In my deluded mind, I want to take some credit for the existence of the new Harley-Davidson Street 750. I can’t, of course. Still, it’s fun to puff my chest and pretend.
It goes something like this: For years, Harley-Davidson has been worried about the increasing general age of their motorcycle riders. It’s not just H-D with that concern. The whole industry has that problem on its mind. It’s a priority across the board to introduce young riders to two-wheeled joy.
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Intensifying this problem is an economy that’s refused to pick for so long that it seems like it might simply be the economy we are to expect. That means more young people struggling to find work with limited disposable income. While Harley-Davidson targeted younger riders over the last several years with the V-Rod designs and aesthetic changes like the Dark Custom series, price remained an issue.
Obviously, bike makers looking to snag that younger demographic need to build less expensive entry-level motorcycles. The Japanese sport bike makers such as Honda and Yamaha answer the challenge with stripped down street bikes selling for around $5,000. While Harley-Davidson builds cruisers and sportsters (avoiding the sport bike market), they still needed to face that younger riders looking to buy their first motorcycles need a ride cheaper in cost without seeming cheaper in manufacturing.
Up until the release of the Street 750, the least expensive bikes on the H-D roster were two sportsters (the Superlow and Iron 883) hovering just north of $8,000. When I sat down with Harley-Davidson officials over the last couple of years, I’d ask when they were going to offer a stripped down, de-chromed motorcycle to compete more closely with other base machines. They often hinted they just might try something like that, and it’s obvious now the Street 750 was one of the bikes on the drawing board then.
I sampled the Street 750 during last weekend Harley-Davidson World Ride event. The small urban bike was my H-D passport to a spirited run down the Hog’s Back near the Harley plant outside Milwaukee.
I’m not going to go over the specs here as a simple click on the bike’s webpage will provide all of that. The only question that matters is did Harley-Davidson successfully build a less expensive motorcycle that can attract potential, predominantly young buyers.
The answer is yes, if those buyers are looking to buy into the Harley-Davidson culture and experience. The Street 750 serves adequately as an introduction to the street-friendly sportster. If the buyer on a budget wants into the world rallies and rough Americana the bar and shield represents, this bike can get them to the party with full privileges. From there, if they stick around, they can upgrade in a couple years to a 1200 Custom or a Fat Boy.
Did my brilliant industry analysis harken the debut of a sub-$8,000 Harley-Davidson? I think we can safely say, “There is absolutely no way, under any circumstances, that any big shot on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee concerns himself or herself with my motorcycle suggestions.”
Still, I think there might be a chance, so I’ll keep my wisdom coming.