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.
Nope, the side cover didn't fall of. I wired up a cell charger and instantly lost the bolt. Sorry about that…
The Street Bob is my favorite 2010 big twin because of its less decorated design
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.
Burnouts are for nerds
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.
My favorite part of this machine: this engine's power is smooth, reliable and healthy
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.
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.
C'mon Harley, make stuff that inspires us, not this generic knock-off
If you are used the security of a petcock, fuel injection and a wildly inaccurate gas gauge may take some getting used to
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.
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.
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: 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
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
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)
Engine Torque (per SAE J1349): 92 ft. lbs. @ 3000 rpm (124.75 Nm @ 3000 rpm)
Lean Angle (per SAE J1168):
Right 30°; Left 31°
(EPA urban/highway test)
35/54 mpg (6.72/4.36 L/100 km)
Length 92.80 in. (2357.12 mm)
Overall Width 37.50 in. (952.50 mm)
Overall Height 50.40 in. (1280.16 mm)
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)
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