Just as we were beginning to wonder if the tuning fork company would ever awake from its recession-induced slumber, Yamaha is proving there’s still lots of fight left in its blue bones. The new Star V Star 1300 Deluxe and Yamaha FJR1300A, both of which performed well in recent tests, are excellent proof. And now there’s the new-for-2014 Bolt and Bolt R-Spec, a pair of neo-bobbers just unveiled by Star at a recent press conference.
Like Harley-Davidson and Honda—both which have a lot of momentum right now—Yamaha understands that fresh, stylish and affordable motorcycles are key to resurrecting sales. But rather than building a classic-styled bike, Yamaha opted to build something with a “younger character,” to borrow the words of Star’s Product Manager Derek Brooks.
“The big deep-fendered, classic-styled bikes are still very popular but they were more popular five, six or seven years ago,” explains Brooks. “We’ve seen the cruiser market transition through the chopper trend to back-to-basics bikes that prove less is more. The focus is now more on the motorcycle itself and less on chrome and flashy paint. This is a solid trend and I think that the Bolt is going to be very appealing to all types of riders.”
Adding to that appeal are MSRPs of $7990 for the standard Bolt and $8290 for the R-Spec. Yamaha keeps prices in check by utilizing the air-cooled, 942cc fuel-injected V-Twin already used in the V Star 950, and this 60-degree engine mounts in an all-new, double-cradle steel frame. With a low 27.2-inch seat height, shortish 61.8-in. wheelbase, slim body and uncluttered shape, the Bolt does indeed have a bobber look, and its suspension is handled by a conventional 41mm fork with 4.7 inches of travel and pair of rear shocks that offer 2.8 inches of cush. Twelve-spoke cast aluminum wheels are fitted with bias-ply tires in sizes 100/90-19 front and 150/80-16 rear. Sportbike-style wave brake rotors measure 298mm front and rear.
Clearly, the Bolt’s styling is a mix of old-school bobber and modern. The 3.2-gallon teardrop tank has subtle badges, the front and bobbed rear fenders are made of steel, and contemporary touches include an LED taillight in a classically styled housing, and an LCD speedometer beneath a smoked lens. The two-into-one exhaust features black headers, but with heat shields and muffler done in contrasting aluminum. Gold-anodized shocks with piggyback remote reservoirs distinguish the R-Spec model, which also has an upgraded saddle with contrast stitching. The standard Bolt is available in Raven or Pearl White, whereas the R-Spec comes in Matte Gray or Camo Green. Additionally, Star has created an extensive accessory line that will give these bikes many different looks. Want mini apes and bags? Star has ’em. Sissy bar? Check. Bikini fairing? Affirmative. The possibilities are endless, as could be seen by the numerous custom versions on display at the Bolt’s press unveiling.
Star’s 2014 Bolt arrives at dealerships in April, while the R-Spec model arrives a bit later, in mid-summer. We’re told there’s an extensive demo program in the works, in which multiple semi trucks will take Bolts all around the U.S for test rides. Find out where they’ll be at www.starmotorcycles.com.