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It's all about a lifestyle. More than any other brand, the line-up of Harley-Davidson's heavyweight cruisers, tourers and standards are some of motorcycling's ultimate status symbols. While those with deep pockets and experience crave for some of the brand's most sought-after bikes like Fat Boy, the Wisconsin-based manufacturer has not forgotten its younger fans. It has made a concerted effort to lure new riders by building motorcycles not just with lower seat heights but also, at fairly affordable prices.
Recently, Harley-Davidson announced that it would be bringing in the Street Bob Custom and the Super Glide Custom as CKDs (completely knocked down or, in other words, whole parts brought in and reassembled here). Of course, the Super Low, Iron 883 and the 48 are CKDs as well, but one look at these two is enough to tell you that these are the real deal.
SPIRIT OF THE SUPER GLIDE
The Super Glide may be a new name on Indian shores but the fact is that it has been a part of Harley-Davidson's vocabulary for as long as 41 years. For 2012, the Super Glide Custom continues - representing the core product from the Milwaukee company, a cruiser that sticks to classic Harley styling, has a low seat height matched with an easygoing ergonomic fit and is powered by a 45-degree, air-cooled, pushrod big-bore V-Twin.
Chrome has always been a big draw when it comes to Harleys and the Super Glide has oodles of it. In fact, there is enough to blind the rider and the traffic around if you ride it in bright sunlight. A typical Harley silhouette with the teardrop tank, flat wide handlebar and a the big protruding engine with its twin exhausts means the Super Glide looks stunning, to say the least. However, it's worth mentioning that the bikes we got were 'customised' to quite an extent. The handlebar, the position of the footrests, the wheels and that nice shiny backrest that you see were all bling additions.
Straddling the Super Glide Custom is a snap thanks to its notably low 26. 5-inch seat height that should allow almost everyone of average height and inseam to securely plant both boots flat. However, our custom footpegs were planted way up ahead and that did not make riding this hog a comfortable affair. So, if you're anywhere close to six feet tall, it shouldn't be a problem but for us average 5' 8"s, it proved quite a task with the custom footpegs. However, we tried the bike in stock trim and it's just perfect that way.
Thumb the starter and the Super Glide 1585 cc air-cooled twin cam 96 engine rumbles to life. In the Dyna line, the TC96 is rubbermounted, which means there's a whole lot of shaking going on, especially at idle. However, once under power, the big twin smoothens out especially at cruising speeds. It's quite a modern engine too, featuring an electronic sequential port fuel injection because of which the Super Glide has a crackling throttle response. Mated to a six-speed transmission, the SGC goes on rampage when you give it the whip and acceleration is hard enough to make you hold on to those bars for dear life. However, get into cruise mode and then this Harley gets into its element. Happily chugging along with 124Nm of torque at its disposal, this limo on two wheels is made for the open roads.
The suspension is on the stiff side and really bad roads upset the bike and the rider to quite an extent but ride quality is still pretty decent. This Harley isn't meant to stitch corners however;the stiff chassis along with the well set up suspension and the brilliant Michelin Scorcher tyres means you can lean with confidence till you hear the parts scraping.
If the Super Glide is the king of bling, the Street Bob is the bad boy oozing attitude. The one we got was again heavily customised and need we say looked mean in metal. Getting to the name, the Street Bob is pretty much based on Bobbers which are usually stripped down custom motorcycles with the front fender removed, the rear fender 'bobbed' or made smaller, and all superfluous parts removed to make it lighter.
Now the Street Bob isn't totally stripped out and weighs at a burly 305 kg. But it does give a clean, harmonious look rather than the hodgepodge job sometimes seen on true bob-job bikes that are hand-assembled at local garages. Our Street Bob looked especially distinctive thanks to the customised 'Ghost Rider' paint job, the 'Heavy Breather' air filter and those mental matte black 'Screamin' Eagle' pipes. No chrome here to grab attention, just plain oldfashioned muscle and yes, a lot of noise.
While the customised add-ons looked hot, it was more of a case of form over function. The grips on the high-rise handlebars were made of aluminium with grooves in them which meant they pinched your hands every time you tightened your grip. The foot-rests as in the Super Glide were places way too far to be comfortable for individuals of average height.
Powering the Bob is the same block that powers the Super Glide. However, the massive air filter coupled with the Screamin' Eagle exhausts gave the Street Bob a lot of extra pep and, not to mention, a very impressive exhaust note. Even though the engines are the same, both the bikes exhibit and evoke different styles of riding. Where the Super Glide is the chilledout cruiser, the Street Bob is one that makes its attention felt in every way possible. Twist the wrist and this ghost rider goes like no other. The only thing missing is a trail of fire as seen in the movie. If you are looking at performance, this one will always keep you smiling. It's a lot more aggressive and definitely more demanding of the two to ride as well.
The Bob handles pretty decently but taking the twisties with those tall bars feels a little awkward. Keeping it straight is the mantra here. The bike, however, is pretty unkind when it comes to bumps. Even the minor ones unsettle the bike easily and bad roads are a strict nono. That said, the Street Bob isn't for everyone. It's a machine that makes you live on its own terms rather than the other way around.
At Rs 10. 10 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) one would love to own the Street Bob just for the way it looks and feels. However, if I'm out there for a Harley which I can really go the distance with, it will be the Street Glide. At Rs 11. 65 lakh it's slightly more expensive but it's also a lot more usable. The Street Glide represents the core of a Harley while the Street Bob is one of the most attractive, emotive and entertaining Harleys out there. Take your pick!
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