Harley-Davidson's new Street Bob has been on the collective mind of the entire staff ever since we started hearing rumors of it a few years ago. Once the first pictures were released from the factory, the bike immediately caught our attention with its factory flat paint, 12-inch ape hangers, 96-inch motor, and 180mm rear tire. We couldn't wait to put some miles on a test bike, and the more we learned about the Street Bob, the more we lusted after it. Once we all had a chance to actually ride the machine, we found that it more than lived up to our expectations: It's incredibly comfortable, has tons more power than last year's 88ci version, a six-speed transmission is standard, and it's priced well below $14,000!
Fortunately, it was my turn to get a test bike, and every minute I've spent with the Street Bob has been a joy. It was exciting and surprising just riding the bike from the H-D Fleet Center. Heading off toward the freeway from the Fleet Center parking lot, I grabbed some throttle, and the bike practically lunged forward, far more ready to accelerate than I was. I literally had to slow down and check the air-cleaner cover to make sure it read "96ci," because I almost expected it to say "103ci Screamin' Eagle." While the motor is only 8ci larger than last year's 88-incher, it's putting out 92 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm-more than enough power to force the rider to hold on more tightly when the throttle is twisted. The fuel injection ensures a perfect start every time, and it also incorporates a closed-loop system that automatically adjusts to altitude and performance upgrades such as aftermarket exhaust pipes and higher-flow intake filters. The motor sports a 9.2:1 compression ratio, and the chromed, staggered, shorty dual pipes make for a powerful-feeling, albeit quiet, exhaust note. Freeway speeds are a breeze with the standard six-speed transmission-Sixth gear almost isn't necessary until speeds near the triple digits are reached.
Since that first day I've put about 1,000 miles on the Street Bob, and I feel spoiled every time I ride it because it fits my body so well (I'm 6 feet tall and around 220 lbs). Normally I'm riding some raked-out rigid with a tiny (possibly) spring-mounted seat, with a solid-mounted motor, forward foot controls, and a huge tire-while it's a blast for short distances, a longer ride can be potentially painful. Thankfully, the Street Bob features mid-controls, a rubber-mounted motor, 29 degrees of rake, 26.8-inch seat height, 64.2-inch wheelbase, and a perfect-size 180mm tire in the rear. Also, it only weighs 667 lbs ready to ride-it's balanced and comfortable! It even handles well; the new 49mm mid-glide frontend is stiff enough for decent performance but will smooth out any pothole-ridden road in conjunction with the standard-style shocks in the rear.
Harley has definitely created a great bike with the Street Bob. I rode the bike everywhere this month, and I love it so much we're going to talk to the Motor Company about keeping the bike a little longer for some long-term action. Here's hoping that Harley will agree!