Harley-Davidson is as steeped in modern American iconography as apple pie, Uncle Sam and the bald eagle. Even a flag-wearing Captain America storms out of the battlements astride one of Milwaukee’s big hearted bruisers. Or does he? A closer look at the Avengers: Age of Ultron opening sequence would reveal that the Star spangled superhero is riding the relatively new Harley-Davidson Street 750.
This is because the Street 750 is a very significant bike for Harley and India’s motorcycling history. Because it’s the first Harley whose production has been outsourced to Harley’s factory in Bawal, Haryana, approximately 30 km southwest of the Harley-Davidson India headquarters in Gurgaon, India.
The bike came to be when Harley decided to target young, urban riders in developing markets. By the early 2010s it had become increasingly evident that the future of the motorcycle market lay in developing markets like Brazil, Southeast Asia and India. However, there was no product that Harley made that would suit that particular environment, certainly none that could bypass the extremely high excise duties paid by anyone importing bikes as Completely Built Units (CBU)
That isn’t to say that the Street 750 isn’t prominent in American markets – its higher ground clearance, reworked suspension and liquid cooled engine finds plenty of admirers as motorcycling trends shifts towards practicality. All the North American Street 750s are built in Kansas while the rest of the world gets bikes built entirely in India.
So what makes the Street 750 a revolutionary motorcycle? To begin with it’s the Rs 4.3 lakh (ex-showroom) price tag that’s extremely appealing. For that you get a 749cc, liquid-cooled V-twin, Revolution-X motor that’s brand new and puts out a modest 47 bhp with 6 kgm of torque. The increased ride height and short wheelbase allows the bike to corner acute cornering while the motor itself is incredibly torquey. Given that there’s no fairing to channel the air, every bit of speed hits you in the gut − do not be fooled by its proportions, this is an incredibly fast motorcycle.
Perhaps it’s the Street 750’s raw, unadulterated spirit and its relatively low price tag that allows it to be a brilliant project bike. Translation – it’s particularly custom friendly. And for the first time, it allows Indian customisers to mix speed with urban aesthetics, particularly in Cafe Racer trim − as evidenced by two fantastic custom jobs by Rajputana Custom and Moto Miu Katanga Uno. While Rajputana’s Brat cafe racer is a one-off, the Moto Miu Katanga can be yours for Rs 9.5 lakh (Ex-Mumbai). It includes front forks and wheel from a Night-Rod, along with dual discs to improve its braking prowess which is a bit of a chink in the standard bike’s armour. It also comes with clip-ons and repositioned custom foot pegs which allow for a more sporty riding position.
But that’s not the most radical form taken by the scrappy little Street 750. Six stock Streets have found their way to the Gujarat Police Department’s fleet. The bikes are intended to be used for quick response actions which includes hot pursuits and crisis management. They’ll also be used for the purposes of escorting dignitaries and senior ministers. Pranav Nanda, Dealer Principal, Nine Bridges Harley-Davidson, said, “We are proud to add these Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycles to the Gujarat Police arsenal. The Street 750 not only addresses the police department’s need of a performance motorcycle in challenging situations but also provides great confidence and maneuverability in urban conditions.”
In its short life, so far, the Street 750 has worn an impressive number of hats. Not only has it made Harleys accessible, it’s put India’s manufacturing prowess on the map. It may have a few rough edges, but like all true Harleys − it’s got heart.