Mean machine with street presence

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul." And Harley-Davidson's Dyna Street Bob certainly moves the soul. It is a stripped-down cruiser and brings back the old-school charm in new, eye-catching colours. In its 110th year, Harley-Davidson has given the city cruiser some changes, but we will get to that later.

A city ride is a treat - the post-War designed mini ape-hanger handlebar and solo seat reflect the Street Bob's aggressive attitude. The riding position might look cool with your arms stretched out, but it can take a toll unless you are a natural 6 feet 2 incher. Initially you have this doubt whether the handlebars will allow you to coast the streets freely. But once you get used to it you wouldn't want to get off the bike. Don't get me wrong - you may not be able to beat the traffic jam, but the riding stance ensures you are molly-coddled on the streets. Also at a controlled lower speed, the Street Bob feels light at the corners. But what is good is that it has a fairly decent ground clearance, and though the foot pegs tend to get scraped occasionally, you needn't worry about the bike bottoming.

There is never any lack of power as the Street Bob accelerates with a punch. With 124Nm of torque at 3250 rpm at hand, the engine never begs for mercy when the throttle is twisted. The twin cam 96 engine roars with the signature "potato-potato" sound. The linear power supply may make the bike seem predictable, but this is a good thing because it means there is no sudden burst of power that would catch you off guard on busy streets. The powertrain is newly designed for 2013 too.

The six-speed transmission's gear ratio makes sure that you don't need to keep fidgeting with the gears. And yet, because we are so pampered by the smooth gear shift of Japanese bikes, we feel the Street Bob's gears are heavy and chunky. The neutral gear can bamboozle you by disappearing when you stop at the traffic light; it can be embarrassing as you keep playing around with the gear lever.

Braking has never been Harley-Davidson's strong points, and the Street Bob follows tradition. So when you see cows, dogs and nonchalant pedestrians crossing the road, we would suggest you pull the hand brakes hard and use the foot lever at the same time. To enhance Street Bob's safety department, Harley-Davidson has an optional Smart Security System. This comes with anti-lock braking, ensuring there is enough traction with the road to prevent uncontrolled skidding when the brakes are applied suddenly. It also comes with a factory-installed, next-generation security system that features a hands-free transmitter to automatically arm or disarm the bike electronic security functions as you approach or walk away from the bike.

One nice change that the Street Bob sports is the relocated ignition on the tank. This adds character to the bike, with the fuel tank being chrome centric along with the speedometer. The self-cancelling indicators are a welcome change, while the LCD info screen set under the speedometer is small but displays accurate information.

In the styling department, one can't help but give Harley-Davidson full marks for cleaning off the rear fender and replacing it with a new chopped one, for ditching the battery box trim, and for bolting on a gorgeous, classic, round air-cleaner cover. Harley-Davidson's main goal with the new Street Bob design is that it should give the impression of a big twin cam cruiser while sticking to a simple design format. It gives the customer the chance to redefine the bike in a personal way with an array of customisation options. Whatever the owner opts for, he will still have a bike that retains its unmistakable profile with the mini ape-hanger handlebars.

The reason why Harley-Davidson is still one of the sought-after motorcycle brands and continues to bring in the numbers is because it still follows its 110-year-old vision. While the rest of the industry changes direction in the manner of a fashion season, Harley-Davidson improves on its iconic motorcycles with modern technology and perhaps a flash of new paint or dark custom work.