6 Things You Didn't Know About The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod

Street 750's transition from entry-level cruiser to sport standard explained.

2017 harley-davidson, street rod, harley davidson street rod
2017 Harley-Davidson Street Rod.Julia LaPalme

Harley-Davidson thrives in a comfort zone that spans two large segments in American motorcycling: cruisers and touring bikes. But deep within the inner workings of the company, business has seen a shift toward meeting the global demand for smaller and lighter machines. While the Street Glide continues to reign as its top seller in the US, the Street 500 and Street 750 have made H-D an international player, attracting first-time riders who couldn't find what they were looking for in the Sportster, Dyna, or Softail lines.

"Technically, the Street Rod is a revised Street 750, but the reality is that there's more new than not."

Technically, the Street Rod is a revised Street 750, but the reality is that there's more new than not. (CLICK HERE to read our review of the 2017 Street Rod.) Still, shifting the image and goal of a bike that's already an outsider means changing the perception of a highly passionate and loyal customer, and that's never going to be a total win no matter how successful a project appears on paper. What matters is producing a motorcycle that is in line with the competition while staying true to the heritage of the brand. Harley aims to do that with a new sport standard that puts the Bar and Shield company in a space where they don't normally play.

Latest Models

Timeline

Understanding the requirements for the Street Rod project began with the reveal and consumer feedback of the RDX 800 concept in 2013. The RDX was essentially a Street Rod prototype, and the time lapse between that early research until the start of production was approximately three years.

Engine & Chassis

According to Brian Dondlinger, the Street Rod’s engineering technical lead, the goal for the new High Output Revolution X engine was to increase performance to match the rest of the bike. More power comes from pistons that increase compression from 11.0:1 to 12.0:1, a dual-throat throttle body, and a less-restrictive intake and exhaust. Changes to the chassis included increasing ride height, reducing rake and trail, and increasing rear-wheel diameter from 15 inches to 17.

Design

“The Street Rod’s styling starts with the signature front end,” says Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson’s vice president of styling and design. “The ‘bulldog’ look comes from the stout, 43mm inverted fork paired with the color-matched speed screen and flat handlebar. The low-profile, bar-end mirrors complete the aggressive stance. The rear fender has been chopped down to create a proportion that feels more street hooligan than café.”

Fusion

Jeff Strunk, Harley-Davidson’s product-planning manager in charge of the Street Rod project, explained how every H-D motor­cycle begins by devel­oping a clear understanding of what features the customer wants and how they intend to ride it. The Street Rod project began with research among a focus group of riders from more than 10 countries. More than 600 pieces of feedback acquired during this R&D phase were incorporated into the final product.

Challenges

There was a lot of discussion within the development team about the best way to achieve the desired increase in engine performance and what character the engine should have. Should the engine be fast-revving and spin up to high rpm to make peak power, or should it be a low-end torque monster? In the end, Harley aimed for both, raising midrange torque as well as increasing engine speed and top-end power.

Achievements

Increasing engine power by 18 percent while still meeting durability and regulatory requirements was one of three major achievements met. The second was elevating the fit and finish of the Street Rod above the 500 and 750 models, closer to the standards that Harley-Davidson riders have come to expect. Finally, there’s the success of doing it all for $8,699.