WRITER: Maya Khoury
Thirteen years after Harley-Davidson last launched an entirely new platform, the Street marks a bold new direction for the company.
“The Street series fills a need for people who want to identify with our brand but they’re also looking for a motorcycle that’s less intimidating and more inviting,” says Matthew S. Levatich, Harley’s president and chief operating officer. “This bike is easier to ride and easier to learn how to ride.”
Personally, I’m really excited. I’m female, Arab and a biker, which must already place me in a fairly small niche but despite that, I’ve never been into Harleys. I’m not alone in this either. I have a number of friends of both genders who feel just the same. Don’t get me wrong. We appreciate a Harley and what it stands for but as we’re weekend riders and not extras on a Mad Max remake, we have no real use for big, bold, loud and heavy bikes. And for too long that’s all Harley has stood for. The Milwaukee-based manufacturer may sell more bikes in our region than any other but most of its line-up is in the 1200cc category or above. They’re awesome machines when it comes to effortless long-distance cruising but they’re useless for puttering around town.
But the Street 750 and even more so the Street 500, are here to fix all that. With a lean chassis built for agility, handlebars narrow enough to slip easily between rows of cars, a lightweight V-shape two-cylinder engine, which in a break from Harley’s air-cooled tradition, is liquid-cooled, it not only rides like a dream, it looks like one too. Have I even mentioned how good it looks? Light on the chrome, painted matte black, with edgy detailing, it won’t just encourage a part-timer like me to visit a Harley dealership, it’s also going to get hardcore Harley owners to add another hog. “These bikes may be leaner,” says Mark-Hans Richer, Harley’s chief marketing officer, “but they’re the real deal, made of real steel.” A real bike made for the real world? Thank you, Harley.
WHAT Harley-Davidson Street 500
PRICE 6,700 USD
STATS Liquid-cooled 494cc belt-driven V-twin with four valves per head, mated to a 6-speed transmission
WHY For too long, Harley has specialised in doing just one thing. The Street is a break from tradition and we think it’s going to cause the brand’s Japanese competitors to lose a lot of sleep.