XtraPix: Harley Rocker vs. Yamaha Star Raider S

The chopper goes mainstream.

XtraPix: Harley Rocker vs. Yamaha Star Raider S

XtraPix: Harley Rocker vs. Yamaha Star Raider S

Okay, so they aren’t real choppers, bikes with mile-long forks, teacup-sized gas tanks, armpit-exposing apehanger bars and bruising-to-the-bone rigid rear ends. But Harley’s new Rocker and Yamaha’s equally new Star Raider S travel quite a long way down that low-riding, raked-out road. The big difference is that while honest-to-Jesse-James choppers usually ride like a log wagon and handle like a dump truck with six flat tires, the Rocker and Raider have excellent riding qualities and handle better than even a lot of conventional cruisers.

It’s fascinating to see big manufacturers like H-D and Yamaha building machines like these. The Rocker in particular is a daring move by an OEM, with a swingarm-mounted rear fender that wraps tightly around a 240mm tire and turnsignals that double as brake- and stoplights. And even though the Raider has a 40-degree fork rake, you’d never know it was that radical by riding the bike.

It will be interesting to see how the motorcycling public reacts to these two. If sales are anything close to what The Motor Company and The Tuning Fork Company expect, we’ll probably be seeing more faux choppers in the near future.

The Rocker proves that cool custom looks and good backroad fun do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Even when tossed hard through a fast corner, the Raider S never loses its composure.

On loan from the Roadliner and Stratoliner, the Raider?s 113-inch motor hammers out prodigious torque and sweet V-Twin sounds.

The Rocker?s 96-inch counterbalanced motor is a real smoothie for cruising the open road.

The Raider?s tank-top instrumentation is contained in a single gauge cradled in chrome.

Lean and clean, the Rocker is H-D?s most chopperesque Big Twin model ever.

Despite presenting a fine imitation of a raked-out chopper, the Rocker arcs around corners gracefully and controllably.

Never mind its 70.7-inch wheelbase, 40-degree fork rake, 719-pound weight and 210mm rear tire: The Raider turns and maneuvers like something far shorter, lighter and more conventional.

Lean and clean, the Rocker is H-D?s most chopperesque Big Twin model ever.