|The 2012 Street Bob looks like something a tuff guy might own, but this ready-made bobber is refined enough that just about any cruiser rider might like it.|
And although the Bob’s appearance straddles the milder side of bobber wild, it also provides a clean, harmonious look rather than the hodge-podge cobble job sometimes seen on true bob-job bikes hand-assembled by their owners in back alley garages.
As part of Harley’s Dark Custom line, the Street Bob takes some of its cues from what the cool kids are doing with their rides these days. A target of immediate re-fabrication and hallmark styling trait of the go-your-own-way crowd is to somehow muck with a bike’s handlebar. For the Street Bob, it’s all about the fists-in-the-wind ape-hanger look.
|The all-black color scheme accentuates the Street Bob’s simplified styling.|
The bar’s height (10.0-inch-tall bar with 2.0-inch rise) is legal in all 50 states, and just high enough that I didn’t feel like I was riding a cookie-cutter cruiser. But during extended freeway blasts the bar was almost too tall for my liking. Their placement means your arms are raised and open, leaving your torso to take the brunt of the windblast: fighting against the wind to keep a secure grip gets a little tiresome after 20 miles or more. How do the hardcore biker dudes ride with those mega-tall apes…?
Apes on the Street Bob might give the impression that they diminish handling, but it’s only during low-speed maneuvering that steering can feel cumbersome at times. Depending on your physical stature you might find that it’s a bit of a stretch to the outside bar-end when performing tight-radius turns, etc.
I had myself convinced that the mid-mount footpegs would place my knees too high to remain comfortable for long – just like I presumed about the apes. While the pegs aren’t low and forward as on most cruisers, I was surprised after the first few miles at how well the pegs’ placement complemented the rest of the rider triangle: not too low, not too high. A solo saddle is de rigueur for bobber styling. The SB has a 26.7-inch seat height, and the saddle’s shape and foam density was comfortable mile after mile.
Good ol’ reliable, that’s what I’m calling Harley’s Twin Cam 96 V-Twin powerplant. Now that the bigger 103-cubic-inch lump – currently in the Touring models, Softails and Dyna motorcycles, with the Dyna Street Bob and Dyna Super Glide Custom retaining the Twin Cam 96 – will become the new standard for large-displacement Harleys, the likeable qualities in the Twin Cam 96 may get lost to the new kid on the block.
|Despite the mini ape-hanger bars and mid-mount footpegs, the Street Bob has a fairly comfortable rider ergo package.|
Though the 96 is quickly becoming yesterday’s news, it’s still an engine with lots to offer in terms of authoritative low-end grunt and plenty of power on tap to motivate a large cruiser. The powerband is linear, fueling is smooth and reliable, and the six-speed gearbox shifts effortlessly, with near Japanese-motorcycle-transmission precision.
Vic’s distinct styling for its retro-fied cruiser elicits visions (or distant memories depending on your age!) of what it might’ve been like to chop, bob and build a cruiser in the ’50s and early ’60s. The paint is matte-black, the wire wheels have fat, white-wall tires, the bars ride high, the tank is plump, the seat is solo and there’s just enough contrasting white paint on the fuel tank to hint at custom paint jobs of an era gone by.
My time thus far with large-displacement factory bobbers has solely been aboard the 2012 Street Bob, but it’s already won a special place in my heart as one of the most attractive, emotive and entertaining Harleys I’ve yet ridden.