Harley-Davidson on Monday blew the covers off two dramatic new motorcycles for 2014: the Street 750 and Street 500.
The bikes represent an aggressive attempt to expand Harley's already massive reach to younger, newer and smaller riders by offering them a substantially lighter and more manageable urban street cruiser.
Both models feature the company's Dark Custom stylings, and a new fuel-injected, liquid-cooled Revolution X motor, cradled in an all-new frame.
The belt-driven bikes feature a seat height of barely 25 inches and a fueled weight of only 480 pounds.
When they hit dealers in early 2014, the Street 500 will have an MSRP of about $6,700, and the Street 750 about $7,500.
Calling the unveiling "a great day in our history," Matthew S. Levatich, Harley's president and chief operating officer, said the Street series "fills a need for people who want to identify with a brand but have a motorcycle that is less intimidating, and more inviting. This bike is easier to ride and easier to learn how to ride."
Already the dominant motorcycle company in the American marketplace -- some studies estimate that Harley is responsible for more than 50% of motorcycle sales in the U.S. -- the Milwaukee-based company is particularly targeting younger riders and smaller riders, with a view to bringing in buyers in the domestic market who might not be able to afford a bike as expensive as a traditional Harley and those in the Asian market who might not want a bike as large as a traditional Harley.
Harley will also be able to supply bikes for its own Riders Edge program, a rider training series that, for first-time riders, requires a 500cc or under motorcycle. In the past, during the period that the company was partnered with designer Erik Buell, Harley had used the 500cc Buell Blast for this purpose.
Levatich is bullish on the Street's chances in the marketplace. Having already stirred up the motorcycle world with the August release of its new Project Rushmore machines, Levatich said he's hearing from his dealers that the Streets will catch fire.
"We thought the competition was not going to like Project Rushmore," a dealer told Levatich. "Well, the competition is really not going to like this bike."
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