Every manufacturer in the motorcycle industry has a laser focus on attracting young riders, new riders, women riders, city riders, and even empty nesters. Until debuting the Street 500 in 2014, Harley-Davidson had not offered a motorcycle smaller than 500cc since the 1970s while partnered with Italian firm Aermacchi. Today, this means the Street 500 is a significant broadening of H-D’s model lineup to attract exactly the sort of riders described above.
If this sounds like you, know that the Street 500 shares numerous Harley-Davidson design cues, such as a V-twin engine (with a 60-degree layout for enhanced smoothness versus H-D’s historic 45 degrees) and a thematic “Harley” profile. As well, the engine, whose core engineering is shared with the Street 750, uses liquid-cooling instead of H-D’s traditional air-cooling, and the power is tailored to satisfy the needs of newcomers. That means performance is modest as streetbikes go, but accompanying this is a friendly price tag, easier insurance and loan costs, and overall, a nonthreatening ride experience that new riders will genuinely appreciate.
Likes: A refreshing and affordable new approach for narrow-focused Harley-Davidson.
Dislikes: Heavy for a 500, soft on power, limited cornering clearance, short-travel suspension.
Verdict: If you're smaller, new to riding, intrigued by the Harley idiom, mostly need city transportation, and like to buy new, this could be your bike.