Review: 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

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2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

The enviable position that Harley-Davidson is in as one of the world’s leading brands is both a blessing and a curse. The Motor Company has a loyal and rabid following, millions of devoted riders and plenty of customers buying clothes, souvenirs, branded key chains, lamps, rugs, dog collars, bottle openers and just about anything else with the bar and shield on it.

That’s the blessing. But those loyal subjects are a shrinking demographic, and that’s the major curse of being the incumbent giant in the industry. Unless your business is called “Depends,” you really can’t solely count on an aging community for business growth, it’s just not going to work. Harley-Davidson needs new blood, and they need to find it without alienating the old blood in the process.

Enter the 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 (or the XG750 in Harley-speak), a liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-Twin-powered entry-level motorcycle and the first all-new platform and powerplant from H-D in over a decade. Think of it as the replacement for the Buell Blast or an alternative to a Sportster.

Following hot on the heels of the Project Rushmore makeover of the Touring lineup, the Street bikes (note: there’s also a Street 500 (XG500) on the way) were developed in a feedback loop with H-D customers – or target customers, anyway. Harley asked young adults (hey, that’s you reading this: the age 18 – 34 demo) what they wanted in a Harley, and incorporated the “voice of the customer” into their product planning. They did something similar with Project LiveWire too.

I got a chance to spend a day in the saddle of a 2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750 on a group ride in and around Austin, Texas. Here’s what I thought.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

What’s New

The Street 750 is based around the all-new Revolution X, a single overhead cam, four valves per cylinder, 60-degree V-twin. The engine is backed by a 6-speed constant-mesh spur gear manual transmission and belt final drive. Fuel is handled by a Mikuni single port (38 mm bore) fuel-injection system. It displaces 749 cc (46 ci), and rated to achieve 41 mpg in combined city and highway riding. Harley won’t disclose horsepower figures yet, but peak torque is quoted at 44 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm and we predict horsepower in the low 50s range. The engine is styled to look like it’s a member of the Harley family – with the familiar cooling fins, a black wrinkle finish and black rocker covers. The radiator is tucked in front between the frame downtubes and gets a plastic shroud that sort of blends in with the shape of the bike. It looks good, it looks mean and it looks like you would think a Harley should.

The Street gets 7-spoke cast aluminum wheels (17” front/15” rear), a conventional, non-adjustable 37mm telescopic forks and dual rear coil-over shocks (adjustable for pre-load only). Travel is moderate, with 5.5” for the front and 3.5” for the rear. Floated two-piston calipers handle braking front and rear with uniform expansion rotors.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

Harley emphasized that the Street is intended as a “blank canvas” for customer expression (which means that they’re going to introduce a ton of bolt-on accessories in the near future). The obvious inspiration for the bike’s overall look is the influential flop, Willie G’s 1977 XLCR, the classic Harley Café Racer. The Street sports a small flyscreen fairing and a forward-leaning stance. Mid-mount foot controls and a slammed 3.5-gallon gas tank keep the bike from looking too cruiserish. Tubular handlebars with a modest pullback encourage an upright, slightly leaned forward riding position, rather than the chopper slouch. Hand controls are adjustable for reach with simple tools. Unlike the rest of the Harley lineup, the Street uses a left hand turn indicator switch, and there’s no automatic cancellation, which is a minor hassle. 

The Street 750 fits in the Dark Custom family of bikes with minimum and ornamentation – just simple 3D chrome bar and shield logos on the tank sides and a minimum of shiny stuff. There are some blatantly unfinished, raw areas on the bike that I wish Harley had lavished more attention on. The wiring behind the steering head looks vulnerable and exposed; the horn is undressed and looks like an afterthought; and the underside of the tank looks squashed rather than formed to the heads. The mirrors are positioned so far inboard that it was impossible to adjust them to see vehicles directly behind me – all I got was my own shoulders or the next lane over. All issues that can be cleaned up by the aftermarket and a clever owner, but disappointing nonetheless.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

The Ride

I’m a longtime Harley-Davidson owner – I have a 1993 Sportster Deluxe that has been my city bike of choice for the last 20 years – so I was eager to see how the new Street performed on the road. Right off the bat, the light weight (489 lbs wet) impressed me. I could tell that at 6’2” with a 32” inseam I was in for a cramped ride. I’d have to alter the seat and move the foot controls in order to be comfortable on long rides on the 750, but the riding position is great for urban situations. With my feet underneath me it was fun to lift off of the seat when hitting a bump or pothole, without taking a shock to the spine. 

The Revolution X engine performs with quiet efficiency, whirring and purring rather than clanking and roaring. It has a muted exhaust note, not unpleasant, just not really visceral or rich with bass. I’m sure that many owners will replace the stock pipes as soon as they buy their bikes – a venerable Harley tradition that has ruined many a good motorcycle. Power delivery is smooth and predictable, and the bike is quick without being overwhelming. Handling is nimble, never twitchy, making avoiding obstacles and executing tight maneuvers through the city very easy. Freeway speeds are no problem, either – just don’t expect too much protection from the flyscreen.  On those Texas roads, there were lots of bugs, but that’s par for the course on a long ride. 

The riding experience was somewhat of a throwback for me. It reminded me more of riding a Japanese cruiser than of any Harley-Davidson I’ve ever ridden. The center of gravity feels much lower than any Sportster, and the sound disappears from mind. The engine is solidly mounted to the frame (there’s an internal counterbalancer to quell vibration), but the bike doesn’t shake like my Sporty or even like a rubber mounted Big Twin.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

What’s Good

A big upgrade over the Buell Blast

Low seat height

Light weight

A blank canvas with the Harley-Davidson watermark

What’s Bad

Just hundreds of dollars less than a Sportster

Budget levels of fit and finish

Tight quarters for taller riders

Radiator adds complexity

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

The Price

The Street 750 will be the first Street to hit dealerships, starting in late June 2014. The Street 500 will follow later – the first ones are headed to riding schools and the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy locations before being offered for sale. Harley is hoping that new riders will come out and learn to ride on the more sedate 500, then head to the showroom and buy a 750. There won’t be an easy way to upgrade the 500 to 750 the way that you can repurpose an 883 Sportster to 1200 cc, so choose wisely.

Before you plunk your money down on a Street 750 (MSRP $7,499 to $7,794) or Street 500 (MSRP $6,799 to $7,794), there are several other bikes to consider. If you want to remain more traditional, the entry-level Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 starts at just $8,399, and is a blank canvas in terms of performance in a way that the Street just isn’t yet. Honda’s venerable Shadow lineup of bikes are known for their reliability and liquid-cooled V-twins. Suzuki’s Boulevard C50 gets an 805cc liquid-cooled V-Twin, and there are some cool variants. Don’t overlook the used market, either – a lot of riders start out on these bikes, then move on to bigger ones or special purpose bikes as their riding matures, and used bikes can be real deals.

2015 Harley-Davidson Street 750

The Verdict

As an entry into the Harley-Davidson family, the Street 750 is a definite step up from the old Buell Blast, Harley’s last attempt at a starter bike. It’s also friendlier than a Sportster, especially for smaller riders and beginners. I’m not sure if it’s the generation-bending revolution that Harley’s advertising wants you to believe, but it’s definitely a solid entry to the lineup. A little more polish would have been welcome, but I’m very picky about the details on my bikes. I’d definitely have to attack the ergonomics on the Street 750 before I could ride it every day. I’d need a taller seat; some different bars; I’d have to move the foot controls; I’d want to add some more custom details; in short, I’d have to make the bike my own, just like every Harley owner has done since the beginning of time. Maybe this is a “real” Harley after all. 

RideApart Rating: 6 out of 10

Gear:

Helmet: Arai Signet-Q

Jacket: Harley-Davidson FXRG Perforated Leather

Pants: Sliders All Season 2

Gloves: Roadgear CarbonMaxx

Boots: Wolverine Durashocks

[Photos by Brian J. Nelson/Tom Riles for Harley-Davidson/Jason Fogelson for RideApart]

  • Freeryde

    Radiator adds complexity – Right…

    • Gabe Cosarca

      If you’re used to working on lawn mowers it does…

    • zedro

      So many hoses!………..

    • Bluesceyes

      This is why I can’t work on any of my bikes…I just see that radiator in the front and throw my tools down in frustration. It scares me with all of those little fins.

      • frankfan42

        And filled with HORRORS a strange FLUID. Oh, the humanity.

        • Bluesceyes

          I’ve heard it can kill dogs! I will never have my HD collar wearing pooch around such a monstrosity.

          • frankfan42

            Very good!!! LOL

    • MichaelEhrgott

      Lol. Was just gonna say that.

  • yakimushi

    50hp from a 750cc twin is pathetic. The venerable SV650 makes 74 hp/47 lb-ft in its fuel-injected form. And it still weighs less.

    • John White

      The Shadow makes about 35 or 40hp. The Boulevard M50 is good for about 42hp. Vulcan 900? About 50hp. Apples to apples.

    • LS650

      This isn’t meant to compete with an SV650, obviously. The HP and torque are about the same as the equivalent 750cc cruisers from Honda, etc.

      • Tiberiuswise

        I hear what you are saying, but wonder why that is acceptable? Shouldn’t a powerful brand with massive resources look to lead the pack if it wants to secure it’s future? I could understand if it got great mileage but projected 41 is fair at best.

        • the antagonist

          Because if it makes more power, it will cut into the Sportster sales.

          Though I do wonder what potential these motors have with some aftermarket mods.

        • CruisingTroll

          Torque. The power delivery of a cruiser is very different from that of a sportbike, even a relatively mild sportbike like the SV650. As for HP, it’s going to come in dead on 47 or so. 47 Because that’s the limit for Euro tier 2 licensing. Same performance zone as a CB500.

          • Tiberiuswise

            Maybe I need to see a graph of the horsepower and torque curves because if a budget friendly v twin like that in a DL650 can put out 66 HP and 44 lb ft of torque while getting 55 MPG, it seems lackluster. (yep, another annoying We-Strommer)

  • andrewnmnlee

    What about the Yamaha / Star Bolt? $8K.

  • JP

    Triumph Bonneville kills this thing in all categories and it’s the same price.

  • Blake Bryce

    I would take the Bolt over this any day!

    • JT

      Did a demo ride with the Bolt R spec, never again! Not sure if this cruiser would be better, but I’d rather have my feet under me than out in front like the Bolt had. I’ll just stick with Bonnie though if it’s all the same.

      • Benjamin Reynolds

        That’s the same thing I thought when I test rode the Bolt.

  • Jack Meoph

    It has the logo, and that’s all that’s going to matter to a lot of people. Too bad, because there are so many other bikes in the same price range that kills this farm implement. And BTW: everything new will have a radiator, fuel injection, etc because of emission standards. Even Ducati has seen the writing on the wall and is phasing out the airheads. I wonder what Royal Enfield will do?

  • Paul Cypert

    The HD brand that will help sell these could also be killing it as they have to raise the price up to a level where it doesn’t make sense. Sure if this was a 6K bike, they’d be flying off. As you and many others have posted there’s just too much competition at this price. I’ll take a Yamaha and do the Hageman mod to it long before I buy this thing and I think I’m supposed to be the target demo :D

    • LS650

      Here in Canada, an 883 starts at well over $10,000 plus prep and tax. If the 750 is only 10% less than a Sportster, that means the Canuck price is going to be $9000. That’s at least a grand more than a new Shadow 750 (and you can get some cheaper deals), and about the same as a new Bonneville. This doesn’t really seem like entry-level pricing to me.

  • CaptainPlatypus

    500lbs for a 750cc bike is light? In what decade?

    • Flying Couch

      I don’t know why you’d pick the weight to criticize this for. 500 pounds is pretty well in line with, or better than, most of its competition. (Shadow 750, C50, Bolt, Bonneville, etc.)

      • Campisi

        It’s likely because 500 pounds is brought up as a detriment regarding those bikes, whereas here it’s listed as “light” as if it’s some sort of achievement. A quarter ton is too heavy for those bikes, and it’s too heavy here.

      • CaptainPlatypus

        Like Campisi says, all of those are heavy bikes. The FZ-09, off the top of my head, has a bigger engine and more advanced technology at the same price point. It weighs less than 400 pounds. My ’86 VFR700 compares favorably with the Street 750 in every functional aspect – speed, handling, mileage, suspension, braking – and weighs the same amount. It’s thirty years old.

        I get that being made in America gets you a handicap these days, but come on. This is ridiculous.

        • Tom Byrne

          I have 5 bikes in the garage now and I want to sell one or two before buying another bike, but if Yamaha would change the headlights in the FZ-09 (I prefer one or two round lights), I might give away a bike to make room. An older Street Triple is also in the radar screen. That being said, the new 750 Harley is good for what it is. $7000 for the 750 and $6000 for the 500 would seem right to me.

  • dinoSnake

    For me, the most suprising thing on the spec list was NOT the horsepower – 50-something is completely inline with the Japanese peers of the class, folks – it was the suspension specs. A 37mm front fork?! I haven’t seen a fork that small on a bike over 500cc in years. No, make that maybe a DECADE or even more.

    Strange (cutthroat budget) choice there. For absolute handling, unless they are using thicker-walled tubing than average, it will be a limiting factor once that rake angle is added in for stress.

    • Stuki

      Being Harley, the spindlier forks may be for looks, as well; not just cost cutting. They do lend the bike a more classic aura than a pair of 50+mm upside down Marzocchis ever could. Skinny, right side up, forks to go with skinny bootcut jeans and all…..

  • charlie

    That is one hideous looking bike.

    • LS650

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: IMHO it’s actually a decent-looking cruiser, but I don’t I’d buy one due to other reasons.

  • Sportbike Mike

    this 18-34 year old member of the target demographic is not interested in another cruiser. Harley bring out something with handling.

  • http://batman-news.com Aaron
    • Bluesceyes

      If Harley can find a way to make that street legal then they will have won a new customer in their target demographic.

      • Innis O’Rourke

        oh yea that looks awesome. I would be all over that

        • Reid

          For real. That is awesome. The real product is worse than terrible.

      • smoketrain

        They can, for whatever reason Harley misses the
        boat so many times. Who is doing their planning, a focus group? Sooooo many
        chances, like why didn’t they put this motor in something like the chassis of
        their new e-bike (live wire)? That would have been outstanding. Just like when
        they upgraded the Sportster, they actually increased the weight of the frame…what?
        Worse yet they burnt Buell, and while they had a chance to do well, they did
        not train sales staff in promoting a great bike, go figure.

        • http://batman-news.com Aaron

          I get the impression that they want the younger crowd without alienating the older crowd. I think that puts them in a lose/lose situation.

          • Brett Lewis

            Yes, I think if they built anything really progressive, they’d have to hold a gun to their dealer’s heads in order to get it on the showroom floors. The snide remarks of the elite would have them shaking in their boots.

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      That’s a fine looking scoot, right there. Feet under hips, looks like a sporting reach to the “dirt” bars. Gimmie a some dual discs up front, and I’d be really interested.

    • Benjamin Reynolds

      I love that bike, if only they could bring it to market….

    • Charles Quinn

      I just don’t get why they STILL haven’t put out a c.750cc street tracker styled commuter bike. It would look awesome, it’s hip right now, it’s part of their heritage. Surely they’d clean up? HOW HARD CAN IT BE?!

      • http://batman-news.com Aaron

        They don’t like youth and awesomeness.

    • Bluesceyes

      I still fail to understand the “1″ logos. Are they number one in branded dog collar sales? Kickstand design? Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band sponsorships? The AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 Series wins? I’m lost.

      • http://batman-news.com Aaron

        Not sure. I never really though of it unitil now……to the google!

  • Russell P

    I saw a youtube from Moto USA.
    And they did a Dyno run of the 750.
    HP 52.8
    Torque 39.9
    This bike reminds me of my 83 Honda VT 500 Ascot.
    I hope they sell well.
    I’ll keep my Bonneville 865.

    • Justin McClintock

      Every time I look at this thing I think about the VT500 Ascot. Had about the same power too….25 years ago. So much for progress. I’ll take the Ascot.

    • smoketrain

      Yeah, good choice Triumph is a far better brand for the price.

  • Aaron Averett

    I think I’d rather have a Buell Blast than this. The Blast at least looks fun.

  • dreygata

    What is the actual seat height of this bike?

  • michael franklin

    Yup, looking in the radiator once a year to see if there’s fluid sure sounds complex to me!

  • BobasBounty

    Not trying to knock the author, but why have someone in the demographic harley is trying to get away from with this bike, review the bike?

    I am in said demographic, and I had hopes for this thing actually getting me to buy American. My friends and I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars making a bike rideable, when there are plenty of rideable bikes out there already. I’d rather work on paying off a car or the house than making my bike good for more than 20 minutes.

    Most young riders want form and function with reliability. Apparently this misses that mark.

    • Mr. White

      I embrace your practical point of view, but there are still plenty of lemmings out there who’ll buy the bike simply for the Harley logo. So sad.

  • the antagonist

    I’m not feeling this thing aesthetically. But if they brought the rake in a little, gave it a longer, better suspension, and dual disks up front, basically made it more like an XLCR, it could be a pretty badass looking bike.

  • smoketrain

    Sorry, but every write up I have read says this
    bike has low build quality yet is priced over 7k. Why not just admit you’re
    getting 7k worth of crap so everyone can see you’re a moron who owns an HD!

  • Stuki

    Unless those fins are in some ways functional, I honestly think Harley should have left them off. Every liquid cooled non-Harley v tvin cruiser kind of need them to fit in, but all a Harley needs for acceptance, is the badge. Hence, no need for them to dumb down their design by pretending to be what they are not. While stark and industrial looking, I think the extremely functional and mechanical look of, say, the KTM twin engines would look cool in this kind of urban “authentic” cruiser. Just a bit more flywheel than the Austrians are fond of for cruiser duty, please…… No point pretending to be air cooled, with a target demographic way too young to appreciate it’s “heritage” in the first place.

  • frankfan42

    I have read that the brakes are the weak spot of this bike. What were your experiences with them?
    Bad brakes are a deal breaker for me. I can do without ABS, but stopping power is critical.

    • rudedog4

      compared to my Bonneville, the Street 750′s brakes felt weak/spongy. I suspect that better brake pads and/or braided steel brake lines would improve that feel.

      • frankfan42

        Thank you. Next month MCN is doing publishing a review and test of the 750. Looks like upgrades will be necessary right out of the gate to the brakes.

        • rudedog4

          I rode my soon to be ex-wife’s Street 750 home from the dealer a few weeks ago, roughly 10 miles. It makes good power and shifts nicely, much better than the Sportster, but not nearly as nice as my 2012 Bonneville, and the brakes don’t feel nearly as strong as the Bonnie.

          • frankfan42

            Thanks for the insights rudedog4. I look forward to trying one out at some point. As one who has been down the divorce road sir I will say a prayer for both of you, divorce is not easy, no matter how mature and adult you both are. Peace to you my friend.