Bobbers weren't a part of the Indian two-wheeler market for decades, well, that is except the custom jobs I suppose. The word Bobber or bob job had also been missing from India's motorcycle dictionary until now. The market has quite a lot many options and Harley-Davidson Street Bob happens to one of the latest ones to have joined the brotherhood. For starters, it's a big motorcycle. My earlier experience with Harley-Davidson motorcycles has been with the Street Rod, 1200 Custom, and the Roadster but the Street Bob is more in the league of the other big ones like the Street Glide. But the point here is that it isn't priced similarly to its other big brothers.
First glance at the Harley-Davidson Street Bob doesn't give out the full appeal of the motorcycle if you know what I mean. No? Well, to me the full strength of its personality was revealed only when I took a seat and arms stretched onto the handlebars.
Harley-Davidson Street Bob really is a minimalistic approach – as the name defines – Bob. But what it seems it lacks because it's a Bobber, it has gained in reality. First up, it gets keyless entry. The key fob just needs to be near the motorcycle, say in your pocket.
Once you start riding the Harley-Davidson Street Bob though, that is when you truly understand what the minimalist approach has helped it achieve. Even with 298 kg, with one nudge on the throttle, I loved how it just goes so swiftly. And the 1745cc V-Twin is surprisingly very refined. In fact, cruising at low speeds, there's negligible noise and vibrations. But you let out all the 144 Nm of torque (which is 17.5% higher than before and feels like it too), the real Harley wakes up.
Gear shifts on the Harley-Davidson Street Bob are effortless with no false shifts and finding neutral is easy without much of foot movement. If speeding is your thing, the Street Bob loves highways.
One thing that is absolutely necessary with speeding is braking. Harley-Davidson Street Bob gets four-piston fixed front calliper and a two-piston floating calliper at the rear. However, be prepared to use the front disc a lot more since the bite from the rear disc didn't seem to do much to slow the motorcycle down. The front disc though has sharp bite, compensating for the rear and adding overall satisfactory braking to the bike.
What's radically different about the 2018 Harley-Davidson Street Bob is the Softail chassis and much-improved suspension, for which it gets a new Showa Dual Bending Valve fork and a new under-seat single shock at the back. I had a chance to take it out on smooth tarmac and rough grit, gravel, and potholes (it's not like I could have avoided that on Indian roads!), but the Street Bob didn't seem much out of its comfort zone. But the real magic, of course, comes from the Milwaukee-Eight engine.
While the Harley-Davidson Street Bob is billed to be a cruiser, it is actually quite fun to lean on it. It'll only lean about 28 degrees (no, I didn't measure that), but it does lean. And it's fun since you wouldn't expect so much weight controlled by mini-ape handlebars to simply glide into a corner.
One little thing on the Harley-Davidson Street Bob I wasn't a big fan of, well, because it was little – the 2.14-inch digital instrument cluster. However, only the size of about a smartwatch, it is quite informative. Everything is on that tiny screen (speedometer, gear, odometer, fuel level, clock, trip, range, and tachometer indication), but has to be accessed through a button on the left of the handlebar. I personally like an analogue gauge for speedo and tacho, but going digital is in today.
Heating can be an issue with big engines, and Harley-Davidson Street Bob is no exception. But then, it is designed to be on open wide roads and not on inching city traffic. Now let's talk about comfort, and if I say that I'll gladly take it for long distances rides, it denotes that it is a comfortable place to be. There may be several fuel stops though since the fuel tank has shrunk to 14.1 litres. It did hurt my arms a bit, but if you're taller than me, you'll be just fine. Don't call me short, I'm well above Indian average at 5.5 feet.
Harley-Davidson Street Bob can be pitted against the Indian Scout Bobber and Triumph Bobber. All three of them very distinct personalities, but while the Triumph Bobber is considered a very striking looking motorcycle and is the cheapest of the lot, the Street Bob has Harley-Davidson in its name, which Indians seem to like a lot.
As I mentioned in my previous review of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, fans who love Harley-Davidsons will love them no matter what and the fact that the Street Bob is an impressive motorcycle, things only get better!