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Ridden & Rated: 2014 Star Bolt

Star’s new Bolt offers upright seating with stellar urban manners.

Star’s new Bolt offers upright seating with stellar urban manners.

Photo Credit: Riles & Nelson

Bill Stermer
April 29, 2013
Filed under Cruiser + Touring Motorcycle Reviews, Latest News, Star Motorcycle Reviews, Top Stories

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It’s a smart company that studies the market, conducts research and builds its products based upon what the data indicate will be successful. In the case of Yamaha, its Star Motorcycles division (which builds its cruisers) is a very smart company indeed.

While noting that cruisers compose about 49 percent of the overall street market, the folks at Star also noted that the market is changing. To this point, it has been driven by Baby Boomers, riders 49-67 years old who appreciate tradition and want to look tough and cool on a bike, so they roll with lots of chrome and outrageousness. However, younger riders have now started driving the trend, and the research shows that they are anti-establishment and reject luxury and chrome. Instead, they are do-it-yourselfers who are looking for authenticity, simplicity and independence; this explains why simple, home-customized bobbers are the emerging trend.

Simplicity meets complexity as the Bolt greets the USS Midway in San Diego Harbor.

Simplicity meets complexity as the Bolt greets the USS Midway in San Diego Harbor.

With this in mind, Star has unveiled an early release 2014 model called the Bolt and has billed it as an urban performance bobber. It’s a stripped-down version of Star’s highly successful V Star 950 cruiser, but take one look at its stance, solo seat, bobbed fenders (hence the “bobber” designation) and the shape of its fuel tank and you’ll realize that it’s aimed squarely at the Harley-Davidson 883 market. When you note that its base price of $7,990 is $9 below that of the 883 Iron, well, it all falls into place.

The Bolt is powered by an air-cooled, 942cc (58 cubic inch), 60-degree V-twin motor with four valves per cylinder, roller rockers, and a bore and stroke of 85.0 x 83.0mm. With a compression ratio of 9.0:1 it will run happily on 86-octane fuel, which enters through a single side-draft Mikuni EFI throttle body with 3D mapping. Its forged aluminum pistons are attached to a single-pin crank for that authentic cruiser pulsing sound and feel, and its exhaust is routed through forward-facing header pipes with a single-element three-way catalyst and closed-loop O2 sensor. Power is shuffled through its 5-speed gearbox and reaches the rear wheel by means of a narrow 21mm belt final drive.

Simplicity itself, the Bolt features a steel frame and fenders, solo seat, tucked-in exhaust system and a certain familiar stance.

Simplicity itself, the Bolt features a steel frame and fenders, solo seat, tucked-in exhaust system and a certain familiar stance.

Star introduced the Bolt to the press in San Diego in April, where we were able to ride the bike for the day. It considers the Bolt an urban vehicle, and suggested various routes and points of interest around the city. Climb aboard, and with its seat height of 27.2 inches the Bolt feels low and solid, yet at a claimed 540 pounds wet is not overly heavy despite its steel tank and fenders.

I noted a light clutch pull and a single round gauge up front with a smoked screen, matched by a round LED taillight. Once underway with its short-travel suspension (4.7 inches in the fork and 2.8 in the shocks, the latter with preload adjustment only) the ride is taut, but not harsh unless the bump is unusually large. The double-cradle steel frame utilizes the engine as a stressed member, and while wheelbase is a relatively long 61.8 inches, the 29-degree rake makes up for it in terms of relatively quick steering with its 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels.

A low seat height and 29-degree fork rake lead to relatively tight steering for urban settings. Upright seating discourages freeway travel.

A low seat height and 29-degree fork rake lead to relatively tight steering for urban settings. Upright seating discourages freeway travel.

Star utilizes a wave-style brake rotor at each end, the front squeezed by a two-piston caliper and the rear by a single-piston unit. Both are easily controllable, and braking effort is moderate. The reach to the bars positions the rider relatively upright, and the only negative I noted about the Bolt was that out on the freeway the wind hits the rider full force and can soon become tiring.

In addition to the standard black and white colors, the Bolt is also available in an R-Spec model, an accessorized version that comes in either Camo Green or Matte Gray for $8,290. It includes a textured solo seat with colored stitching, remote-reservoir shocks and black mirrors. I rode a couple examples of both the stock and R-Spec models and could discern very little functional difference between the two. Yamaha offers many options for the Bolt through its Star accessories division including a taller handlebar, brass speedometer visor, custom seat, mini fairing, passenger seat with backrest, leather saddlebags, 40-spoke wire wheels, a lowering kit and reduced-reach solo seat.

Overall, it seems that Yamaha has a very well-focused and researched machine here, one that offers not only great style but function as well, regardless of the generation to which you belong.

2014 Star Bolt
Base Price: $7,990
Website: starmotorcycles.com
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse V-twin, SOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Bore x Stroke: 85.0 x 83.0mm
Displacement: 942cc
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Belt
Wheelbase: 61.8 in.
Rake/Trail: 29 degrees/NA
Seat Height: 27.2 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 540 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 3.2 gals., last .8 gal. warning light on
Average MPG: NA

(This article Righty Tighty: 2014 Yamaha Star Bolt was published in the July 2013 issue of Rider magazine.)

A round LED taillight puts a modern touch on a classic concept.

A round LED taillight puts a modern touch on a classic concept.

The solo seat feels low and is comfortable enough. Optional seats are available.

The solo seat feels low and is comfortable enough. Optional seats are available.

The R-Spec model (left) has reservoir shocks, a stitched seat, black mirrors and alternative colors.

The R-Spec model (left) has reservoir shocks, a stitched seat, black mirrors and alternative colors.

The single LCD gauge is also round and has a smoked lens.

The single LCD gauge is also round and has a smoked lens.

Comments

9 Responses to “Ridden & Rated: 2014 Star Bolt”

  1. David on April 29th, 2013 9:39 pm

    For less than 10 bucks more why not get the real thing?

    [Reply]

  2. John on May 1st, 2013 7:59 pm

    “Yamaha has a very well focused and researched machine here…..” Why not just say “a very blatant carbon-copy of someone else’s research.” Geez, they copied every detail and still styled features that look like cheap tacked on plastic parts.

    Finishing elements like the gas tank’s exposed edges appear to be beyond Yamaha’s capabilities. I know, I know…….superior Japanese engineering. Ha!

    [Reply]

  3. John on May 1st, 2013 8:17 pm

    I have one thing to add. After all the years of bad-mouthing Harleys for every styling, performance, and engineering elements they produced, and now with all the latest crop of Japanese Harley wannabe’s….what are the import guys gonna brag about now?

    [Reply]

  4. wingrider on May 4th, 2013 7:12 pm

    Say what you want but when was the last time you seen a metric motorcycle broke down on the side of the road ? Not like the other kind of motorcycle that I’ve seen Broke down on the side of the ROAD!! metric motorcycles are very very dependable.

    [Reply]

    John Reply:

    The reason I ride a Harley is because of all the “reliable metrics” I once owned. I don’t usually see many bikes broken down on side of road, but have to say, when I do–they are always “reliable metrics”.

    [Reply]

  5. Tim Quinn on May 31st, 2013 3:30 am

    I bought a new bolt last Saturday and I’m really loving it. However, just because I bought a Bolt doesn’t mean that I don’t love Harley Davidson motorcycles too. I’ve never owned a Harley, but some day I will.
    Last week, I saw a new CVO Breakout and I was drooling all over it. It was, without a doubt, the finest looking factory custom motorcycle I’ve ever seen. It was stunning.
    I don’t care what someone is riding…..if they are on two wheels they get a wave from me. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s Japanese, British, American, whatever…I love anything on two wheels!!

    [Reply]

  6. Andrew on May 31st, 2013 8:51 am

    I like the looks of this bike, and it def looks fun to ride, but the price seems a bit high for what you get. Also, why is a supposedly trimmed-down bike 540lbs? That’s mighty heavy for something with an air-cooled motor and very few add-ons. And why did Yamaha leave out ABS, a tachometer, fuel gauge (a must!), some modern forks (upside down), and better-quality shocks with a bit more travel? It’s 2013, for goodness’s sake, not 1981. For what it offers, it should be about $6500, not $8K+. Just my $.02.

    [Reply]

  7. Tim Quinn on June 4th, 2013 9:05 am

    “For what it offers, it should be about $6500, not $8K+. Just my $.02.”

    Andrew, have you been in new motorcycle dealership lately?
    Hell, a 2013 Ninja 300 will run you around $4.9K and $5,5K if you want the ABS model.

    The Bolt is an almost 1000cc cruiser, Cruisers are pretty heavy.

    I guess the Bolt is a real piece of junk when compared to a Harley 883…even thought the Bolt is faster, quicker, weighs less, has better brakes, handles better, shifts better, vibrates far less, has a longer wheelbase, has more suspension travel front and rear, and the engine is a far more modern design.

    As I said before, I like HD motorcycles and one day I’m gonna own one, but just because the Bolt’s gas tank does not have Harley on the side of it does not make it a piece of junk.

    Also, a LOT of test ride reviews state that the Bolt is a far better and more modern bike than the 883. Don’t like it…don’t by one.

    [Reply]

  8. Bill on November 11th, 2013 10:55 pm

    Just got the bolt on 11/9/13. Absolutely love it! It has moxy! Everyone that I have showed it to say it is beautiful. I got the green camo R-Spec. She sounds sweet and so far cannot find any flaws. She is nimble and powerful!

    [Reply]

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