Harley Davidson Street 750 owner, Mr Udham Singh Hooda was out on a road trip with a dozen other bikers to Shimla earlier this year. On the ghat roads, on one blind turn, a bus came from the opposite side, which required Udham to use his brakes and slow down the bike and manoeuvre out of the oncoming bus’s way.
Riding on ghats, your first instinct is to apply rear brakes. Udham did just that. But he could not slow down the bike as his Street 750’s brake pedal was no longer applying the brakes. Not wanting to apply the front brakes in that panic-stricken mode, Udham decided it was better to go off the road and bring the bike to halt, than to collide head-on with a bus. Luckily, he survived.
After returning home, he contacted the dealer and sent the bike for a check-up. The dealer told him that the rear brake pads have worn out and needs replacement. Udham was not convinced. Udham had heard about the brake failing issues of Street 750 last year, when some customers had protested over a similar issue. He decided to research a bit more.
It was in mid 2015 when a reputable automotive publication from Germany- Motorrad had done a brake test and found the following result – “The Harley Street 750 did fine on the first test but, even after being given some time to cool, showed significant fading during the second test. Then, on the third test, the brakes failed completely.” (PS – India-made Harley Davidson Street 750 is exported to the markets in Asia and Europe).
By the end of 2015, new range of Street 750 was made available in the market. New bikes had 300 mm single disc with 34 mm dual pistons in the front and rear, a new aluminium master cylinder and improved brake lines. On top of that, they also get optional ABS. Old Street 750 did not have the option of ABS. Some dealers in India retrofit the braking updates on the old 2014 and 2015 model Street 750 at a cost of INR 40,000.
Coming back to 2016, Udham contacted Harley Davidson India via mail asking them to look into the matter. He was of the opinion that with many posts published in the automotive space, Harley Davidson India will come up with a solution. But, the reply he got was same which he had heard from the dealer. Udham decided to leave the bike at the dealership and protest.
The word of his protest spread and soon more Street 750 owners joined him with a similar complaint. As per Udham, he has now has over 200 Street 750 owners in his group, who have faced a similar issue with their bike. Udham also posted about the issue online, where he saw many more coming and commenting that they too have faced the same issues. You can read the article and comments here. There are some owners who have spoken on Team-BHP about the same issue.
Some of the Street 750 owners came out on the streets of Delhi NCR recently to voice their protest against Harley Davidson India – in a united voice over issues with brakes on board the American cruiser. These owners have been sending strong messages to the bike-maker via protests on roads, social media, etc.
Udham also reached the HD India organized event in Chhail, Shimla, where hundreds of Harley owners had gathered. Mr Hooda says that he was waiting outside the venue all evening, till late into the night in the freezing temperature so that his voice could be heard by the company. Some owners even came out and spoke in support of Mr Hooda at the Harley event.
Rushlane contacted Harley Davidson India to hear what they have to say about this. The maker says that their bike has passed all tests necessary and is winner of some of the most prestigious awards there are to be won. In addition to that, they highlight that they have sold more than 4,000 Street 750 of 2014 and 2015 model year (and not everyone has faced the problem).
According to Harley-Davidson India, this is more of a case where a rider does not know how to apply brakes on a powerful bike like Street 750. In order to solve this problem, HD India has started a program called PTF – Passport To Freedom. At PTF, experienced riders will give pointers to those who are new to riding big bikes which will help to ride their new Harley’s more efficiently.
Harley Davidson India also shared contact nos of three Street 750 owners with Rushlane who own the 2014 model, and have not faced any issue. Rushlane spoke with all three of them, two of them have ridden 12,000 kms, while one of them has ridden 20,000 kms. None of them have faced any braking issue. But at the same time, all three of them are aware of the problem. Each of them told Rushlane that there are Street 750 owners in their respective riding group, who have faced similar issues like Mr Hooda.
One of them was of the opinion – why create an issue, when the dealer is ready to retrofit the new brakes for about INR 30,000. He says that is not a huge sum as Harley owners spare more than that on silly accessories. Why not get updated to new brakes instead of protesting, adds the owner.
Harley Davidson also contacted Mr Udham, and invited him for a meeting to sort the issue. Udham does not want to attend the meeting as he says Harley Davidson invitation came with a condition – that he should come alone in the meeting. Udham does not want to go alone, and is of the opinion that the meeting should have all concerned owners of Street 750.
Secondly, he says the invitation mails started with a line – “There is no fault in the bike but still you are welcome to meet us.” What would be the outcome of such meeting – asks Udham.
As far as Mr Udham is concerned, he plans to continue his protest and file legal proceedings against the brand. He wants HD India to issue a mass recall and fix all the bikes with updated 2016 brake system.
UPDATE – 7th Jan 2017 – Vikram Pawah exits Harley Davidson India