Harley-Davidson has been building V-twins for literally 100 years. For 100 years, they’ve made V-twins that were air cooled, undersquare (look it up), had pushrods, single-pin crankshafts and a 45 degree included angle. For 100 years, those were the building blocks of a Milwaukee V-twin. The V-Rod does not qualify as an exception, being as it is designed and built by Porsche.
In 2014, that all changes. With the introduction of Harley-Davidson’s new Street models, in 500cc and 750cc displacement, the Motor Company ushers in an entirely new engine. Sure it’s a V-twin, but this new kid is water cooled, oversquare (did you look it up yet?), honest-to-goodness overhead camshafts (Doh!) and…drum roll… four valves per cylinder. Additionally, its included angle is 60 degrees, so this will not even sound like your father’s Harley. Just as you wrap your head around all the new specs, you hear the sweet, sweet news of its 8,000 rpm redline. Harley aficionados of yore could only dream of such wailing, stratospheric engine honk. Welcome to the new age, to the new age.
Built in Kansas City, the Street 500 and 750 are priced at $6,700 and $7,500 respectively and weigh 80 pounds less than Harley’s own Iron 883, while the suspension offers two more inches of travel than the Iron. It specifically targets the urban youth market that navigates rough city streets, so the extra suspension travel and a low center of gravity were essential. Harley will also provide a plethora of accessories for the Street, knowing the youth market prizes individuality.
Longtime readers of this column know that I am seldom kind to Harley-Davidson. It isn’t that I dislike them, it’s that I see H-D resting on its laurels and not innovating. “Yankee Ingenuity” was a phrase coined and recognized the world over because of American ability and desire to innovate. Harley hasn’t done much innovating in my lifetime and, for that, I have ridiculed them. It is my fervent wish to see H-D succeed, to chart a more diverse path, to innovate and perhaps, revolutionize. I see the Street as a significant step in that direction. Perhaps a sport tourer is next?
Stay tuned, brothers and sisters, because somewhere in this universe, I will find a Harley dealer willing to let me have a Street for an evaluation report.
Until next year (Ooops) stay tuned and upright,