Harley-Davidson’s Street Bob completes the latest Softail range. Is it this style of bike that H-D does best?
What we like:
- Street cred galore
- Nice torque curve
- Cool instrumentation
Room for improvement:
- Under-appointed for the pricetag
- Odd seating position
- Gearchange notchy
Let’s answer that question in the intro immediately. Indeed, I reckon these are the category of bikes that H-D does best. I, like many global customers, sadly lamented the loss of the Dyna in the H-D range.
There was always something about that twin shock and spindly front wheel that graced most Dynas. They slotted in so nicely betwixt the Sportsters and the blubbery tourers. I came over all Easy Riders Magazine when I rode one of those. Dropping the Dyna was one of the latter-day stupid decisions from Milwaukee for mine And, to be brutal, there has been no shortage of those.
All is not lost. The Matt Levatich period is over up there in Wisconsin. Is that a hearty sigh of worldwide relief I just heard?
So, the Street Bob, although a Softail, could well represent a return to the best of Harley.
Indeed, the Street Bob has that sort of minimal appeal I’m hunting in a big American V-Twin. It’s American Graffiti and flame-painted hot-rod, wind in the hair vibe appeals to me. Like large.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a place for the bigger, more touring oriented H-Ds. Indeedy. When cutting out a dirty big Motorway trip, well an Ultra Glide is high on my list.
But that’s about transport and dynamics, and I don’t want my American iron just getting me from A to B. I’ve been to both and there’s not much difference. No, I want to enjoy the ride. Even if the creature comforts are forfeited all due to the abundant shortcomings of my fragile ego.
In short, if I wanna get the full Hoggley buzz, give me a stripped back, old school thing like the Street Bob. Every time.
The bike has a nice ease to it. Seating position is a little odd, but that’s the cruiser way. It’s a bit ’50 cents each way’. Neither full-on, laid back and certainly not upright. Given the nature of that fairly short rear end travel and a fair reach to the min-ape hangers, it works, but not immediately.
Torque delivery is where this bike shines. There’s a fat 155Nm right there at 3250rpm. Of course, it’s pointless winding a bike like this out. Just snick (well, ‘clang’ up the box), and roll purposefully on to the bottom of the revrange for a creamy delivery of real-world oomph, right where you need it. Forget big kW numbers. Torque is what delivers the good stuff on a cruiser and there’s more than enough on offer here.
It’s all kept slim and sleek on the Street Bob. I love the simplistic nature of the LCD info screen slotted surreptitiously across the base of the bars – it does the job of an instrument cluster much more proficiently in the real world than I thought it would on first examination. You get speedo, gear indicator, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range and tacho in that little space.
So, all the info I want is there, the warning lights are darkened unless required and the whole deal is austere and street-classy. A big Snaggy tick on that front.
Also in the plus ledger is that paint job. The ‘Number 1 insignia’ is a bold call nowadays, but I love that logo and the colours are groovy indeed. It’s a looker for mine.
While getting a little aroused on the aesthetics of the Streetie, I need to pass on that spoked wheels simply do it for me. Cast is perfect on a pragmatic basis and cheaper to produce, but an old schooler like this needs spokes. And, black gloss is just the ticket. Grouse. Yes. I’m a spokesman. Sorry about that…
Brakes are so-so, but they stop you, and that’s pretty much their job carried out, right there. The lack of super braking here is all in the maths. If this thing had hardcore brakes, well I reckon ABS would be kicking in every time you went for a serious lever pull.
That’s due to the relaxed nature of the rake and trail numbers of 30 degrees and 157mm coupled with that skinny 100/90/19-inch front hoop. Do the sums and you’ll see that it’s geometry and dimension that decides on the stopping hardware. It’s an engineering decision. Not one made at the designer’s desk.
So, Street Bob indeed. This is one of the bikes that I reckon H-D could do worse than promoting to the front of the marketing line. It’s what the brand does best and let’s hope the Milwaukee Mob is now heading back to the top of the pile, after, frankly, a period that has seen it pretty seriously lose its way.
Now the big question… A bit of you, this one? Well, The Street Bob is available in Vivid Black, Deadwood Green, Baja Orange and Stone Washed White Pearl and will set you back $23,995 rideaway.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.