The American has some serious contenders from Italy and Britain. Can it walk past them? Or should it just hide?

Ever since its entry into the Indian market, Harley-Davidson has become a cult name and has carved a niche among all the motorcycle lovers who ride for the pure passion of motorcycling. Within the portfolio of Harley Davidson in India, though all the motorcycles have been accepted with open arms irrespective of their high price tags and few obvious shortcomings, the most recognised motorcycle among all happens to be the Street 750. It made its debut in India at the Auto Expo 2014 and became an instant success, for the fact that it was (and still is) the most affordable way to lay your hands on a motorcycle from the iconic brand Harley-Davidson is.

The craze of the mid-weight naked is becoming more and more alive in the Indian subcontinent, and Harley-Davidson is looking at getting a bigger piece of this market segment too. To try out their luck, the iconic American brand has launched the third member of its Street family. It had more aggressive styling and improved handling above all of the Streets. That is the all new Harley-Davidson Street Rod. A little sparse, a little spare, and an exercise in understatement. The most sport-oriented version of the Street series offering an alternative to more conventional cruiser variants. This young generation of a machine is a serious effort to reach customers outside the likes of the classic Harley Davidsons’.

This strategy has been already undertaken by the British and Italian powerhouses, and each has launched their 21st-century machines to rope in the new generation of riders early on. We are talking about the Ducati Scrambler Café Racer and the Triumph Street Cup, which too are based on their retro-themed versions – the Ducati Scrambler and Triumph Street Twin. Here’s a comprehensive comparison to find out if Harley’s new baby accomplishes to stand out from Ducati and Triumph to be the most lucrative motorcycle to own. Here you go:-

STYLING

Regarding looks, we have to admit that all these three motorcycles stay true to their concept with minimalist and simplistic forms that carry retro design cues. They look fresh and up-to-date with their styling elements and can find suitable tastes matching with their customer’s expectations. However, there are many subtle differences in the designs of all these motorcycles, which give them their identity.

Harley Davidson Street Rod

Back in 2006, Harley had their most sporting motorcycle ever sold called as VRSCR Street Rod (V-Twin Racing Street Custom). Bringing back this name from the dead, Harley has pimped up their street 750 and essentially made a hot-rodded machine out of it.

The Street Rod takes its design cues from the Street 750 Concept RDX 800 that was showcased during the 2014 Indian Auto Expo. This bike has a “bulldog” feel to it because of the front end changes having thicker forks and the girth continuing till the tail-end. It has the silhouette of an off-spring flat tracker which takes the spotlight from the company’s recently announced XG750R American Flat Track race bike. Yes, it also looks similar to the Street 750, but trust me, the changes are thorough. Apart from the frame and fuel tank, the entire motorcycle is built from the ground up. The fuel tank is itself significantly repositioned to improve handling.

Out front, Harley has fitted this bike with a classic round headlamp unit and what they call a colour matched ’Speed Screen’ with a black insert that sure does make a good first impression. There is no fancy LED here unlike at the rear tail light unit that gets a curved LED treatment with integrated Bar & Shield logo and rear LED turn signals. Behind the Street Rod’s bikini fairing are a single instrument cluster and a flat, drag-style handlebar with bar-end mirrors that makes a sporty and aggressive riding position. The instrument cluster is a clutter-free panel which is mounted right on the handlebar, and you get a 3.5-inch electronic speedometer with odometer, trip meter and LED indicator lights. All that you may need in a clean and tight package.

The signature metal teardrop tank gets a new fast graphic and Harley-Davidson script to show that it’s the real deal. Then your eyes fall on that majestic black heart that has a full blacked-out finish on the High Output Revolution X engine. You will not falter in noticing the high output black air cleaner besides which is the only place you see anything shiny - the touch of polished metal on the cylinder fins to bring out the classic, strong, iconic lines of the V-Twin. To provide that classic custom look, HD has provided the Street Bob with black open spoke cast aluminium wheels. The simplistic side body cowls wrap around the saddle like a café-racer, and this Street uses a single exhaust canister like the others. Overall, the Street Rod’s styling is a usual mix of a café-racer and a flat track racer that results in an unusual but a rather scintillating looking motorcycle than the Street 750.

"Overall, the Street Rod’s styling is a typical mix of a café-racer and a flat track racer that results in an unusual but a rather scintillating looking motorcycle than the Street 750."

Ducati Scrambler Café Racer

In the last couple of years, the Indian market has witnessed the arrival and introduction of many new motorcycles and concepts which have broken the conventional norms of motorcycling in India, and one of them is the Café-Racer. The café racers are purely for those who have the passion of letting loose and ride with all of their hearts open, thanks to their focus only on design and performance. It is this pure and straightforward forms of the café racers that have made them a bit of niche for themselves.

Like a missing piece of a puzzle, the Scrambler Café-Racer from Ducati came in and completed the Italian’s Scrambler brand of motorcycles. This in-house breeder is pure café style straight from the factory floor, and it hits the high note for being considerably the favourite one of the Scramblers. It may not be in conjecture with a classic café-racer styling, but its subtle yet scintillating design is a mark of a true blood Italian. Inheriting traits of a Ducati’s flair in its design, the Scrambler Café Racer combines the old world charm with many modern world design bits.

It borrows few more elements like the round headlamp, instrument cluster, indicators, front fender and fuel tank from the other scramblers. Nonetheless, it gets the authenticating Cafe-Racer bar end round rear view mirrors, clip-on handlebars, headlamp cowl and the classic cafe racer-style humped seat with a glossy black cowl. The surface has been treated with a glossy black coat which Ducati calls ‘Black Coffee’. Gold coach lines, logo and alloy wheels accentuate the black paint scheme highlighting the bike’s grown up design. It’s a colour combo that just works. Also, paying homage to legendary Ducati racer Bruno Spaggiari, there is a number board on each side of the bike with ’54’ written on it.

The fully digital instrument console on the Scrambler Café Racer has been shared with the rest of the versions of Ducati Scrambler. This round-shaped unit has digital readouts, and like the overall design, the switchgear of the motorcycle too has an air of simplicity to it. Then there is the aluminium Termignoni exhaust with anodised black covers, blackened engine and golden coloured 10-spoke alloy wheels, which make the bike look even more glorious than what it is.

" Having the traditional trait of a Ducati’s flair in its design, the Scrambler Café Racer combines the old world charm with many modern world design bits."

Triumph Street Cup

Just like the Ducati and its Scrambler brand, the Brits too have their Triumph and Bonneville name. And if any iconic Bonneville were wearing a café-racer, then it would be this Triumph Street Cup. As one would expect, this Street Cup is loaded with a lot more urban panache and flamboyance due to its cleaner styling cues and excellent ergonomics. And that two-tone paint scheme is for sure an eye candy.

This is the trump card for the Street Cup. The contemporary urban styling cues are boldly shown with those clean looking lines and minimal bodywork. The coach lines on the elegant fuel tank are hand painted, and it looks striking on the two-tone colour scheme. The black sculpted engine covers with gold badging make it look beautiful in every possible angle. In fact, the use of black is almost seen everywhere around the bike with those turn signal and let tail light bullets, fuel cap, exhaust muffler and the striking aluminium cast wheels. Also, the alloy wheels get contrasting pinstriping job as well.

Seats on this café-racer is made of Alcantara with silver stitching with removable seat cowl for that pillion rider. Adding to the chiselled look at the front is the fly screen while the bar end mirrors match the dropped Ace handlebar. The instrument cluster is docked with two clocks lined with polished stainless steel bezels. Inside them consists of an LCD screen giving you an array of information which has been lifted off from the Street Twin and like the Thruxton, the Street Cup too comes fitted with bar end rear view mirrors and shortened handlebar, with switchgear shared with the Street Twin.

However, with some revisions, it doesn’t look dated, but its retro design makes you believe that it is a timeless design. On the equipment fro, the Street Cup comes fitted with ABS, traction control, ride by wire technology, engine immobiliser and USB power socket.

" As one would expect, this Street Cup is loaded with a lot more urban panache and flamboyance due to its cleaner styling cues and commendable ergonomics."

Overall Dimension

Make Model 2017 Harley Davidson Street Rod Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer Triumph Street Cup
Length 2130mm 2107mm 2105mm
Width 870 810mm 740mm
Height 1145 1066mm 1105mm
Wheelbase 1510mm 1436mm 1355mm
Seat height 765mm 805mm 780mm
Wet weight 238kg 188kg 210kg
Fuel tank 13l 13.5l 12l

Overall, when it comes to design, all these three motorcycles do have a charm of their own, which makes them look properly distinguished from each other with their identity, leaving upon the rider to choose one of them on their own. However, in term of features and overall build quality and fit and finish, the Triumph Street Cup has the edge over the other two.

Make Model 2017 Harley Davidson Street Rod Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer Triumph Street Cup
Front LED DRLs No Yes No
Handlebar-end mounted rear view mirrors Yes Yes Yes
Handlebar Shortened single piece Clip-on bars Shortened single piece
USB charging socket No Yes Yes
ABS Yes Yes Yes
Traction Control No No Yes
Ride by Wire No No Yes
LED tail light Yes Yes Yes
Rear seat cowl Yes Yes Yes
Alloy Wheels Yes Yes Yes
Instrument console Part digital Fully Digital Part digital

POWERTRAIN

All the three motorcycles here, despite having a pinch of the retro feel in their designs, do offer modern day engines having varying but strong levels of performance and character.

Harley Davidson Street Rod

With the Street series of motorcycles, Harley-Davidson introduced an all new family of engines, Revolution X. The new Street Rod is powered by the same mill as the Street 750. It is a water-cooled, four-stroke, twin cylinder, 749cc Revolution X V-Twin engine, which is also the larger of the two Revolution X Engines. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that HD were lazy to leave it untouched. They had a major rework on the power mill to produce 11 percent power boost on the top end and 5 percent more torque across the rev range when compared to the Street 750. Harley-Davidson claims the Street Rod will produce 69 horsepower at 8,750 rpm and 62 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The Street Rod gets a high-performance airbox that feeds dual throttle bodies and separate intake manifolds that feed the heads individually. The belt driven transmission is through a 6-speed gearbox. The sound eliminating from the wider pipes has a low-frequency thumping rumble which was tuned to perfection in their state-of-the-art sound facility to be instantly recognisable on any street corner in the world.

Although it misses out on the exclusivity, it still notes deep. As expected from Harley-Davidson, the engine has got the same notable strong mid-range and punchy top end power, though it may not give you the adrenaline rush of the rest of the motorcycles of Harley, as it misses out on the trademark ‘potato-potato’ exhaust note reminiscent of other Harleys. Courtesy, new emission norms. Nevertheless, the engine is quite powerful for its size and is equally at home in both city peripherals as well as highways.

Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer

The design of the Scrambler Café Racer may evoke the senses and feels of an old school café racer of the past decades, but under the skin, it is a twenty-first century Ducati powerhouse by every bit. It is powered by an L-twin Desmodromic fuel-injected 803cc engine.

It is a commendable job done by Ducati to have managed to spin the same engine and create that many Scramblers each having their character. The loveable air-cooled 803cc motor is bolted to the steel trellis frame, and the Euro 4 compliant engine develops 75bhp at 8,250 rpm and 68Nm of peak torque at 5,750 rpm. Although it is the same motor, riders can now expect quite a treatment to their ears due to the Termignoni silencer.

Promising smoother delivery of power and faster throttle response, especially at lower rpm, than ever before. This is the same engine which used to thrust the Ducati Monster 796 as well, though, for the Scrambler Café Racer, the cams are slightly redesigned to achieve a more usable top-end power. The engine channels the power produced to the rear wheel through a six-speed gearbox.

Unlike its other stablemates, the nature of this engine is not furious, but it’s a beast in disguise. The engine surprises you with its immediate power delivery as and when required, but otherwise it’s a calm engine which doesn’t feel wild when ridden sedately. It has been tuned to deliver a healthy top-end power, with adequate low-end and mid-range grunt.

" The Ducati’s engine surprises you with its immediate power delivery as and when required, but otherwise it’s a calm engine which doesn’t feel wild when ridden sedately"

Triumph Street Cup

Triumph took a big makeover for their Bonneville line-up last year introducing five models with a 900 cc motor tainted as ‘high torque’ along with chassis redesign and styling. The powertrain here remains similar to the Street Twin model that came out last year.

Boasting a ‘high torque’ 900cc motor that liquid cooled, parallel twin, 8-valve engine is capable of 54bhp @5900 rpm. Not much one would say but is enough to wind around in the urban city more comfortably. The torque figures are in the range of 80Nm which is significantly higher compared to Street Rod or the Scrambler Café-Racer.

This makes it stress-free to ride in lower gears, as it now comes with an even healthier bottom end grunt and stronger mid-range. The engine is mated to the same 5-speed gearbox as that of the previous model. The exhaust note from its parallel twin 270° crank is beefier with the exhaust system making use of shorter upswept steel mufflers. There is a torque assist clutch system that makes power delivery for a start stop urban commute a breeze.

Engine Specification

Make Model 2017 Harley Davidson Street Rod Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer Triumph Street Cup
Capacity cc 749 803 900
Bore/ Stroke mm 85/66 88/66 84.6/80
Output 69 bhp @ 8750 rpm 75 bhp @ 8250 rpm 54 bhp @ 5900 rpm
Torque 62 Nm @ 4000 rpm 68 Nm @ 5750 rpm 80 Nm @ 3230 rpm
Type High Output Revolution X V-Twin L-Twin cylinder, air cooled Liquid cooled, 8 valve, SOHC, parallel twin
Clutch type Wet- Multiplate APTC wet multiplate clutch with mechanical control Wet- Multiplate assist clutch
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed 5-speed

Out of all these motorcycles, the Scrambler Café Racer is the one if you love your motorcycle to be pushed harder most of the times, while with the most torque-filled engine of the lot, the Street Cup is the most impressive. The Street Rod, with the smallest engine here, could have done with a bit more power.

RIDE AND HANDLING

With variations in the way they look and perform, both all the three motorcycles here do differ in the way they handle on the tarmac as well.

Harley Davidson Street Rod

As obvious, being one of the smallest motorcycles in Harley Davidson’s Indian portfolio, the Street Rod will be quite a nimble motorcycle to ride. Although the Street Rod makes use of the same frame as the 750, the chassis setup makes it shift more towards the sporty zone rather than the cruiser. The fuel tank position is taken further back to necessitate better centre of gravity, and the rider sits farther forward. The drag styled handle-bar, and higher footpeg positions give in for a sporty seating position with ample amounts of confidence to twist through urban traffic snarls. The Street Rod gets a two-piece 2-up seat with a perforated finish and a French stitch pattern along with foot pegs for your passenger.

Suspension units are enhanced form the Street 750 with the Rod getting 43mm black-anodized inverted fork at the front and the rear piggyback shocks that offer increased suspension travel and are tuned for a sportier ride and greater lean angle. Dual 300 mm disk front brakes and a single at the rear with dual piston callipers provide premium braking performance, quick reaction and stopping power. ABS comes as a standard fitment on the cast aluminium 17-inch wheels at both ends with Michelin Scorcher radials.

Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer

At this age, the Scrambler is a proven platform; nimble and accessible, it appeals to a wide variety of riders. Like all the other Ducatis, the Scrambler Café Racer too sits atop a tubular Trellis frame, albeit in a reinforced state. This street orient takes from Ducati has a more aggressive riding position like a vintage, which features running clip-on handlebars meaning you can take the twisty asphalt with panache. Changed rake and trail setting alter the geometry significantly to give a more sporty edge along with the rear set foot-pegs that may not make up a comfortable riding posture, but they manage to raise the fun factor with the sporty and aggressive seating position.

Acting behind the scene are Bosch 9.1 ABS equipped dual 330mm semi-floating rotors up front, with radial Brembo M4-32 callipers and a 245 mm single calliper at the rear with a radial front brake pump equipment that is typically reserved for sport-inclined machines; a Scrambler first. Debuting in this scrambler are also the fully adjustable Kayaba 41mm forks featuring 5.9 inches of travel, along with a pre-load adjustable rear shock. The Pirelli Diablo Rossi II’s keep you planted no matter who you are.

" This street orient take from Ducati has a more aggressive riding position like a vintage, which features running clip-on handlebars meaning you can take the twisty asphalt with panache."

Triumph Street Cup

Apart from the engine and gearbox, the Street Cup shares a lot of the mechanical underpinnings with the new Street Twin. But when it comes to ergonomics, the attitude that the Street Cup carries is more dynamic, and sport focussed. The seat height is higher and further back compared to the Street Twin along with the Ace handlebar being forward. That sure is a more engaging position to ride along streets.

When it comes to the chassis, it’s more uniquely designed dedicated to a more neutral and predictable handling. The steering angle is steeper and to accommodate it, KYB twin shocks with adjustable preload have been used. ABS is a standard for giving more confidence to the rider. To have an easy urban commute, both shocks provide a pretty impressive 120 mm travel and stopping this Bonneville is with the help of Nissin 2-piston floating callipers. You might as well say that this Street Cup is a no-compromise setup and is just the right formula to get colourful on your city streets.

Rider aids such as ride-by-wire, ABS and switchable traction control adorns the newbies and experienced riders alike.

" You might as well say that this Street Cup is a no-compromise setup and is just the right formula to get colourful on your city streets."

Chassis Specifications

Make Model 2017 Harley Davidson Street Rod Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer Triumph Street Cup
Suspension / Front 43mm Telescopic fork Upside down Kayaba 41 mm fork KYB 41 mm forks, 120 mm travel
Suspension / Rear Twin tubular, piggy-back shocks, externally mounted (pre-load adjustment only) Kayaba rear shock with fully adjustable preload KYB twin shocks with adjustable preload, 120 mm rear wheel travel
Brakes / Front 300mm Dual Disc 2-piston floated 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Monobloc Brembo M4-32 calliper, 4-pistons, radial pump with adjustable lever, with Bosch ABS as standard Single 310 mm floating disc, Nissin2-piston floating calliper, ABS
Brakes / Rear 300 mm disc 2-piston floated 245 mm disc, 1-piston floating calliper with Bosch ABS as standard equipment Single 255 mm disc, Nissin 2-piston floating calliper, ABS
Tyres / Front 3.5”X17 120/70 ZR17 100/90 R18
Tyres / Rear 4.5”X17 180/55 ZR17 150/70 R17

All these three motorcycles are quite a hoot to ride and have strong mechanicals to vouch for. However, with the least kerb weight on paper, the Street Cup is the most dynamic and sportiest motorcycle to ride in all conditions, which is further enriched by the slightly sportier ergonomics it has got over the other two. It even gets rider aids.

PRICE

This is the section where the American beats down its competition with head held way up. Harley-Davidson has recently launched this bike in India, and the motorcycle could be yours starting at ₹ 5.83 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). This makes it the least expensive motorcycle to buy in competition with the Ducati and Triumph. You will get the Street Rod in three colour options: Vivid Black, Olive Gold and Charcoal Denim.

The Italian guy, on the other hand, cost more. Much more. You can get your hands on this Scrambler for a price tag of close to ₹ 8.5 lakhs, although it is not official. Ducati India will bring it to India as completely built-up (CBU) units from their Thailand factory and will be available in only the Black Coffee colour, which comes with golden inserts to its fuel tank and alloy wheels.

Triumph has not yet announced the pricing list and its availability. Although, we believe it is going to be under ₹9 lakhs hoping Triumph won’t ask too much of a premium for this Street Cup. Internationally, the Street Cup has been launched in two new colour options – Racing Yellow with Silver Ice and Jet Black with Silver Ice, both of which will come to the Indian market as well.

VERDICT

The Street Rod will share a unique space when it comes to putting it under a category. As aforementioned, it is neither a café-racer nor a flat tracker. This attempt of Harley is to lure customers who might not have considered the brand before; those who are always in need of a little more power. This packaged machine from the American brand seals the deal on having a sporty outlook on a cruiser model. An American stamp on the sporting standard.

More could be told about this bike when it launches in the country this year, and scribes will write sagas about how well made this motorcycle is. More power, improved suspension, tweaked geometry, and better brakes. Yet, it looks a tad mundane when you compare it with the Ducati and Triumph. Also, the engine isn’t rev-loving in nature, but it manages to pluck your heart strings with its linear and calm power delivery, which can be best enjoyed on open roads with ease. And with a price and sales and service network which easily undercuts both the Street Cup and Scrambler Café Racer, the Street Rod is one motorcycle which scores the most regarding value for money factor.

If I were to judge on looks alone, I’d say that Ducati Scrambler Café Racer has nailed it. This factory made build will keep enthusiasts fixated on the charm and poise this café-racer will ride with and is surely going to be a hit with everyone. Ducati has not just added one more jewel to the captivating lineup of Scrambler motorcycles, but in whole, has given a rebirth to the café racers which Ducati used to make in erstwhile eras, which were based on the Monster lineup.

With its old school looks complemented with modern touches like golden alloy wheels, fully digital meters and meatier Pirelli rubbers, the Scrambler Café Racer takes itself to the chart of the most beautiful looking middleweight motorcycles of today’s age. Adding to it, the typical Ducati traits of being focused on adrenaline-rushing performance and sharp riding dynamics have been retained in the Scrambler Café Racer as well. If anything is off here, it would be the price and the limited service network.

The Triumph, on the other hand, is modern, but make no mistake, it has it all to be classy. The blokes at Triumph have managed to set just the right setup for a fun and practical way to hit the streets. In comparison to the Scrambler Café Racer, it looks more retro and has the old-world charm, thanks to its roots into the traditional Bonneville range. The motorcycle has a punchier midrange performance, which gives it an edge when your most of the running circle is within the city peripherals. Adding to it, the modern day electronic riding aids like ABS, traction control and ride by wire technology makes it an easy-to-handle motorcycle despite its higher kerb weight.

As the Bonneville line keeps growing with stronger contenders, this agile Street Cup is evidence that triumph has come a full circle after is got resurrected nearly two decades ago. Overall, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the Street Cup is indeed a successful spiritual successor to the previous Thruxton, which itself is a tall-raised acclaim to carry on its shoulders. And if having a torquey engine under the skin of a retro charm is your thing, this Triumph has to be your choice.

Final scores

Make Model Harley Davidson Street Rod Ducati Scrambler Café-Racer Triumph Street Cup
Economy 7 6 6
Features 7 7 8
Performance 8 9 9
Quality 8 8 9
Safety 7 8 8
Styling 8 8 8
Value for money 8 7 7
Numbers says it all 7.57 7.57 7.85

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