On yer bike: Harley 500 Street

While on holiday in the USA, FMM Curator Wayne Harley decided to take a two-day bike ride and see how they do things on the other side of the planet.

As one does in the USA, I rented a Harley-Davidson from an excellent company in Marina Del Ray known as Eagle Rider, which has a number of different bikes and packages available to suit one’s pocket. As my rands don’t go too far in the US, I opted for the bottom end of the scale and rented a Harley 500 Street, a process all done on line with no fuss at all. I was excited to be riding the little Harley as we don’t get them in South Africa. Upon my arrival at Bartels Harley, I was directed to the check-in desk of the Eagle Rider Rentals and spoke with Craig, the most helpful chap I’ve ever met. Craig quickly set me up with my ride and included the good news that I had been upgraded to a 2019 Low Rider 107. He quickly sorted out all the usual red tape and in less than 15 minutes I was thumping my way up Lincoln Boulevard.

The big Harley pulls like a steam train and the Milwaukee 107 ci/1 745 cm3 motor has no power problems. The 45-degree V-twin pumps out 144 N.m of torque at 3 000 r/min, and cruising along at 65 mph (105 km/h) is a breeze.  I decided to use the bike around town and, as with the 1200 Steel which I tested last year, I found that the low-rider is a great bike in traffic – just a little heavy at 310 kg making it harder to stop. The seating position is comfortable in a typical knees-up position, and the pullback ‘buck-horn style handlebars’ are not too bad. However, on the open road you become a bit of a wind sock as the bike feels and rides just like a typical Harley, although the 6-speed gearbox was smoother than on the 1200 Steel, and the seat was a lot more comfortable, looking like it came straight off the Fat Boy.

I rode it out to Ojia, California, a quaint little Spanish-style town. However, it started raining, which put a major damper on the journey but the bike performed really well, even in the wet conditions, feeling extremely stable, helped by the long, 1 630 mm wheel base.  The instruments are just a pain to read on the tank, though, and I found myself looking downwards a lot.

It’s hard to fault a big Harley as it does what it’s designed to do very well. Styling is typically classic, but twist her ear and you know you are sitting on a machine with plenty of brute force, and 0-100 comes up in under 5 seconds – not bad for such a heavy machine.

All too quickly my two days with the Low Rider 107 was over, as well as my first ever motorcycle ride in the USA, which is an experience all of its own, believe me! On returning to Bartles and Eagle Rider, Craig again did a stunning job of checking the bike back in and wishing me well on my way. I suggest you have a look at his Instagram page and see what he is up to… Thank you, Craig, and Eagle Rider Marina Del Ray