World Exclusive: 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500 Review

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World Exclusive: 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500

No one’s ridden the new Harleys yet. No magazine, no website, no journalist and no forum member – no one outside of Harley-Davidson, anywhere in the world. Except us, and we’re going to tell you all about it. This is the story you’ve been waiting for. It’s the world’s first 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500 review.

The significance of these new Harley’s is not simply limited to the fact that they are the first all-new bikes from the company in 13 years. Rather, the excitement comes because they represent a change in attitude and a new approach from The Motor Company. No longer can it exclusively focus on selling extremely expensive throwbacks to increasingly aging Baby Boomers. It needs new riders in new markets who want a new kind of bike. Is this Street 500 it?

RideApart reader and MSF instructor Braden Poovey was given an early demo ride on the Street 500 by Harley-Davidson. We sat down with him shortly after to put his experience on paper.

RideApart: Who are you and what is your riding experience like? What bikes do you normally ride?

Braden Poovey: I’m an engineering student, intern and MSF Rider Coach in South Carolina. Motorcycling has been my sole form of transportation for several years and I’ve been riding continuously — rain or shine — for six years. Generally, I ride 15,000 to 20,000 miles per year, with an even split between in-town commuting, highways and touring on back roads. I’m currently riding a Moto Guzzi Griso 8V and a Ducati Monster 1100 Evo.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500
Braden was given an early ride on the 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500 to evaluate its suitability for the MSF rider training program.

RA: How did you bag an early ride on the H-D Street 500?

Braden: Harley has been shopping the Street 500 around not only to those involved in their in-house training program “Rider’s Edge,” but also to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The hope is that it could replace bikes in the current training fleet. A couple of H-D reps brought the new bike by the MSF South Carolina State Office as an introduction to its capabilities as a training motorcycle. As a Rider Coach, I was offered the opportunity to get an early look and take it for a quick ride.

RA: How close to production form was the bike you rode?

Braden: According to the H-D rep, the Street 500 I rode was, “99 percent ready,” as far as similarity to the production version. There were a few exceptions with this model, as it had been set up for a training environment. Hi-Viz orange-painted steel hoops — similar to “Highway Bars” — jut out down low to provide a drama-free end to a student toppling over. More protective orange bits adorn the handlebar ends, the tail, the swingarm and wrap the exhaust in a couple of places. Combined, this system made lifting the hefty Street surprisingly easy when layed down.

In addition to the physical protection provided for students, H-D has also made some tweaks to the Street’s ECU, reflashing it so a trainer can alter the fueling parameters. With that modification, the bike is restricted to 18 mph in 1st gear and 25 mph in 2nd. I rode with that training ECU flash in place, so my perspective on the gearing and fueling for 1st and 2nd gear would not relate well to the production version. The training version also comes with a kit that is able to determine if has been dropped, automatically killing the engine when that occurs. Since the Street 500 will be used by a wide variety of riders, there will be a choice of three seat heights, all complete with unique shapes designed to suit riders of varying heights.

2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500
The 2014 Harley-Davidson Street 500 Braden rode was set up for training, complete with protection parts (orange) and speed restrictions in 1st and 2nd gear.

RA: Did the Harley reps give you any info on the bike’s specs? Power and torque haven’t been released yet.

Braden: Power figures remained vague during the conversation. I did hear, “about half that of a Sportster,” at one point. [the Sportster 883 makes 52 bhp and 52 lb.-ft. of torque]

Some other points of interest: the gas tank holds four gallons of fuel; the 60-degree cylinder angle is designed to lower the center of gravity over the traditional 45-degree arrangement and the final curb weight will be north of 480 lbs.

RA: What was your ride like? What kind of route did you take? How long was it? Twisty roads, highway or surface streets?

Braden: I wasn’t able to experience any highway riding. Mostly, it was standard secondary roads and a great deal of low-speed parking lot testing to simulate the training environment. This was early on a sunny day, dry and somewhat chilly, with temperatures in the mid 20 degree range, Fahrenheit.

RA: What did it feel like to sit on the bike?

Braden: I should mention that, when it comes to cruisers, my experience is limited compared to most other bike types. An exception could be made for the small, nimble and, well, ancient Kawasaki Eliminator 125s and Honda Rebel 250s still in the local MSF training stable. Limited time on some of the larger Victorys and Harleys has given me a good grasp on what to expect from big cruisers.

First impressions sitting on the bike were good. Despite the 480 lbs + weight, taking the Street 500s weight for the first time belied that heft and gave the feeling of a much lighter bike. The reach to the bars felt natural; providing plenty of room and both good leverage and fine control. The standard mid-level seat did not work for me, leaving my legs uncomfortably bent. A quick switch to the “Tallboy” seat, which adds an inch or so of height helped fit my 34-inch inseam.

RA: What was your initial impression of the apparent build quality? It looks pretty ropey in the live photos from EICMA.

Braden: The best word to describe the build quality on this “99 percent production” model would have to be, “uneven.” During my time on it, I noticed a small oil leak, a coolant leak and a gas leak, all while tipped over for the protective equipment demo.

The switchbox plastic seemed of better quality than most bikes I’ve ridden, including my Ducati and Moto Guzzi. That quality continues through to any component on the Street 500 that you touch with your hands or feet; it all has a nice, hefty feel to it and is almost always made from substantial rubber or steel.

Little things, like the fork gaiters, however, looked incredibly cheap and insufficient as actual protection. The fasteners, cables, bodywork, speedometer and various panels were obviously built to cost. Surprising when you consider similar components on the Honda CBR250R — which costs two grand less — seem appreciably better in fit and finish.

There is also an unusually high amount of exposed wiring bundles apparent even just standing next to the bike.

The seat looked lumpy and the stitching sloppy, as if a friend of yours was kind enough to reform it for you, but didn’t really know what he was doing.

For a bike from a brand so proud of its uses of metal components for things like fenders, the Street 500 sports a surprising amount of chintzy plastic.

The needless repetition of logos is something that all brands are guilty of — something in particular effect on my Guzzi — but the Street 500 takes that to a whole new level. It looks as if someone handed a fiver-year old a stamp with the bar and shield on it, then turned them loose on the bike. The Harley logo is on literally everything. The overall shape, however, fits neatly into the H-D family.

Read More, Page Two >>

Related Links:
India vs Kansas City: Where at the Harley Street 750 and 500 made?
Details: Harley’s Indian Gamble, Can The Street 750 and 500 Succeed?
Riding Project Rushmore: 2014 Harley-Davidson Touring Range Review

  • 200 Fathoms

    Gawd, she ain’t pretty.

  • zion

    Crap, Braden, you should have let Joe Dawes ride it. He would have looked like the Grape ape. A new MSF instructor gets that gig?? wasted! Just kidding bro…. but, let us more seasoned SC MSF guys have a shot…

    • Braden

      He did ride it actually. He really took it through its paces.

      I know right? You seasoned fellows should get first dibs. Did you not get the email invite for the test ride? I was the only other person to show up.

      • zion

        I didn’t get one….nor did a lot of coaches I know…..

  • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

    I was just thinking “My GAWD! That thing looks amazing!” … then realized I was looking at Braden’s ‘Guzzi.

    • Dan

      That Griso is gorgeous. Accidental star of the show?

      • Braden

        But… but… they looked sooo cool!

        • http://www.insteading.com/ Jo Borras

          What did?

          • Reid

            Surely he meant the Monster and Griso.

  • Mark D

    The take away from this seems to be that if Honda decides to make a CTX300, they’ll eat Harley’s lunch.

    • Jai S.

      That would actually be pretty cool.

  • Jake Isbill

    Sup Braden? I live in Myrtle Beach and have been trying to get in touch with the SC MSF director Mr. Dawes to become a rider coach. He hasn’t returned any of my calls or e-mails. What up with that?

  • Kurt Darden

    That’s awful…. Somebody’s going to have to be pretty hard up for a Harley to buy that.
    And what is that cigar pipe exhaust? Could that be any bigger?

  • Justin McClintock

    Too bad all the motards out there have such high seats, or the 250s would be PERFECT for the MSF class.

    • Curtis

      We rode XT250 Dual sports in my rider training class. Easily the most sought after/fought over bikes for the parking lot sections.

    • Reid

      That’s just what I was thinking. Maybe a solution would be to take a some of the 250 enduros with lower seat heights and just fit some street tires…which is pretty much what a motard is lol

      • KC

        That is exactly what we have at the range where I coach in PA. We have a couple DR200s with street tires. Instant “Motard”

        • Reid

          I wish I had been so lucky when I took my test. Every Kawasaki Eliminator should be eliminated in a horrific explosion. What a POS.

          • Piglet2010

            Kawasaki Eliminator 125 – designed to eliminate all desire to ride a motorcycle.

            The Kawasaki 305 LTD I did my BRC on back during the Reagan administration was not much more exciting.

            • Reid

              Absolutely, my good sir. If ever I needed more convincing that I have no desire to ride a cruiser I just think back to how dreadful it is to have to push around all that weight and be unable to turn. Not to say that an Eliminator is ultra heavy or that all cruisers have a pitiful power-to-weight ratio, but the riding position is not only uncomfortable for me but also gives me a feeling that I am not in control of what is happening when I have to turn the bike. (I need this convincing every time I see an old VMax for sale)

    • runnermatt

      Isn’t the Honda Grom a Mini-Motard?

      • Justin McClintock

        Good point. And you know what? It and a couple of XT250s would probably cover the size range for everybody just perfectly.

        • Piglet2010

          Also not much to damage on a Grom during the inevitable low-speed crashes on the BRC range. But the seat on the Grom is considerably higher than a 250cc class “metric” cruiser.

  • Justin McClintock

    BTW, Braden, where in SC are you?

    • Braden

      Downtown Columbia area, you?

      • Justin McClintock

        Not in SC. Not anymore anyway. I was just curious. Once upon a time (about 10 years ago now…I feel old) I was an engineering student in SC…so I figured you were likely in 1 of 2 places. For the record, I was at the other place.

      • Luis Pelaez

        This was one of the most informative pieces I’ve read on RideApart, they should hire you Braden. Thanks for representing SC well… though I went to Clemson. Go Tigers!

  • contender

    Half the power of a Sportster! Good lord.

    • Curtis

      Adds up to Japanese 250cc-esque horsepower. Not surprising considering this bike is marketed to an international crowd where tiered licencing/ horsepower restrictions are a market concern.

      • Nathan Haley

        except this bike weighs 480lbs. Your everyday Japanese 250 weighs 350lbs at the very most. Yeesh…

    • akaaccount

      Yeah, how is that even possible with four valves per cylinder and liquid cooling?

      • frankfan42

        Harley redline at 5200rpm?

    • racercbx

      Good thing my coffee isn’t ready, I’d have messed up the keyboard. Half? Oh my, is that like comparing 2 percent to nonfat?

  • TFR

    Typical Harley, then. $2500 worth of bike for just under 3 times that.
    What the heck are those fork gaiters? Old inner tubes?

    • racercbx

      Why yes, they are. The amazing thing is that HD let em fly as they are. Telling, isn’t it?

  • DerekB

    it sounds pretty horrible, can’t say i’m that surprised

  • Mark Vizcarra

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see those orange bits on the HD catalog

  • DerekB

    pricing hasn’t been officially announced right? but most are saying 6700-7500 in America? If thats true HD is officially delusional. If it was $4500 it would still seem overpriced

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The 500 is $6,700, the 750 is $7,500.

      • Mark Vizcarra

        Dont forget to add freight, setup, and an extra fee for CA emissions. That 7500 dollar bike ends up being about 9k out the door. Especially with a 8-9% sales tax on top of that

      • 200 Fathoms

        Hmm…this Harley or Bonneville/Scrambler/Thruxton? No contest.

        • Reid

          Or the V7 ^.^
          ….if you can find a place that sells one.

        • Piglet2010

          Or if you want a cruiser, for a few hundred dollars more the Triumph America and Speedmaster will run away and hide from a Sportster 883.

        • Tim Newman

          those bikes arent in the learner range for most countries..most countries are limited to around the 650cc mark. but to add to your list.. the w650 and w800 are also amongst those…then theres the bolt too. all better than HD bikes at a fraction of the cost.

      • Jack Meoph

        or, the Yamaha Bolt. I’ve seen it in person, and it is just as nice as any sporty sitting on a H-D dealership floor. It makes these bikes look positively ghetto. $8K, and 942 cc.

    • Jonathan Berndt

      i think these things are gonna fly outta the dealerships. First, its a Harley and a reasonable price for one, the people who are drawn to them will want one because it is a Harley and wont be at all concerned bout power, weight, ability to hold a line. when they have had it for a while it will only be natural for them to trade up to a more traditional Harley. look, i dont get the Harley mystique myself, but they do what they do well and people just love em, it will bring more people into the fold. Harley will never be about performance, they are about lifestyle.

      • DerekB

        Is there even a market for these in the us? my buddy just bought a brand new 883 for around 9ish

      • JT

        Spot on. They won’t be able to keep up with demand.

        • tincantroubadour

          Wow. If this is true, I just really don’t get it anymore. I see that as what they are going for, but I just don’t see why ANYBODY would want this thing, at least in the US market. I may be totally wrong, but I see them as trying to peddle them to training programs, so that those interested in Harleys begin with a Harley, and then go and buy a “real” Harley of their own.

          Now, I don’t like Harleys much at all, but that’s just my perception of how it works. The places where you put your feet and hands feel solid, and there are Harley logos everwhere? Seems like a marketing tool in the US, that may also be suited to sell on the global market.

      • Mr.Paynter

        They are going to make a KILLING, guys will buy these and spend that again in bolt-ons from the HD catalogue to make it look less cheap!

  • devillock

    Ugliest motorcycle I’ve seen in a while. Heavy, powerless and overpriced. Why would anyone buy this junk?

    • Bruce Steever

      Because it’s a Harley

    • slozomby

      have you seen most of the japanese midsize cruisers?

  • Jack Meoph

    Hardly should just go back to the way they used to sell small displacement bikes; buy some other manufacturers small bikes, re-badge, add $500-$1000 and call it a day. Honestly, the small MC market is white hot right now with more and better bikes on the way, and Hardly brings an anchor to the party. Joke.

    • nightvisiongoggles1 .

      HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY HARDLY whew.

      • Paolo

        Yeah, Hardly…from “Hardly Ableson”…

  • MichaelEhrgott

    If the 750 was 400 lbs I’d be interested…maybe.

    • slozomby

      the 500 and the 750 have the same curb weight.

      • MichaelEhrgott

        I know, it was just a hypothetical.

  • Patrickracer

    Looks like an 80′s UJM designer channeled his inner Willie G. At least the V Rod has symmetry to it. Looks, price, finish, performance; this is a complete dog.
    Hope they planned they foreign markets right because I see an Epic failure at that price point for the US. I wonder what EBR thinks?

    • Davidabl2

      If you left one in EBR’s parking lot they’d crush it just like they did with the last Buell Bolt they had in their possession…although they might not post the picture afterwards.

  • Russ Harms

    Having been to South America, Mexico and England, I can see these selling very well over there, if I were H-D, I’d concentrate more on overseas the here.

    • eviladrian

      Yep, it’ll be learner-legal in most parts of Australia, that alone will shift a whole bunch down here.

    • Chris Cope

      I live in the UK and don’t suspect they’ll sell all that well here because hating on Harley is almost a requirement for a UK motorcycle license. I discovered that when I went to the HD dealership (there is only one in all of Wales) and they treated me REALLY nicely. I personally like the look/sound/aura of Harleys (not so much this one) but I’m in a definite minority.

      • Slothrop

        You were treated nicely at a Harley dealership… That’s definitely gotta be a different country…

        • Piglet2010

          Yeah, when the H-D fad was in full bloom, the dealers acted as if they were doing you a favor by selling you one.

        • Davidabl2

          I was treated nicely in a USA dealership. Once. it was an old-school-50yrs-plus in the business dealership. it turned out that they just wanted to know WTF i had just parked in their parking lot.

      • Russ Harms

        Went to the store in South Hampton and was treated really well there…

    • Davidabl2

      I think it’s clearly meant for the overseas market, and to replace Buell Bolts etc. as training bikes in rider’s courses

  • Max Chen

    That’s a really good point. My girlfriend who is 5’2″ and about 100 pounds dropped the Rebel 250 once during the class. She sometimes struggles with her CBR250R, which is 360 pounds or so. 480+ pounds would be a bit of a challenge I would imagine..

    • ThinkingInImages

      The CBR250R is a little heavier than it should be, but it’s a well balanced/proportioned motorcycle. I can see it being a little awkward if you’re closer to 5′ than 6′ tall.

  • Stephen Butt

    Let’s forget for a moment that there are plenty of other bikes from other manufactures in the same price range that do what this bike is trying to do much better. Let’s just pretend that you are a Harley guy and there is no other bike that will do. Even then how could anybody justify buying this when a Sportster is only slightly more expensive?

    • CruisingTroll

      Two things: 1) You may not be able to get a Sportie. Emissions controls going into effect are seriously harshing the air cooled mellow.
      2) Physical size. I believe, although I’m not sure, that this bike is physically larger than a Sportie, and will therefore fit larger folks better. Not a lot larger, but some.

      okay, a third thing: Tariffs and displacement limits. HERE in the US, there’s no restrictions on engine size. Other countries, it’s a different story. The cost differential between a Street 500 and an imported Sportie could easily be enough to buy another Street 500, which may not matter if you can’t even ride the Sportie legally until your licensing tier is high enough.

  • Piglet2010

    Well, after reading this, the only bikes made in India that I can see myself buying in the near future would be various KTM’ 390′s – is it too much to hope for a hypothetical KTM 390 SMC for 2015?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You’ll be getting a 390 dual-sport/supermoto, but “SMC” is more hardcore than the 390 range targets. Think reasonable service intervals and affordable prices.

    • phoebegoesvroom

      I’m seriously considering a 390 Duke myself. I’m definitely going to go check them out once they arrive in the US.

  • Piglet2010

    $6,700! For $1K more a Bonnie is yours.

    And the Big-Twin H-D riding crowd will like your bike only slightly better than a “rice burner” (their term, not mine).

    • Davidabl2

      I wonder about that , here on the West Coast of the USA Triumphs historically have generally been looked on as “honorary Harleys.” That said, I HAVE seen 3 guys on identical S.O.A.-clone bikes walk past a 1969 Triumph Trident without a second glance..they were walking into a CycleGear chain store at the time and perhaps no-one wanted to be the first to take a look at it. Or maybe they didn’t want to see me see them taking a look at it…

      • Piglet2010

        Uh, what I meant is that the Big Twin crowd would like the Street 500/750 only slightly better than a “metric” bike.

  • george

    What weird, freaky world are we living in when Harley produces such an ugly, unstylish, turd of a motorcycle. Maybe people are gullible enough to buy it, but why? If riding a Harley is all about style, that thing looks like crap. If this thing sells, that may erase the last vestiges of hope for humanity that I was clinging to.

    • runnermatt

      You could buy one because it is liquid cooled instead of air cooled and a 60 degree V instead of 45 degree V. All for the purpose of angering the “Harley” crowd.

      • Piglet2010

        I have considered getting a Aermacchi built 2-smoke for just that angering purpose.

      • Davidabl2

        They’ll just laugh at you, “because it isn’t a real Harley” –they say the same things about Sportsters and V-rods, you know.

        • runnermatt

          I haven’t had to fortune of encounter that Harley crowd yet. I kinda wonder, but I think I know, what their reaction would be to my CBR250R.

          • Davidabl2

            “Not a Harley, not a motorcycle” Lame response from RUB’s &1% wannabes,
            but from 2nd&3rd generation Harley guys it’s understandable in a way. Even if, as WE know, it ain’t true.

  • ThinkingInImages

    It will sell because it’s an HD – but it’s an awkward looking thing from that angle. It’s definitely not going to make me think “HD” for my next purchase.

    That kind of weight has to be awkward for training purposes. On the other hand, it’s the lightest HD.

  • Dale Owens

    So….how does it compare to the iconic Indian built Royal Enfield Bullet?
    Its heavier and more expensive, is it worth it?
    IMHO, an aftermarket exhaust will save some weight, and improve the look of the new HD.

    • Mr.Paynter

      I want a Bullet so bad!

      • Davidabl2

        You can generally get a good deal on a used one. $4k or under.
        http://www.royalenfields.com

        The good ones shown there today are actual vintage British ones, however.
        Watch for awhile and you’ll find a nice Indian one within a state or so of where you live.

        • Piglet2010

          Uh, try South Africa.

  • VagrantCoyote

    Yawn

  • Aubrey Kloppers

    This is just terrible! For the same size I will choose the “500cc Royal Enfield” any day. The styling is just not there. It does nothing taking an average looking bike and stamping it with the HD logo… piss-poor if you ask me! Nothing screams HD like HD, but this???

    • HammSammich

      As soon as I read, “About half the HP of an 883 Sportster” I immediately thought of Enfield. They are similarly expensive, heavy, and underpowered, but in contrast to this Harley they at least look good…

      • Davidabl2

        The old Ironbarrel ones do-the new ones don’t have the classic look, because there’s too much fussy little crap hanging off them. Most of it is Govt. mandated.

        • HammSammich

          Fair ‘nough. But I still think the new Enfields (Bullet C5, in particular) are attractive bikes – at least in comparison to this mini-hog. Still, I’m not rushing out to buy one…too pricey for what you get, in my opinion…

  • LS650

    Yikes! That does not sounds promising.

  • ThinkingInImages

    This is odd. HD fought the Japanese imports and got a tariff placed for motorcycles over 700cc to protect their market. Now they’re building what is essentially a cheaper, lighter, Honda Shadow RS? (I owned the RS model, the lightest of the current Shadows.)

    I’m not sure this is the best replacement for the Buell Blast. That had a lot of potential but needed a much better drive-train.

    • Slothrop

      … and it’s imported.

    • phoebegoesvroom

      I have a Blast and I can say that there isn’t anything wrong with the drivetrain per-se, with a couple of caveats: The gap between 1st and 2nd gear is too much. The gearing can be much closer. It could also use either a 6th gear or a taller 5th gear. The motor is definitely under-tuned. You can really wake them up with aftermarket parts and some work (just like a Sporty’s motor), but they could have been coming from the factory with at least 10+ more hp than they did. They probably didn’t because they would be out-performing the smaller Sportster.
      On mine, I have a Jardine exhaust, K&N air filter (airbox removed), Screamin’ Eagle programmable ignition and carburetor rejet. It’s also been dyno tuned. The difference between it now and how it was stock isn’t quite night and day, but it’s very noticeable.
      Now, if you want to talk about the Blast’s suspension, that’s another thing entirely!

      • ThinkingInImages

        It was a fine looking small motorcycle that never had the chance to evolve. I never understood the Buell/HD connection back then. Buell was the only thing that would ever get me to consider HD.

        • Piglet2010

          I would only have considered a Buell if H-D had set up a separate dealer network – who wants to be treated as a third class* person at a dealer?

          *With Sportster and Big Twin customers being second and first class, respectively.

          • phoebegoesvroom

            Same. I would never go to a HD dealership. I only went to one for the first time a couple years ago because I needed a clutch cable in an emergency because mine broke on a trip.

          • obriencj

            “Who wants to be treated as a third class person?”
            Triumph, apparently. All hidden at the back of the HD dealership here in Raleigh.

            • Piglet2010

              I own every Japanese brand but Suzuki – not a coincidence that the local Suzuki dealer is primarily a H-D shop, while the other Japanese brands are sold by a different shop.

        • phoebegoesvroom

          I hear ya, me too. That’s why I own not only a Blast, but a Cyclone too! :D They were both low-mileage bargains on the used market that I couldn’t pass up.
          Anyway, I get the sense that a lot of compromises were made for the Blast so it could be used in Rider’s Edge and also so it wouldn’t outperform HD’s cheapest offering. It’s not a *bad* bike, but it could have been (and can be!) a lot better. I suspect we’ll probably see the Blast singles being used in custom bikes given how affordable they are to buy and how much you can do to them.

  • Chris Cope

    This is so disappointing. It seems like Braden’s trying to give it a fair shake but the bike is just woefully substandard. That’s upsetting because I like the *idea* of Harley-Davidson and am always hoping it will live up to that idea in terms of quality and rider experience. I had high hopes for the Street. Ah well…

  • Speedo007

    Agree with everyone thinking a Bonneville would be a much better bike for not much more $. And people will think you have a proper motorcycle. With the HD, you’ll just look like it’s the only Harley you were able to afford, and the Harley crowd will see you as a wannabe. Maybe in other countries this will work (not sure where though), but I can’t see it being a success in America, so many better options for the money, including many 2 year old bikes that are lighter, cheaper to maintain, more reliable, with better handling, brakes, suspensions and even ABS, so for a newbie, I cant think of one reason to buy this bike other then the logo.

    • Piglet2010

      People pretty much ignore my other bikes, but a lot of people want to check out and/or talk about my Bonnie. And of course, the Bonnie is decent motorcycle as it rolls out of the dealer, unlike H-D who designs their bikes to have half the parts replaced with expensive upgrades at the time of sale.

  • Evan Holmstrom

    I was really excited about the Harley street series, until I found out the 500 had half the horsepower of my 24 year old TransAlp. Oh, and it manages to weigh more.

  • Evan Holmstrom

    Brand new motor with 4 cc’s less than a 1989 Honda V-twin, one more valve too… Makes half the horsepower.

    • Mark D

      This likely has more to do with licensing and emissions requirements than a lack of engineering prowess at Harley. I would imagine the 750 version will make a lot more reasonable hp/displacement.

      • Evan Holmstrom

        That’s what I’m hoping for. When I first heard about the 500 and 750 I was expecting more like 65-70 horsepower out of the 750. 70 would at least be consistent with other modern 700-800cc offerings.

        • Piglet2010

          70-HP would be more than a stock Twin Cam 103 – can’t have that now.

          • Evan Holmstrom

            With these Street series bike, I really didn’t want to compare them to other Harleys. I was overly optimistic and thought maybe, just maybe they’d have modern horsepower. These are 60 degree water cooled motors with overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, getting 65-70 HP shouldn’t be unreasonable. I’m normally the type to tease Harley Davidson, and I really want them to give me a reason to STOP.

            • Davidabl2

              Indian, if they make a sportier Scout.

            • Piglet2010

              My Honda Deauville has a 680cc, 4-valve/cylinder, liquid-cooled V-twin with 65-HP at the crank, so yes 45-50 and 65-70 HP for the Street 500 and 750 could be done while meeting emissions standards and durability expectation.

              • Evan Holmstrom

                My feelings exactly! I own an XL600V TransAlp, which has the precursor to the Deauville/later TransAlp engines. Roughly 450lbs wet and 50-55 HP feels perfect. The more research I do, the more I believe your numbers should be close to factory specs. 45-50 for the 500 and 65-70 would give roughly the same HP/Liter as the V-rod (1,240cc, 122 HP.)

          • Davidabl2

            Can. The majority of Twinkie owners seem to be concerned with status, not power.

      • Mykola

        What does (peak)HP/Displacement have to do with anything outside of motorcycle racing?

        • Speedo007

          I had a Scrambler that had about 60HP and it was awesome (even after having owned a Speed Triple), but on a bike this weight, under 30hp is getting a bit ridiculous. Were not talking about a 200hp Panigale here…but I mean a minimum is required for safety on the road…

        • Mark D

          Well, you’re right, pretty much nothing. But if this thing makes half the power of a 883 sportster engine (~50 hp), that means 25hp. If the 750 make that same power/displacement, it would make 37.5hp. From 750ccs. At 480 lbs. That ain’t gonna cut it.

  • Beju

    “Little things, like the fork gaiters, however, looked incredibly cheap and insufficient as actual protection. The fasteners, cables, bodywork, speedometer and various panels were obviously built to cost.”

    All the better to push accessory sales and reap the sweet, sweet profit.

  • KeithB

    I just can’t see what would make this a good bike for rider training when there are much better Japanese bikes for less money.

  • Tom Hal

    My humble opinions are based on pictures lve seen and this article. I was hoping Harley got a new, more hip design department. First off the design looks like it was developed by committee. Too many compromised lines, It lacks any sort of flow. Gaiters????, under powereded, too small a tank. Competetively priced?? No. Comparable performance?? No.

    I believe from looking at all of Harley’s products they are marketing lifestyle not motorcycles. Buy a new bike and then start personalizing it with performance kits, chrome, accessories, clothing, doorags and little beenie helmets. This model has worked for years.

    In the US there loads of over the top ($$$$$) customized Harleys for sale on craigslist.

  • moeknows

    The biggest difference between Riders Edge and MSF is that a lot of time is spent at the dealer with the students getting “Harley sales pitches……

    • obriencj

      You’re spot on about the dealership tour, and branded video lessons.

      Also, from what I’ve been able to glean when comparing my own Rider’s Edge experience with the people who took the MSF course, RE tends to pack the classes to almost double the capacity of the MSF courses. So you’ll see 30 people in a single RE course to the 15 (reportedly) of an MSF. Which means you spend an awful lot of time idling waiting for your turn to stall out a grabby Buell in the RE vs. actual time moving on a TU250x in the MSF.

  • larry mcdonald

    Should have stuck with Buell.

  • Barry Baxter

    It sounds like the motorcycle equivalent to a Cessna One-Filthy. It’ll teach you how to ride a Hardley 500, but then you’ll need to go out and learn how to ride a motorcycle.

  • Miles Cantafio

    Full disclosure. . . I’m reading this after going thru the “most controversial of 2013 list”. I work in a dealership. It’s my opinion that the people who read this blog are learned enough to not purchase this motorcycle. This blog has just 7029 Facebook likes (12/23/13, get on it people). In my experience, I’d say a minority of the potential customers of this motorcycle are so savvy as to inquire about anything aside from saddle height, HP, and “How’s it sound bro?”…
    ie. They can’t build enough.

  • OrionSlaver

    Personally I don’t think it’ll do well. There are a lot of attractive low-displacement bikes that could easily outperform the Street. This bike is ugly (That cowl! And that radiator! Ugh.), heavy and underpowered. Almost any 250cc learner’s cruiser or commuter will run away from it.

    Most people who buy them will do so simply because of the badge. However, I imagine most new riders who want a Harley will learn on a smaller, cheaper bike before moving up to a larger H-D.

  • Tim Newman

    it sounds to me like an honest review. Something HD should take very seriously. HD should also look to get more non HD fans involved in their brand. I appreciate the HD styling, and have a HD for that, plus its local resale value. But as far as performance, comfort, value, quality, reliability and durability goes, HD is probably close to, if not at, the bottom of the pack. and that would include some of the so called, cheap brands. I’m seeing these things affecting the market in the US particularly, where HD doesnt hold its value like it does in australia, and japanese cruisers are. Why HD cant drop their prices, or up the quality, is beyond me..considering their after market business is so strong. ive literally spent more than 50% of the total cost of the bike on after market parts.