The Harley Davidson Dyna glide was the top selling cruiser bike in the UK in 2006 and it’s not hard to see why. It looks like most people’s idea of what a Hawg should be; mean, moody, low slung and ready for laidback chugging along the freeway. Or failing that the A41 near Shrewsbury.
But sometimes looks aren’t the whole story and for 2007 the Dyna Glide Street Bob has Harley’s all new 1584cc V-twin motor fitted, complete with 6 speed gearbox, plus a matt black paint option. Bitchin’ as they say in downtown Market Drayton…
Alastair Walker clocked up some 500 miles on the Street Bob to see if the Dyna really is the ultimate `take it easy baby’ motorcycle.
Sling a leg over the saddle of a Harley-Davidson and life feels a little bit different. It’s like you’ve joined some invisible parade, become an extra in an unwritten road movie. People stare, children point and wave, women want to know who you are and where you’re going on that `big black motorbike.’
No, I am not making this up. Nothing on two wheels, and I mean nothing, seems to attract middle aged women like a Harley-Davidson and at my advanced age of singleton life, I need all the help I can get, this side of liposuction and Tom Cruise’s bank details.
Of course, in the end, it is just an old fashioned motorcycle, which to be brutally honest, feels a little bit too heavy for its own good, doesn’t handle or go anywhere near as well as say a Suzuki M1800R, and lacks a second brake disc up at the front end. But it’s very difficult to be detached about any Harley, because this is arguably the one motorcycle brand in the world which means something way beyond the crude spec sheet of its engineering.
Harleys also have the added bonus of depreciating slower than almost any other motorbike on the planet, so you can buy this Street Bob for nine grand, own it for two years and probably get eight grand back for it. Try doing that on a Suzuki Marauder…
But let’s get back to the actual riding experience. You sit really low on the Street Bob and very few people will have any problems putting their feet down onto the road when they come to a halt. It is heavy however, and you’ll need legs the size of tree trunks to `paddle’ this bike from one fuel pump island to the next, especially if the floor is covered in spilt diesel.
Switch the engine to `run’ mode on the handlebars, wait a few seconds for the fuel injection to prime itself, then thumb the start button. The bike shakes into life with a pleasant rumble, although it is – like most modern bikes – disappointingly quiet when you blip the throttle. Engage first gear, with the usual almighty clunking noise, and off you go. Very light clutch, and further gear changes get smoother the more you shift through the six speed box.
The new engine seems to have a little bit more torque than the older motor and revving the Street Bob isn’t really necessary. It lunges away rapidly enough until you reach about 70-80mph and the `ape-hanger’ type handlebars make higher speeds all but impossible, unless you’re a bodybuilder with some `ripped’ upper torso.
It cruises really nicely in the new 6th gear overdrive, and on a long trip South to the MCN London Motorcycle Show I was getting about 130 miles from a full tank, down to the yellow fuel warning light coming on. A rough guess on the back of a beermat had me pondering that the Street Bob was doing about 45-50mpg on a mixture of A roads and motorways, or to put it another way, around 10mpg better than many other big V-twin cruisers I’ve tested. When you think about it, modern Harleys are fairly cheap to run – apart from buying about three grand’s worth of extras of course…
When it comes to the corners the Street Bob does a decent job. It doesn’t quite stay rock steady if you hit a bump mid-corner on some tricky B road, but it’s as good as the average cruiser and way better than something like say the Kawasaki VN2000, which wallows about like some half-pissed hippo on a jet-ski.
The only anxious moment I had was when some aggressive knob drove straight out in front of me on a roundabout and I had to jam the anchors on whilst leaning over. The sheer weight of the bike, coupled with the kinda `wooden’ feel of the single front disc brake made it a slightly hairy moment, but it was OK. I have long since learned to take more time in plotting the course of my ride when aboard big cruiser bikes, because with rare exceptions, most of them are underbraked…and frequently fitted with some less than grippy tyres too.
Thing is, you have to accept these are not sportbikes. They have big ol’ iron clad chassis parts holding everything together and the suspension is always gonna be on the soft side, that’s what the bike was designed for after all, taking life slowly, a bit easier. Having made all those excuses, I think I would be tempted to add a second disc brake at the front end of the Street Bob, especially if I was travelling two-up on a regular basis.
ARE WE LIKE FONZIE, ARE WE COOL?
I could keep wittering on about the technical aspects of the Street Bob; non-adjustable forks, 2 piston caliper on the front brake, single saddle, rear fender the size of a Blacksmith’s anvil, or the 290kgs dry weight, which is about 640lbs to the average pub landlord, but I won’t. I mean why bother?
Fact is, buying this motorcycle is an emotional decision, and performance, fuel economy, and cornering ability etc doesn’t come into it. If you want to feel free, escape from everything else for an hour or two and look mildly cool, even if your beer belly is threatening to break the zip on your leather jacket, then only a Harley will do. It’s a cliché, but the Street Bob – despite its slightly daft name – is the real thing, and others are mere imitators.
For me, the only explanation as to why the Dyna Glide was the top selling cruiser in the UK is that this is the cheapest `proper’ Harley, as in one with the biggest size motor in it that you can buy. You see, this is how it is; the Sportster 883 is for chicks and hairdressers, the 1200 is OK, but has an engine that only Fred Dibnah could truly love, so the big, beefy 1584cc motor is the one to have…and the Dyna is the cheapest ticket to ride the big `un.
Personally, I think I would bite the bullet and spend more cash to have a Heritage Softail, or maybe a used Electra Glide, but that’s mainly because I carry loads of kit around with me as a bike journo, so a stripped down, basic cruiser doesn’t seem much use to me. I’m not that keen on matt black paintwork, but the Street Bob does come in a range of other, brighter colour schemes.
I think part of the fun of owning a Harley is polishing the thing up to make your neighbours jealous, the whole thing is a pose, but so what? Most sportbike riders are big posers too…biking has become a fancy dress day out for thousands of people in the 21st century, all that biker lifestyle stuff is total bullshit. People who truly live the `biker’ lifestyle have sod all money, smoke more weed than Pete Doherty and ride 15 year old hardtail XS650 chops – that ain’t me, neither is it today’s Harley owner.
But if you just want a cool looking, easy-to-maintain V-twin motorcycle lurking in your garage for lazy Sunday mornings, or to impress your buddies at some country pub, then the Street Bob ticks all the right boxes.
It will lose the same in depreciation in three years of ownership as a Japanese cruiser loses in one. Your workmates will be envious, your partner will be annoyed that it only has one seat and your kids – well the under tens anyway – will think it is the biggest, baddest motorbike in the world. You can pretty much forget about speed cameras on the open road too, you won’t be going much over 65mph – ever.
For all its quirks, its old fashioned handling and braking, the Dyna Glide Street Bob undeniably looks cool. With the right pipes on it, it will sound cool too. Maybe, sometimes, that’s all you need from a weekend motorcycle?
Get Harley Davidson motorbike insurance for the harley davidson dyna street bob.
Test Bike Supplied by
0870 904 1450
1584cc, air cooled, V-twin, four stroke
Bore and Stroke
95.3mm X 111.1mm
Fuelling ECU fuel injection/management
Gears 6 speed
Peak power n/a
Chassis; Steel tubular frame
Rear shock; Twin, non adjustable
Brakes; Single 300mm disc front, 2 piston caliper, single 292mm disc rear, 2 piston caliper.
Wheels/Tyres; 100/90 19 inch front, 160/70 17 inch rear
Estimated top speed;
£9095 Jan 07