The Street Bob’s elemental style has been winning fans since its debut in 2006. Its pared-down bobber appeal gets stronger in 2021 with the upgrade to the 114 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight motor.
Updates to the platform also include a new paint scheme prominently featuring the classic number 1 logo on the fuel tank. Our test bike was the Vivid Black version, which appeals for its darkness highlighted by blazing orange on the seamless tank. Other colorways include Stonewashed White Pearl, Baja Orange, and Deadwood Green, all of which add $400 to the base $14,999 price.
Your significant other might appreciate the passenger accommodations that are now standard equipment. Keyless ignition is also standard, but ABS will cost an additional $795.
The extra 122cc displacement over the 107 motor bumps the 114’s torque output by 12 lb-ft, resulting in readily apparent extra urge. Not that the 107 is weak by any means, but there’s just more power everywhere in the 114. There’s so much stonk on tap that it caught me off-guard while I entered an onramp less than a mile from Harley’s fleet center, powersliding up the ramp like a boss!
As the lightest Softail model equipped with the M-8 114 engine, the Street Bob never lacks for power. H-D says its 0-to-60-mph time is 9% quicker than with the 107 thanks to 119 lb-ft of peak torque. Roll-on performance is increased by a bigger margin, accelerating 13% quicker from 60 to 80 mph in 5th. It would spank the original Street Bob (the Twin Cam 88 Dyna) up and down and around the block. The M-8 114 (1,868cc) makes the old TC88 (1,450cc) seem quaint.
The Bob’s keyless ignition is convenient and avoids fumbling for keys in pockets, and the 114 fires up after a couple of quick chugs, settling in to a mechanical lumpy idle that pleases ears and souls. Snap open the throttle, and the pipes emit that famous 45-degree V-Twin rumble through the blacked-out 2-into-2 offset shotgun exhaust.
Black is indeed the theme here, with the only visual brightwork appearing on the beautiful aluminum wheel hubs, the polished cylinder fins, and the chrome pushrod tubes. Oh, and then there’s the chrome headlight ring and a peek of chrome fork tubes that the retro-flavored rubber gaiters don’t obscure. Stainless steel spokes are highlighted next to the black wheel rims. The handlebars, instrument panel pod, and cylinder heads feature a tough-looking black crinkle finish.
Speaking of instrument panels, the Bob’s must be the tiniest multifunction unit in the history of motorcycles, measuring barely 2 inches wide and about an inch tall. A mini Bic lighter covers it entirely! It’s a minimalist solution to the problem of fugly instruments that look tacked on, instead appearing “like the speedometer got stripped off and tossed on the work bench,” says the MoCo.
The standard readout consists of speed, fuel level, and time in a display that will challenge the retinas of some Boomers. A switch on the left handlebar toggles between an info panel, tripmeters, and a numerical tachometer. The tach is so small that it’s nearly useless while riding, but the motor clearly reports its speeds via sound and feel without requiring a look at a gauge for it. A built-in USB port enables on-the-go smartphone charging.
The Bob’s Ventilator air cleaner with exposed element and 114 badging is beguiling but may interfere with a skinny-hipped rider’s knee.
Tall riders dig the mini-ape handlebar that puts fists to the wind and adds to the Sons of Anarchy vibe. Runts like myself might wish for a 2-inch drop so that the outer grip wouldn’t stretch too far away during U-turns. By the same token, the placement of the midmount footpegs may frustrate taller riders with a lack of legroom. There’s just not much distance between the 26.8-inch seat height (25.8 when laden with a 180-pound rider) and the pegs placed next to the M-8’s crankshaft, but then there are countless aftermarket options for foot control placements, and you’re likely not buying a Street Bob for its long-distance touring ability anyway.
Mr. Bob willingly responds to a rider’s wishes, in large part to skinnyish tires, a 100/90-19 up front and a 150/80-16 rear, that make it easier to steer than fat-tired bikes. Interestingly, the Street Bob’s rear tire is narrower than the front tire of the new Sportster S! A 30-degree rake angle with 6.2 inches of trail creates a bit of front-end flop at slow speeds, but it’s otherwise faithful when leaned over up to and past the 28.5-degree lean angles allowed by the footpegs.
To all lives come bumps in the road, and the Street Bob is usually up to the challenges. Harley spec’d a 49mm fork from Showa featuring a dual-bending valve design that might sound like a defect but operates quite well via its dual-rate springs and 5.1 inches of travel. The rear monoshock located below the seat offers 3.4 inches of travel, which is nearly 3.5 inches more than a rigid but can still feel like not enough for harsh impacts. Accommodating passengers or riders of various weights is made easier by a spring-preload adjuster.
Left to right: The instrument panel is cleverly integrated into the handlebar clamp. The diminutive round LED headlight throws a bright beam for its small size. The upswept seat holds riders in place during hard acceleration and is quite comfy. The same can’t be said for the passenger seat, which is moderately plusher than padded masonry. The single-disc front brake cleans up the look of the wire-spoke wheel.
The Street Bob’s brakes are probably better than your rigid’s, too, with braided lines pushing on a 4-piston front caliper and an 11.8-inch (300mm) rotor up front. The 11.5-inch rear rotor gets bitten on by a 2-piston floating rear caliper. The single-disc front brake is decent if not great, with power impressive enough to flex the tall handlebars during heavy braking. Adding rear brake greatly assists deceleration.
Rolling down straight roads is where the Street Bob excels, with its 64.2-inch wheelbase helping the bike track securely. Dual counterbalancers subdue excessive engine vibration. The M-8’s 4-valve cylinder heads promise efficient combustion, and Harley says to expect 47 mpg. I averaged 40 mpg, which works out to be 140 miles between fill-ups of the 3.5-gallon fuel tank. FWIW, the fuel cap doesn’t lock.
Throttle response is nicely tuned, smooth when you want it but quick on the uptake, too. Upshifts are executed slickly and with a satisfying thwaack! like a rifle bolt. Downshifts are less smooth, and it doesn’t like going down multiple gears at a time. Riders are fairly well isolated from engine heat. Harley’s self-canceling turnsignals operate expertly, alleviating the shame of endlessly blinking signals.
In case it isn’t yet obvious, I really enjoyed my time aboard the Street Bob, but it’s worth quibbling about a few things. The horn sounds remarkably tinny for such a masculine machine. The hand levers feel expensive on your fingertips, but they lack adjustability to suit various hand sizes. And, for such a stylish machine, the footpegs are remarkably plain and their silver-colored pivots clash with the bike’s black trim.
As you can tell, the nits to pick on the Street Bob are minimal and can easily be addressed through Harley’s PG&A catalog or the aftermarket. If you’re in the market for a rip-roaring street bobber with a two-year warranty backed by an American juggernaut, the Street Bob 114 ticks all the pertinent boxes.