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Road Test: 2010 Harley Davidson Street Bob FXDB

 

bob_sunburst.jpg

 

Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to borrow a 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Bob for an excursion down to the tip of Baja and back. The purpose of that adventure: to escort a pack of pro skateboarders to various pools and parks on the Mexican peninsula aboard a variety of new and used H-D machines. I figured this would be a good opportunity to shake down one of the MoCo's shiny new big twins and report my experience to any ChopCult members who might be considering such a machine. I realize ChopCult’s audience is focused on older, garage-built customs, but the fact is, a new bike is a better fit for lots of folks. Maybe a great second bike to ride while the Triumph is in pieces again, or for those times when you are rebuilding that troublehead for the fourth time. Whatever the situation, sometimes it's nice to just get on a bike you can trust and ride the piss out of it. That’s exactly what I did with this Street Bob. In Mexico. If a motorcycle has weaknesses, Baja will exploit them. You can read a little more about the trip here, but this story is about the bike.

With so much media attention given to the last generation of Sportsters, Nightsters and full-dress Baggers, the venerable Dyna Big Twins seem to have gotten the cold shoulder. If you want a full tech feature on this machine, there are plenty of those in the mainstream magazines and V-Twin websites. I wasn’t loaned this bike for the purpose of doing a product review, and that’s not what this story is about. What you have here is a workin’ Joe’s experience of riding a modern Harley on a 12-day, 2,000-mile journey through the broadest range of terrain and conditions possible.

 

bob_r.jpg

Nope, the side cover didn't fall of. I wired up a cell charger and instantly lost the bolt. Sorry about that…

 

bob_rear.jpg

The Street Bob is my favorite 2010 big twin because of its less decorated design

 

SUBJECTIVE STUFF
On first glance, what I like most about this machine is that it’s basically a regular old motorcycle. No fake bad boy nonsense, no double headlights or retro-inspired springers, factory flames or statements of mass-produced individuality. No factory chopper here—just an unapologetic, basic H-D, and that's a look I can live with. The flat black paint might be pandering to the alternative crowd a little bit, but I doubt it’s something I'd grow tired of looking at after years of riding. The nine-eighths scale imitation Sparto limp dick tail light isn't offensive, but I'd rather see Harley innovate and inspire with new designs rather than copy half-century old British aesthetics. At least it's simple and plain; not over decorated by any means.


bob_burnout.jpg

Burnouts are for nerds

 

ERGONOMICS
Mid controls add to the practical spirit of the FXDB. I found them to be slightly forward of natural, but not outside of contemporary H-D tradition. Bars and seats are probably the first thing new owners swap out for aftermarket items, but I found both to be comfortable in stock form, except for the overly wide handlebars. I'm short (5' 9") and fat (210 lb.), and the bike fitted fine as delivered. Harley managed to eliminate the typical right-leg-out riding position by sculpting the air cleaner, and the fuel injection probably contributes to the narrower engine profile, too. Risers built into the top triple tree eliminate options for aftermarket mods, but the trees are purposefully built and not unattractive. A lankier fellow might want to rock the bars forward or look into a different seat, but other than the bars being wider than I prefer, it was easy to get used to. Standing up over the 50 miles of dirt, dust and washboard roads we encountered on our journey was easy to do for short stints, but the position was too far forward to hold onto for sustained rides and it was impossible to shift standing up. I doubt that standing comfort is in the mission statement for this or any Harley-Davidson for that matter, but it was something I noticed.

 

bob_twinky.jpg

My favorite part of this machine: this engine's power is smooth, reliable and healthy

 

POWERTRAIN
If you are used to an old 74" with a clackety top end, modern machines like my Street Bob are quite a different experience. This bike feels like it was built to be a training device. Even on poor-quality Pemex gasolina it was hard to make it ping. Thank you, fuel injection! With friendly-neighbor quiet pipes and no tach, it was easy to end up in the wrong gear. With so many gears to choose from and such an electric motor-like power curve, it was easy to lug the engine at low RPM’s or cruise at 80 in fifth and forget entirely about that final overdrive. Fortunately there’s a little green "6" that lights up once you are in top gear. HD has issued PR fodder about the quieter, helical-cut 5th gear, but the tranny, while shifting smoothly, still sounds like you've dropped a toolbox full of loose sockets every time you shift. It's almost dangerous how easy the bike is to ride, putting even beginners in the comfort zone with little effort or acquired skill. The clutch pull is lighter than Gavin Newsom's loafers and throttle response is powerful but requires a fair twist to get things going. The bottom line? The Street Bob’s not fun, flickable or nimble, but it is easy to ride, with loads of composed power that’s capable of far exceeding the average rider’s need for speed in a very diplomatic sort of way. I imagine a set of pipes and a Power Commander or other EFI tweak would make this bike a handful of fun for more experienced riders.

 

bob_pipes.jpg

Stock pipes are good looking but soooo quiet

 

CHASSIS, SUSPENSION & BRAKES
Subtle hint to the factory: The rear brakes on this bike suck. As delivered, the rear brake pedal is close to dangerous. It was way too far forward, and trying to articulate my foot that far was nearly impossible. I could only get the bike to skid while standing up or in dirt, and try as I might I couldn't lock up the rear on the street. I think it can be adjusted in the brake-actuating rod, but if this is the way they are delivered, someone might want to reconsider the spec. Although only a single disc, the front brake did its job more than adequately, and without complaint. At about 13k suggested retail, I must assume this is an entry-level H-D Big Twin. What would really suck is spending thirteen large only to feel like you bought the cheap model. While the powertrain feels world class, the suspension feels third world. Harley has a tough row to hoe here. Most customers probably want the machine as low as possible for profiling down Main Street or cruising the super slab. The bike is well suited for both duties, but on the cobbles and washboard of Baja it wasn't up to the task. The heavy, over-built frame and swingarm showed no signs of flexing or fatigue, but when pushed to even moderate limits on semi-challenging terrain the rear shocks gave up the fight almost instantly. The front forks were moderately better, but still bottomed quite easily, and sometimes noisily over Mexican “topes” or speed bumps. Did I mention how the rest of the chassis felt rock solid? No quivering in corners, and the only head shake I encountered was over 95 mph. Up until about 90 mph, this bike tracks true and straight. Much over that and I experienced unnerving wobble, but that was likely induced by my personal bad aerodynamics—I had a lot of gear strapped to my bars. Low speed work was generally easy, but the front end did feel very light at parking lot speeds. This makes the bike easy to maneuver but also explains why you see so many douches with their feet out, doing the "Hobie Cat" between stop signs.

 

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C'mon Harley, make stuff that inspires us, not this generic knock-off

 

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Peg fail

 

bob_tank.jpg

If you are used the security of a petcock, fuel injection and a wildly inaccurate gas gauge may take some getting used to


DETAILS
The Street Bob has the key switch in the neck, which is a pet peeve of mine. I prefer the “unlock it and leave it” method of ignition on the Fat Bob. In its current setup, the FXDB lets the key fall out when you turn the engine off and walk away. Maybe that’s OK, but I'm used to bikes that either have a key that stays in or that you can leave on and put the key back in your pocket. Probably not a big deal if you are used to modern H-D ignitions, but I never did warm up to it. The gas gauge is useless. It moves quickly from almost full (never shows full) and I the warning light came on at 125 miles, which is way too early. It glowed menacingly the last fifteen miles into town one night and then the next morning didn't come on when I started the bike. With almost 5 gallons of capacity that seems like a sensitive nanny, but with no petcock or mechanical reserve to fall back on, it made me nervous. The only real failure was the rubbers on the foot pegs, I looked down after about 500 miles and the right side was completely missing, leaving only the rubber isolators and slippery metal sleeves. I thought it might be a fluke until I saw that Patrick’s Fat Bob was missing his, too. Another 500 or so miles later, the rubber bits on my left peg were gone too. Not a big deal, but I'd expect a recall on the pegs since we had 100-percent failure in less than 2,000 miles.


bob_billdozer.jpg
 

CONCLUSION
This bike looks good, the powertrain is as good as it gets for any late-model American V-Twin we’ve ridden (Victory, send us a test bike!) and it started and ran reliably through what was arguably the roughest road test ever. Ol' Bob never missed a beat, hauled ass the whole way and only some insignificant bits fell off. For 13-thousand dollars I think I'd buy a Springfield Operator 1911, a 1970 Chevy C-10, an Evo FXR, a unit Triumph chop and take the old lady out for a steak, but if you need payments on a reliable daily driver that won't let you down or embarrass you, The 2010 H-D Street Bob might be your ticket.


SPECS:
2010 Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob FXDB
USA MSRP: Vivid Black $12,999, Solids $13,374
Canada MSRP: See Local Canadian Dealer For Pricing

ENGINE:
Engine: Air-cooled, Twin Cam 96™
Valves: Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 3.75 in. x 4.38 in. (95.25 mm x 111.25 mm)
Displacement: 96 cu. in. (1584 cc)
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel System: Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Air Cleaner: Fiberglass Media, washable
Lubrication System: Pressurized, dry-sump

DRIVETRAIN:
Primary Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive: Belt, 32/66 ratio
Clutch: Multi-plate, wet
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive®
U.S. gear ratios (overall): 1st 9.311, 2nd 6.454, 3rd 4.793, 4th 3.882, 5th 3.307, 6th 2.790

CHASSIS:
Frame: Mild steel, tubular frame; rectangular section backbone; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; forged fender supports; MIG welded
Swingarm: Mild steel, rectangular tube sections, stamped junctions; MIG welded
Front Forks: 49 mm with polished aluminum fork triple clamp and dual-rate springs
Rear Shocks: Coil-over shock
Wheels: Black, Laced Steel, Front: 19 in. x 2.50 in. (482.60 mm x 63.50 mm)
Rear 17 in. x 4.50 in. (431.80 mm x 114.30 mm)
Brakes: Caliper Type 4-piston fixed front, and 2-piston torque-free floating rear:
Rotor Type (diameter x width): Patented, uniform expansion rotors (floating, front only); Front (floating) 11.80 in. x .20 in. (299.72 mm x 5.08 mm);  Rear 11.50 in. x .23 in. (292.10 mm x 5.84 mm)
Suspension travel: Front Wheel 5 in. (127.0 mm); Rear Wheel 3.10 in. (78.74 mm)

PERFORMANCE:
Engine Torque (per SAE J1349): 92 ft. lbs. @ 3000 rpm (124.75 Nm @ 3000 rpm)
Lean Angle (per SAE J1168):
Right 30°; Left 31°
Fuel Economy
(EPA urban/highway test)
35/54 mpg (6.72/4.36 L/100 km)

DIMENSIONS:
Length 92.80 in. (2357.12 mm)
Overall Width 37.50 in. (952.50 mm)
Overall Height 50.40 in. (1280.16 mm)
Seat Height:
Laden: 25.50 in. (647.70 mm); Unladen: 26.70 in. (678.18 mm)
Ground Clearance 4.92 in. (124.97 mm)
Rake (steering head) 29°
Fork Angle 29°
Trail 4.70 in. (119.38 mm)
Wheelbase: 64.20 in. (1630.68 mm)
Tires (Michelin® Scorcher™ "31" front and rear): Front: 100/90-19 57H; Rear: 160/70-17 73V
Fuel Capacity: 4.70 gal. (17.79 L) (warning light at approximately 0.9 gal.)
Oil Capacity (w/filter) 3 qts. (2.84 L)
Transmission Capacity 1 qts. (0.95 L)
Primary Chain Case Capacity:1 qt. (0.95 L)
Weight:
As Shipped: 634 lbs. (287.58 kg)
In Running Order: 667 lbs. (302.55 kg)
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating: 1085 lbs. (492.16 kg)
Gross Axle Weight Rating: Front 390 lbs. (176.90 kg); Rear 695 lbs. (315.25 kg)
Color Options: Vivid Black, Black Denim, Black Ice Denim, Red Hot Sunglo


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Comment with Chopcult (28)

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 04:49 am
 

Having rode an FXDB in the past, I can agree with most of Bill's review. It's a great bike, but for the price you can do something far better/cooler.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 05:34 am
 

that conclusion was pretty great. I like your shopping list.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 05:52 am
 

It's a fair write up. The more suspicious of us might wonder how much MoCo is watching this board. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 06:11 am
 

I like the alternate shopping list. Is that denim paint (flat paint) still a $200 option? That's the reason I went back to shiny paint.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 06:26 am
 

Jay, they list "Vivd Black" as the base option so I don't think there is an up charge for it. As I understand the specs, any other "solid" colors are a $375 option.

Swellguy, I wonder that too of course.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 06:30 am
 

Thanks for the lowdown. Still not ready to run out and buy one.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 09:32 am
 

i had one for about 7 months as a company bike when they first came out - i will say the chrome was CRAP even by japanese standards. i rode it into a winter - horror of horrors - and the chrome started rust spotting and bolt heads red rusting etc.

also when i got mine there was a crazy bit in the trans that needed replacing at about 20k miles according to the service book which is pretty daft if you buy it as a reliable mile eater - id be pulling the trans down every 9 months if its even doable yourself. that may have been rectified now. but yep - i liked the bike a lot all in all.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 09:45 am
 

I own a '09 Street Bob. it's a good bike (for me) for evreyday ride,comfortable, reliable and cool. I bough it new to let it get old just have to change some accesories put some miles and years and I will get a vintage harley scoot !

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 12:05 pm
 

Good write-up Bill. The "Hobiecat" reference made me spit out my coffee.

I have a hard time even thinking about spending 13k on ANYTHING. Some people can live with monthly motorcycle payments, but in the Northeast with a 5 month riding season (maybe a bit more when we're lucky) I just can't see it.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 03:53 pm
 

My buddy rides an '08 bob and he loves it. He could do without the payment but the bike has never let him down through many high mileage trips and we even used it to tow start my dead sporty on a very cold Big Bend desert morning. I guess fuel injection can be a good thing... sometimes.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 04:12 pm
 

Well, now I am really confused. "For 13-thousand dollars I think I'd buy a Springfield Operator 1911, a 1970 Chevy C-10, an Evo FXR, a unit Triumph chop and take the old lady out for a steak, but if you need payments on a reliable daily driver that won't let you down or embarrass you, The 2010 H-D Street Bob might be your ticket."
Man, that Springfield Armory does sound sweet though......Maybe I will just keep the Triumph since she has 4 months to be paid off. Dam, I like that bike too but my farther-in-law, riding for 43 years, said the same thing you did Bill but, as a crusty former marine, he said it like this... "John, ride that stupid peace of shit British bike you have and take care of my daughter and grand kids with the money you will not be pissing away on payements." Thanks for the inspiration my brothers and keep riding!!!!

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 04:17 pm
 

I bought my 08 Street Bob last year as a war trophy and 21k miles later, it's still killing it. 78 miles a day in Dallas rush hour will push any machine to it's limits and it's responded well. I can't imaging ever riding in Baja, but if you've ever driven through Monroe, Louisiana at 80mph you know that's a pretty good test of a bike's mettle. The only hitch I've had is the K&N has sucked in water on more than one occasion. It does suck to write a check every month but my truck is paid for and I don't have time to wrench on what I ride.

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 04:48 pm
 

$13,000 equals 26 CB 750 fixer uppers.... givertake....

A lot seems to center around Bill's comment that while the drivetrain may be bullitproof (Sumo's comment not withstanding...) does the rest of the bike measure up for 13k? Sad day when 13k is entry level.

Are we really making such shoddy materials and workmanship in the US or is HD getting a lot of their stuff from other markets - i.e. buying chinese parts from US wholesalers... I'm not surprised that a manufacturer charges 13K for something that has some quality issues, I'm surprised that it's what we (big we) want to stand by as American Made.

Any Harley workers here have a different view or contrasting information?

I might also add that my Hinkley Triumph has some rear suspension issues as well in rougher terrain. I think the manuf take for granted smooth riding surfaces and don't do much to engineer improvements in the rear suspension....

~Rev Mike

Commented on 11-18-2009 At 05:33 pm
 

Harley is getting alot of parts overseas now. The front end has ben japanese for a long time. I just read yeaterday that they are thinking of buying parts from India now too. They were also thinking of movng the York, PA facility to the south where wages are lower and there is a lot of non union labor. I am a very proud American. I wish HD would do the right thing.

Commented on 11-19-2009 At 12:29 am
 

That was a great review, and I appreciate getting to read something "honest" from someone I KNOW is not writing a bike review with a preconceived agenda. Good job, bud, and well written, especially liked the last... ha.

Commented on 11-19-2009 At 02:56 am
 

Had an 06 ... fine enough bike but to be honest I'd take a Sportster over that Bob any day.

Commented on 11-19-2009 At 07:01 pm
 

I've got an 07. It's my commuter for my 80 mile a day commute and I've had no significant problems at 30,000 miles. I find it easily transformed to suit my needs with the bolt on shit I can pack it up for the long haul or strip it down to bar hop. All the little custom stuff I did to mine became standard by 09 so I guess the Motor company is listening...to me.

Commented on 11-19-2009 At 08:30 pm
 

"All the little custom stuff I did to mine became standard by 09 so I guess the Motor company is listening...to me. "

As was stated earlier, I would wonder if they have a watchful eye on this forum since they are lending motorcycles to Bill and all. Bulldozer has a great job my brothers......My job comes with road trips as well, out to sea on big ass Coast Guard ships!! HA! HA! Ride safe brothers!!!!

Commented on 11-20-2009 At 09:53 am
 

Thanks for the review, My favorite new HD by far.

Commented on 11-20-2009 At 06:03 pm
 

i just think its funny that a company like harley davidson is just making a "ok" bike. you would think they would have this shit down to a science by now. like kona said 13 k can buy you alot of cool shit or just a mediocore bike. id take the trump, chevy and the steak dinner any day

Commented on 12-7-2009 At 06:12 pm
 

Well written review.
I wouldn't buy one, I really think its a good bike...
but, I wouldn't.

Commented on 12-28-2009 At 07:21 pm
 

I've got a used '06 (the first year) and 'cept for the rotor/stator shitting the bed and blowing up like a matchbox in a microwave inside my primary the bike has been a tried and true sled. Too each his own I can spend $2000 to get my nuts shaved by a communist goat farmer if I want and it don't affect you. If I wanted a driveway full of Hondas then that's what I would've done..I'm sick of the rockstar posing on who's more "bike hip" and not a sellout..we all ride, we all love bikes. Believe me there's enough who look at us as scooter trash so th-fighting is B.S.

Commented on 5-19-2011 At 10:40 pm
 

here, here sir!

Commented on 1-27-2010 At 08:01 am
 

I have an 07' Street Bob and I love it.Made a few changes and have a whole lot more I'd like to do.Back brake felt a little spongey right from the factory but I've managed to get it sideways on asphault using just rear one.Fuel light will come on if you start bike on uneven ground and you really have about quarter tank but if you shut it off and re-start it on level ground it's usually gone.Mine has been paid-off for 2yrs. (no thanks to the lady that hit me in intersection)....I've been around Harley's and choppers since the 70's and would love to own some old iron, (as many of my family members & friends have or still do) but I think it's really lame when some of my fellow genX friends dog newer iron...that's ok cause' a dick on what he thinks is a cool ride is still a dick!

Commented on 12-17-2010 At 09:23 pm
 

I have a 2011 street bob. It is my work truck and has 25,000 on it with no problems yet. I still ride the shovel on the mornings when its not being a moody bitch but when the temp drops below 50 she becomes very tough to kick. Great article and in my opinion a dead on review... Great job Bill

Commented on 2-9-2011 At 06:51 pm
 

Good write up. Its nice to read a an unbiased, honest review and opinion.

Commented on 6-29-2011 At 03:55 am
 

I love my 2010 Street Bob. I want to go to a little taller bars, maybe 16", and need to change the pipes and air cleaner before I put the Power Commander on it. It already makes good power, but I want just a little bit more for those moments when you want to just let 'er rip!

Commented on 2-5-2012 At 02:14 am
 

Years ago we bought our Harleys because we wanted a Harley.If you just wanted a motorcycle you went and bought a consumers report and got the best bang for your buck.We weren't oblivious to the fact that they had flaws,I had a 750 Honda that had a bad tranny,They all have issues. I ended up trading it straight up for a Sportster that was setting in a snow bank.It had serious issues but I wanted it and I made it work. Thats how was and is for me.

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