If you thought liquid-cooled cylinder heads on select 2014 Harley-Davidsons and Project Rushmore were big deals, wait 'till you hear about the Motor Company's newest bikes, the Street 500 and Street 750.
Using Harley's first all-new platform in 13 years, the (relatively) small displacement motorcycles incorporate all-new, liquid-cooled 494cc and 749cc Revolution X engines complete with a big ol' radiator up front, a la metric cruisers. Packaged as urban runabouts, they offer mid-mounted controls and combine a V-Rod-like silhouette with café racer-style touches.
The engines are four-valve, 60-degree v-twins, mated to six-speed transmissions with belt final drive, and total curb weight comes in at a respectable 480 lbs. With a starting price of around $6,700 for the Street 500 and $7,500 for the Street 750, the new bikes undercut the next cheapest model (the Iron 883) by up to $1,700.
But here's the kicker: Remember the rumor that Harley was building a 500cc bike for India? Well, when the bikes come to market in the second quarter of 2014, the global versions (selling initially in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and India) will be built in India. Street 500 and 750 models sold in the U.S. will built at a Harley-Davidson plant stateside.
Does Harley-Davidson's newfound globalism affect the way you view Milwaukee's-- and America's-- most notorious bike builder? And perhaps more crucially, does an affordable, smaller displacement Hog dilute the brand?
As with any tweaking of a beloved brand's formula, it's all about the execution-- and these downsized Harleys are no exception. Whether these smaller, lighter, and more sensible Hogs help or hurt the Harley-Davidson brand remains to be seen, and will largely depend on whether they prove to be satisfying machines, or two-wheeled compromises masquerading as the real deal.
- Six Things You Should Know About Liquid-Cooled 2014 Harley-Davidsons
- 2014 Harley-Davidson Models: What is Project Rushmore?
- 2014 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles: "Project Rushmore" Updates 8 New Bikes
- 2013 Harley-Davidson Lineup
- 2014 Indian Lineup Revealed
Photos © Harley-Davidson