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Basem Wasef

Harley-Davidson Aims Big, Goes Small: Liquid-Cooled Street 500 and 750 Models to Start at $6,700

By November 5, 2013

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Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750

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.

Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750

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.

Related:

Photos © Harley-Davidson

Comments
November 5, 2013 at 9:16 am
(1) Scottie says:

Does the radiator account for half the weight of the bike? It’s a bit overwhelming. I hope it helps them boost the compression.

All-in-all, I think it is the right move for H-D.

November 5, 2013 at 9:58 am
(2) Eric says:

Awesome bikes, so excited! HD will sell tons of them!

November 5, 2013 at 10:02 am
(3) Pete says:

This will be very interesting to keep an eye on. This is HD’s first foray into what has been a HYSK market pretty much forever.
I’m sure the traditional HD crowd will be horrified at the idea of a ‘small’ bike, but this will probably turn out to be a very smart move. Good on them!
Todays rant…
Will someone please explain to me why so many cruiser aficionados and especially the HD loyalists are so dead set against liquid cooling?! It’s 2013! The entire MC industry gave up on air cooling years ago. VW gave up on it years ago. All they’re doing is catching up to 1990…

November 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(4) Joe says:

I can’t say i like the styling of this bike but I want to wait and see it in person before making a final judgement. I’m ok with some of the HD line being liquid cooled but I like the simple air cooled/push-rod motors better. They are still a motor that I can work on and upgrade on my own with simple hand tools in my garage. It’s like the old cars from the 60/70′s like the Camaro’s and Mustangs. Old school looks and sound.

November 5, 2013 at 12:44 pm
(5) Scottie says:

water cooling = radiator = clutter. that front end of that bike is just plain ugly.

I don’t even like the oil cooler on my bike.

November 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm
(6) Scottie says:

I did have to check the H-D website (and the calendar to make sure it isn’t July 4th).

November 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm
(7) critter says:

puke-puke-puke-

November 6, 2013 at 11:42 am
(8) Alex says:

It’s about time….HD had needed something better for entry level riders besides the overprice Sportster for quite some time.

November 6, 2013 at 11:47 am
(9) Zoom says:

Like it or not HD will sell a lot of these bikes for new and urban riders. The dealers will establish themselves with these riders and will be there for them when they want more. HD has finally seen the handwriting on the wall and will start building bikes for riders other than the aging baby boomers and traditional riders. Honda, Star, and Suzuki built a lot of their sales on smaller water cooled bikes and HD should really eat into those sales. As I already stated HD will sell a ton of these bikes and I think that is a good thing for an American brand motorcycle company.

November 6, 2013 at 11:50 am
(10) ryde4ever says:

I am not a big Harley Fan. I liked the XR1200 that they discontinued. I think these smaller bikes are a good marketing move as long as they perform as well or better than the same size cruisers from the Japanese manufacturers. I know quite a few new riders, mostly women, that wanted a cruiser. But the 883 just didn’t do it for them and have ended up on Shadows. I also like the looks of these 2 smaller HD’s. A lot of styling similarity to the V-Rod. Of course “real” Harley riders don’t like to acknowledge the V-Rod either so they probably won’t like these 2 new ones. But they are not being marketed to current HD owners. They are trying to attract more riders. I hope the perform well!

November 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm
(11) Rider says:

Water cooled bikes run a whole lot cooler. Looks like Harley is looking to the future. Harley riders are getting older like Goldwing riders and these two touring bikes cost a whole lot of money. I was at the Harley dealership Tuesday nov.5, 2013 and one of the salesmen showed me a picture of these two bikes. The fact is, this is a bike for future Harley riders. Like it or not.

November 7, 2013 at 12:13 am
(12) Doug says:

I think it’s the best move HD could make to keep them going into the future . They need to cultivate a younger market and these could be the answer as long as they’re done right .

November 7, 2013 at 12:56 am
(13) FrankG says:

I like what I see… but will wait for my final judgement after I see one in person and get to ride one too.
I admire the effort of H-D in launching these models and hopefully they will sell well too.
I also hope they use them as base models for other bikes… an XR750 would be cool.
Good luck to H-D…

November 7, 2013 at 9:55 am
(14) Frank Spero says:

they should take the engines and radiator out of the frame and put the 1200 sporty engine in (leave the 6 speed_

November 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm
(15) dabber says:

I like that they are doing something different! Way to go HD! This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years.

November 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm
(16) Rudolph Andrew Furtado says:

As a Indian from India’s commercial Capital Mumbai(Bombay) i was surprised at the ownership of “Harley Davidson bikes” in Mumbai city. Just about a decade ago it was a dream to ever think that iconic bikes like “Kawasaki Ninja” , “Hona”, “Ducati”,”Triumph” , “Yamaha” and now “Harley Davidson” would ever be locally available in the Indian market. India is a huge market for motorcycles, even the ultra-luxury brand which is equivalent in cost to the average “Mercedes Benz” and hence the future of “Harley Davidson” seems profitable in India.

December 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm
(17) PhilnTX says:

As long as we are talking what ifs…It would be very cool if they’d go ahead and expand the line to make motorcycles all the way down to a 200, or heck even a 100. A full line, but in the Harley style of making them easy to work on with simple hand tools and long lasting. This is how to grow brand loyalty by starting the young’uns early on a Harley that they could easily handle. Shoot, if they ever make a Topper again, I’m first in line for one.

January 29, 2014 at 1:08 pm
(18) Peter says:

Here’s my take on some of the comments. Harley is about old school tradition, so modern style engines take away from that purity. Harley is a cult and it’s followers choose to ignore anything that threatens its integrity.
There is a changing of the guard now and old guys who like crude machines that are part of their history are fading away and the younger post-modern generations want efficient, environmentally friendly, hi-tech equipment. Old guys like Harleys and British bikes because they can tinker. This generation doesn’t care to do that, plus the newer bikes don’t need tinkering much anyway.
I am an old guy caught in that shift. I am saddened by this reality, but that is why every generation ends up saying, “It wasn’t like that in my day!”

February 15, 2014 at 3:59 am
(19) Shawn Spears says:

I own a 2011 H.D. street glide and love it. These little street bikes are not for me but I think it’s a move in the right direction for H.D. start these younger cats out on these little street bikes, then hopefully when they are older and financially stable they will purchase a full size H.D.

February 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm
(20) Mark says:

35 or so years ago when Harley was going to bump the 883 to 1000cc, I asked a dealer why they didn’t also make a 750 (good all-round size bike), he was stunned, finally saying “why would Harley ever want to go to a small motorcycle”; well, for all those years, Harley lost out on a lucrative market; the 500 and 750 twins are a good idea, only, they should consider putting that funky one-lounger back in the line-up.

March 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm
(21) SRSwain says:

Bassem,

I suspect that these new, smaller bikes will not dilute or cannibalize the brand in any significant way. Not every new or returning rider wants or can afford a V-Rod or one of the other older-style Harleys. But they might want a really well-built, dependable, American-made bike just to see if they like riding or to economize on shorter trips, or to get back into riding.

Harley has a large dealer body. Maybe their research (assuming they actually do market research) has told them that they have been leaving some significant bread on the table.

March 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm
(22) Ray says:

The first motorcycle of which I was consciously aware, growing up in Oklahoma in the 1950s, was an imported Velocette LE, driven by one of our local university professors. It had “class” and it was quiet. I was impressed by that little water-cooled machine. I was not so impressed by the hand operated shift lever though. Watercooling is not new, but it is obviously being prefected.

March 13, 2014 at 8:09 am
(23) Gary says:

The ONLY reason Harley is building a 500cc machine is to have a motorcycle that fits the training criteria of a MSF Basic Ridercourse, to replace the defunct Buell Blast.
Basically, to lure customers to their dealership, train them, license them, sell them bigger bikes!

March 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm
(24) FrankG says:

Check this out…
Search Patent #8,079,434.
Looks like a a water cooled XR1200 with the water in the frame.

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