So some of you may have seen the 500 review thread
or even read the entire report on Ride Apart but one thing really did get me thinking. How good will the HD Street (particularly the 500) be for entry level riders, and more importantly what does this mean to Harley Culture?
The first thing that really struck me was that Harley is shopping the Street 500 to Motorcycle Safety Training programs. Obviously the bike is suitable enough for riders with zero experience. Many new riders start low displacement and then start looking to trade up after a few weeks. If the street is suitable for MSF rider training it could be a perfect entry level bike..
Going off the Ride Apart review Braden says instantly the Street 500 instantly feels like a much lighter bike, anyone who has done rider training and spent some time there on a standard or cruiser type bike will know how intimidating a heavy bike can be to a new rider. I mean 480 lbs is not exactly nimble, but compared to the rest of Harleys stable the Street 500 is a featherweight.
From Ride Apart:
handling was, for the most part, neutral. Recreating the swerve and other low- to mid-speed exercises showcased how well the Street 500 performs. In these instances, it handled just as well as any of the other training bikes we use, which often weigh 200 lbs less. The only time you really feel the extra weight is when attempting a very low speed, full-lock u-turn, where that weight wants to pull the bike down. Above about 8 mph, the Street feels as agile as a 250cc cruiser.
Again, nothing overly intimidating for a new rider.
The clutch feel and friction zone was natural and intuitive. As good as most training-oriented bikes Iíve ridden. If the clutch hadnít been so excellent, I would have been downright uncomfortable pulling full-lock u-turns with the weight issue I mentioned earlier.
The expected low-end V-twin pull is certainly there, but not in a way that will be intimidating for a novice rider. Road feel, power development and throttle response could all be likened to a modern Japanese 250, as would the Street 500ís ability to keep up with traffic. Thereís just enough hustle to get you through any situation you might encounter in a frantic rush hour commute.
But where this conversation really takes an interesting turn is when you start to consider Harley culture. First of all the bikes are always heavy and expensive, quite prohibitive to novice riders. BUT, cheaper price, manageable weight, easily maneuverable in town and enough power to keep you interested but not scare you all add up to a big on boarding campaign for Harley Davidson.
I'm quickly reminded of what Mercedes is currently doing with its CLA. Everyone who could own a Mercedes owned a Mercedes, so to grow their client base they offered a cheap Mercedes, cut down on quality, cut down on size and sell it for $30K. No people who could never afford a Mercedes are piling into this vehicle hand over fist. Harley is in a similar boat.
Harley guys already have Harleys and most, if not all are not going to downsize to a Street 500 or 750. While novice riders will typically begin on something Japanese and then when it is time to move up, most will make the move upmarket to a bike commuter friendly. With the Street 500 Harley is offering a package that can be attractive to novice riders as well as something with enough power that they will not feel the need to upgrade to something more powerful.
Its entry level lifestyle.
What do you guys think?