Basic instrumentation; no frills.
Harley-Davidson Street: Seat And Frame
With their lightweight bodies and low centers of gravity, H-D Streets don’t need all that much body strength to get off the jiffy stand. Throw in a 28” seat into the mix and you have a bike that can easily accommodate people who are a bit height-challenged, and also folks who wouldn’t want to bother with a larger, heavier bike.
The seat and frame are slim, so you can find the ground easier and bend your knee slightly. Thanks to the slight forward mid-mount controls, the rider can enjoy a relaxed posture and have their feet ready to deploy when halted, something you have to do a lot when driving around town. The Streets are also passenger-friendly as they feature passenger footpegs and a 2-up seat.
Harley-Davidson Street: Chassis
The Street lineup was always a bit different from the typical offerings of Harley. Agile, small, and quick, the Streets were a representation of the factor to reinvent the original Café Racer line that was started in 1977 but failed – this time they came with a suspension, frame, and steering geometry apt for a bike that has the word “racer” in its name.
The original Café Racer, made on the XLCH chassis, couldn’t do much in the market for its stiff performance. This is where Harley-Davidson learned the lesson and improved the Street 500 and 750 as a result. The short, 60.4” wheelbase, 32-degree steering head angle, and 5.7” ground clearance leave a 4.5” trail at the front wheel, which facilitates better handling and fast reversals in S-turns.
A bit of the nimble, light handling at the front can be attributed to the slim 17” tire. Both the 15-inches in the back and front come hoisted on black cast-aluminum wheels.
Coming in at 28” high, the seat is low enough for shorter riders. The total center-of-gravity maintains “rider horsepower” measures. One disadvantage here is that taller riders might feel a little crowded near the leg area and experience being perched on the bike, not in it.
Harley-Davidson came up with special 37 mm Showa forks for this lineup. Conventionally, coil-over rear shocks keep the rear in place and are equipped with the usual spanner-adjustable preload feature. When riding around town, the 5.5” front suspension travel coupled with the 3.5” in the rear is enough.
Harley-Davidson Street: Brakes And Wheels
At around 500 lbs., the Streets don’t have big requirements when it comes to brakes so Harley naturally devoted the least attention to it. The single 300 mm rear and front discs attached with floating, 34 mm dual-piston calipers give adequate bondage to hold the bike in place.
This can be an issue on a bike said to have been made for entry-level riders, so we recommend you give yourself lots of stopping room until you get fully used to it.
There are 3 features of the Street duos that may usually be hidden behind the heavy promotional material, but we find notable. First of all, the Neutral switch. The last thing you want when you’re Neutral is to experience a sudden lurch once the starter is hit. The Streets come with an enhanced Neutral switch to reduce your hassles.
The second notable feature would be the ergonomic clutch and brake lever designed to protect your hands. Keep in mind that these are around-town bikes – a café racer or bar hopper – so you will be squeezing the levers at every other stop sign. Your hands are constantly engaged, unlike when you are cruising on the highway. Your palms will thank the ergonomic levers.
Last but not the least, we liked the easy lock-to-lock sweep placed on the handlebars. The lightness of the bikes are pros and the balanced weight produces fast, responsive turning so the rider does not have to fight the handlebars, particularly when moving in low-speed traffic or zooming across the parking lot looking for the perfect space.
Harley-Davidson Street: Transmission
Similar to the chassis, the drivetrain in the Harley-Davidson Streets is different from the norm. Street 500 has the smallest production engine from Harley, as mentioned before. Even then, it produces 29.5-lb./ft at 3,750 rpm, which is somewhat low for an H-D but enough for a commuter or entry-level bike.
The engine breathes through a 35 mm Mikuni single-port, fuel-injected throttle body. This is what regulates emissions controls and helps produce 64 mpg (on average) in combined highway and city driving.
Street 750 has the Revolution X V-twin engine but the bore is slightly larger which makes it 46 cubic inches with a 38 mm throttle body. It cranks out 44.5-lb./ft. at 4,000 rpm.
Street 750 has the same Revolution XTM V-twin engine as the Revolution XTM, but with a slightly wider bore of 46 cubic inches (749 ccs), a 38 mm throttle body, and 44.5 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.
A 6-speed drivetrain moves the power to the rubber. Coupled with a fiber-reinforced drive belt, the transmission offers quiet, low-maintenance performance.
Harley-Davidson Street: Pricing
Currently, Street 500 is dropping in prices. MSRP on a 2020 Street 750 stands at $7,500 for Vivid Black, $8,049 for two-tone colorways, and $7,894 for color. A Street 500’s base price was $6,899 in 2020. New-in-2017 options on the two include the Smart Security System ($395) and ABS ($750).
Cancellation Of Street 500 And Street 750
In January of 2021, Harley-Davidson announced its 2021 motorcycle model lineup. The company updated its Touring, Softail, and CV lines, but some bikes did end up getting cut from the schedule. And among them are the market favorites: Harley-Davidson Street 500, Street 750, and Street Rod.
Despite the usual rider’s disappointment, Harley’s decision wasn’t exactly out of the blue. H-D’s French branch announced in September 2020 that they would not be updating the engines on Street bikes’ to meet the new Euro5 emission regulations. Good news for rider schools because the brand will continue to supply Street 500 for that division but no customer sales will be made.
Their demise is partially due to H-D’s need to streamline its operations and concentrate on its main products: huge displacement cruisers.
Moreover, the H-D factory in Bawal, India, was shut down in September 2020. That branch made the Street line for the whole world except America and Canada. The only other facility that would make Streets is in the U.S. But with little demand for this specific model in the home market, the future for the Streets was looking bleak.
H-D has another assembly plant in Thailand that is currently making the Forty-Eight, Iron 883, and Street Bob. A lot of money and retooling will have to go into that factory for it to even start making Street models in the first place.
The Sportster Iron 883 has taken on the role of H-D’s entry-level model. Although this may be the end of the line for the Streets, Asians can still pin hopes on H-D. There have been some rumors of a 300cc Baby Harley made specifically for the Asian market. These are to be manufactured by QianJiang (QJ Motor), Harley’s Chinese partner.
What This Means For H-D
With lukewarm reviews and low demand from critics and buyers alike, it seems like the obvious end of the line for Harley-Davidson’s newest and sadly, the most short-lived motorcycles lineup.
With the H-D Street 500, 750, and Rod out of the way, the Iron 883 is now Harley’s cheapest model at $9,499. That’s an issue as its competitor, the Indian Scout Sixty, has a base price of $8,999. $500 may not seem like a lot, but it’s a big deal for first-time buyers. But it’s worse for buyers outside the U.S.
Experts say that the H-D Sportster models’ engines aren’t being updated to meet Euro5 standards either. That leaves the cheapest Harley model (available in only Europe) the Softail Standard – and it starts at $13,599 in America. Count the European taxes and the price only goes up. Here’s a review of that.
When it was first released into the market, Harley-Davidson Street made strides nobody saw coming. Even though the local market has moved on from these sleek bikes, the Asian market is an ardent fan. It’s hard to tell if the remaining models will be able to retain the reputation set by their predecessors. Remember to stay safe at all times on the road.
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