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Star Bolt: Return of Classic Bobber

By Arv Voss, June 8th, 2013

Star, a division of Yamaha motorcycles, is keeping with what seems to be a returning trend in the cruiser motorcycling community. Star has just launched the 2014 Bolt, which is executed in a style reminiscent of early "Bobbers."

The Bobber philosophy is indicative of the new cruiser order that typifies a counter culture, anti-establishment mind set that displays an attitude of "less is more," demonstrating pride in making a lot of a little by "doing it themselves" through mechanical independence and by not following the crowd.

Bobbers were essentially stripped down motorcycles that made a minimalist statement in their heyday. The Bobber terminology originated from the "bobbed" or chopped fenders with the elimination of any excess accessories or expensive chrome dress-up items -- all in the interest of improving the bike's performance through lighter weight. The 2014 Star Bolt represents a visual tribute to that popular early movement, but with the implementation of modern technology and improved reliability and dependability. So you won't find a lot of bling on the Star Bolt.

The upper sections of the front forks, mirrors and headlight bezel account for most of the bike's chrome. The chassis design of the Bolt is all-new. Individual components such as the 3.2-gallon fuel tank, belt drive, front and rear wheels, digital meter and steel fenders are new as well, lending a fresh, unique overall style in a compact ride.

The 2014 Star Bolt is available in two configurations: the basic Bolt finished in Black with no graphics, or in a White finish with the Bolt logo, which has a base price of $7,990; and the Bolt R-Spec which features remote reservoir rear shocks, a suede-type seat in vinyl with colored stitching, Black mirror caps and an upgraded paint and graphic theme in metallic Green, or a special matte gray paint and tank logo for a base sticker set at $8,290.

Power for both Bolt models is provided by a 58-cubic-inch (942cc) air-cooled, Mikuni fuel injected 4-stroke, V-Twin, 4-valve motor with a Transistor Controlled Ignition. Exhaust exits through a right side mounted two-into-one system with a short muffler for a pleasing sound. Motive energy is delivered through a smooth operating, easy effort multiplate wet clutch 5-speed transmission to the rear wheel via a final drive belt.

The Star Bolt rolls on Bridgestone Exedra rubber. The suspension componentry consists of KYB 41mm telescopic reverse forks forward and Dual KYB coil-over-shocks (replaced by the upgraded anodized remote reservoir shocks on the R-Spec). The Bolts tip the scale at 540 pounds, ready to ride with all fluids. The fuel tank holds 3.2 gallons, and the seat height is a low 27.2 inches.

The Bolt delivers a laid back and comfortable riding position, featuring an easy to reach dirt track-type handlebar bend, mid mounted foot controls, the low sit-in seat, which narrows at the front and a multifunction switch box.

My test rides included both the basic Star Bolt and the Bolt R-Spec. The national press launch took place in and around San Diego. After sitting astride the display model in the hotel's technical presentation room, it seemed that the Bolt would not be suited to my long-leg 6-foot, 4-inch frame. That deduction was overcome in short order as the bike proved to be quite comfortable, despite a personal preference for more forward-mounted foot controls and perhaps a somewhat longer seat.

Both Star Bolt models displayed a pleasing agility and maneuverability due to the low center of gravity and relatively light weight, not to mention the ideal riding position. Throttle response was swift and the ride quality showcased a comfortable compliance over a variety of surfaces. The torque was available over a very wide range, which made for a nice power delivery.

In the shortcomings department, self-canceling turn signals are always a desirable feature as is a gear indicator, but keeping cost down tends to be the factor here. The information gauge cluster was extremely difficult to read in bright sunlight, particularly when wearing sunglasses or with a smoked face shield. Small nits to pick indeed, except for the gauge legibility.

There is a delete option for the rear fender extension appendage where the license plate mounts. Get rid of that and mount the license plate on a side bracket and the Star Bolt becomes a genuine Bobber.

The Bolt, in either configuration, should prove to be a winner for the Star cruiser division of Yamaha. The price is right, it looks great, and it's fun to ride. Making it an even better bike, are a host of specifically designed accessories that are available for personalization.

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