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2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob - Road Test Review

2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob - Road Test Review

Snapshot: The 2018 model has only risen the bar, and is surely on point this time, but turns out to be a more expensive deal as well.

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Harley-Davidson has been fascinating riders ever since motorcycling became a lifestyle. The heart-throb from America has not only grown in India significantly within the last decade but has also introduced a couple of new motorcycles specifically for developing markets like ours, hence making owning a Harley-Davidson quite affordable. The company started 2018 with a bang and introduced a number of modern and exciting range of new motorcycles and brought big changes to its whole line-up. The Street Bob is one of the new and improved motorcycles, but how different it really is? Well, I already tested its previous version sometime back and found myself fairly impressed with it. And you can click here to see my views on the same. Now, it’s time to ride the new one and see if the cards have fallen in favor of the new Street Bob or not.

Design:

Street Bob’s design is inspired from the old school bobbers, which means saddling up on the bike and leaning back while holding the long and extended handlebar that looks more like a custom accessory than a stock part. Nonetheless, this laid-back look gives a certain attitude to the rider and is way more appealing than any other cruiser bike on the road. In fact, I was stopped by cops a couple of times and none of them were interested in seeing the papers, not once. Back at the office, all my colleagues were drooling over its looks and wanted a picture with it. Some of them complained of it not having a rear seat because they wanted a ride on it, to which I replied with a devil’s grin, not today, not on this, not ever!

Talking about the updated Street Bob, the bike has gone through a number of small and big changes, and on the outside, all the previous chrome bits have been swapped to the dark finish. It gets dark handler bar, exhaust, air-filter box, and at the front sits a new LED headlight that certainly looks more charming than before. It also gets black fork covers that protects all the dust and muck from entering the suspension seals, and hence extending its life.  

What’s also new to the package is the fully digital instrument cluster, well, it’s a bit small I’ll say and I am not really a fan of it. I mean, the old one looked just perfect. It had a needle, and it was that semi-digital pattern that looked better on a motorcycle like this. But still, the new panel is modern and informative and some may even like it more than before. It has all the necessary information that can be toggled with a switch given to the left side of the handlebar. It’s just the size of it that may not appeal to everyone.

Engine and Specification:

Leave the looks aside, and there is much more that’s going on inside the new Street Bob. First of all, it gets a bigger and significantly more powerful Milwaukee-Eight 1,745 cc engine which generates close to 144 Nm of peak torque at 3,000 rpm. The engine comes mated to a 6-speed transmission that certainly feels more precise and easier to use. The torque figures are up by 20Nm which is a significant number, also the peak torque is now available at lower revs.

The engine feels smooth when running at around 1600rpm to 2400rpm, which is the sweet spot for this engine. Shift the bike in the topmost gear and cruise around 2000rpm, you will be all smiles doing close to 100kmph. The sweet V-twin sound from the exhausts certainly feels a bit calmer than before which I don’t like, and also the on-off transitions felt better on its predecessor. But other than that, Street Bob now feels way more aggressive and ready to sprint as soon as the clutch is released. More power is clearly visible right from the slightest of throttle inputs and all this aggression only makes the Street Bob more fun to ride.

Also, the gear ratios are so set that you won’t have to downshift to the lowest gear in bumper to fender traffic, even a gear higher will do. These altered ratios allow you to ride the bike in comparatively higher gears, making the ride easier.

Ride and handling:

Apart from the engine, one of the major upgrades the Street Bob carries comes in the form of new single mono-shock suspension at the rear which sits at the place of earlier twin-shocks. The front twin heavy duty fat forks remain the same, which does its job well. The suspension has been tuned to keep the riding comfortable without compromising on the handling part. This setup surely impressed me when it came to firmly taking abuses from rough and unpredictable Indian roads which show no mercy.  

Well, it has always been a heavyweight motorcycle weighing close to 298 kgs in running order. The bike handles with confidence and corners very impressively. The lean angle on both the sides is 28.5 degrees which is decent by cruiser standards. Ground clearance on the new bike has been updated from 110mm to 125mm, which makes quite a big difference when negotiating with tall speed breakers.

The single seat design remains the same which is decently comfortable, and the icing on the cake is the significantly reduced heating from the engine. I remember it riding in the dense Delhi traffic when coming back from office, yet the Street Bob surprised me by not getting as hot as it used to. And the single biggest issue is now resolved. Talking of the brakes, 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear disc brakes have a decent bite and stopping power, but still can use slightly more progression and braking force, as its weight anyways makes it harder to stop. The brakes come linked with ABS, which does a decent job of keeping the bike up straight while stopping on slippery surfaces.  

Verdict:

This new Street Bob has improved majorly in terms of riding dynamics and handling, while the new powerful engine only makes it a more fun machine. It comes out as one of the most enjoyable Harleys you can buy that will let you cherish your occasional weekend getaways more than ever, and if you want to cruise around the downtown in swag, the bike will be more than happy to take you around. The 2018 model has only risen the bar, and is surely on point this time, but turns out to be a more expensive deal as well. 

Photography: Mohd. Nasir

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